Gray sheets of rain were falling the day we scheduled our Alcatraz tour. We weren’t deterred. We purchased striped, plastic rain jackets at the pier and were ferried across the rough waters of San Francisco Bay.
A sense of dread hit the second I stepped off the boat. It was like no other place I’d ever been. Unexplainable, as if hung out to dry in the cold mist of the day, the wind expelled the soulful torture of the spirits remaining there. I could feel them, but not see them. I wondered, did other tourists have the same case of the willies? Row after row of cells; trepidation laid over me a disturbing heaviness I found hard to shake. I wondered if this compared to the torment and punishment of Purgatory. Souls that waited to get pardoned for their sins, or planned an escape, but to where? Hell’s barrier is fire. Fire wasn’t their barrier — cold waters, harsh currents and armed guards were the barriers surrounding Alcatraz. Call it prison — call it Purgatory, it’s a place of tension and anxiety; it seems to me the damaged side of both life and death.