Big Bird in Prison (7) By Edna Merle

Big Bird was another room-mate that was certainly hellish.  I’d known Big Bird for over ten years from another institution we’d lived in together before we eventually became roommates.  Ten years ago, she was funny, smart, worked like a dog and  was honest.  At that time she was on medication treatment for schizophrenia, taking Halcyon and something else. I forgot what.  Anyway, years later after I’d moved to another institution and she came back to prison for her 3rd or 4th trip, she became my roommate because no one else would take her. We were living in a pre transitional dorm then, kind of like an honor dorm. I was voted the dorm representative and told the counselor since I’d known Big Bird before and we’d been friends, I felt comfortable with having her in my room. Now we were sharing a two person room.  I then learned that Big Bird has refused her medication for 6 months because she didn’t want to walk to medical to get it. It was about a mile and a half walk to medical and back from our dorm.

She didn’t have any money so I shared my store-bought foods with her. I paid her in food to clean the room and the floor. I tried to clean the room prior to our arrangement only to find her cleaning over everything I’d previously done. So, my cleaning was moot. I was wasting my time cleaning, for sure.

She was very predictable. Everything had a schedule from which there was no deviating. She would become very angry if things just happen to alter her schedule or delay her at any time. I learned her schedule and tried to work around her. Finally, one evening I had made some cherry kool-aid and had given her some lemonade. She wanted the cherry kool-aid, but I didn’t have enough left to give her. I went to eat dinner, she stayed behind. When I came back I took my cup and drank my kool-aid, which I noticed had a slimy strange texture to it. It also tasted watered down. I poured the remainder down the toilet and forgot about it.  3:00 AM I awoke with such severe abdominal pains that I immediately heard in my spirit, “you’ve been poisoned”. I got down off the top buck and alerted the officer to my door. He opened it and I went downstairs with him to call medical. I was taken to medical and given a sort of gastric cocktail. My blood pressure was “through the roof” because of the pain. The nurses asked me if I drank glass cleaner, because they said, that’s what the men did to get high”. I assured them I had not, nor would I ever do that.  Then they asked me who my roommate was. When I told them they collectively said, “No wonder, she’s done this before. But we can’t prove it”. I was shocked that Big Bird would do this to me. And I didn’t want to believe it. But I knew it was true.

When I came back the next morning she asked me what the doctors said. I told her they said it was my gallbladder. She laughed hysterically, which I thought bizarre.  I then proceeded to speak to the counselor and then finally the deputy warden of security who moved me immediately. After I moved to a different room. Big Bird became even worse, because now her money flow was gone and she tried to terrorize me. Big Bird wanted to fight me. I had been feeling the violence emanating from her, even while I was sleeping in the room with her. One night the feeling was so menacing, I slept with headphones on listening to the Fish Station. I knew the songs of prayers and praises to God floating through the air would keep me safe. During the night Big Bird got up and used the bathroom. I heard the toilet flush then snap, off went my radio. By now she was back in bed. She moved around so silently and fast like she was always in the defensive mode. Anyway, I got up checked the plug for my radio. It was connected to an adapter because the batteries burned out so fast. The adapter was plugged in over the sink, under the push button flourescent light. The plug was still plugged in. I couldn’t figure out what happened to my radio. I took the adapter out of the wall and looked at it. There on the side where the voltage is controlled, was pushed to the maximum voltage. That’s what shut off my radio. She did that thinking to burn out my cd/radio player, which cost $60.00.  I went back to bed. But I was so mad I had broken blood vessels in my eyes the next morning. When she got up I said, “Listen, I realize you thought that I had fallen asleep with my headphones on and you were trying to help me by turning off my radio. But next time, please just pull the plug out of the wall if it’s bothering you”.  She freaked out and started screaming, “I didn’t touch your radio!” I said, “Look, no one else was here at 3:00 AM to do it. I heard you flush the toilet and then the radio turned off”. She started crying hysterically, “I don’t remember anything, I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.  I knew her cyclical sickness was worsening. I knew she wanted to hurt me.  But there was no way on earth I was going to fight anyone in prison and then be known as “violent”, no way. Once a person starts to fight in prison, they have to keep fighting. I didn’t have the energy for that crap. Nor was I in condition. My brother and I took Karate when we were little. The one and only time I used it in 8th grade,  was at Sutton Middle School, formerly Dykes High School. One day as I was coming out of the gym a guy grabbed my arm and held it behind my back while he was forcing me down the hill  back behind the building. Knowing the first key to the upper hand was to get my opponent off-balance, I took an extra giant step forward, he faltered, I jabbed him in the esophagus then back kicked him in the groin. I was freed from his hold and I ran away. Problem was I never got to see his face. The rest of the school year I walked around in terror of an unknown assailant.

In prison, I remembered my karate lessons, but never wanted to use it, nor did I want anyone to know that I still might be able to.  I wasn’t a fighter.

She was called Big Bird because she was 6’3” and had flaming red curly long hair and a huge nose like a toucan bird. Thus; Big Bird.  She was finally moved to in the lockdown building to live until her sentence expired. At this point in her sentence she could not be granted parole because she’d violated her parole on several previous occasions. She had to “Max out”. Her sentence was for child molestation of her 3-year-old daughter   for which she was sentenced to 20 years, I think. On  her earlier  prison sentences she was granted parole. But the laws had changed and child molestation charges were tightened, so that after so many violations, parole was not a legal option. Now, if she does something else, not even related to a sex crime, and comes back to prison, she can be given 30 years, then the next time, life.

Big Bird was another bad roommate example I had endured. There were many more, but for much shorter durations. I wondered why the fates were doing this to me. It was one bad  roommate after another, 6-8 week intervals, for about 3 years. What in the world was useful about enduring them, I couldn’t imagine. To me it was just more hard time. Another thrust before I could go home.


2 Responses to Big Bird in Prison (7) By Edna Merle

  1. Barbara says:

What is the defining line between evil and sickness?

  1. ednamerle says:

July 16, 2010 at 11:45 am (Edit)

It is said that sickness is from evil. Not necessarily because the person is intentionally evil, but that person maybe hasn’t found the truth. which in my case granted me freedom from depression and drug addiction by the belief and acceptance of Christ.

Also, I believe that when a person schemes all day on how to hurt other people to make themselves feel good, and they devise the most heinous plans to do so, may have an incredibly high IQ, but are sociopath at the same time. In my opinion these are the most dangerous people.

One of the first signs of mental illness is self absorption. The Bible teaches people how to be the opposite of self absorbed; to have compassion for others and to give from your heart, even when you don’t have much. It is in doing this that God grants to us more blessings. So we’re rewarded for our love and obedience, which precipitates more giving.

The feeling of walking on the correct path is very encouraging. If I’m rewarded from Heaven, then I have confirmation that I’m OK, and that I’m staying on the path God has for me and that’s my aim in life.


Posted on October 11, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Since I’ve been home Big Bird got out and now she’s back. This time it may be 30 years to life God forbid! As much as she was mean to me, I still feel sad for her situation. Maybe I’m an idiot. All I know is that everyone who asks to be forgiven, is forgiven.

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