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Illustration by Brian Hindson

One Friday in January the education department brought in various word puzzles, all with a prison theme. How cute, I thought.

At the time, however, I was more concerned about what was happening after our ability to move around during our recreational time was restricted the previous day. I knew the other building had been locked down because of COVID-19. There had also been an outbreak at the camp, so it was inevitable that it would get here.

I looked out of our unit’s windows and watched as a flatbed pickup truck with two green containers came in followed by a forklift and a silver trailer with five doors on one side. I saw that the word “shower” was above each door. The containers were put on the ground, and a generator and portable HVAC system were brought in.

Then I heard that the containers had held tents. Army tents.

“They did that last time too, but they never used them,” I heard numerous people say.
All I wanted was to get out for recreation.

One tent was erected. One more tent to go. As the puzzles arrived, a second tent was erected. No port-a-potties though, so I still had hope.

Saturday morning came and went with no moves. But, really it was those stupid puzzles that did it for me. I knew we were locked in for the MLK weekend.

At some point on the following Tuesday, five port-a-potties had been brought in, and the shower trailer was moved slightly.

Wednesday marked seven days of no recreation movement. We had only been allowed to go to the laundry and the commissary. The shower trailer had no water going to it yet, but I had heard it was an easy hook-up.

Through word of mouth — the least accurate form of information — I heard that we would be permitted greater movement on Friday. They apparently had put all this in place in case they ran out of areas to quarantine any COVID-19 cases.

It wasn’t a bad idea, but it had been frustrating to try to figure out what was going on. I guess that’s prison.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Brian Hindson is an artist whose favorite styles of work are impressionism and pop art. His work is published on the Justice Arts Coalition. Hindson is incarcerated in Texas.