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Day 49

Thursday, March 23, 2000

An odd start today. Since Rocky leaves tonight, he decided to give Clarence and I his trays for both breakfast and lunch. He wanted his dinner tray. So Clarence and I evenly split the contents of his breakfast tray. Then we got back in out bunks to sleep until lunch when they came in again asking if we wanted extra breakfast trays. This is something most inmates wish for at every meal. Usually inmates in the hole never get this option. Everyone and their dogs would get to eat their fill, and if there was still food teft, THEN they offer it to us. So they bring us more food. So having eaten a tray and a half already, being quite full, we walked over to the table to eat the contents of three more trays.We tried to eat, but just couldn't do it. I did enjoy the two extra cartons of milk, however.

Next thing you know, we're all wide awake lying in our bunks talking. I had been trying to read W.E.B. Griffin's The Leutenants, but being unsuccessful because I kept being thrown into conversation. I decided to give up for a while, so I went to put my bookmark in my current place, around page 20.

My bookmark is a picture of me at home, sitting in front of my computer. My two year old is in my lap with my arm around her, and my newborn in my other arm. This is the one and only picture I've had this whole time. As always, before placinf it in the book, I took a long look at it. I gazed a particularly long tima at my oldest daughter. I looked at her hair, as her bangs hang over her bright eyes. Her nose is a copy of her mother's nose, her mouth with a broad innocent smile. It's a smile so pure it instantly brought a smile to my own face.

I must have been staring at it for some time because Rocky esd talking to me from five feet away and I wasn't hearing a thing he was saying. He asked me if I was zoned out looking at my little girls. I confessed that I was guilty as charged.

He admitted that he, too,missed his two year old daughter dearly. Hewent on to talk about spending ALL DAY tomorrow with her, then expanding his plans to include taking her and his nieces to Chucky Cheese later in the evening. By noe our conversation had turned entirely to our children. Rocky has only the one, I have two, and Clarence is the father of a four year old. When Clarence started talking about spending quality time with his son, I thought about how it was a sharp contrast from his "Thug Nigga" lifestyle.

Apparently Rocky found it odd as well and called him out on it. It quickly became a debate about how he lived. He said he wants to be there for his son, to do the right thing and be a good father, yet he's content with robbing people, selling crack, smoking crack, and is dead set on "burning up" the person who snitched on him to get him locked up. I can only assume what he means by that.

I tried to get to think that maybe that snitch did him a favor. That maybe by being locked up, it was in God's plan for him to have this conversation with Rocky and I and to make an effort to change the way he's been living and work toward a goal of supporting his son. We expanded on this concept for some time, with Rocky and I taking turn bringing up one point after another. Clarence sat silently taking it all in. Then there was a silence.

In that silent moment, I saw a spark of hope in Clarence's eyes. He broke the silence by saying that it WOULD be cool if he could get his life together and leave the projects. Cool for him, and cool for his son.

we went on to say we would never meet again under these circumstances, something Rocky and I are firmly committed to, but Clarence seems to think of life as part of life, or "part of the game" as he puts it. We know the sun rises and sets. Clarence knows he'll be released from jail, then sometime later he'll be locked up again.

Rocky talked about his regrets of screwing up his opportunity to go to college on a football scholarship. He was recruited by all but two SEC teams, plus Miami and Texas and several other smaller schools. Although he graduated high school, he screwed off to the point of ruining his eligibility. He mentioned that he had very strongly considered going to the University of Tennessee, and had he gone, he would have been a senior in 1998, when they went undefeated to win the National Championship. He said he could have had that championship ring, but he pissed it away.

I reminded him that about two semesters at a community college would bring his eligibility requirements back up to par. During that time he could work out and get back into shape to be a college football player. He's still a big fella, and could still be a Vol. Motioning to his bright orange jumpsuit, I joked that he looks good in their school colors. He laughed in spite of himself.I could tell he was considering what I had said, as if he hadn't considered the possibility before.

Then we got back to the subject of Clarence. By now he was back to defending his lifestyle, regardless of what we had said. I doubt our little conversation will have any influence at all on him, but maybe we "planted a seed" as they say.

Later we woke up as our guard opened the door wirh a big ass pile of mail. She called my name. To my surprise, it was a letter from my wife. Just one page, front abd back, writted in different colored magic markers. She said she thought the colors might brighten up my day. She was right. Hell, reading the return address brightened up my day. The only thing that puzzles me was when she made reference to the "other" letter she sent. This is the first I've received from her. Maybe it will get here tomorrow.

After lunch we got two new cellmates. One is a black guy, about 20, who is from the same projects as Clarence. They are very similar, but this guy doesn't run his mouth nearly as much as Clarence. His name is Maurice.then there's the other newcomer, a nineteen year old white boy who looks like Opie Taylor. Even the guards give himshit about how young he looks. One guard said he looks like he just walked straight off Sesame Street. Another said they would have to burp him after meals. I kind of felt bad for the kid, but then again, helaughed along with the rest of the guys, and he DOES look young. His name is Shane, but he will be known as Opie. Opie is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed, and asks the same questions over and onve, with a Forest Gump type innocence. I'm trying not to make fun of him or pick on him like the others, but he really is starting to annoy me with his questions. He just asked me, for the SIXTH time, "Hey, stayin' up all night is good 'cause if you sleep all day, time goes by faster, don't it?" I simply reply that yet, is seems that way. it just gets old being asked that over and over again.

All evening Rocky was excited about getting out. Midnight found him ready to go. the longer he waited, the more impatient he got. We went out for recreation for an hour and came back in the cell, he was still with us. Around three in the morning he was taken out for final processing. Now I'm in the hole with these two "Thugs" and the little white boy who is trying to be one himself to be accepted.

I'm in for a fun couple of days.

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