Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad

23-26

with 2 comments

Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

January 22 2003

Morning: 3 out of 10

Afternoon:4 out of 10

Night: 8 out of 10

I passed by Miami Dade[1] this morning and spoke to one of their advisors, this old Cuban lady with gray-streaked black hair. She stared at me over her glasses and she looked bored the moment I walked up, before I even said anything.

And I know that look. I get it all the time now.

I know it, and I know where it comes from. It comes from this five o’clock shadow, the scars on my arms, the tattoos. I know, I know what I look like. They see all that, my wrinkled clothes, my permanent frown and my skin tone, and they give me that look.

People see me and, since I live in Miami, they assume I’m Hispanic and this Cuban lady this morning started in with her “Que lo que lo que” bullshit and I just held up my hand, said the only two words I know, “no habla.” And then she gave the look again.

Add that little detail to the whole package, my lack of bilingual talents, and people around here lose interest, start to think I’m just another junkie, recovering or not. Or a thief, a regular fucking clepto trying to prove something to somebody, maybe that I can go a whole semester without fucking up. They think I’m way older than I actually am, like I’m not still a kid, even though that’s exactly what I feel like. A kid. But they don’t see it like that.

It’s funny: once people view you as an adult, a grown man, they lose all sympathy for your troubles. You become more than just a burden; you become a problem.

I know what they say to themselves, to others when I leave.

“He’s probably on parole,” they say. They turn around to the person at the next desk and say, “if he thinks the government’s going to give him any money for school with his record, he’s lost his damn mind.”

I’ve never been locked up, but if it was up to these people I’d be behind bars just for looking like I belong there.

I can see it right now, when I close my eyes. They turn around to their co-workers when I leave and they’re like “he’s just trying to impress somebody so he can swindle them out of one thing or another. Like their trust.”

They say to each other that—when the novelty of the whole “school thing” wears off—I’ll drop it all over again, just like I probably have so many times before. Just like they know I have.

Usually, in the face of this type of oppression, I tuck my tail and run. Prove everybody right. I don’t know how to deal with that type of pressure. I had my rebellion stage, got over it, but that doesn’t mean I grew out completely.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t aged at all. Sometimes I feel like all that happened to me after the accident was I forgot what I used to be like, and everything associated with it. Like my mind reverted back to middle school, where keeping up to date on video games and comics were all I had to worry about. Like I’m back in a time before all my friends left town for school and the ones that didn’t were either hooked on drugs or busy taking care of their kids, or both.

I have to tell myself every day I’m not living back then anymore. This is now. Today is today. But I feel like it’s hitting me now, like I’m finally realizing this is all I’ve got, today and tomorrow. Yesterday’s gone.

So I looked that old lady at the Miami Dade advisor’s office straight in her face and told her I wanted to enroll. Made sure my expression said “I don’t want any bullshit either.”

And, you know what? She opened up. Surprised the shit out of me. She eyed me up and down for a second then smiled and started telling me all types of stuff about degrees and colleges and state universities and the whole deal. Overwhelmed the shit out of me.

Funny thing, because I went in that room only trying to get a feel for it all, per Doc Silver’s suggestion. See if it really had been just too long for me to be comfortable coming back. I mean, it’s only been like two years since I was a “college student,” but so much has happened since then I can barely remember caring enough about an education to actually get one.

I went in today just to test it out, that’s all. But the way that lady looked at me when I walked in, I wanted to prove her wrong before she could even get herself started on judging me. And it felt so good, that feeling, that I want to prove everybody wrong now. I want to shut the whole world up, jab my middle finger in the air and wipe my ass with their doubts.

I know, hostile. But it’s not like before. I’m smiling as I’m writing this. That doesn’t happen very often.


[1] Miami Dade College, formerly (at the time of this journal entry) Miami Dade Community College

________________________________________________________________________

Excerpt from Earl Bishop’s Prison Journal

10-12-08:
 
Everybody’s on edge here, all the time like we’re seconds away from fucking Armageddon.
 
Like aliens are about to invade and spray us with death rays. I’m talking War of the Worlds/Independence Day type shit.
 
No, Deep Impact. Yeah. That’s what people act like in here, like meteors are a couple thousand miles away and tumbling towards earth.
 
It’s just this general sense of impending doom, like everybody’s waiting for—no, wait, fuck that—expecting the final “lights out” call at any moment.
 
Anxious for the whole world to turn into a vacuum and suck all the life out of each prison cell, one by one.
 
It’s the oldest excuse for anarchy, if you think about it. The reason why huge groups of people rise up and yell and scream and loot and plunder and rape and murder every time there’s some natural disaster or their backyards turn into a warzone.
 
My cellmate is this guy named Paul. He looks normal, for the most part. Could be a rapist for all I know. He watches me when I pee like he’s just waiting for me to stop looking at him out the corner of my eye. I can hear him at night, whispering my name in his sleep with a different emphasized syllable each time, “Eaaaaarl, Earlllllll.”
 
And I’ve only been here for three months. You telling me I deserve this shit?

________________________________________________________________________

Interview with Graham Baker: Part 2

16 July 2011

– People trying to escape their lives, they do it for all types of reasons.

– Well, one of the most common is the abused spouse, the housewife whose getting six, seven hours of punishment a day from her husband: extension cords, tree branches, lamps, elbow to the head, you name it. These women, they deal with that crap because he’s the father of their child, because he has them thinking that him, he’s scary, but the world, that’s scarier. They deal and deal until one day they come inside the house and their kid, their daughter or son, he or she’s curled up in the corner with a black eye and big, purple bruises across their thighs and back. Maybe they’ve been touched in an unsavory manner to boot, you get me?

– And when she says something to the father, he lays her out. I mean, really gives it to her. And that’s the last straw.

– In that case, the first step is to grab what you can, the kid or kids and a week’s worth of clothes, any money or jewelry you’ve got access to. Stick a dish rag in the gas tank of the man’s car, light a match and watch the vehicle explode from a safe distance, you get me? Or if you’re not trying to cause a ruckus, sugar in the gas tank’s a good move too. Take out his mode of transportation and make sure you got one of your own, even if it’s your feet taking you to a bus station or a train depot. As long as you hit the road. And quickly.

– That’s step one. That’s the first move in a long process that takes a lot of planning. You can’t just up and make decisions like this. And if your husband ain’t beating on you or threatening your life, you might do better to just divorce him if you’re that unhappy. Otherwise, this life, the new life of the pseudocider, it ain’t worth it unless it’s really worth it, you get me?

– This is real stuff. You’ll see. It’s all in my book. Grab a copy when you get a chance.

________________________________________________________________________

Interview with Wayne “Classic” Price: Part 5

11 July 2011

– Everybody got problems, son. Tony ain’t have no right to put his on Earl. But he did. He put all that shit together, all them bullshit excuses: his bitch left him, he got fired from his job—

What?

– Man, hell naw. Tony’s dumbass couldn’t a gotten in on no med school shit. Nigga got fired, bruh. Was doin’ some shit in social work or somethin’. Was broke as shit too, had ‘bout a month before they kicked his ass out his apartment. Nigga had student loans comin’ out his ass, jackin’ all his pay checks—heard them loans is a bitch, son, that’s why I never got into that college shit. Nigga had all that shit goin’ on then he got fired, so now he ain’t even got no check for the muhfuckin’ loan people to jack. Pussy-less and broke, that’s how Tony came to Earl’s crib and asked him for help. If you ever saw the nigga, that’s the reason he’d give you for fuckin’ up Earl’s life.

– All bullshit though, bruh. All bullshit. He a coward. A bitch. Plain and simple.

– What you mean? The nigga asked Earl to help him. Fuck else I’m supposed to say?

– Bruh, ain’t that the reason you got me down here?

– ‘Cause a that crazy muhfucka Tony’s bullshit plan?

– Shit got my cuz locked up, son? You tellin’ me you ain’t heard this shit?

– Bruh, Tony came at Earl at his crib—muhfuckin’ balls on this nigga. Couldn’t have pulled that shit on me, I’da capped his ass right there in the kitchen, bruh. Like how they be putting horses down when they break a leg and shit? Yeah, bruh, I’da taken Tony’s ass out just like that son. Come at me with some shit like that in my crib? Disrespect, bruh. Nigga came at Earl like Earl was a fuckin’ idiot or something, told Earl straight up—damn, you ain’t heard this shit for real?

– You goin’ laugh yo ass off—Tony stepped to Earl like he was Don Corleone and shit, know what I’m sayin’? Tapped Earl on the chest and told Earl what Earl was goin’ do, you see? Ain’t give the brother a choice, just straight up told him. Said—here’s the shit you ain’t goin’ believe—Tony says, Earl, you goin’ help me kill myself.

– Muhfuckin’ suicide, bruh. Nigga stepped to Earl like, you helpin’ me kill myself, and ain’t shit you goin’ say about it.

Click For Parts 27-29

(Follow The Blog For Daily Excerpts From Future Chapters)

Written by patrickandersonjr

April 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I’ve decided i like this novel. However, it takes some getting used to, as one has to pay attention to the dates of the segments, which are out of sequence. If i were writing, i would give more hints as to who the interviewer is, and how the evidence was collected.

    James Hamilton

    June 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm


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