Dad let the sweet pleasure sweep over and we resumed our conversation. It was only a few minutes later that his mind was back on the gum.
After deciding the coast was clear, he quickly slipped off one of his Chuck Taylors and slid two pieces between the cushion and sole of the shoe before replacing it on his foot. He then quickly did the same to the other. Enough pieces to make a few dollars without being too greedy.
“They aren’t very well hidden,” I worriedly thought. But Dad didn’t seem fazed.
The Texas heat soon took hold, so we moved inside to the main, air conditioned contact visiting area. The tables were arranged to form a large rectangle. The prisoners all sat on the inner circle of the tables with the visitors assigned to sit on the outer periphery. Instead of one guard there were several.
We resumed our visit and got lost in conversation. Dad smacked his gum next to a beefy Hispanic guy with horrifying facial disfigurement visiting quietly with a middle aged woman.
"What's he in for?" I asked.
"He shot his wife and kids then shot himself in the head," Dad matter-of-factly replied.
Suddenly, a loud, angry shout broke the hum of quiet conversation around the room.
I jumped in my seat and looked around but couldn't figure out who had said it. No one seemed to be looking at anyone in a demanding fashion.
“YOU!!!” He called again.
I looked over again. A tall white man in beige slacks and white shirt with a tie seemed to be looking at us. I raised my eyebrows and pointed at Dad. “Him?”
“YES, YOU!!!” The irate noise was definitely coming from him
The official forcefully curled his index finger back and forth beckoning Dad to “Come here, NOW!”
“I don’t want to be here,” I thought. I didn’t want to see Dad treated like an unruly child. What did he do anyway? We’re just sitting here.
Dad strutted over, cool as a cucumber.
“WHAT’S IN YOUR MOUTH?’ He demanded loudly, over emphasizing each word so Dad could read his lips.
Dad opened wide and showed a beige mound of chewed gum resting on his tongue.
“WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?” He yelled.
Dad quickly pointed to me sitting politely next to the disfigured prisoner and his guest. I tried to act disinterested and unfazed by the exchange. I stared ahead and never made eye contact with the intimidating white man.
“Oh my God! Holy shit! Oh my God!” My head spun. Not only were we busted but Dad was willing to rat me out quicker than a wink.
The man held out a garbage pail and pointed into it. Dad spit his wad of gum out and calmly strutted back over to his seat. Feeling the watchful gaze of the angry man on me, I pretended as though I hadn’t heard every word.
“What’s wrong?” I asked with the most innocent face I could muster.
Dad played along and signed back, “Not supposed to have gum.”
“Sorry,” I replied with my own over-exaggerated mouth movements to make sure that the man could see that I was “innocent”. My hands were shaking and my heart was beating down the walls of my chest.
Dad started laughing, "You're shaking! You're scared? HAHA! Pussy!"
Uh, yeah, I guess being scared about having My Jailed Deaf Dad convince me to smuggle in gum then rat me out when he gets busted chewing a piece while he has four pieces "hidden" in his shoes while knowing a strip search is on the horizon makes me a pussy. Thanks for pointing that out, Dad!