Frog Gravy: Insanity or Reality?

Bluebirds

Author’s note: Frog Gravy is a nonfiction account of incarceration in Kentucky, first in jails and then in prison, in 2008 and 2009.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

The jail art was done at Ricky’s World because McCracken County banned all art supplies.

McCracken County Jail, Cell 107, Sometime in February, 2008.

“It sure is a beautiful day outside,” says the breakfast-serving sadistic guard, as he pushes food trays through the steel slot in the steel door.

He says this to be mean because he knows we never get recreation time out of the cell. Also, he knows that they can make it look like we do get recreation time, by documenting “refusal” on the form, when he offers us one-half-hour of rec time at 3 AM, the one time when we are likely to be sleeping. He offers this sleep interruption not in the outdoor cage, but in the tiny indoor, closet-sized chapel. On paper, it looks like we get an hour of exercise each day. But in reality, we remain in the cement cage for weeks at a time.

Before I sit at the steel table to eat, I go into the toilet stall, climb onto the steel toilet, stand on tip-toes and peer through a scratched out slit of the ghosted-out window. I see dumpsters. I see a business called ‘Tim’s Tires’ across a street.” It looks to be a crisp, winter morning. I climb down from the toilet.

Today I am depressed. My spirit is broken, and I question my faith in God. I am tired of the Christian ‘right’ telling me that Jesus will descend from the clouds looking like Fabio, scanning the world for marks of the beast and imbedded computer chips indicating the chosen people who will be allowed to shop at WalMart, while ignoring the rest of the planet in its entirety. Forgive me for this, but I sometimes picture Jesus teaming up with the likes of Paul and Moses (also with bad tempers at times), forming a sleeved-out-in-tattoos gang and descending from the clouds to kick some ass.

I try to think about Joseph’s technicolor dream coat.Then I try to remember if colors were even mentioned in the bible. Or why Jesus never wrote anything down. Or if anyone had a sense of humor back then. Probably one of those banned chapters, I suppose.

I adjust my mat. Pull it up. Turn it over. Put a towel over my head. Put a sheet around my shoulders. Tape a Maxipad over my eyes with the sticky label from a shampoo bottle. I turn to the right until my arm goes numb, and then I turn to the left. The towel falls to the floor. Christie gives it back to me.

Christie notices my misery that accompanies existing, but not living, in a cage, and tries to lighten my mood. I have come to love Christie like a sister, or like a childhood friend that, even after years without contact, the love and friendship never changes.

She says, “Lemme tell you how worthless my mother is. She knows I’m getting out, right? And she can’t even keep phone time on her phone. But, I can’t be too mad at her. I forged a check in her name for $167.00, in Marshall County and there might be a warrant out for her arrest, but she doesn’t know it.”

“You’re kidding.”

“No. But I mean we’re even because I was getting all her Lortabs for her before.”

I say, “Checks seem to be a scam anyway. We don’t use checks or cards any more. The banks just steal all the money anyway. Who charges people to get their own money? Who does that?”

Tina says, “I wrote a check for seventy-five cents. It bounced. Now I owe $395.00 in fees. For a seventy-five cent check.”

Christie says, “I had an account I was trying to get right with. I called the bank and asked how much overdrawn I was. They told me $290.00. Now listen to this. This is US Bank.”

“Thieving Mega bank,” I say.

“So,” says Christie. “I paid them $290.00, right? I thought I was in the clear. Turns out I was overdrawn $295.00, so I was still over drawn by $5.00. Now that 5 dollars has accrued fees and interest equal to is $297.00. The bank did that on purpose They knew they’d make money if they lied to me about the amount I owed. Now I owe them $295.00.”

“Told you,” I say.

We watch the morning news. A man is sentenced to one year for manslaughter.

“Wow,” I say, “I shoulda killed someone! I would have got less time!”

Tina says, “He didn’t mean to kill anyone. It was manslaughter.”

YaYa says, “Yeah, he didn’t mean to kill anyone during a parole violation.”

On TV we also learn than Kentucky is 50th in the nation for physical activity.

“Makes sense,” I say. “Everyone in Kentucky is locked up.”

Christie changes the subject and says, “Ever eaten at The Greasy Spoon?”

“There is actually a restaurant called The Greasy Spoon?” I ask.

“Yeah, it’s in Possum Trot.”

“There’s a town called Possum Trot?”

“Yeah,” says Christie, “I had a friend that lived over there. She was real cracked out, and anyway I was at her house one day and we were smoking all this crack, and the smoke was getting to my eye. Did I tell you I have a glass eye?” She points to her glass eye.

“No,” I say, looking. “I can’t even tell. What happened?”

“My brother put it out with a tent stake when I was six.”

“Oh God,” I say.

“Anyway, we were smoking all this crack, and the smoke got to my eye, so I took my eyeball out and set it on a bench next to the bed, and I told Lexie, I’m putting my eye right here, okay?”

“So then we keep smoking, and I decide to go to my sugar daddy to get $200 to get some more crack, and I go to put my eyeball back in, but it’s gone. We tear the place up, and I can’t find it anywhere, so I leave without it, and I’m driving, and I’m trying to put some makeup on, as if that’s going to help, I look awful.”

“And?”

“And I get distracted and run a red light and almost hit someone, and there sits a cop, right there in the parking lot of the local AA club. So, he blue lights me, and I slam on the brakes and the crack pipe and the crack and the purse fly to the floorboard, and I’m trying to cover everything up. He comes to my window, and I point to my eye socket, and I am frantic, practically in tears, and I point to my eye socket, and I say “I can’t find my eyeball!! The socket’s really bothering me and my eyeball is missing!”

“What did he do?”

He is horrified and he kind of backs away and says “Ma’am, why don’t you just park over here and smoke a cigarette and calm down.”

“And I pulled over and smoked a cigarette, then took a hit off the crack pipe, then went to my sugar daddy to get the $200 and got some more crack, then went back to try to find my eyeball.”

“Where was it?”

“Turns out it was in the baby bed with the baby. I guess the baby thought it was comforting or something so he took it to bed with him.”

“Is the eyeball round?”

“No, curved, kind of like a disc.”

And I am thinking, maybe they should label glass eyeballs with those choking hazard warnings, but I am also now absolutely certain that I might be going insane.

Author’s end note: Here are my blood toxicology results from the night of my arrest. Recall that I was convicted of a DUI. Without any bad driving, of course. I don’t think there is another person in America with an affirmed DUI conviction, with these toxicology results.

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36 Responses to Frog Gravy: Insanity or Reality?

  1. colin black says:

    Crane have you thought about Amnesty I know they work a lot through Strasbourg an the European Court of human rights.

    But there aim is to deal with injustice wherever It occours Africa S America Uk Central America an even North America

    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/

    Mind you theres so many rules that western prisons break on a regular basis .
    Like the reading of inmates incomeing an out going mail illegall but both UK an America just routinely pay the fines same with razar wire illeagal but again they just pay the fines..

    America has thousands of children or juviniles sentenced to life without the possibility of parole .

    Whilst in the entire world includeing Russsia an China the number is 12,,,,

  2. pat deadder says:

    I can’t stop thinking about your ordeal and the corruption behind it.The lengths these assholes were willing to go to intimidate and shut you and your husband up is mindboggling.So haha it didn’t work but these criminals need to be brought to justice somehow.
    To drift off topic a bit even some organizations supposedly raising money for good causes are corrupt imho.
    When my brother died at 43 of cancer I went to the cancer society for information as to where all the donations were going.
    They gave me a bullshit pamphlet about taking people to kemo and such.I lost it and told them I didn’t want a snowjob since I know volunteers like me drive people to kemo ..I just wanted a breakdown of where our money was going after all these years of their collecting it.Well they didn’t have that information of course.
    What is going to become of us.
    Well Crane I am older than you but I hope I live long enough to see your story in print.

  3. pat deadder says:

    Oh Crane I just can’t comprehend..It seems criminals run the country. ..Even the people in charge of the inmates are committing worse crimes than the inmates..Who are these people.What must their resumes look like.I wonder are they hired because they are cruel or are they told to be cruel after they are hired and are in fear for their own safety. .Decent people would quit or maybe the corruption is so bad they are afraid to…If guards began as nice people how can they sleep at night.So the criminal element is running the country from top to bottom from judges to politcians etc Did politicians get power because they were corrupt or were they forced to become corrupt after they got there.More good people need to organize. or this greed and corruption will get worse if that’s possible I.can’t believe the courage you have to speak up.You and your husband give me hope that good will triumph over evil ..You need to write your book and it should be required reading in every high school.Fat chance,

  4. renah says:

    “looking like Fabio”.

    LOLLOLZ!

  5. Possum Trot???!!! And I thought Snickers Gap (Virginia) and Tortilla Flat (Arizona) were bad!

    You know, Crane-Station, Frog Gravy has real potential as a Novel, not as is, but with bits and pieces reworked into a story line.

    After giving you Evan’s agent information the other day, I realized I screwed up. Any troll on this site could use the information and say I referred him/her. May have damaged my own chances of ever getting published again.

    • Cercando Luce says:

      I have no connections, but wonder if you could publish in the UK, France– countries with an interest in human rights, that are skeptical of portrayals of the USA as a human rights paradise.

      • Linda Andersen says:

        I have no connections over there either, except my sister and her daughter, who live in Scotland. My niece’s husband is French and is ALWAYS disparaging Americans.

      • Linda Andersen says:

        Any books you like that may be similar to your own, take note of the Author, the Publisher, any Acknowledgements thanking an Editor or an Agent. That was how I got started.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        Generally a book is published in the authors’ country first. If it’s successful there, foreign publishers come calling.

  6. aussie says:

    So what can yo;u do, Crane? is there any possibility of an appeal to a court far enough away not be part of this corruption?

  7. acemayo says:

    http://www.theroot.com/views/why-don-t-we-talk-about-white-white-crime?page=0,1
    Don’t White People Kill Each Other, Too?
    And yet we keep hearing about black-on-black crime because it fits the false media narrative.

    What Will, Steele and O’Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics (pdf), 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.
    truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.
    Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they’ll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman’s defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?
    And why is no consideration given to the fact that Trayvon Martin, and millions of black boys and girls like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?
    The term “black on black” crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe i

  8. Trained Observer says:

    Apalling … a jail administration that allows guards to list “refusal” when rec time is offered at crazy nocturnal hours.

    On “descending from the clouds looking like Fabio” … I can’t help but wonder if that’s how Fogen envisions himself, what with his intimacy with “God’s plan” and all.

  9. fauxmccoy says:

    oh crane, this is all as brutal to read the second time as it was the first. i continue to be amazed at the love, light and humor you are able to give to the world in light of these experiences.

    bless you,

  10. Girlp says:

    How did they get away with this?

    • The Western Kentucky court system is known, at least in Kentucky, for corruption. They simply made up a case, from start to finish, and the sad thing is, my own lawyer, a public defender who heads the public defender office in Western Kentucky, was part of it. I learned this only recently, when looking through his case file.

      A Frankfort attorney told me on the phone, “When you write, please do not associate the rest of Kentucky with Western Kentucky. We do not want to associate with what is going on over there.”

      To get the indictment in the first place, they lied to the Grand Jury, telling them that I was drunk, reeking of alcohol, and stumbling. The Commonwealth suborned this perjury, even with the exculpatory alcohol result in hand. They continued to suborn perjury for the next 18 months, and through the trial.

      Then, in a secret, ex parte post trial meeting with the judge, without notice to me, the lawyers on both side presented yet another bogus ‘agreed order,’ to ensure the bogus convictions would be affirmed.

      And that’s how they do things here.

      • Two sides to a story says:

        I just don’t understand this level of corruption. Why in the world would LEOs and court systems do this sort of thing to people when they have more than enough REAL cases to deal with? It makes my head ‘splodey. It’s not that much different than mechanics who lie about fixes you don’t need – surely they get enough real business with enough cars who really need fixing!

        The sickness and corruption that pervades this society is astounding and especially coming from institutions we depend upon for their honesty and integrity.

        • fauxmccoy says:

          @twosides

          it would be all to easy to say this level of corruption is unprecedented, yet it exists in every state, especially those with private prisons. judges are receiving kick backs for referrals, they probably kick down some to prosecutors. there is no incentive to stop and overworked/under-caring court provided defense lawyers are just as much a part of the problem.

          ending private prisons in this should be a priority along with ending the worthless ‘war on drugs’. i wish i knew how this could be accomplished.

          • You nailed it.

            Well said. I can’t really even add anything.

            Except that as the country wages war on the poor for profit, a good many who should be locked up, because they are dangerous, are not.

          • colin black says:

            Via the inner web organise a million spliff march an have them all smoke doobies full of tobacco,
            But no resin or maruana..

            What can the police do? Arrest a few here an there out of the crowd an waste there time an the labs time for analiseing a fake doobie for non existant T H C…

            Alchohol is a drug an prohibition just lined the ganngsters pockets same as today drug dealers pocket billions through the illisit sale of controlled or banned drugs

            A lot of the attraction young people feel drawn towards drugs is there natural instinct to rebel against authouritie.

            Legalise it an that rebellious attraction is nullified,,

            If maruanna can be decrimmilised in a State like Alaskka with a nutjjob like Sahra Pallin as govener then its possible to do it anywhere I m o.

          • fauxmccoy says:

            @colin

            even my state, california weed was decriminalized under our then governator, arnold schwarzenegger.

            when my dad was still on the planet, he drove an old farm truck my bro had given him which had a bunch of grateful dead stickers on it. as an aging rancher, he did not pay much attention to conventional grooming standards and always rolled his own tobacco. i had taken him shopping many times as he aged and he’d stop before getting back in the truck to roll a cigarette. he never did understand why the young hippie chicks would try to flirt him up, not that he minded, mind you. i finally had to explain that they thought he was rolling a doob for the road. he thought it pretty funny, then played it up for all it was worth. delightful for me to see a 78 year old man enjoy himself so much over next to nothing 🙂

            your plan, it is excellent!

        • We don’t know for sure why they would do this. Could be a combination of many things: they hated my husband, who saw administrative corruption at the start up law school in town. When Fred became aware that the deans were stealing student loan money, he told students to apply to other schools- so, they hated him.

          They hated me for being outspoken, I suppose.

          We never did figure out all of the whys, for real. We are just a couple of insignificant people without money or clout…so I don’t really know.

          Man did they go to any lengths though. And, it is astounding. It really is.

          • fauxmccoy says:

            crane — based on my own experience in the south, i would imagine that you and fred were looked upon as ‘outsiders’ with no real roots in the community and this never helps when navigating the justice system. just a guess on my part.

          • Two sides to a story says:

            You’re not alone. I’ve heard other stories of people being railroaded in rural counties and small towns for political / gamey reasons.

      • Girlp says:

        Oh my that’s awful! Is there anyone attempting to do anything to address the corruption in W Kentucky?

        • No. Because the people affected are generally poor and without clout or resources. They don’t ever complain. Easy pickings, in other words.

          There is a mentality here. Folks are so exhausted and beat down, they simply take a plea and put up with unacceptable conditions because they figure, they ‘had it coming anyway.’

          • Girlp says:

            It seems thats the way this country is going blame it on the poor, blame it on minorities….There doesn’t seem to be anyone speaking out for the poor, this was in MLK’s plan before he was assinated.

      • Girlp says:

        I’ve read your other post and it’s awful the way they treat people who have actually broken the law. The Feds took over the city jail one county over for feeding inmates food not fit for human consumption and threaten to take over the County jail as well. Seems the DOJ could do something.

        • I am glad to hear the Feds have acted, at least in one area. Just because a person has committed a crime, does not give license to freely violate the 8th Amendment, with cruel and unusual punishment.

  11. …still correcting typos, good heavens. I knew there was a reason Anne Lamont suggested putting the first draft of a memoir aside for several months.

    I followed that suggestion, and boy, are the typos ever popping!

    • William Walton says:

      Crane: reminds of a time when Dad was called to the county lockup to examine a drunk. GG was a stuttering deputy sheriff who was on duty at the time. Was on patrol and found this guy passed out along the side of the road. Brought him into the jail complex and put him in a cell. At 2 AM when they could not awaken him Henry (Hick) N called Dad. Hick was a patient of Dad’s. I being the designated driver who wanted to study medicine went along as designated driver. We entered the cell, and all Dad had to do was smell the man’s breath to diagnose that he was in diebetic shock. Told Hick to call an amulance and send him to the hospital where we headed. Before we left, Hick asked Dad how was GG supposed to know? Dad told him to take people they suspect of being drunk to the hospital and let them decide though blood tests. Hick said OK Doc. Dad then asked him if the next time he had a medical problem did he want to see him or GG? The answer was you Doc. The point is if one does not know what the problem is take that person to where they can be evaluated by a physician or nurse. Do not rely on a stuttering imbicile to make the decision. In otherwords seek competent advise before one makes a wrong move. Keep in mind that this occurred durning the mid ’50’s.

      • Yup, I totally believe it. Inmates die in jails in this country commonly, behind the imbeciles. That man is so fortunate your father caught that, lest he die. Good on your father to change that practice there.

        Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    • Two sides to a story says:

      Can take years to polish a novel or a memoir!

      You go, girl!

  12. I hope I have edited this post okay. Turns out it had numerous typos. Also, at first, the comments were off, but they are on now.

    Lighter note, on DUI:

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