by Michael Arnstein

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Otisville, Day 32

So I'm in the dinner hall, they had fresh made vegetable soup for dinner; it's potato base with lots of carrots, cabbage, celery, of course salt and some oil, but really not too much at all, it's quite good, they add frozen peas too it, it's not fruitarian approved of course, but man it's friggin freezing outside and I'm starvin and weak food wise in the moment.Anyway, I'm eating a bowl with some of my fellow prison buddies, they're all always asking me 'hey Mike how many miles you at so far today?" 'Ten, gonna get at least another 6-7 after dinner, taking it easy today'.Then it happened!

I see one of the kitchen guys, I know the kitchen guys, they are like the guys who deliver money to the banks, from armored trucks out on the streets. These guys carry the fruit and veggies in some of these boxes, the gold I need to survive this place and fuel my high mileage run training! There he goes! Out the back door to the dumpster area with what looked like a full box of bananas! My ears don’t hear anything my buddies are talking about anymore, I’m like a cougar stalking prey, eyes wide and focused! What’s in that box!! I couldn’t tell if it were bananas for sure, but I wasn’t going to let this moment of opportunity pass me by. In life it’s luck, timing and first to market! I jump into action, like a race just started, ‘guys, one minute, save my seat, I’ll be right back!’

Out the door, I’m outside, it’s freeeezing cold, windy as hell, it’s supposed to be 9F tonight, it’s maybe 18F and blowing wind like usual up here in Otisville. Sun just went down, losing daylight fast.

I’m 20 feet behind, closing fast, dumpster is within seconds of taking delivery. It’s now or never if I am going to get a chance to salvage some heavenly fruit.

To my surprise the box doesn’t get launched, it gets dropped on the ground, kitchen guy bends down with both hands, in a grandma bowling position, reaches both hands into the banana box and launches 3-4 bunches sky high into the hillside right next to the dumpster. Noooooooooo!

Then I see it – there’s about 15 deer waiting below the dumpster, down the hillside. I know this guy often feeds them rotten food even though it’s against the rules. I get in closer, I see the bounty! PERFECTLY ripe bananas (with spots) and an entire box!! …no no nooooooooo

He’s like ‘get out of here you lunatic’, but I dont’ back down!

‘No way man, you can’t throw these away, this is gold!’

He says ‘there are all rotten’…

I’m in disbelief and I’m literally pushing him out of the way and reaching into the box, the travesty, the horror! This is the biggest bounty I ever saw since I’ve been in prison! I can’t see this injustice take place, I’m sorry, I step over the line still being a new guy here, I rush like mad, taking them bunch by bunch, stems falling off like melted butter, just perfect ripeness as I put them in every pocket possible, under my shirt, in my hat, like a broken ATM spitting out money… just trying to stop him as much as possible, I swear I’m putting them inside my pants as I open my belt… it’s just out of a funny movie scene. But this isn’t funny! This is serious shit man! All while he keeps throwing double handfuls of bananas at the deer who are practically ready to gorge me as they are feasting as quickly as they can. Everyone’s in a race!

Then it happened!

A big loud deep voice hurls out ‘HEY!!! What the hell is going on here!?’

Oh shit man… we turn around and a very high ranking prison official had just pulled in a prison vehicle when all of this madness started, like from when the kitchen guy assumed the grandma-bowling position to me opening my belt and putting bananas in my pants! The deer get freaked out knowing this guy isn’t a good guy and they scatter like cockroaches running away – like they knew this guy was a lieutenant! Which he was!!

Oh boy, I. am. so. in. trouble. (and the other guy is too!)

I immediately start beggin for mercy, not proud of my initial blurt:

‘Uh uh, he was throwing away perfectly ripe bananas!’

The other inmate looks at me in disbelief that I just threw him in front of the bus!

He says ‘They’re all rotten! This idiot tried to stop me from throwing away rotten food!’

I blurt out ‘These aren’t rotten! Look – did you see how much the deer love them!? The deer would never eat them if they were rotten!’

‘These are just perfect!’ … as two bananas fall out of my hat which was under my arm, along with bananas stuffed in both of front pockets, shirt pocket and a bunch literally hanging inside my pants just inside my belt – and 3 bunches on the ground between my feet!

The lieutenant says ‘ENOUGH! Tell me why I shouldn’t write an incident report on both of you!’

I say, “Sir, I, I, I mean lieutenant, I’m really sorry, I didn’t want to see the bananas go in the garbage, I apologize, I don’t want food to go to waste; my friend said I could eat some outside so no one else would notice.”

I say to myself, ugh, Mike shut up! You’re just diggin a deeper hole!

The other guy goes on about how he was instructed to throw them away by the head kitchen staff.

I think of the picture that the lieutenant was seeing with me full of bananas in every pocket, the deer all waiting far back on the sidelines to see how this mess was going to end, banana peels on the ground, empty box…

It was kind of comical, but we were both very much breaking serious rules. Had we been raiding the potato chips or cookie jar I’m sure we’d both be getting some serious lashings. In hindsight, I think the lieutenant looked at the very spotted bananas, really thinking they were rotten, and me being a pathetic dumpster diver…. he didn’t seem to want to deal with us.

So he says ‘Get inside! Don’t let me see this nonsense happening again!’

We both scamper ourselves together instantly, shuffle run back into the submarine, into the chow hall like mice running for cover into the walls. But I made sure I didn’t let go of my bananas!!

I get back inside, a few of my buddies who saw me run outside just a few minutes ago see me walking funny, hunched over with bananas in my hands against my stomach/chest, hanging out of my pockets; they look at me like what the hell??

I get to the table just in time; I dump out all my Halloween candy just before it was going to fall out of my hands.

I look back up, I see the lieutenant coming in the same door we just ran through, he looks over at me trying to decide what the hell I’m going to do with all these bananas, that the problem he saw wasn’t yet resolved…

It was a moment of truth for me, a bite-or-flight decision was being made in microseconds, I was either going to destroy these bananas in record time like I was on a TV show or I was likely going to get in more trouble very quickly.

I go with bite, no no, chug, I can chug bananas god damn it!!!

So I peel, hammer! Peel, hammer! Peel, hammer! RIPE and ready baby, these things were practically already smoothie level consistency, oh god, I was plowing bananas to make the best prostitute in Las Vegas impressed!! By the 4th banana I had a the entire table and half another across the way looking at me, lieutenant included! I was Prime Time!!

You ain’t seen nothing yet!!! Peel, Hammer!! BANNANNANANANASSSSS!!!

I had just run about 10 miles, and I was a hungry man. This shitty potato soup was garbage, filth food not fit for this gorilla; my chow tray had turned into my banana peel garbage pile; all I needed was a big glass of water and I was going to set the world record without even training! I swear I ate 15 bananas in less than 90 seconds! I almost thought I was going to get a standing ovation!

I still had about ten bananas left, but I wasn’t even going to risk them getting taken away! And when I felt I had sufficiently destroyed everyone’s emotional wellbeing for me I stopped, jumped up from my seat, all my peels on my plastic chow tray in hand, a few banana bunches under my arm and got the hell out of there ASAP!

Got back to home plate, bunk 52, and started to peel the rest of the bananas into my plastic tupperware bowl (which I could put the lid on and keep safe for 2nd late night dinner, after my 2nd run that evening).

As I was peeling two of my friends walk in and tell me the lieutenant asked what the hell was wrong with me; if I was mentally ok, they told him I just eat fruit and run a lot.

I still don’t know if he wants to write up an incident report or if he’s now very curious about fruit and running enlightenment, all I’m sure about is that the deer really don’t like me anymore.


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