The Man In Jail

By , valley cottage, NY


                                                 
  James R. Smith was born the same day his father Charles Smith was sent to jail. James had to grow up in a community where there were only”perfect families”. Not having a father figure made his years of childhood difficult, and know being 18 he started to wonder about his father.  Every saturday morning james would receive a letter from his father. The face of the leader read, To James R. Smith, 122 South Green Rd, from Oklahoma County Jail. Marching back to his house, James handed the mail to his mother while keeping the letter from his father clenched tight in his hand. James entered his room and slammed his door, bang!, the whole house shook. James reached under his bed grabbed a box filled to the brim with unopened letters and added the new one to the top of the pile.


The next morning James mother, Claire shouted from the bottom of the old wooden stairs, “James breakfast is ready”.


James trampled down the stairs, “what's for breakfast”.


“Eggs and bacon made by your favorite mother”.


  “You're my only mother” he laughed. 


With a firm voice Claire said “You know James I don't want you to get upset, but you should right your father back”


“What!, why” he said angrily.


“ your father did nothing wrong and you need to understand that” Claire said calmly.


“Then why is he in jail” he said in a confused voice.


“I'm not able to explain but believe me when I say he did nothing wrong. I know you think that your father doesn't care, but he loves you,” Claire said firmly.


James strolled out the door with a confused look on his face. He just didn't understand , why would his father be in jail if he did nothing wrong. James was determined to find out. All day throughout school James was generating a plan to reveal the true story of why Charles is in jail. Ding! Ding!, school was out and James rushed to his locker, gathered his belongings and ran for the bus. James sat anxiously, waiting for his stop. He was heading to the county clerk's office where James hoped to be able to find the records on his father's arrest. Little did James know what he wanted was not going to be found.


James arrived at the county clerk's office with the  intent of receiving clarity about his father, but that was not received. James pushed through the swinging doors and walked right up to the front desk. “Hello, can I see the records of Charles Smith in 1965 please” he requested.


The women at the front desk replied, “i'm sorry but we have no records under that name, are you sure that's the right person you're looking for?”


“ I'm quite positive” , James said with a snarky voice. “ If they're not her where would they be?”.


“Maybe you're thinking of the wrong person”, the receptionist politely replied.
“ I'M NOT!”, James screamed.


James turned around and stomped out. He was so furiated by the fact no one would give him the answers to his questions. The only option left was to go straight to the source, his father. That Saturday James planed  to go to the Oklahoma county jail and finally speak to his father. James was flooded with emotions, anger with his father for not being there for his childhood, confusion with the fact that no one will give him answers, and fear of revealing the truth.


The sun shined bright between the crack of the curtains forecasting a light into James's eyes. James stretched and thought to himself about the day ahead, “is it going to be a good day, am I going to receive answers?”, he wondered. James swung his feet around to the side of the bed and slowly raised  himself up. “Oooaaawww” exited James mouth as he reached his armed high for the sky  and stretched. James jumped into the shower and then immediately got dressed. He ran down the stairs and said, “good morning mother I can't stay, I have a school event to attend”.


“Ok honey see you when you get back”, Claire said.


James wasn't going to a school event, he was going to see his father. As James drove to the jail where his father resided he thought to himself,  what does my father look like, is he nice, will he know who I am? James arrived at the jail and put his car in park. He waited there and debated whether or not he should step out of his car and enter the jail or to turn around and go home. “No!”, he said aloud, “I came here for a reason, to find out the truth and that’s what i’m going to do”, he screamed to himself as he looked in his dashboard mirror. James raised himself out of the car and headed for the doors.


James arrived at the front desk “May I speak to Charles Smith please”.


“ok , print and sign your name please”, the security guard said in an annoyed voice. 


James was escorted to window 2 where he would be meat by his father. The security guard sat James down and told him in an irritated tone, “it will just be a moment the other guards are going to bring Charles to other side of the window for you”. James's legs were shaking and he was sweating profusely. As James sat there anxiously he suddenly heard footsteps. There he stood, James's father was in shock. “Hi I'm James, your son”. Charles at down slowly not knowing what to say.


“I...I.. don't know what to say. I never would have imagined you coming her to visit me. Why did you come”, Charles questioned.


“ I wanted to know why you were arrested and no will give me the answers I have been looking for. I went to the county clerk's office and searched for your records but they weren't there, why?, James asked
“They were hidden the basement of the county clerk's office”, Charles told James.


“Why”, james said in a confused voice.


“ I'm can't say here”, Charles said as he looked over his shoulder at the prison guard. “I'll leave that up to you to figure out”, he said as he gave James a mysterious look.


James walked out of the jail even more confused than before. He got to his car started it up headed back to the county clerk's office. Once he arrived he knew he needed a plan on how to get into the basement. The stairs to the basement were located right next to the receptionist desk. James pushed through the doors of the clearly office and to his surprise the receptionist was nowhere to be found. “ I guess I don't need a plan”, James thought to himself. He walked right down the stairs that headed to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs was a door that read secure area, employees only. James disregarded the sign and charged right in. In front of him stood a file cabinet and in that cabinet was Charles file on his arrest. James opened up the cabinet grabbed his father's file and read, Charles Smith, arrested October 20th, 1965. Arrest reason: defended a black man. “What?”, James said aloud. “That's it, this is insane”. James was furious, “i've gone my whole life angry with my father because he defended a black man, that's horrible”. James took the file a headed up the basement stairs, when he reached the top of the stairs the receptionist was their. He needed to find another way out. James rushed back down the stairs and spotted a tiny window, he opened the window and jumped out. “Ouch that hurt more than expected”, James whispered.


James brought the file back  to his mother and asked her why he would be in jail in the first place and why he's still in their. James mother replied, “ the head of the jail was the officer that arrested your father and he doesn't like that fact that your father did, and still does support black people”.


“So you mean to say that dad is in jail all because of this one guy that hates black people, and black supporters”, James said angrily.


“Yes honey, it's awful and we couldn't do anything about it because he threatened us”, Clair said sadly.
“I'm not going to stand for this”, James announced. James rushed out of the house, and was determined to get his father out of jail. He pulled up to the jail and stormed right in demanding to talk to the the director of the jail. They pulled James aside and placed him in the director's office. The directed entered  and asked “how may I help you”.


James stood up slammed his father's file on the desk and said, “let him out”.


“I can't do that, now do I need to escort you out or can you leave on your own”, the director said in a snarky voice.


James tried to fight back but as soon as he did a giant man came in grabbed James by my the arm and threw him outside. The next day James mother received a call from the jail, that said, we are sorry to inform you that you husband Charles Smith died this morning. Claire hung up the phone sprinted up the stairs and told James. James was petrified, “I did this, this is my fault ”, James cried. James mother told him they said he died of natural causes but James new that was not the case. Clair tried comforting James but he asked her to leave. As James mother exited the room he reached under his bed and pulled out the box of unopened letters from his father and started to read the the first letter ever sent to him.






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