Wednesday I acted as representative for a friend at his parole interview. Not in any lawyerly way, just as a friend giving a personal statement. Those of us representin' were placed in the visitation room until it was our turn to go before the interviewer. The room was empty but for the three of us. The visitation room was groups of spartan looking chairs, some facing each other and others arranged so that they all faced the same way, like a classroom or a movie theater. There was a podium at one end of the room, but the chairs that were arranged for such a thing did not face the podium. Along one way was a series of vending machines, including one of those rotating sandwich machines that my friend called "The Wheel of Death." The Pepsi vending machine repeatedly commanded me to ENJOY A REFRESHING DRINK on its little LED blinking screen. If I was an inmate without quarters I would probably find that galling.
The strangest thing was the mural at one end of the room. It was a scene of various Hanna Barbera characters engaged in a sack race, Top Cat, Astro from the Jetsons and Muttley, if memory serves me correctly. Meanwhile Fred Flintstone played some sort of a guitar while Yogi and Boo Boo sat on a log eating from a pic-i-nic basket. Pebbles and Bam Bam were seated on a see-saw made from a log and a rock. The whole picture was arranged top to bottom, with the mural cut roughly in half by the horizon, and the path that the sack racers were taking going from horizon to bottom of mural. The non-racers were situated to either side. What really made the thing surreal were the overly realistic landscape elements in the mural. Trees lined the path that could have come out of any Bob Ross painting, and mountains stretched up in the background. The mountains were huge and steep, pointed crags that were forbidding enough to be the quest goal of any good fantasy novel. They lacked snow but were painted with enough skill to see that the lighting was coming from about 45 degrees from the left of the mural. The realistic trees and the Mountains of Pointy Doom were a jarring contrast to the happy cartoon antics happening below that horizon line.
I wish I could have taken a picture, but it turns out you can't bring your camera phone into a state correctional facility.
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