Window Seat to Freedom


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This excerpt is from Candy and Blood. Available for purchase on Amazon now.


My starving eyes saucered as they attempted to watch it all at once. They’d been deprived of simple beauty and had grown lazy on a steady diet of televised facsimiles. Freedom breezed past me at 55 miles per hour in the form of green fields, trees, farm-houses, and tiny communities littered sparsely across the land.

Traveling on the prison transfer bus is an especially hellish ordeal. The discomfort and disorientation that the ride places on a convict is exacerbated by the fact that most of the buses, except a few older models still in service, have a barrier of sheet metal where the windows should be. This allows only a thin trickle of light and air to come through a three-inch wide perforated portion of the metal that runs along the top of the side walls of the bus. Due to the restraints that weigh down an inmate in transit, it is difficult and painful to stand and look through this slim window on the world—not to mention illegal—and a C/O managing a transfer bus is quick to write a ticket. This barrier serves to keep the degenerate criminals within from glimpsing all that they’re missing, and the public from having to put actual human faces on the idea of incarceration.

photo by dan
photo by dan

There is, however, a coveted seat that affords the weary convict a view during his travels.

In nearly all my transfers and writs, I was always seated somewhere close to the middle of the bus. It’s not like the C/O had asked for my opinion or let me choose a seat to my liking. Only once in twenty trips was I ever blessed to be placed in the one seat—at the front of the bus in the row of seats opposite the driver—that had bars across the window instead of the metal barrier. The bars did little to mar my view. The world I was so far removed from felt somehow foreign. I felt like a stranger moving through a strange land. In opposition to this vaguely unsettling notion rising within me, there was a welcome familiarity to my road trip.

In my youth, I’d traveled endless highways on family outings to visit distant relatives and to lay down roots in new towns. The idea of exodus and ease of movement is part of the bedrock and backbone of America. There is something especially inviting about an open road stretching out before us; it speaks to infinite possibilities and the freedom to come and go as we please. That freedom was taken from me by my own bad decisions. However, for a brief moment on the transfer bus, the highway spread out before me, and I got to watch from my window seat as the beautiful summer sun blazed down on the world. The view consumed me, the carriage that carried me was of no consequence, and I was just another sojourner in this life. For a few fleeting hours as I perched on my window seat, I transcended my tragically drab surroundings and found a sense of freedom, if not freedom itself.


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