#NATURE–FROGS, AN OCTOPUS & #ESCAPEES
I believe it is natural for most living beings to want to be free, at least, under normal circumstances. Some captives do become institutionalized and prefer captivity over freedom, but most prefer to be free; some will go to any length to have it, even at the risk of being killed in the process of trying to obtain it through unlawful means. I know because I have done that before.
TREE FROG WITHOUT A TREE: On June 4, 2015, I saved a tiny, dark green, treeless, tree frog from “frog-nappers” or demented, foot-stomping prisoners, waiting to inflict pain or death by foot. I am a converted frog-napper, so I know the profile. I frog-napped another one but only to protect it from harm, not for entertainment purposes. It wasn’t my first one.
I chased the little frog in an unnatural habitat for us both; along a concrete sidewalk inside a federal prison, before I covered it with my hand and captured it for relocation to a safer area. The sidewalk ran in front of several connected buildings: chapel, psychology and education departments, and the Federal Prison Industries factory where I work. I was one of the first to hit the sidewalk en route to a meeting for those who want to live a different life than before.
I walked past the frog before it registered in my mind that a frog sit in the middle of the sidewalk. I backed up and the chase began. The hopping frog was no match for a stepper like me. Fortunate for the frog, I had it in my hand before hundreds of feet raced down the sidewalk. I carried it back to work with me after learning the meeting had been cancelled.
Prior to my freeing the treeless tree frog, inside the factory where I work, I put the frog inside a Styrofoam cup with another cup sitting upside down on top of the cup holding the frog. Moments later I slightly separated the two cups to let some air in, but not wide enough for the frog to escape. I went to work with the cup-of-frog sitting a foot away from me. As I sat typing on the computer, I heard a scratching sound and saw the frog peeping between the crack. I made it jump down and then repositioned the cups to stop it from doing it again. I poked a hole in the top of the top cup so the frog could breathe.
A minute later, the top cup popped off the other cup and fell on the table; the frog still inside, after its escape plan failed.
I put the cups back together. It tried again, this time jumping harder and higher, desperate to obtain its freedom. The cup flipped and fell inside the other cup, on top of the frog. Another failed escape plan. The point is, that not just people want to be free. Everything wants to be free, treeless tree frogs included. I wanted it to be free, too, and changed my plan for its release, which I had planned to do after work by putting it near a drain as I did another frog that I will write about shortly.
FREEDOM FOR A FROG: I released the tiny arboreal amphibian through a one-inch diameter pipe hole in a two-foot-thick, concrete wall where I work, so that it could hop or crawl along safely without being in danger of prisoner abuse. Of course, that is not to say that a snake, crow, or other predator did not lie in wait on the other side of the wall for its next meal to hop to the ground. No one can change fate.
Most prisoners would avoid stepping on a frog but some would stomp one to act macho or perhaps to just see its splattered remains on the sidewalk. Some are sicker than others. Some will capture one to keep it as a pet and then go to great extremes to catch and feed it insects, such as my friend, Jeffrey P. Frye, who blogs at http://bankblogger.weebly.com and http://www.murderslim.com/JeffreyPFrye.html. For an entertaining read, check out his January 2015 blog post, “Welcome to the Jungle.”
FIRST TREELESS TREE FROG RESCUE: Ironically, the last treeless tree frog that I captured inside this prison was not my first one of late; however, I prefer to say that I relocated it to safety, rather than “captured it.” That is because the police captured me and I did not like that at all, even if it did save me from myself. A lot of people probably rejoiced. Anyway, back to the frog. The truth is that I frog-napped it no matter how I justify my actions. I forced it to go with me as the slippery little creature kicked and squirmed inside my hand to try to escape.
Two weeks before the tree frog without a tree, a damsel in distress asked me to catch a treeless tree frog that had chosen the doorjamb in the chapel as a hiding spot. It clung to the steel frame of the door, near the lower hinge. On that day, an attractive Nubian Princess summoned me to the door with a wave of her hand. I obeyed without protest. She said, “Please get that frog and move it somewhere so it won’t get hurt.”
She knew I was a softy and told me so because she was at the scene when me and other prisoners protected the snake I wrote about in “Snake vs. Politics.”
“I called you over because I know you will make sure it doesn’t get hurt.”
I appreciated her vote of confidence. “It sure did pick a strange place to hang out,” I said, as I moved into position to capture the treeless tree frog before the door slammed and squished the little creature.
After capturing it, I relocated it to an area near a storm drain so it could hide from a crow or some other predator, including the infamous frog-nappers and frog-abusers.
BULLFROG: A week before that frog, me and a friend was walking on an asphalt track out on the recreation yard and found a frog sitting on the edge of the pavement. I relocated it to an area beside the perimeter fence. I concluded that that one was a bullfrog, because when I threw it into a puddle of water, it took a dive and I haven’t seen it since.
Tree frogs do not dive under water. I know because I tried the same experiment with the last frog I caught by filling a sink with water, and it just floated when I let it go for a swim. That told me it wasn’t a bullfrog, even though it did look a lot like the one on the recreation yard.
Before those frogs, I saw others within the last month that I helped by removing them from the same sidewalk. I found several others over the years that I relocated from major walkways or asphalt tracks to prevent them from being killed or injured. I like frogs and all living creatures, so I don’t harm any of them. I even avoid stepping on ants or other insects and won’t kill a mosquito because I feel they have as much of a right to be on this earth as I do.
WHAT’S UP WITH THESE FROGS IN PRISON? Maybe they are a sign of some sort. Hmmm. A former fiance’e (Karen, who I wrote about in “A Prisoner and a Poem for a Princess”) said I had frog qualities. Maybe she thought I was a frog waiting to be turned into a prince with a kiss. She had read a book on Native American beliefs to come up with my “frog qualities”; which had something to do with “healing,” or with having an ability to calm people. She also compared me to a shaman. I did not know what a shaman was or what she meant, so I asked a Native American friend who knew me from Twelve Step meetings. He said that he saw a correlation between my behaviors in social circles and those of a shaman.
A shaman? That makes more sense than me being like a frog. I don’t jump around bumping my behind on the ground, and my ego says I look better than any frog, but, to be fair to the frogs, I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some little frogs are cute, too, so …. who am I to say? At any rate, I don’t think I would cause warts if I urinated on someone. Maybe I’ll try giving someone a golden shower one day just to see if warts pop up. Then again, I think that is a myth about frogs causing warts, otherwise, I’d be covered in them because numerous frogs have relieved themselves on my hands throughout the years, being the frog-napping type of fellow I am.
AN OCTOPUS ON THE RUN: On June 6, 2015, I watched “Life Story” on the Discovery channel. It amazed me to see a flounder stalking an octopus. The narrator said that flounders will snatch a meal by biting off one of an octopus’s tentacles.
The octopus crept along the ocean floor to stay ahead of its stalker. Each time the octopus got so far ahead, the flounder readjusted the distance by moving in closer, and then I watched the octopus pick up a half of a coconut shell. It amazed me to see the octopus wrap its tentacles around the half-shell and ease across the ocean floor with it in tow. The flounder continued to stalk its prey.
As some may know, animals and other forms of life do things to make themselves larger when threatened by a predator, the same thing that some experts suggest we do to ward off an attack by a wild animal. I thought that was why the octopus climbed on top of the coconut shell and walked away with it. Maybe that was why it initially picked it up.
Well, moments later, the octopus found the other half of the coconut shell and climbed inside the first half, and then used the second half to encase itself inside of to roll down a slope in the ocean floor to escape its predator. Mission accomplished. An escape by a coconut shell saved the octopus. The flounder discontinued its pursuit of an octopus tentacle as its meal.
See, everything wants to be free; frogs, octopuses, and humans, like those in the recent New York prison escape. It is in our nature to want to be free.
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK: No, not the 1981 movie by that title. Prison escapees causing a siege throughout the state. The most popular criminals in America right now are Richard Matt and David Sweat. Both escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York on June 6, 2015, by using power tools to cut through cell walls and a sewer pipe to leave the prison. Both are convicted murderers and were scheduled to serve the rest of their lives in prison. Over 800 local and federal officials search for them as I type, as well as several other law enforcement agents and concerned citizens across America.
Joyce Mitchell, a female prison worker faces charges for her involvement in their escape. She provided hacksaw blades, drill bits, and chisels to help, and was supposed to be their getaway driver, but changed her mind and didn’t show up, which left them to fend for themselves. Personally, I feel that her not showing up “may” have saved her life. The escapees may or may not have decided to kill her after their escape. Many prisoners do terrible things out of desperation. When on escape, I believe it increases the risk of doing so to avoid going back to the confinement that they hate.
I understand Matt and Sweat’s actions. In 1981 I escaped from a close security prison in the State of Georgia, which I wrote about in “The Price of Change,” available in my magazine (ESSAYS & MORE STRAIGHT FROM THE PEN (https://www.straightfromthepen.com) and as an eBook (“Fence Rows & The Price of Change”) from my author’s page at Smashwords.com (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WayneMrDowdy)).
The NY escape was considerably different than the one I was involved in, where several of us escaped by taking control of the control room to open the doors before we ran and climbed fences. Two fellow escapees were shot during the process but not fatally. I ran through woods with helicopters and hound dogs in pursuit, and then stole a car, ran through two roadblocks, and was back in prison within a few hours. I paid a heavy price for those actions and would have done the same thing many years ago when I started this sentence in 1988, but I am really grateful that I did not. If I had done so, my life would have ended and I may have harmed others before that happened.
My prayer is that the escapees do not harm anyone, and if caught, that they do not get killed in the process, if that is what they want. In situations such as theirs, death often seems to be a better alternative than returning to prison for the rest of their lives. I know. I felt that way before I was arrested on August 18, 1988, and did not plan for it to happen the way it did. I planned on a big shootout with the cops, etc., etc. It was only by the grace of God that things didn’t work according to my plan, and that I did not commit suicide after my arrest. I thought about it real hard but hung on due the love I had for my family and for other more nefarious reasons.
As long as we are alive there is hope. The hope of one day living a better life has kept me alive throughout all these dark years. Now I can see a bright shining light as the day of my release moves closer each day, and that makes me grateful.