The Rough Edges of the Cross: Cry of Silence
Jennifer owned a troubled past and a troubled life, a life devoid of red carpets and model runways.
Follow this young teenage woman's journey as she struggles and searches for the answers to her life. Prostitution, drugs, dingy motel rooms, and smelly back-alley streets were the norm for this lonely teen girl until a pair of chance encounters provide her with the opportunity to choose a new direction for her life. Will this tormented teenage woman find the inner strength necessary to change directions in life, or will she once again fall victim to the darkness surrounding her troubled soul?
Is there a place in this world where God can hear her Cry of Silence?
“That was great, baby… great!” the pudgy balding man said as he buttoned up his polyester shirt. “Just how old are you, sweetheart, if ya don’t mind me askin’?”
“Ya know, you look a whole lot younger, but… I’m payin’ for your body not a birthday party,” the man laughed, but the girl did not.
Once the customer departed the cheap hotel room Jenny freshened up as best she could, until a loud knock interrupted her street celebrity makeover.
“Yo, your one hour nap rental time is up,” the desk clerk reminded Miss Philips, “clear out. I got people waitin’.”
After leaving the musty smelling motel room, Jenny walked the grey dismal sidewalks of the inner city streets looking to hook up with her usual connection in hopes of purchasing a little ‘motivation’ with her newly acquired pocket of temporary wealth, but her usual dealer was nowhere to be found. She canvased the back alleys, alleys that reeked of stale wine, urine and rancid garbage until someone hailed her, “Hey, babe.”
Jenny turned around and replied, “I ain’t your babe,” then proceeded to walk onward.
“Hold on,” the young man said, “I ain’t the enemy. I got a little pick me up for sale, if ya know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t know what you mean.” Jenny walked on.
“Wait, wait, I’ll show you.” The man pulled a small bag from his jacket pocket.
“Soap crystals, it ain’t my wash day creep, get lost.”
“Just one hundred-fifty bucks for you, honey.”
“Seventy-five and you got a deal.”
“You’re killin’ me, babe,” the man thought for a moment, “One hundred then.”
Having only two tricks under her belt for the day, Jenny made one last offer for the heroin, “Eighty-five, or I walk.”
“Ok, ok,” the man agreed.
In another alley behind another street Jenny sat and listened to the sounds of fighting cats as she fed her hunger for another moment, another day.
Jenny faded in and out of reality’s realm as the stench of darkness slowly weighed her down like each single spadeful of earth does as it is shoveled onto a casket resting deeply in a freshly dug grave.
Her faint cry of silence whispered from her cracked lips, “Oh, God, please….”
When Jenny awoke the nurse informed her that she was a very lucky girl to be alive; her doctor informed her she should recover without any significant problems and recommended strongly that she receive follow-up rehabilitative drug addiction treatment; the serious looking police detective informed her she was under arrest; the wall-mounted television set informed her of low level pressure zones and local weather conditions.
Jenny’s plea bargain was gracefully orchestrated by a young public defender eager to climb the politically corrupted ladder of judicial success. He arranged for his young client to be housed in the newly constructed Youth Maximum Security Detention Facility for teenage women, Y-MAX-Women’s, to fulfill her criminal sentence under the guidelines of Supervised Assimilation Therapy. SAT was designed by prison psychologist Wendell Patterson, whose goal was enabling teen offenders with the necessary skills they would need to reenter society as productive young law-abiding citizens.
Jennifer Philips had spent her youth in and out of various detention facilities. She was well known by the courts for her involvement with drugs and prostitution, but prior to her prison sentence, judges, lawyers and police had taken a softer approach to dealing with Jennifer’s criminal history. Sexually abused by an uncle from her early youth and later by a music teacher in middle grade school, she had developed a hard, antisocial shell around her fragile personality.
Jenny’s placement at Y-MAX-Women’s awakened her to the harshness surrounding the consequences of choices better not made in life.
“Philips,” the female officer addressed her wing’s most abrasive inmate, “you got a cell move, get your stuff together.”
Third cell move in two months, Jenny hashed the thought through her mind. Who’d I piss off now?
As a smiling correctional officer escorted Jenny to her new housing unit, Jenny snapped abruptly, “What are you smilin’ about?”
Having years of experience with the callous and childish personality displays teen inmates project, the C/O simply replied, “Cyrene Youth Ministries will begin having meetings here soon, that’s what I’m smiling about, Inmate Philips.”
Jenny’s silence echoed against the sanitized white walls of the prison’s mainline corridor.
“You should attend one of those meetings, it’ll do ya good.”
How could this smiling blob with a badge know what would do me good? Jenny’s anger rose.
“Anyway,” the C/O continued, “it gets a soul out of the house for an evening.”
That was a concept Jenny did understand. Being in a cell day after day was less exciting than a familiar boring businessman’s cash being laid on a hotel room dresser before services are rendered.
“Here we are,” the C/O announced.
The pair entered the sally port and waited for the outer door to close and the inner one to open.”
Jenny made a choice between those two Control Officer operated doors, “I’ll think about it.”
“Ok, young lady, but my advice is for you to think hard.”
Five victorious fights with other inmate teen girls provided Jenny with the reputation of one who wanted to be and should be left alone and ignored. Numerous negative encounters with prison staff ensured Jenny would always receive a strong reaction to her actions; verbal counsel was no longer a viable option. Jenny was assigned to work with maintenance, cleaning the prison corridor floors.
Jenny knew that she would never forget the smells of the prison, the odor of fresh concrete, the moist aroma of shower water vapor, and the chemicals, though supposedly all natural, that she used in her job as a porter… cleaning, waxing, and buffing floors. She also knew she would not forget her dreams, dreams of abuse, prostitution, drugs, and those assorted miseries she had exposed herself to over the early years of her teenage life. She would also never forget her visits with the prison psychologist and her reluctance to open up and expose her life experiences and inner feelings in any significant detail. Jenny preferred to remain generic in her dealing with the psychologist, but open enough to be considered on the way to recovery and rehabilitation. Jenny possessed all of the abilities necessary to manipulate people and circumstances whenever the need arose.
Prison life had its way of changing people, some softened over time while others grew worse and harder in character. Jenny did not know if these attitude changes people experienced were due to prison life itself, or to the fact that everyone in prison ages and does that aging behind concrete walls separated from society’s ever-changing norms.
Jenny was not perfect in any sense of the word. She responded sarcastically and short with staff and found she had few inmate friends. Jenny felt alone.
“Escort,” the two porters cleaning the main hall’s floors quickly stood aside as the Correctional Officer shouted again, “Escort.”
The floors were slightly wet from the two young female porters cleaning and buffing efforts, so the escorting officer and two inmates walked carefully and slowly by, smelling the chemical cleaning fumes that filled the still hallway air.
“Look,” Maggie said to Jenny in a whisper, “It’s those two boys from the construction project.”
Jenny whispered back as she stood flat against the chapel corridor wall waiting for the trio to pass, “I know… they come in every day for one hot meal. They eat somewhere else than we girls do though.”
Maggie commented softly, “Now, that’s a shame, they look sort of cute. Don’t you think, Jen?”
Jenny held back her laugh, but found it hard not to smile as the two inmate males and their escorting officer passed.
“Don’t step on the stripes, you’ll slip,” commanded the officer to the two young men he escorted.
Two stripes were painted on the floor to divide the corridor for inmate and staff traffic and to provide an escort walkway between the two lines down the corridor’s center. These lines became very slippery when wet and many inmates enjoyed seeing staff slip and fall.
One of the boys pointed to a poster locked behind a glass bulletin board case on the chapel’s double entry doors and said quickly, “You two girls should go and try that meeting out.”
“Quiet, Inmate Stone,” the officer barked to Renwick as the youth attempted to continue, “Those meetings are great and—”
“The name’s Cornell Purdue,” the second inmate youth announced.”
“In your dreams, boys,” Jenny shouted.
The officer smiled slightly, reflecting on what he might do or say to two young teen women if he were in these two young men’s circumstance. “You too, Purdue. You two are bothering these young ladies.”
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