This Prisoner Is Watching You

[by Jon Fontaine, NY prison inmate – written while temporarily housed in the Monroe County Jail]

I had a window for six months. I looked right out over two major intersection in the city of Rochester.

Whenever I was locked in my cell, I’d stand on a steel stool, forehead pressed to the glass, staring out.

Did the people walking in groups on lunch breaks know I was three stories up, watching? Did the couple who walked their golden doodle up and down Spring Street and Plymouth know I would hold my breath when the dog started bouncing all over, running in circles, yanking on its leash? I was hoping it wouldn’t dart into traffic.

How about people flying over downtown to land at the airport? Did it ever enter their brain that someone in a jail cell might be looking up at them? Or, the people in the Amtrak trains crossing over Plymouth – Did any of them catch my silhouette in the window?

I stood at that window for hours and hours, listening to The Zone, WCMF and WHAM radio, imagining what it would be like to be in one of the cars, planes, buses or trains that I saw.

I have no idea if other inmates do the same thing, and no idea what they would think if they knew that’s how my time was spent (not that I’d care what they thought).

I have no idea what normal, law-abiding citizens would think about some convicted felon staring out a window, watching them go about their lives, filled with longing, jealousy and remorse.

Life just passes me by. In more ways than one, I know I have no one to blame but myself for my view of the world. But it’s hard to not feel bitter and jaded when even the good things I tried to do, and did, fell apart on me.

Now, I’m stuck in a windowless, skylight-free hole, with no window to look out and no sun shining down.

There is no fresh air to breathe.

I am alone with my thoughts – literally buried alive, neither here nor there.

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Also published on Medium.

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