SARS-CoV-2, At Folsom Prison, Track 1, “Opening Announcements”

SARS-CoV-2, At Folsom Prison, Track 1, “Opening Announcements”
Are we there?
Is it working?
We seem to be having a little trouble with the PA. You guards in the back—are you able to hear me? Raise your taxpayer-funded personal protective equipment if so. Bully, fine.
All right, gentlemen. My name is Hugh Cherry and I’m a radio man from down in Los Angeles. We would like to tell you how much we appreciate being here and how much we appreciate you for hosting our outbreak. We would especially like to thank Warden Craven for providing such dismal medical care and for cramming so many into the building at once. I’m sure most of you realize that the virus has been all over the world, touring its crowded, poorly-ventilated spaces—factories, restaurant kitchens, meatpacking plants, and what have you. But it has a special feel for the men tangled up in the inexorable whorl of the American prison-industrial complex. I think it’ll find much to like here at Folsom.
But first, I have some announcements. Inmate Sandoval, S-A-N-D-O-V-A-L. Eighty-eight four one nine, your compassionate release paperwork is available in Reception. Make it quick, before you get so weak and addled you won’t know whether to fill it out or blow your nose on it. That’s Sandoval. Sand, oval.
This next one comes straight from the head office: please remain seated until one of our underpaid, on-the-take corrections officers slips you a tube of contraband livestock dewormer. The officer will then escort you to your assigned cot in the chow hall while you wait for symptoms to take hold.
Now gentlemen, before we begin I’d like your cooperation on one thing. When the virus comes out here, it will not introduce itself. It will not breathe its name into a microphone or echo out over the loudspeakers. It will creep in quietly, moving to an unheard rhythm. You may not feel anything at first. But be patient, and the virus will captivate you; it will hold you in its thrall. And once it does, we would like you to respond in kind. Scream, wail, throw yourselves into a fever. Whatever your reaction, we want it on graphic display.
Should you require spiritual comfort, we are also pleased to offer the services of the Reverend Floyd Gressett. My body, my temple, right, Reverend? Thank you for joining us via Skype from your home in Ventura, California. We are grateful.
Now, are we ready to do the outbreak, gentlemen from Folsom?
I’ll have my hands up.
You follow me.

About the Author

John Bullion's work has appeared previously in The Texas Review, Cowboy Jamboree, Revolution John, and elsewhere.

Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels.