© Kyle R Fisher
Turbulent Reentry Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sex was the last thing on her mind, but it was the only thing on mine—at least that’s what she told a jury of my peers. Despite the fact we’d been sleeping together for six months, the State of Ohio didn’t consider our last time consensual. So, at a few months over the age of eighteen, I found myself staring down four years at the Dayton Correctional Institution. What a way to start adulthood. As I waited in the holding area, twenty-two years old and one locked door away from freedom, I stared at a poster depicting an inmate being greeted by his smiling wife and two small children. Below were the words “Reentry Means Going Home to Stay” emblazoned in large, white letters. For months I sat through the Reentry course, mandatory for all inmates being released and I was no more ready to reenter the world than I was ready to start college four years ago. There would be no smiling wife and eager children to greet me outside that door, only relief-filled parents who had anguished over their oldest boy for four years. “Okay Evans, time to go,” the correctional officer said through a semi-permanent scowl. His look was, I’ll see you again on your next time through. It was nothing personal; he was just reacting to factual information. According to my parole officer, fifty-two percent of parolees were back in prison within three years. I’m sure the little wife wasn’t smiling when that happened. I carried my meager possessions to the door the correctional officer was holding open and entered a small waiting room decorated to look like a modern living room. There stood my parents, Tom and Lacy Evans. Pop stood in an awkward pose leaning against a table. He looked uncomfortable and tears trailed down Ma’s cheeks, like every time they visited me. As always, their salted gray hair and worry lines were more visible than the previous month. They’ve aged excessively since I came here and it kills me every time I see them. After a vigorous hug, Ma rubbed a hand through my short, brown hair and said, “How are you, Wade?” Well, Ma, I thought bitterly, I’ve spent the last four years showering, sleeping, and shitting with forty other men, most of whom wouldn’t piss on me if I were on fire. I wasn’t forced to have sex with other men, but I listened to it happen numerous times. The food sucked and I was locked in a concrete barracks for fourteen hours a day. How do you think I am? I said, “I’m okay. Glad it’s finally over.” But who am I kidding? Will it ever be over? Pop smiled halfheartedly and shook my hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” In the vast but empty parking lot we found Pop’s car and headed home. It’s the same car he drove when I went in. Pop worked for a local automaker on a brake assembly line and bought a new car every three years with his employee discount. That stopped when I went to prison. Not much was said on the twenty-five-minute drive home until Ma brought up Garrett. “Your brother couldn’t make it today. He had a test this morning. He’s doing so well at Ohio State. He said he’d try to come home to see you over the weekend.” It was a valiant effort on her part, but she didn’t have to try. I knew he wouldn’t be home this weekend. He hadn’t visited me in four years, why should he start now? Nothing was ever spoken, but I knew he never forgave me for putting Ma and Pop through this. Garrett is in his second year of college at Ohio State University in Columbus majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He’s getting the college education I didn’t. Oh, I got an education—just not one you can put on a diploma. For starters, I learned a whole new language. On my first day of prison, I learned the term Ho Check. That’s the initial group beating you receive to see if you’ll defend yourself. Fail this test and you’re called a Catcher, better known as someone’s bitch. A bed was called a rack. Food was referred to as chow. A Gunner was someone who masturbated while watching another person, typically female, but those were rare birds in our neighborhood. There was other colorful, new vocabulary, but you get the idea. Along with the new language skills, I learned some survival skills, too. I learned unlike the outside world, violence is the only way to stay alive and unmolested. I learned you fight back or you get bent over your bunk. I learned everyone was your friend when they wanted something and nobody could be trusted, not even the correctional officers. Some of them were scarier than the inmates. “That’s okay,” I said in a mumble. “He needs to keep up those grades.” Ma and Pop spent a fortune on my lawyer even though he was one of the least expensive in town. Because of the legal bills, there wasn’t much money for Garrett’s education. He had to keep his nose to the grindstone all through high school to get good enough grades to earn a scholarship. He had to study just as hard in college to maintain it, but that wasn’t enough by itself to explain why he never visited. Maybe I should start at the beginning. My name is Wade Evans. I’m six feet one and weigh a hundred and ninety pounds. I have dark hair, average looks, and if I don’t shave I have a heavy, five o-clock shadow on my face. My only non-average feature is the Michael Douglas-style cleft on my chin. Pop says it looks more like the chin on Michael Douglas’ father, Kirk, but I’m not sure who that is. I met my accuser, Elisabeth Brooks, in the campus bookstore at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve lived in this area all my life. Everyone’s heard of Dayton, the “Birthplace of Aviation,” where Orville and Wilbur tinkered their way into aviation history. It’s a city in the middle of Ohio with a population of a million people. As cities go, it’s probably decent, but you try to live here all your life and see how badly you want to get out. To be accurate, I live in Huber Heights, a northern suburb of Dayton, with my parents in a cookie- cutter, single-story brick ranch style house nestled among all the other ranch style brick houses. When I met Elisabeth, I had recently started attending Wright State in their computer engineering program. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up and picked this major because I was halfway decent at some of the programming classes I took in high school. Wright State is a big, urban campus located south of Wright Patterson Air Force Base on the northeastern side of the city. Like many things in this area, it was named in honor of the Wright brothers. The story they tell you during orientation is they almost named it Southwestern State but the Ohio Senate voted it down and opted to again honor the Wrights. The large sign at the entrance depicts a silhouette of the Wright’s first plane. With a heritage like this, you’d think the university would offer a degree program in Aeronautical Engineering, but Aerospace Medicine is as close as they get. The on-campus bookstore is located in the Student Union. I, along with every other student, it seems, needed to buy books that first week of class. After a numbing hour-long wait in line, I glanced ahead at the college girl working behind the cash register. She was drop-dead gorgeous on anyone’s scale. She had sandy brown hair in a loose perm, which floated ethereally around her head. Her sensuous lips were currently producing a weary, forced smile. She appeared physically perfect in every way, from her crystal-clear, lightly tanned complexion to a body from a Victoria’s Secret catalog—the lingerie provided by my imagination. When it was finally my turn, I dropped a thick stack of textbooks onto the checkout counter with titles like Engineering Economy and Introduction to C Programming Language. “Will this be all?” she asked as she held each book in front of the bar code reader, waited for the beep, and shoved them in a plastic bag. She hadn’t looked twice at me. I couldn’t tear my eyes from her. As I stood there almost salivating—so great was my attraction to her at first sight—I couldn’t help but think every guy she meets must act this same way. I felt even smaller and more insignificant than when I first walked onto campus as a freshman two days before. “Yeah,” I managed to mumble without spitting on her. She glanced up and forced another smile. I smiled back. She wore a low-cut, sleeveless green top and a pair of low-rise jeans with a hint of a flat stomach peeking out. Now closer, I could see her hair was a mixed bag of colors and shades, mostly blonde, but with enough brown to make it interesting. Her eyes sparkled a deep green. She rang it up and gave me my final cost. Without hearing her, I pulled out my wallet and handed her some bills. I was too busy concentrating on the hint of cleavage afforded to me by the low-cut top. It was not enough to be improper, but enough to show she was a woman. A confused look came over her face after counting the bills I handed to her. “You’re a little short,” she said. That brought me out of my cleavage hypnosis. “What?” “Yeah, I need another…” she looked at her cash register readout, “…fifteen bucks and some change.” With a side-glance at the twenty or so people standing in line behind me, I again hauled out my wallet, this time with a sick feeling. I knew it was empty before I opened it. She saw into the wallet’s depths at the same time I did and we both looked at each other. I knew there was panic in my eyes, but I didn’t expect to see it in hers. “I’ve got it,” she said, her smile returning. She reached into her front pocket and pulled out a crinkled twenty-dollar bill. She added it to my stack and began making change. I felt bad about taking the twenty but I couldn’t refuse her. What else was I going to do? “Thanks. I promise I’ll pay you back.” “Whatever,” she said with a dismissive gesture. “It’s only money.” She handed me the change and pushed the bag of books my way. As I hefted it from the counter I had a sudden inspiration. “What’s your name?” She looked at me hesitantly, as if she’d heard that one a few times too many, but then she smiled—a real smile this time—and answered. “Elisabeth Brooks.” “Thanks, Elisabeth.” I smiled back and turned to leave without telling her my name. The next day I went back to the bookstore and stood in another hour-long line to buy a pack of gum. This time I watched her the entire hour, which, because of this, passed by all too quickly. I got another genuine smile from her about two customers before my turn to pay and saw the only physical flaw I would ever notice about her. She had one faintly crooked tooth jutting at a slight angle. That was it. Otherwise she was physically perfect. I, on the other hand, was not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no leper, but I’ve never been anything more than average. I have average looks, an average build, an average athletic inclination, and typically have average luck with the ladies. Now, here I was actually pursuing her. Not that pursuit was a bad thing; it was just so out of character for me. My lack of experience with women, compounded by the blank mind I often developed around attractive women usually made me come across as boring and bland. Consequently, this personal catch-22 kept me from gaining any valuable experience. Now, for some unknown reason, my past fumbles forgotten, it was a whole new ball game. I was nothing special and this girl, Elisabeth, was miles out of my league, but there I was helpless to resist my pursuit of her. When I reached the checkout, I got another smile as I handed her the money for the gum plus an extra twenty to pay her back. “You really didn’t have to,” she said. “I wouldn’t have felt right,” I told her as truthfully as I could. “Can I at least buy you lunch or something for your trouble?” I surprised myself how easy the words tumbled out and how nonchalant and impetuous it sounded. It wasn’t me talking, but whoever it was, I liked this guy. She offered only a skeptical stare for what seemed like long seconds before her smile softened and she said, “Okay, can you be back here at 12:30?” “Sure. See you then.” At the appointed time, I walked her to the Student Union cafeteria where we ordered burgers. It was nothing fancy, but was the best date I could remember having up to that point in my social career. Men looked at her the entire time we were together and she acted as if she didn’t notice. For the first time in my life I was intoxicated with self-confidence.
© Kyle R. Fisher
Turbulent Reentry Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sex was the last thing on her mind, but it was the only thing on mine—at least that’s what she told a jury of my peers. Despite the fact we’d been sleeping together for six months, the State of Ohio didn’t consider our last time consensual. So, at a few months over the age of eighteen, I found myself staring down four years at the Dayton Correctional Institution. What a way to start adulthood. As I waited in the holding area, twenty-two years old and one locked door away from freedom, I stared at a poster depicting an inmate being greeted by his smiling wife and two small children. Below were the words “Reentry Means Going Home to Stay” emblazoned in large, white letters. For months I sat through the Reentry course, mandatory for all inmates being released and I was no more ready to reenter the world than I was ready to start college four years ago. There would be no smiling wife and eager children to greet me outside that door, only relief-filled parents who had anguished over their oldest boy for four years. “Okay Evans, time to go,” the correctional officer said through a semi-permanent scowl. His look was, I’ll see you again on your next time through. It was nothing personal; he was just reacting to factual information. According to my parole officer, fifty-two percent of parolees were back in prison within three years. I’m sure the little wife wasn’t smiling when that happened. I carried my meager possessions to the door the correctional officer was holding open and entered a small waiting room decorated to look like a modern living room. There stood my parents, Tom and Lacy Evans. Pop stood in an awkward pose leaning against a table. He looked uncomfortable and tears trailed down Ma’s cheeks, like every time they visited me. As always, their salted gray hair and worry lines were more visible than the previous month. They’ve aged excessively since I came here and it kills me every time I see them. After a vigorous hug, Ma rubbed a hand through my short, brown hair and said, “How are you, Wade?” Well, Ma, I thought bitterly, I’ve spent the last four years showering, sleeping, and shitting with forty other men, most of whom wouldn’t piss on me if I were on fire. I wasn’t forced to have sex with other men, but I listened to it happen numerous times. The food sucked and I was locked in a concrete barracks for fourteen hours a day. How do you think I am? I said, “I’m okay. Glad it’s finally over.” But who am I kidding? Will it ever be over? Pop smiled halfheartedly and shook my hand. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” In the vast but empty parking lot we found Pop’s car and headed home. It’s the same car he drove when I went in. Pop worked for a local automaker on a brake assembly line and bought a new car every three years with his employee discount. That stopped when I went to prison. Not much was said on the twenty-five-minute drive home until Ma brought up Garrett. “Your brother couldn’t make it today. He had a test this morning. He’s doing so well at Ohio State. He said he’d try to come home to see you over the weekend.” It was a valiant effort on her part, but she didn’t have to try. I knew he wouldn’t be home this weekend. He hadn’t visited me in four years, why should he start now? Nothing was ever spoken, but I knew he never forgave me for putting Ma and Pop through this. Garrett is in his second year of college at Ohio State University in Columbus majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He’s getting the college education I didn’t. Oh, I got an education—just not one you can put on a diploma. For starters, I learned a whole new language. On my first day of prison, I learned the term Ho Check. That’s the initial group beating you receive to see if you’ll defend yourself. Fail this test and you’re called a Catcher, better known as someone’s bitch. A bed was called a rack. Food was referred to as chow. A Gunner was someone who masturbated while watching another person, typically female, but those were rare birds in our neighborhood. There was other colorful, new vocabulary, but you get the idea. Along with the new language skills, I learned some survival skills, too. I learned unlike the outside world, violence is the only way to stay alive and unmolested. I learned you fight back or you get bent over your bunk. I learned everyone was your friend when they wanted something and nobody could be trusted, not even the correctional officers. Some of them were scarier than the inmates. “That’s okay,” I said in a mumble. “He needs to keep up those grades.” Ma and Pop spent a fortune on my lawyer even though he was one of the least expensive in town. Because of the legal bills, there wasn’t much money for Garrett’s education. He had to keep his nose to the grindstone all through high school to get good enough grades to earn a scholarship. He had to study just as hard in college to maintain it, but that wasn’t enough by itself to explain why he never visited. Maybe I should start at the beginning. My name is Wade Evans. I’m six feet one and weigh a hundred and ninety pounds. I have dark hair, average looks, and if I don’t shave I have a heavy, five o-clock shadow on my face. My only non- average feature is the Michael Douglas-style cleft on my chin. Pop says it looks more like the chin on Michael Douglas’ father, Kirk, but I’m not sure who that is. I met my accuser, Elisabeth Brooks, in the campus bookstore at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve lived in this area all my life. Everyone’s heard of Dayton, the “Birthplace of Aviation,” where Orville and Wilbur tinkered their way into aviation history. It’s a city in the middle of Ohio with a population of a million people. As cities go, it’s probably decent, but you try to live here all your life and see how badly you want to get out. To be accurate, I live in Huber Heights, a northern suburb of Dayton, with my parents in a cookie-cutter, single-story brick ranch style house nestled among all the other ranch style brick houses. When I met Elisabeth, I had recently started attending Wright State in their computer engineering program. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up and picked this major because I was halfway decent at some of the programming classes I took in high school. Wright State is a big, urban campus located south of Wright Patterson Air Force Base on the northeastern side of the city. Like many things in this area, it was named in honor of the Wright brothers. The story they tell you during orientation is they almost named it Southwestern State but the Ohio Senate voted it down and opted to again honor the Wrights. The large sign at the entrance depicts a silhouette of the Wright’s first plane. With a heritage like this, you’d think the university would offer a degree program in Aeronautical Engineering, but Aerospace Medicine is as close as they get. The on-campus bookstore is located in the Student Union. I, along with every other student, it seems, needed to buy books that first week of class. After a numbing hour-long wait in line, I glanced ahead at the college girl working behind the cash register. She was drop-dead gorgeous on anyone’s scale. She had sandy brown hair in a loose perm, which floated ethereally around her head. Her sensuous lips were currently producing a weary, forced smile. She appeared physically perfect in every way, from her crystal- clear, lightly tanned complexion to a body from a Victoria’s Secret catalog—the lingerie provided by my imagination. When it was finally my turn, I dropped a thick stack of textbooks onto the checkout counter with titles like Engineering Economy and Introduction to C Programming Language. “Will this be all?” she asked as she held each book in front of the bar code reader, waited for the beep, and shoved them in a plastic bag. She hadn’t looked twice at me. I couldn’t tear my eyes from her. As I stood there almost salivating—so great was my attraction to her at first sight—I couldn’t help but think every guy she meets must act this same way. I felt even smaller and more insignificant than when I first walked onto campus as a freshman two days before. “Yeah,” I managed to mumble without spitting on her. She glanced up and forced another smile. I smiled back. She wore a low-cut, sleeveless green top and a pair of low-rise jeans with a hint of a flat stomach peeking out. Now closer, I could see her hair was a mixed bag of colors and shades, mostly blonde, but with enough brown to make it interesting. Her eyes sparkled a deep green. She rang it up and gave me my final cost. Without hearing her, I pulled out my wallet and handed her some bills. I was too busy concentrating on the hint of cleavage afforded to me by the low-cut top. It was not enough to be improper, but enough to show she was a woman. A confused look came over her face after counting the bills I handed to her. “You’re a little short,” she said. That brought me out of my cleavage hypnosis. “What?” “Yeah, I need another…” she looked at her cash register readout, “…fifteen bucks and some change.” With a side-glance at the twenty or so people standing in line behind me, I again hauled out my wallet, this time with a sick feeling. I knew it was empty before I opened it. She saw into the wallet’s depths at the same time I did and we both looked at each other. I knew there was panic in my eyes, but I didn’t expect to see it in hers. “I’ve got it,” she said, her smile returning. She reached into her front pocket and pulled out a crinkled twenty-dollar bill. She added it to my stack and began making change. I felt bad about taking the twenty but I couldn’t refuse her. What else was I going to do? “Thanks. I promise I’ll pay you back.” “Whatever,” she said with a dismissive gesture. “It’s only money.” She handed me the change and pushed the bag of books my way. As I hefted it from the counter I had a sudden inspiration. “What’s your name?” She looked at me hesitantly, as if she’d heard that one a few times too many, but then she smiled—a real smile this time—and answered. “Elisabeth Brooks.” “Thanks, Elisabeth.” I smiled back and turned to leave without telling her my name. The next day I went back to the bookstore and stood in another hour-long line to buy a pack of gum. This time I watched her the entire hour, which, because of this, passed by all too quickly. I got another genuine smile from her about two customers before my turn to pay and saw the only physical flaw I would ever notice about her. She had one faintly crooked tooth jutting at a slight angle. That was it. Otherwise she was physically perfect. I, on the other hand, was not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no leper, but I’ve never been anything more than average. I have average looks, an average build, an average athletic inclination, and typically have average luck with the ladies. Now, here I was actually pursuing her. Not that pursuit was a bad thing; it was just so out of character for me. My lack of experience with women, compounded by the blank mind I often developed around attractive women usually made me come across as boring and bland. Consequently, this personal catch-22 kept me from gaining any valuable experience. Now, for some unknown reason, my past fumbles forgotten, it was a whole new ball game. I was nothing special and this girl, Elisabeth, was miles out of my league, but there I was helpless to resist my pursuit of her. When I reached the checkout, I got another smile as I handed her the money for the gum plus an extra twenty to pay her back. “You really didn’t have to,” she said. “I wouldn’t have felt right,” I told her as truthfully as I could. “Can I at least buy you lunch or something for your trouble?” I surprised myself how easy the words tumbled out and how nonchalant and impetuous it sounded. It wasn’t me talking, but whoever it was, I liked this guy. She offered only a skeptical stare for what seemed like long seconds before her smile softened and she said, “Okay, can you be back here at 12:30?” “Sure. See you then.” At the appointed time, I walked her to the Student Union cafeteria where we ordered burgers. It was nothing fancy, but was the best date I could remember having up to that point in my social career. Men looked at her the entire time we were together and she acted as if she didn’t notice. For the first time in my life I was intoxicated with self-confidence.