Jailhouse Blues

September 21, 2008
By Jacob Keeney, Springfield, MO

“All inmates, attention! Get off of yer lazy hind parts! It’s meal time.”
As I arose from my peaceful slumber, the smile was quickly wiped off my face, for I was reminded that I was not in the pub sippin’ down some whiskey with some beautiful women, back home in St. Louis. Nope, I was in Alright, Mississippi County Jail. This certainly was not the life that I was hopin’ for. Yes sir, it was the turn of the twentieth century and I was stuck behind bars in a run down prison cell, with nothin’ more to eat than some moldy bread and mush that I still can’t figure out what is made of yet. Sometimes I like to reminisce about the old days as a free man. It has been so long that I can’t quite recollect what I did that was so wrong to get in here in the first place. I guess that it would have all begun back home in old St. Louis where I got the offer of a lifetime.

It was a Friday, and I was relaxing at the old pub when a stranger came walkin’ in. The man looked like the wealthy type. He had a pressed, clean tweed jacket, an imported silk vest, a golden timepiece that he would flash about every three minutes, just to let the people see how much success he had, and he also had a round black derby hat. The stocky, middle aged man looked about 5’ 7”, had a thick black mustache and a balding head. I gave him a friendly hello and he then returned the gesture and sat down at the bar stool next to me.

After he got his drink and laid his cap on the bar, he began telling me of all his remarkable “business” ventures. The man seemed somewhat odd, for I had never spoken to him or seen him before, yet he treated me as if I was one of his long time friends. Right away I could tell that he was from up north, due to his heavy Boston accent. He told me of a way that I could “get rich quick.” The man seemed to be doing well, pretty well, so I paid close attention. He began speaking about the many items that were transported on the Mississippi River, most of which could make a man very wealthy if he were to get his hands on them. One item in particular, that he made a clear note of mentioning to me, was women’s clothing products. The short, stocky man said that he had just recently pulled a job in New Orleans about three weeks back and is already raking in the profits. He said that all one has to do is steal the goods from the loading docks, store in a safe place, and sell it on the East Coast for wholesale price, and the women’s husbands will be forced to buy the cheap goods for their spoiled wives. The stranger then explained to me that this was the reason why he was in St. Louis tonight, and that I was welcome to join him.

Typically, I am an honest man who makes an honest living; but after some bad investments and poor bets, I was forced to get my money back any way I could. So, after much doubt, I agreed to the man’s offer. After we had a few more drinks he told me to meet him at the loading docks by the old mill at thirty minutes past midnight. This was going to be our best opportunity, because the night watchman was an old friend of the stranger.

That night, I met up with the stranger outside of the loading docks. The stranger arrived with a small wagon that would hold all of the goods. Then we made contact with the night watchman and he allowed us to enter. Everything had been going smoothly; no suspicious folks were around to make any alarm. As the stranger and I were loading the women’s clothes into the wagon, we heard loud yelpin’ and hollerin’ houn’ dogs coming from the entrance. We had been ratted out! By who? I may never know the answer. What I did know was that I had to high tail it outta there. But before I could get on the wagon, the stranger was already gone. As he left he yelled back, “Sorry friend ‘tis only business!” Why if I ever saw him again I’m sure I’d strangle em’.
I had to think quickly. The only thing I could come up with was to disguise myself as a woman by puttin’ on some of them silly dresses. After I was cleverly dressed in the women’s attire, I quickly scampered to the ship and hid in a passenger’s cabin. After a long while, the houns’yelpin’ faded, and I got outta my hiding spot and made my way up to the main deck. I then realized that I was surely not in St. Louis anymore. I must have dozed off while I was in the passenger’s cabin. We musta’ been miles away from home. I quickly asked the deckhand of the ship where we were. He replied, “Why pretty lady, we be in Mississippi.” Flattered by the complement, I then asked him when the next stop would be. The young man then said, “We’ll stop in the next port city, in Alright, Mississippi. We’ll arrive in ‘bout fifteen minutes or so ma‘am.”
After many thoughts raced through my mind I decided that I should get off in Alright, Mississippi. Unfortunately for me, though, this would soon be the decision that would be the cause of my ultimate demise. When we finally arrived in Alright, I strode off the ship, trying to look as lady-like as possible until I could find some proper clothes. Then, I could lay low for awhile until everything cooled down back in St. Louis. This would be another mistake in my plan; because, I guess that nobody in Alright, Mississippi had ever seen a decent looking lady before. So, before I knew it the men were grabbin’ and touchin’ my hind parts. I sure did try to keep calm though, for I knew that it would be just a little bit longer. Well I musta’ been a little too relaxed; ‘cause all of a sudden two men started fightin’ over which one would claim me as their own.
“I saw her first!’ one man exclaimed.
“She don’t like you, ‘cause you’re worthless and weak!” cried out the other man. As I tried to calm them down, they began to play tug of war with me; pulling me back and forth. They tugged and pulled so hard that my wig and my bonnet fell from my head.
“She’s a, a, a he!” one of them said.
“I knew that! I was just playin’,” the other man said, lying straight through his teeth. “He’s all yours buddy.”
But wouldn’t it be just my luck; the sheriff of the city wasn’t standing but twenty feet away from me when this happened. He instantly recognized me from the posters. I guess the stranger’s friend, the night watchman, had told the police what I looked like. “I seen you before!” the sheriff yelled. “You’re wanted for stolen property up in St. Louis. I won’t have none of that in my town! Come with me.”
I didn’t struggle, I did as I was told and followed the sheriff. Well, I guess that is the story of how I ended up here in the county prison. It seems like I have been in this prison for far too long. I just miss my home I guess. This may all change very soon however. There is word going around that there is gonna be a jailbreak tonight. So, I think I may be seeing home again here pretty soon, hopefully.

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