A Week in Chains – Part 4

By asiancuffs

Part 4 – Suspended shackling and slept out night

The clanking sounds of chains woke me up and to tell the truth, I didn’t really want to get up at all. I took my dried socks with me to the stream for our washing like yesterday. I put on the dried socks before breakfast. The food was the same like yesterday. No new instructions were given to us. Eric was released and joined with Vincent and he told us that having his hands shackled above his head supporting the body weight was terrible. We took our tools and proceeded to the unfinished walking path. When I started to walk with William to our working site, I was stopped by a guard and was ordered to follow him. I don’t know why and followed his instruction.

I returned to the prison and the warden was waiting for me. He told me that I don’t have to work this morning. I was lead into our cell by 2 guard and pushed against the wall where Eric was shackled for the night. They removed the collar chain so that my hands were able to reach above my head. Then they padlocked the ‘O’ ring to the fixed ring on the wall. I ended up in a position like Eric, the shackle position that I was looking forward to experience. My hands now were stretching tightly upwards to support most of my body weight which all went to my wrists. I was not as tall as Eric and I could hardly step on the ground. My heels were about an inch or two from the ground. I asked them to lower me for 2 inched so that is easier for me but my request was ignored. After they finished restraining me, they blindfolded me and left the room without a word. I couldn’t see anything and I make some shifts to make myself more comfortable. The most effective move was I stood on my toes to make room for a few more inches so that I could twist my wrists to a position that my fingers pointed inward towards each other. I still could not step firmly on the ground and my body weight was supported by my wrists and the palm of my feet. I have to make alternate movements every few minutes to make myself more comfortable. I have to stand on my toes to decrease the pressure on my wrist shackles. When I felt soared on my feet, I have to lowered myself and let my wrists absorbed the weight. The feeling was great at the beginning, but after suspended there for a while, my arms felt a bit numb and I guessed is because of lack of blood flow. I started worrying about the safety of this shackle position. I remembered that I read from some books that the prisoners in the old days were shackled like this for days, weeks and months. My shackling would not be long, a few hours I think, and I told myself that I could make it as Eric have go through the same thing last night.

The room was very quiet and hot. The only sound that I heard was the clanking of my chains when I shifted my body. Now I was blind and deaf. After a period of time (couldn’t really tell, I guessed is about 45 minutes) being isolated from the world, fear flooded my mind. I felt empty, alone, isolated, helpless and lost of all sense. I started yelling to the guards telling them to come in, but there was no one giving me any response. I didn’t know why I do that, I just want to contact someone so that I am not the only one in the world. That kind of feeling was very scary. Sweat started to roll down my face, neck and body. I felt itchy all over but my hands were shackled making me impossible to scratch. I started to forget the uncomfortable of my shackle position and just shifted around meaninglessly to make some sound out of my chains to gain my sense of hearing back. Minutes and minutes have passed and I think this kind of ‘sense loosing’ torture was endless.

Finally I heard footsteps and I ‘felt’ someone approached me. I heard an instruction telling me to open my mouth. This pulled me back to reality. I asked if he can remove my blindfold and release me and I just got a simple response: ‘Open your mouth’. I kept on asking and all I heard was the third time of the simple instruction ‘Open your mouth’. The next thing I felt was the guard splashed 2 ladles of water onto my face and left the room. I missed my chance of drinking the water and all I could do was to lick the water running down from my face mixing with sweat to wet my mouth. I knew no matter what I yelled, I’ll be ignored but still I kept on murmuring ‘let me down, remove my blindfold’.

The time really passed slowly and I was shackled there with nothing to do and nothing to contact. I felt hungry and I guessed the time was around noon that means I have been in this position for almost 4 hours. During this period of time, the thing that could make me feel I am a part of this world were just some simple sounds that were very common and simple if I was in my normal life. My ears kept on hunting for: cough of the guards, conversation between them, footsteps and even a slight man-made noise. The next ‘human contact’ I made was when the guard came in again with the smell of food and ordered me to open my mouth. I knew it was lunch time and I followed his instruction. He fed me with a spoon and the food was mashed taro and potato. I finished the food without having a chance to look at it as I was blindfolded and I was also given some water to drink. When the guard prepared to leave, I told him that I wanted to piss and as I expected, no response was given. I continued my meaningless shackled position and fell into a nap for a few seconds only because I was awaken immediately by the tension of my wrists shackles as my body relaxed. This kind ‘nap for a few seconds’ continued. I was just wondering how the prisoners could sleep in this position. I guessed I’ll be shackled like this for the rest of the day.

Footsteps broke the silence and I ‘felt’ 2 guards approached me. I felt one of them unlocked the padlock and my hands dropped immediately in front. I felt the blood rushing into my fingertips and my hands were warm and hot. My blindfold was removed and the light was so strong (actually just from a small window) that I could hardly open my eyes. They put my collar and connecting chains back and gripped me by my underarm and dragged me out to the foyer. At that time, I wonder if I could walk by myself without their assistance. I tumbled out and tears started to run as the sunlight was so bright. They let go me and I felt on the ground and it took me a while to recover form the numb of my whole body. I climb up and went aside to piss and I was ordered to proceed to my unfinished path. When I get there, William was having his lunch and the sun was overhead – it was noon. I was only shackled for 4 hours and it was like a whole day for me. William asked me what have they done to me and I told him the terrible experience. He told me that he was looking forward for it and he will love it. Well, before I have the real experience, I thought I could handle it and even love it as I saw many of these scenes in movies. But the truth was not exactly like what I expected. The physical position made one uncomfortable and the mental could ruin one’s mind if this persists for a long period of time. That’s why a lot of reports says that prisoners having isolated confinement will become mentally disordered after their release. I totally agreed with it as I have personally experienced this situation. A blow of whistle ended our rest and we have to continue our work. I saw Chuck was led by a guard to the prison and I knew he is going to have the same isolated confinement for the afternoon.

The routine was just like yesterday with a break of few minutes. We were called to finish work earlier today (the sun’s level compared to yesterday). Our paths were nearly completed when we finished work for the day. I think 2 or 3 more hours we could finish all paths. We returned to the prison before we were discharged for bath. Chuck came out with an exhausted expression on his face. We proceeded to the stream for bath and our dinner will be put outside our prison building and we could get them anytime before sunset. Our parameter for promenade was the same. Chuck and I joined this evening because we want to share our experience. He also had the isolated feeling but he was physically better than me as he was taller than me and could lay his feet on the ground. We walked downhill towards the vehicle road that lead to town that was our limit of our boundary. When we get there, we sat under a tree and enjoyed our chat, so far, I enjoyed his arrangements. There were a few vehicles passed us and we were wondering what those people would think when they saw 2 guys in full shackles sitting there. Most of the vehicles just drove past us but slowed down to take a look at us. Only one pick up truck stopped and the driver approached us and asked us why we were in heavy shackles. I told them we were foreign inmates in this country who were serving our sentence and part of our job was to fix the path in the village. He was surprised that there were no guard watching us but his queries were cleared after he feel how heavy were our shackles and he saw the guard on top of the hill. Chuck asked if he could let us in his truck and help us to escape but he refused and drove away. This left a question in our mind, if this same situation happens in front of us, would us help the inmates?

When we get back to the prison’s foyer, we picked up our own dinner wrapped in banana leaves again. The warden came and gave us a briefing for tonight’s arrangements. We were going to have a ‘sleep-out’ tonight. The guards will locked our collar chains to trees and we will sleep like a chained dog outdoor tonight. Daniel was told to follow the warden into the cell and I knew he is going to have my shackled position for the night. The guards led us to trees where we will be chained. I was chained to a tree with a trunk of about 10 inches by unlocking the padlock of my ankle shackle’s ‘O’ ring and tied around the trunk and padlocked. My situation now was I was locked in a metal collar with a chain locked around a tree, hand and ankle shackled and sat below the tree. I looked around and I couldn’t see any other member and I was about 50 feet away from a village house. The ground was hard and I tried to lie down and figure out one comfortable position for me to spend the night. The sky turned completely dark and there were scattered clouds blocking the moon light. After sitting for a while, a guy came out from the house and looked at me. He lighted a cigarette and asked if I want one. I couldn’t resist his offer as this was my first cigarette for more than 72 hours. We sat down together and enjoyed the smoking. He asked me what is my next duty after we finished the duty here. I told him that probably we have to go back to jail. He also raised a lot of questions mainly asking why and how I got arrested, my sentence period and my prison and hard labor life. I have all these answer made up already according to my own dream fantasy. We chatted for a while until he returned home as it started to rain. He told that the time was about 21:30 – this was the first time to know the time.

The rain was heavy at times and I was soaked wet from top to bottom. The weather was quite cool at the middle of the night. I lied down and tried to make myself comfortable and fell asleep very soon. I waked up a few times by the rain and the sleep was the best among the last 2 nights despite of the uneven grounds. I prayed I won’t catch a cold so that I can stay on until the last minute of the role play. There is still one more day tomorrow and we will be transfer back to city B the day after.


NOTE FROM METAL: This is a true story that asiancuffs posted, in multiple parts, to the Yahoo groups back in the 1990s, about a real-life chain gang experience. Here on the Metalbond site, in the hopes of locating the author, I had posted Parts 1, 2, 3 and 5 several years back — but I was missing part 4 (and had been looking for it all this time). Recently, the author contacted me with the missing Part 4 — plus two additional chapters that I did not know existed. It is now posted here in its entirely, with permission of the author, who writes, “That was a wonderful hard labour experience for me some 20 years ago. At that time, I was still young and adventurous, wonder if I dare to do that now.”


To be continued tomorrow

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