In Country’s trilogy of books, Evolution of an Outlaw Biker, he speaks of many well known names in America’s political arena. Remember political officials, banking officials, big name people from Wall Street, etc that were doing Federal time? Country did time with a good many of them that led to some interesting encounters. However, I'm guessing this particular encounter wasn't political in nature. Country, of course, deemed it interesting and I agree.
Fifth floor was for the terminal patients. We called it Hotel California. No one comes off that floor alive . . . except me.
I caught double pneumonia. They moved me up to the fifth floor. Pneumonia with COPD is bad news. Everyone on that floor had their own little room, electric bed and TV because they were isolated from everyone else. Whatever they had, the doctor’s didn’t want to spread. After a couple of days the room began to close in on you.
I was given intravenous steroids and antibiotics in massive doses. I began to get better. Since I didn’t have anything contagious, after I began to pull out of being sick, I was allowed a little more freedom than the rest of the inmates. Some of them had been in their little rooms for months and knew they would die there.
One inmate I remember in particular was a young black guy. I don’t know what he had and didn’t ask. I figured if he wanted to talk about it he would. One day an attendant from Kenya, that worked there, said the youngster had asked him, if he would ask me, if I wanted to play a game of chess. I said yes. I knew any distraction the youngster could get was a big thing for him at the time.
The attendant spoke broken English and stopped me at the door to the guy’s room. He put a small table in the door way, half in the hall, half in the room. Then he had me put on a smock and a breathing mask complete with rubber gloves. I sat in the hallway and the other inmate sat in the room with the same garb. We played chess like that every day for five days until I was informed I was moving down to the 4th floor again.
When I left, I still remember the dejection on the young guy’s face. I asked the attendant if I could come back up and play chess with the guy during the day. I was told no. If you didn’t live on the 5th floor you weren’t allowed up there.
I also remember the surprised look on the inmates faces on the 4th floor when I came walking back in. No one came back alive from Hotel California.
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