PRELUDE. I am a little late this week, my wife Lorelle and I have been interstate for a week attending a family birthday. A couple of thousand kilometres later and we are back at home. I put some of the photos up on my Writer’s room blog, there are more to come for the weekend. For those who didn’t pop along and look at the article I reblogged on the 17th March here’s the link. http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=974bf90801a64817efb434a66&id=45f44435ab
In it I discuss my emergence and work as a psychic/medium, it was a huge part of my life for ten years. It still plays a part now, albeit a smaller one and I use an element of it in my novels. The story in my blog on the 14th March, Death in the River is something of ‘things to come’ in future posts when this present group of stories peter out. I will probably bring up a few stories from my army days and observations on life in general. So without further ado here is;
THE DENTIST. Prisoners can be notorious malingerers and try all kinds of things to keep out of work or angling for time out of jail at hospital. There are those who genuinely need medical treatment and receive it as promptly as possible. Dental treatment on the outside is expensive and in the public sector it has a long waiting list. Heavy drug users don’t have their physical health in mind while they’re using their chemical of choice. Diet, vitamins and exercise are irrelevant so their general well-being diminishes leaving them open to illness and disease. Gum disease is prevalent due to poor health and the effects of drugs. Amphetamine users go to extremes when they can’t get their fix and consume large amounts of over the counter cough mixture. The end result of years of drinking this syrup is, rotten teeth nearly down to the gums leaving yellow/black stumps. Not a pretty sight and by this time the nerves are exposed leaving them in considerable pain. Once in jail the owner of these ravaged teeth finds himself even further down the long waiting list. Let’s meet Jacko, he had a set of stumps that would make a plaque infested Hillbilly, with a chronic fear of dental floss look like an A list Hollywood face model.
Every four hours Jacko would appear at the office door begging for pain killers. We would send him to the nurse when she was on duty and he would come back with two panadol. Naturally he wanted codeine based drugs and whined constantly when he didn’t get them. He would turn up at all hours of the day and night with a drink of water, hold his hand out and receive his pills swallow them down, sigh heavily and walk dejectedly back to his room. I’m not heartless, I know what tooth pain is and Jacko like everyone else on the public dental waiting list had to wait. Let’s meet an officer who I worked with often, ex Special Forces he was built and looked like a smaller version of Superman I’ll call him Gary. Energetic and hard-working he was respected by staff and prisoners alike. He had one failing – dentists – he didn’t like them.
Gary came to work one morning moaning and groaning, you guessed it toothache. He spent the morning grumping around the office, consuming as many panadol as he could find. Nothing helped: me, “Why don’t you make an appointment with your dentist?” him, “I don’t have one.” By lunch time he sat at his desk in agony: him, “Come on Laurie do us a favour, grab the pliers out of the toolbox and pull the tooth.” me, “You have got to be kidding, no way.” Five minutes later: him, “Do I have to beg?” What could I do the man was in pain, of sound mind and had given me permission to remove the offending tooth. Making sure my patient was comfortably settled back in his office chair I took the toolbox out of the cupboard. It contained enough tools for odd jobs around the camp, including a lovely pair of multigrips. I poured boiling water over the pliers, took a deep breath and stood next to Gary.
“Are you ready?” he nodded his head and opened his mouth wide. A scene reminiscent of gazing down a gargoyle’s throat came to mind. There were five teeth in there of various hues and condition. The offending tooth, a pre molar in the bottom jaw which appeared greener than the others stood out. I’ve had a few teeth removed and the main thing is to loosen the tooth in the jaw by gripping the tooth and pushing it in, then pulling it out. Gary didn’t flinch as I put my right knee on his chest to hold him down, placing my left hand on his forehead I pushed it back and he opened his mouth wide. There and then I felt happy that I hadn’t become a dentist, I know there are delicate sweet-smelling mouths out there. They belong to people who look after their teeth, Gary’s had that well lived in look. Taking a deep breath I put the multigrips into this dark chasm and latched onto the tooth, praying that it wouldn’t crumble under the pressure. Gary’s eyes bulged a little as I pushed the tooth into the jaw, his nostrils flared then I swiftly extracted the tooth.
Holding aloft the offending bloody molar like some latter-day Doc Holliday I felt someone watching me, looking over my shoulder I saw Jacko standing open-mouthed in the doorway: me, “Yeah Jacko what’s up?” him, “I, I was going to ask about getting an appointment to see the jail dentist – but – I think I’ll pay to see one when I go out on leave.” He fled from view and never bothered us again. Gary gargled with mouthwash, spat it out and went about his duties, happy as Larry. Not a whimper a grunt or a grimace, true Special Forces material. I’ve probably contravened some Act or Dental Association rule just don’t tell anyone eh?
VISITOR HIJINKS. Visiting days were a little different in this establishment, Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings meant the staff were quite busy. The usual security protocols were in place for the searching of items coming into the centre and if necessary the searching of visitors and their bags etc. As usual drugs were the main problem, excess money for the prisoners and other contraband. Chop Chop tobacco posed a problem too, a visitor turned up one day and complained bitterly when he couldn’t hand over two kilos of the excise free home cut tobacco, we would have had Customs crawling all over us. They also tried to bring in wads of cash, prisoners could have a certain amount of cash money under a hundred dollars I think. This could be used when they were working out in the community or to buy items from the small shop run by the centre. All of this went a little way to integrating them back into the community and having some normality in their lives. Of course there were those who abused the system. Now and then we would surprise everybody and have the drug dogs come in and check each visitor. It would be interesting to see who didn’t turn up for their booked in visit when word got out about the dogs being there. Of course there were always those visitors who thought the dog wouldn’t react to them, HA! many a woman found herself being handed over to the police for trying to smuggle drugs. Yes they always tried to bring them in stuck THERE. Or in their baby’s nappy, toys etc. Sad and pathetic actually that men would put the freedom of their wives/girlfriends in jeopardy.
In the old jail days there were two types of visits, contact and non contact. The contact went as far as a kiss and a cuddle, in this establishment it seemed that many an inmate wanted to go the Full Monty. There were several areas they could conduct a visit, the dining room, outside at the designated area by the side fence and on the small oval for picnics. Whole families would turn up and at times the place looked like an orphanage there were that many children there. Supervising visits became a game of catch me if you can, mixed with tag and hide and seek. Up to fifty visitors could be on site at any given day, after they were processed the game was on. Two of us would make the rounds spending more time herding people away from where they shouldn’t be and rescuing small children from under the kitchen.
The outside visiting area had a few tables and chairs, a bench and a BBQ. Joe had been waiting anxiously for his first visit from Mary and the two children, they turned up on time Sunday morning. Joe sat at the BBQ area while his children ran over to play, he gave them a hug, had a chat and walked over to greet his wife. Mary, dressed in a huge black dress looked like an escapee from a religious sect. They had a kiss and a cuddle then sat down behind the BBQ. A Reverend and his family sat at a nearby table conducting a prayer meeting. After returning to the office from the dining room, where I stopped a few budding romances I made myself a coffee and gazed out of the window towards the BBQ. I could see Joe from behind and Mary sat astride him bobbing up and down. You didn’t have to be Einstein to know that something looked odd. The Reverend and his tiny flock kept glancing at them and looking away. Putting my cup down reluctantly I wandered outside and strolled across the small sports oval. Joe sat with his head thrown back, Mary kept bobbing up and down and the children aged about four and six stood on each side of her holding onto the dress.
The sounds of sex are unmistakable and Mary never missed a beat as I stopped next to her. The dress, looking like a hiker’s tent covered both her and Joe, I shooed the children away and said, “I think you ought to stop and disengage.” Mary, still bouncing up and down, “I’m not doing anything, besides were not engaged we’re married.” Joe found himself in a place where if a pipe band marched through he wouldn’t have cared and continued doing it. The Reverend coughed and spluttered, I stood there trying to look professional and Joe finally finished his ‘visit.’ The tent dress actually served a purpose, nobody had to see the after effects. I’m definitely not a prude but let’s face it tearing off a quickie with a church meeting and two kids next to you is not on. I terminated the visit and Joe found himself going back to the big house on Monday morning. I can only hope that his five minutes of bliss was worth it.