Author Archives: 5to20

Fog

After weeks of unseasonably warm weather—evenings in which one could walk the track in only his shorts and tank top—a cold front blows in overnight bringing with it a fog so tenacious not even the West Texas wind can drive … Continue reading

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Officers’ Mess

The floors in the dorms have been waxed, the walls patched and painted. Freshly laid treading in the stairwells still reek of rubber and adhesive. Outside, hedges stand trimmed, windows gleam spotless, and on the rec yard the once threadbare … Continue reading

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The Hygienist

The last time I saw Jay was at the commissary Monday morning. His number had been called moments earlier, and he’d returned from the window carrying a laundry bag of toiletries and instant coffee. Save for some sugar-free peppermints, he’d … Continue reading

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Mascots

Before the roadrunner came into our lives there was the skunk, whose feather duster tail could often be seen surfacing from the tall grass behind the library like a periscope. We presumed him male and assigned him familiar vices. Our … Continue reading

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Pageant

A faux fir stands trimmed in silver garland and twinkling lights in the Vocations Department. Crimson poinsettias deck the Food Service Management classroom. Meanwhile in the dormitories the bulletin boards have been lined with shimmering gift wrap, on top of … Continue reading

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Remediation

No one seems able to agree on how the custom of knocking on the mess hall tables got started. Some say the practice began in state prisons where inmates, pressed to eat quickly, exchanged knocks in place of formal pleasantries. … Continue reading

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Comrades

It wasn’t the softly shuddering rain that woke me but the scraping of steel legs on concrete. A leak, cold and black in the dark, had sprung over someone’s bed. Throughout the dorm men pushed their bunks clear of the … Continue reading

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