Table of Contents - Chapters
It all started
on a lovely day back in September of 1970. As my parents moved into
their new home on the south side of Houston Texas, my mother cried
out to my father in a voice of pain. He dropped the curtains he was
attempting to hang and ran to her side. It was time. He rushed her
to the hospital and my day of birth had come. Predestined to enter
into God's creation with a prescribed agenda. Being born to
Christian parents, in time my calling to a Christian lifestyle would
come and the acceptance or denial of this calling will navigate the
course of my life for years to come. My father was the son of Rev.
Wil Mar Wallace, a man dedicated to spreading the gospel and serving
the Lord. In my early childhood my opportunities to visit with my
grandfather were limited to once or twice every summer. The moments
we did spend together seemed joyous. Most times he was sickly and my
grandmother would nurse him as I watched from the doorway of the
bedroom. All the kids in the house were forbidden to enter my
grandfather's room when he was sick but, he would raise his arm and
motion for me to enter the room once my grandmother stepped out of
the room. He loved to pull me close to him. Eventually I would get
into trouble for being on the bed with my grandpa but, it did not
matter to me. I noticed he was getting very weak and I knew
something was very wrong. Not long after, my grandfather passed
away. I was around five or six years of age at the time and did not
really understand. One thing I did understand was that I would never
have those precious moments with my grandfather again. My
grandmother on my mother's side of the family took me to my
grandfather's wake service. I wanted to touch his body but, there
was some type of mesh wire keeping me from touching him. That was
the last time I saw the man who implanted the word of the gospel
into the Wallace family and many others who heard his voice.
years seemed to be the best. Nothing but fun without a care in the
world. Both of my parents worked. My father was a truck driver and
my mother worked in some type of manufacturing plant. We were not
rich by far. Just a little family living in a lower class
neighborhood called 'South Park" in Houston Texas. This probably did
not mean much to other people but, it was a big step for my parents
moving from the countryside of Louisiana into the big city. They
worked hard to make sure my sister and I were taken care of. I would
always dream about being a truck driver like my father once I got
older. We lived about four blocks from the freeway and out of
hundreds of trucks passing, I could tell when my father was coming.
Many days I would run into my parent's bedroom and tell my mother
"daddy is coming." She would slide across the bed and peep out of
the window to see if anyone was there.
"Ain't nobody out there."
As soon as I
would leave the room, he would pull up in front of the house in his
big truck. After that happened a few times, she figured I had a
crystal ball or something to know he was coming. I was right every
time and my mom just could not figure out how I did that. We seemed
to be the perfect little family until one day it all fell apart. It
was shortly after my ninth birthday. My father came home from a road
trip and a big argument started between my parents. The details were
not clear to me but, it was evident my mother had enough. She put my
dad out and there was no coming back. Soon after my sister and I
learned they were getting a divorce. Of course my sister and I
remained with my mother creating another single parent household.
Knowing both of my parents loved me, the divorce did not bother me.
My father was denied any and every attempt to see us. After my
continuous asking, mom would sometimes take me by his place to see
him. All of his attempts to reunite with my mom were to no avail.
After realizing there was no coming back, my father's world went
tumbling down. The pain of losing love had begun to take a
toll on my father. He lost his job, became homeless, and a full time
alcoholic. At this point in his life my mother definitely forbid him
to see me or my sister and after a thirty day stay in jail for
non-child support payment, he left Houston and went to Dallas where
his mother and other family members lived. After his departure, many
nights I tossed and turned in bed wondering if I would ever see him
again. It was hard for me to believe how the divorce destroyed his
total life. That night while I lay in bed, I made a vow to myself
that I would never let a woman bring me down like that.
life without a father in the household was hard. Most days the
thought of it was pushed far into the back of my mind. At the age of
thirteen, adulthood was just around the corner from my point of
view. It was time to start thinking from a man's perspective. Junior
High School was great and being a star athlete made things even
better. Playing the cornerback position on defense along with
tailback and wide receiver on offense earned me honorable mention
throughout the district. Track and field really allowed me to make
my mark and along with all that came girls, girls, and more girls.
One thing that drove me crazy was girls. My mom would always yell at
me because every time the phone rang, it was a different girl. She
would always say, "I only want one girl calling here." Being
popular would never allow that. I had all the prettiest girls in
school and my sex life was at an all time high at the ripe age of
thirteen. Was there any love involved? No way. The destruction of my
father due to love always lingered in the back of my mind and as a
result, being heartless in a relationship did not bother me at all.
My two best friends were not as athletic as me but, we enjoyed every
teenage party together. Most people thought we were inseparable. We
would even hang out together on Sundays. They had parents whom were
Christian people and it was mandatory to attend church on Sundays.
It had been a long time since my last visit to a church so I
accompanied them on the following Sunday. During the service we sat
in the rear of the church acting silly and harassing the girls when
suddenly our foolishness was quieted by the Pastor as he extended
the invitation for persons to accept Christ in their life and join
the church. One of my friends challenged me and the other to join
the church. Boldly I jumped up to show there was no fear in me and
strolled up before the congregation. Not to be outdone, my two
friends followed. After joining the church, we were advised that we
would be baptized later that evening. We all showed up on time.
After I was baptized my heart began to beat very fast. I did not
really understand what just happened. All I know was I just had
given my life to Christ just because I did not want to lose a bet.
been going really well until one day a friend and I decided to drink
a forty ounce of beer between classes at school. My track coach
heard of the incident and asked me about it. Of course my immediate
response was a lie and he knew it. After practice he found me and
personally drove me home. I did not mind the ride home because the
walk was about three miles and after track practice that was
tiresome. The thing that surprised me most was when we arrived to my
house, coach got out of the car also. My mom would usually get home
late in the evening from work but on this day she was already at
home. If coach had given me any indication of his intentions to
speak with my mother, that three mile walk home would have been well
welcomed. As we sat in the living room of the house, I became so
uncomfortable listening to Coach tell my mother of all the things he
heard of me doing such as hanging with the wrong crowd, drinking ,
and smoking marijuana. Knowing Coach had a great love for me and did
not want to see me going down the wrong path, my mother gave him the
green light to whip my butt anytime he felt the need. That did not
sit well with me at all. It was only a few days later when Coach was
complaining about my performance at track practice. He felt I was
being lazy and told me "Pick up the pace or get out of my uniform."
Being that I was one of the coolest guys in the school, my pride got
in the way. It only took me a few second to take off the uniform and
I walked off the field. Those were the last words Coach and I spoke
to one another. The walk home was not too bad. There was the comfort
of it not being dark outside. Upon arrival at home my mom seemed
kind of edgy. I was totally sure Coach had called her and told her
about our argument but it seemed she did not want to get into a
discussion about it. It was obvious that something was on her mind.
My sister approached me once I entered into our bedroom and
whispered into my ear "Big Daddy is in the hospital and they do not
think he is going to make it." We called my mother's father Big
Daddy. He had been sick off and on but somehow this time seemed a
lot more serious than others. My sister and I pretty much stayed
quiet the rest of the evening in an effort not to upset our mom.
Late that night the phone rang as we lay asleep. My heart began to
pound hard because there was no way this would be good news at this
hour. I could hear my mother crying before the phone conversation
got started and true enough it was my Aunt calling to inform my mom
that Big Daddy had passed away. There was little sleep for me the
rest of the night. When morning came my preparation for school was
slow. Before leaving the house a quick peep into my mom's bedroom
revealed her sitting on the edge of her bed crying looking as if she
had been in that position all night. She could barely get her words
out as she told me to inform the school I would be absent a few
days. My grandparents live in Louisiana so we would have to travel
out of state for the funeral. That entire school day seemed to be
moving in slow motion. Near the end of the day I began to feel sick.
Before completing my three mile walk home I had already vomited
several times and practically had to crawl into the front door of
the house due to weakness. My mother was hysterical when she saw me
and rushed me to the emergency room. When my eyes finally opened, I
was on a hospital table with a tube down each nostril, one down my
throat, and a needle in my arm. That was so painful. My mother was
right there by my side crying as I awoke. She informed me I was
experiencing some type of food poisoning. The doctors were pumping
my stomach out which would take several hours. My mother held my
hand and cried all night as I lay on that hospital bed. She did not
get any sleep that night and we were suppose to leave for Louisiana
the next morning to attend my grandfather's funeral. That was a six
hour drive for my mom on the road with no relief driver. The pain my
mother was in was obvious and it began to bother me because I wanted
to help her in some way. As she stepped out for coffee around five
o'clock in the morning, I called for the nurse to come over and
convinced her to take the tube out of my throat. I told her I was
feeling better and asked to be disconnected from the machines. The
nurse had no knowledge of my dishonesty and granted my request. My
illness could not be the reason my mother would miss her father's
funeral. My body was still in great pain and very weak. I just
prayed to God to make me feel better just enough to make to my
grandfather's funeral. My mother saw me climbing off the bed when
she entered the room and luckily before she could say anything, the
nurse informed her that my treatment was over and it was safe to
leave. It was around five thirty at the time so we rushed home,
grabbed some clothes, and immediately started our six hour drive to
Louisiana. Hiding my pain along the way was not easy but it became
bearable. We completed the trip without any complications and the
opportunity to lay down in peace without any movement was well
welcomed. The day of the funeral I felt great. A little weak but, no
pain. The funeral was nice. The thing that bothered me most was
seeing my mother cry. I really loved Big Daddy. He would always take
up for me when it came time for me to get a spanking. He never
wanted me to get a spanking. As the preacher spoke the last words
while the dirt was covering his casket, something caught my
attention. It was an American Flag which was being given to my mom.
Then there was an engraving on Big Daddy's gravestone that I never
knew about him. It read "Pvt. Leon Newton; World War II Veteran."
Now I understood why his casket was covered with the flag and I also
understood that I would never hear any of his war stories. My mother
seemed to be doing better as she drove us back to my grandmother's
house. My mom was the oldest of five children and had to be strong
for the rest of the family and comfort my grandma as well while
trying to hold it together herself. As soon as we arrived to the
house, sickness fell on me again. We did not have any insurance that
would cover a hospital visit out of town so, my mom and sister aided
me into the car and we rushed back to Houston to get me some medical
attention. My mom did not have a chance to finish grieving with the
family before this happened. A few days after arriving back in
Houston I began to feel better but I knew my mom had just went
through a terrible ordeal and it was my intention to stay out her
way and give her as much peace as possible.
Most days were spent just hanging out in my neighborhood. My
neighborhood was somewhat divided. One side had nice brick homes
where my two best friends lived and my side of the hood was all wood
homes. They were nice too if you could afford to fix the home up and
keep it nice. My mom gave her all to keep our little home nice. My
friends on my side of the hood are all about the streets. Our
families did not have much so it was always a hustle just to have
some of the simplest things in life. My good friend "L" always had
some type of drama going on with him. Everyday he had to drink some
beer or smoke some weed. Some days we would smoke weed together
while I tried to pass some good judgment so now we were just
celebrating the passing of another school year. As we walked home,
we smoked a joint. By the time I made it home I had forgotten about
the few joints left in my pocket so, I hid them in my old football
bank in one of my dresser drawers. The next day was a lovely
Saturday morning. My plans were to enjoy the sunshine and visit one
of my female friends. My bike was all shined up and I was ready to
roll. Suddenly the voice of my mother came echoing through the
garage walls in a loud tone. When I finally made out what she was
saying, I knew I was in trouble. She had found those hidden joints
in my football bank. Out of all the times she has cleaned my room,
today she decided to look inside my football bank. The yelling and
screaming went on for hours. She was furious and by the time she was
finished, she informed me she was sending me to stay with my father
immediately. The next day it was evident she meant business. My bus
ticket was purchased and there was nothing left for me to do but
pack my bags. Even being this was a bad situation, the expectancy of
seeing my father after five or six years was like waiting to open a
gift on Christmas Day. The bus ride went really well. Having the
opportunity to see new things while traveling was like an
unscheduled field trip. As the bus entered the terminal in Dallas
Texas, from my window seat I could see my father walking back and
forth through the terminal checking every bus arriving to see which
one I was on. He embraced me with a big hug and with a fatherly
smile on his face. We would now have a chance to spend some time
together after many lost years.
This would be the first summer not spent in Louisiana at my
grandmother's house and for some reason I knew that spending time in
Dallas – South Oak Cliff would definitely be different. Our first
stop was to the house of my uncle. We called him Rev. because he was
a preacher following the footsteps of my grandfather. We sat down,
laughed, and talked about old times that I could remember when
suddenly my father pulls this letter from his pocket written to him
by my mother and gives it to my uncle. She had mentioned everything
that was going on with me in the letter. My father and uncle talked
to me for at least two hours about drugs and knowing wrong from
right. It was only an unusual conversation to me because there was
no yelling or screaming. Just calm conversation allowing me to voice
my side of the story as well. I could see it in their eyes that they
were waiting for some kind of confession from me. After assuring
them my interest was not to become addicted to drugs, they were
relieved. They trusted me. Besides, my school grades never fell
short of the honor roll so they knew my ability to make better
decisions would come into play.
We went to live with my Aunt. She was one of my dad's sisters. She
always favored me as her favorite nephew regardless of the fact that
she only had the opportunity to spend limited time with me in my
early years. She was happy to see me. Most days my father was not
around but he would stop and check on me from time to time. When my
Aunt and I would ask him about his whereabouts but he would just say
he was out working. After several weeks of that my Aunt became
upset. She felt she was taking care of me more than my father was.
My father and Aunt exchanged a few words and then he packed my
belongings and shuffled me off to my Uncle's house. After a week or
two my stay there was over as well. Then I came to realize my father
did not have a place of his own. Yet he was doing the best he could
and refused to send me back to Houston because he wanted to take
care of me since my mother gave him that responsibility. I ended up
at one of my other Uncle's home. All the moving around did not
bother me. It was a different environment from Houston and meeting
new people was fun. After all, it was summertime. It was easy for me
to notice something was going on but the adults always tried to keep
kids out of grown folks business. One weekend my father decided to
take me away from all the drama. He borrowed an automobile from one
of his friends and drove me out to Garland, Texas to visit my
grandmother. My last memories of seeing my grandmother were from
around the age of seven or eight. She was so happy to see me. She
talked for about an hour straight without letting anyone else get a
word in. After chatting for awhile she made her way to the kitchen
and started cooking for her two favorite boys. The front yard looked
a mess and my father was upset because nobody came to take care of
the house for her. Everyone had a car except him so he felt there
was no excuse why his other brothers and sisters could not take
better care of their mother. So we went out and mowed the front and
backyard. We cleaned every area around the outside of the house.
Grandma had a small garden in her backyard where she liked to grow
her own vegetables. My father and I began to pull the weeds and make
her garden look nice. We could see her peeping from the back door as
we worked in the garden and we would just giggle among ourselves.
Then a look of seriousness came over my father's face. At that
moment a father and son talk took place that was never expected. My
father told me everything that had taken place and what was going on
in his life at the present time. He spoke of his love for me and my
sister, the divorce from my mother, and the hard times he fell on
that affected his relationship with me and my sister. More
importantly he told me what was going on with him at that particular
time. With tears welling in his eyes he told me, "I don't have
a job and I'm having trouble finding one. The plan was for you to
stay with other family members until I found work. Now they will not
help me anymore because they say you are my responsibility. You are
my son and I have to take care of you. The reason I have not been
around is because I was out earning some money doing something
illegal. I'm selling drugs. The very thing your mother sent you here
to get away from, I'm doing because I needed some money to take care
of you. I want you to understand what I am doing is wrong but I have
no choice to take you with me because we do not have anywhere else
to live and I wanted you to know the type of environment I'm taking
you into before we get there."
I nodded my
head in agreement letting him know I understood.
"Daddy I have
seen all this type of stuff before back home. I am not afraid. Until
you find a job, we have to do what we have to do to eat."
I could see
the look of relief on his face as we finished up in the garden and
walked inside. He probably felt that I thought less of him but
actually I thought more of him for being man enough to tell me the
truth. From that day forth we had no secrets between us and our
father and son relationship grew stronger.
My father was out there fighting the streets in order to take care
of me and there was no way I was going to let him do it alone. I
have seen hustlers before and knew how the game went so when he
pulled into Southern Oaks Apartments in Dallas South Oak Cliff, I
was ready. The apartment was a two bedroom. It was nothing to
complain about. It was better than having nothing or being somewhere
you were not wanted. The next morning some big man came into the
apartment we were staying in. They called him Big Willie. My father
explained the situation with me to him and Big Willie just turned
towards me and smiled. He took a liking to me right away.
"I'm going to call you Candy Jr."
Everyone knew my father as Candy Man.
"As of today,
this is Candy Jr.'s apartment and I don't want anyone else living
gave me the low down on how the bootleg operation was run and put me
in charge of inventory keeping up with the amount of marijuana,
beer, and liquor. I also had to count money at end of the night and
issue guns to the other workers who came in for their shift.
Anything and everything was experienced at this spot. Some late
nights I would allow a few dice games and make some extra money as
the house man. One night a woman probably in her forties came in and
lost all of her money and then wanted to sell her body for more
money. So I charged her a percentage to use my bedroom. Life was
moving really fast I was hitting the game from all angles at the age
of fourteen. Only about a month of summer had passed. My father and
I had a place to stay and we made money everyday. My father gave me
every dime he made. My two front pockets were so full of money that
I had to start hiding the money under my bed. Things were going
smooth and Big Willie would stop by and check on us from time to
Big Willie came in one day and gave me a gun to put away. He turned
to me and said;
"Don't be afraid to use this thing if you have to."
One night I
almost had to. There was this new guy working late nights while my
father and I slept. While sleeping I was awakened by the sound of
water running from the bathroom sink constantly. As my vision
cleared, there was the new guy sitting on the toilet with the
bathroom door wide open. At that time my father came out of his
bedroom awakened by the same noise and saw this guy shooting heroin
into his arm in front of me. My father got really angry and went off
on this guy. They nearly got into a fight in the hallway. I knew the
new guy had a gun because each worker had a gun and I always had the
other one. At this point I quickly retrieved the second gun from
underneath my mattress. The thought of allowing this guy to cause
harm to my father was unbearable. My heart rate increased rapidly
while standing in the hallway watching my father wrestle with this
guy. The guy was so high on drugs that he did not put up much of a
fight and my father just tossed him around. After tossing the guy
out of the apartment, my father looked back and saw me standing in
the hallway tightly gripping the gun in my hand. He just nodded his
head at me and walked back into his bedroom because he knew I had
his back just like I was taught to do if anything ever went wrong.
This was our place and no one was going to disrespect it. After that
incident things went back to normal. Being that the bootleg business
was being disguised as a candy store, we had to keep a clean image
and keep the trouble to a minimum because lots of kids came to the
candy store. The opportunity to meet so many girls kept me smiling.
Most nights we did not have to do any business after nine o'clock
unless we wanted to make some extra money. This one particular night
some girl kept coming up to the apartment wanting this and that. She
was really getting on my nerves because I was in the middle of
frying some pork chops with rice and gravy. After about the fifth
trip she finally confessed that she was interested in me. We talked
for a few minutes introducing ourselves. It turned out she was
eighteen years old and did not have a problem with me being
fourteen. She said she saw a level of maturity in me. Having an
older woman did not clash my plans. She invited me back to her
apartment so I turned the fire down low under the warming food. My
father's voice was heard from the downstairs patio where everyone
was sitting around listening to him brag about my cooking as
everyone smelled the aroma coming from our apartment. He was so busy
being a proud father that he did not notice me walk out with the
young lady. Sandra was her name. Once we arrived at her apartment
she really began to show her interest in me. We talked shortly then
began to kiss and make out. We did not notice how much time had
passed until my father came knocking on the door looking for me. It
was already two o'clock in the morning. He was not upset. He just
wanted to make sure I was safe. We walked back to our apartment
together and the bounce in his walk was greater than mine.
The next day my father wanted to borrow some money to fix up an old
car he had in the parking lot. It was an old Caprice Classic. We
worked on the car together and got it running. After it was fixed my
father gave me the keys. "Now you got a car but I might need to
borrow it sometimes." I could not wait to start cruising the
neighborhood. "See all those ladies standing under the tree over
there? It is the first of the month and they need a ride to the
grocery store to spend their food stamps. Go ahead and take them to
the store." I was excited about having my own car and getting the
chance to drive. All the ladies climbed into the car. Some of them
were somewhat large so it was kind of tight in the backseat. It was
about four or five women in all. I slowly drove onto the main
street. My father smiled from the sidewalk as we exited. Being
somewhat short I could barely see over the dashboard and did not
have a driver's license but the ladies did not mind me playing taxi
driver. Otherwise, they would have to catch the bus in the hot sun
or pay someone far more than the few dollars I would charge them.
This was another hustle added to make me a few extra dollars. It
kept gas in the car and left me enough money to take a few girls out
on dates that I had met during my stay in Dallas. I was enjoying
life and everybody was crazy about Candy Jr.. My father loved to
work on cars and many times my help was appreciated. He always felt
good when he was teaching me something. After working on an old
truck together we decided to take it for a spin and visit my Uncle
while we were riding around. My Aunt had been sending messages for
several days that she needed to talk to my father. We did not have a
phone so the messages came by word of mouth. Halfway through the
trip my father noticed me watching him shift the gears on the truck.
"What are you staring at?"
"I'm watching the way you shift the gears."
"Boy you know how to drive this truck."
"Not this kind daddy."
Right then he
stopped the truck in the middle of the street. Other drivers were
honking their horns and yelling as my father exited the driver's
seat and came around to the passenger's side and pushed me over into
the driver's seat. My nervousness was clearly visible as my hands
trembled while grabbing the steering wheel. The old truck was a
standard three speed on the collar shift and I had never even seen
one before this day. Nevertheless, I was all for the challenge and
we drove off with me behind the wheel. We jerked and skid all over
that expressway as my father proudly smiled while yelling;
"That's it. That's it. You got it."
surprising we both did not have neck injuries by the time that ride
ended. We were having so much fun that I had forgotten that my
mother had told me that I would be staying with my father and would
not be returning to Houston. That literally crushed me. I cried for
hours after that conversation. I could not believe my mom would not
let me come back home. After a few days the thought of it was pushed
far into the back of my mind and I just started to adjust to living
with my father. We were nearly to my Aunt's house and my driving
skills had improved greatly with this three speed on the collar. As
we pulled into the yard of my Aunt's house my father was leaning,
sitting real low with his feet propped on the dashboard. My
concentration was being interrupted while trying to park as my Aunt
yelled at us from the porch. She appeared to be really angry by the
expression on her face and gave us a no nonsense gesture as she
placed her hands on her hips.
"Lamar that boy mama say call her right now."
definitely could not be good with that tone of voice. My father told
me to stay in the truck while he talked to my Aunt and made the
phone call to my mom. I found myself daydreaming as nearly an hour
had passed before I saw my father returning outside. He did not have
a good look on his face. When he entered the truck he told me about
the conversation with my mom. She had heard about all the things
going on there in Dallas such as my father giving me the car, the
drug dealing, and everything in between. She demanded my father have
me home before the week was up. It was now late August and school
was scheduled to begin on Monday. My father had already picked out
me a school to attend. He was excited about that because he knew I
was a good athlete and it was his chance to see me play football and
run track. It was a good feeling knowing my mom was allowing me to
come back home. I was ready to get back to Houston but at the same
time my father was crushed about the situation. The ride back to our
apartment was quiet. Once inside he instructed me to pack all my
things and shortly thereafter we left to go to the airport. While
purchasing my one-way ticket back to Houston we chatted. He told me
how much he was going to miss me and once again reminded me of doing
right compared to doing wrong.
The flight home was fun. It was the first time I had ever flown on
an airplane. Summer was officially over and a new school year was
before me. It was good to be back in Houston again. It felt good
strolling through the neighborhood making my friends aware of my
return. It did not take long to find out my girlfriend was not my
girlfriend anymore. But none of that mattered anymore. I was focused
on finding me a job, making a fresh start, and being less
troublesome. My mother worked hard to take care of my sister and me
so it became a priority to me to help take some of the stress off
her. After turning in a few applications a fast food restaurant
hired me. One day on the job gave me the blues. Nothing about that
job felt comfortable to me. Luckily another potential employer
called and I was hired part-time at the Houston Astrodome. My mom
was proud of me for getting that job. Balancing work and school was
not a problem. Some of my work nights were late and my mom had to
sacrifice some of her sleep in order to pick me up after work.
Nevertheless, we made the best of it. I was in High School now and
life was moving fast. It did not take long for all the pretty girls
to sidetrack me. My routine consisted of skipping classes or leaving
school with some girl and then returning for participation in my
sport events. A lot of my time these days was spent with my friends
from Hershelwood Street. We were all like family. We formed a group
called South Park Posse. We all looked out for one another. When we
hustled in the streets, everybody benefitted from it. The group even
did a few recordings making rap music. Of course we had plenty of
girls in the group as well and we took care of each one of them.
There were some people who had envy towards our group and would
start problems from time to time. The only thing they did not know
was that when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. That
was how we rolled. After a few months my job allowed me to save
enough money for a down payment on a vehicle. It was an old
seventy-six Cutlass. A car me and my friend's grandfather Alvin had
been working on. It did not take long for me to put some rims on it
and put in a loud stereo system. I had driven the car home for
nearly two weeks before my mother figured out the car belonged to
me. She then instructed me to immediately enroll in a driver's
education course. Nearly a year had passed since I had been driving
without a valid license.
It was now my junior year in school. I somehow managed to keep my
grades up with everything going on. My sister had already given
birth to her daughter. She still lived at home with my mother and I
so I tried to keep from being a burden to my mother and managed to
take care of myself financially. My summer job along with my
part-time job allowed me to upgrade into a new S-10 pick-up truck.
Within a week it was converted into a low rider truck. Compliments
came from everywhere. Everyone loved that truck. A few
additional items would make my truck complete so I hooked up with
this older guy in the neighborhood who had gotten hooked on crack
cocaine. He wanted me to take him to hit a few licks and he would
pay me for being his driver. We would go to the rich neighborhoods
and he would steal a car, strip it down, and load the parts on my
truck. After he sold everything, he would pay me. That was easy
money for just being a driver. That helped me put top of the line
music and rims on my truck. Now my only concern was keeping other
people from stealing those things from me. That encouraged me to hit
the black market and buy me an unregistered twelve-shot,
three-eighty, semi-automatic gun. From that day on you could not
tell me Sh_ _ !
Twin paged me late one night wanting me to take him on another theft
spree. Stealing was not my thing and I had pretty much retired from
that business but, Twin was a good guy and I knew if I ever needed
anything he would take care of it so I agreed to take him on one
last run. We arrived at an apartment complex on the far south side
of the city. Twin got out and began to walk around as I parked my
vehicle and waited for him to return. While waiting for twin this
sexy white female walked toward my vehicle. She appeared to have
been crying judging by her facial appearance. It was awkward that
she was out at this hour in the morning walking around alone but I
did not think much of it. She approached me and introduced herself
not showing any signs of fear. She began to tell me how her
boyfriend came to visit her and ended up shoving her around after an
argument. I assured her she was safe in my presence and comforted
her with conversation as much as I could. Before long she had given
me her entire life's story. By this time my only interest was to get
inside of her panties since she was so comfortable being with a
total stranger in the early morning hours. Pulling her close to me,
I began to make my move on her when suddenly four shots rang out
silencing the peacefulness of the early morning. The sound of a
car's tires screeching followed the gun shots. Simultaneously Twin
turned the corner in a Cadillac with music blaring from the car as a
gentleman chased the car continuing to fire shots. The gunman looked
in our direction after watching his car speed off and then turned
and walked away mumbling something to himself.
"Go inside. It is getting dangerous out here."
I gave the
female a pat on the rear end as she jogged off towards her apartment
and I entered my vehicle and exited the apartment complex. About a
mile down the road I caught up with Twin.
"Man you lucky I kept my composure so so that female and the gunman
did not notice I was with you. That was a close call."
"You the one trying to get laid while you suppose to be watching my back."
laughing but I did not think anything was funny. He was right. There
I was fooling around with this strange woman when I was supposed to
be watching out for him. It was a close call. We made our way back
to our neighborhood and home was where I wanted to be.
The sun was shining bright and it was a cool beautiful morning. For
some reason my body was not at a need for rest even after staying
awake until the early morning hours. It was a pretty day so I
decided to wash and wax my truck. It was enjoying to watch the way
the sun glared off the truck's paint and rims creating a sparkling
effect. The truck would surely catch some female's eyes today and
get me a date for tonight. My thought was interrupted by the ringing
of the cordless phone which was in my back pocket. It was Twin on
the phone. It did not take long for me to inform him that my auto
theft days were officially over. At that very moment a police
car swooped up on me as I wiped on my truck and a white male officer
"Where were you last night?"
He was a
medium build blonde headed guy. It did not take me long to size him
up just in case a struggle would take place. Before I could hang up
the phone and respond to him, my mother came running out of the
"What is the problem Officer?"
He began to
explain to my mother about the incident that had taken place last
night at the apartment complex which was where he resided. It was
reported that my truck was reported leaving the area. As I listened,
he also explained that he was out of jurisdiction and just wanted to
let me know that he knew I had something to do with the car theft.
That pissed me off and now knowing he was out of jurisdiction I
wanted to pop a cap in his behind for trying to be the neighborhood
hero. He must had forgotten he was in South Park. As the Officer
drove off my thoughts wondered. Then it hit me. The female at the
apartment complex was the only one who could have seen my license
plate number. My next thought was to go over there and slap the piss
out of her. The voice of my mother broke my deep thought as she was
angrily saying some things as she made her way back inside the
house. I shook my head in disgust. It seemed that plague of
trouble was following me once again.
My mission was
to get back focused and shake off the effects of the prior week's
activities. It did not take much to realize my mother was mad at me.
Even though no words were spoken the tension in the house was easily
noticed. My mother knew I would never actually steal anything,
however, she had seen Twin at the house a few weeks ago and put two
and two together. My plan was to stay out of her way until she
calmed down. Now it became routine for me to stay away from the
house and hang out with my friends from Hershelwood Street. As I
drove up the block, R-Loc approached my truck smiling as he flagged
me down to stop.
"You still got that sawed off shotgun?"
"Yeah. It is behind the seat."
"I got something to show you."
He ran into
his house and came back with a sawed off shotgun of his own.
"Man we got to go to the shooting range."
"Let's go. I'm gone put this behind the seat with yours. Before
we go, take me to get my girl something to eat."
We took off
through the hood with the music playing loudly. As we were riding up
one street one of our little homies stopped us. He was around twelve
years old and we always looked out for him. He begged for us to let
him ride with us. We agreed and told his Mother we would bring him
right back. On the way home from the food establishment some guy
jumped in front of the truck and started waiving his arms as we
approached him. As I drove closer it appeared he was saying
something angrily but we could not hear his words because the music
was so loud. When I slowed the truck the guy started to approach my
driver side window but I kept on going because I did not know the
guy. The music went down low.
block and see what this fool talking about."
By the time we
made it around the block, this guy was standing in the four-way
intersection waiting on us still ranting and raving about something.
Before I could bring the truck to a complete stop to park on the
next block, R-Loc reached behind the seat and grabbed the duffle bag
containing the shotguns and headed up the street. I knew it was
about to be some drama so I grabbed my .380 automatic and told the
little homie to stay in the truck as I went to catch up with R-Loc.
As we were walking I felt something on my heels running into the
back of me. It was the little homie.
"I told you to stay in the truck."
"I'm going with ya'll."
By this time
we were about five feet from the guy and he reached into his pants
and began to pull a pistol out. For a split second the gun got hung
on his belt buckle and I pushed the little homie into the roadside
ditch and jumped on top of him as the guy fired off five shots in
our direction from point blank range. That is when it became aware
to me that you could hear bullets slicing through the air when
passing in close proximity. Looking up out of the ditch R-Loc was
visible as he lay on the ground struggling to get the shotgun out of
the duffle bag. Some other homies from Hershelwood a little way down
the street saw what was happening and ran our way as they fired a
few shots at the guy. The guy fired his last shot and took off
running. From that point on it sounded like a fireworks show on the
Fourth of July. We all split up and cleared the scene. I drove the
little homie home in relief that nothing happened to him. By the
time we approached his house everyone on the block was standing
outside and already aware of what just happened. R-Loc rushed the
little homie out of the truck and we kept moving. About thirty
minutes later a homeboy from Southpark came by our hangout on
Hershelwood and informed me the Police had a description of my
truck. Immediately I went put the truck in hiding until things
cooled down. God had to have been on my side. That was the closest I
had ever come to actually being shot. Looking to R-Loc in disgust.
"R-Loc you are a magnet for trouble."
"Man that dude disrespected me the other day and thought I was going to be soft
"Whatever, in the near future let me know who you got beef with so I don't be getting
shot at for nothing."
"You right. Hey lets have a barbecue this Friday for the hood at lil mama's house."
"That's cool. We can do that."
Friday had finally rolled around after a long week. It was a
beautiful partly cloudy day. Things had gotten much quieter in the
neighborhood which prompted me to pull the truck out from hiding for
the barbecue. Before wiping the dust off, my first move was to
remove all the guns from behind the seat. There would be no need for
them among friends. By the time I arrived to the barbecue around six
o'clock everyone was partying and having a good time. One of the
homies pulled up next to me on a motorcycle.
"Man let me ride that thing."
"Be careful, the back breaks are bad."
I took off
like a stuntman on the bike and went riding around for about twenty
minutes. Upon approaching lil mama's house where the gathering was,
there were several people visible in the streets in front of her
house. It was mostly some of the homies and two other guys on a
moped. One of the guys was recognizable and the other was a stranger
to me. At that point R-Loc ran up to the driver of the moped and
started throwing punches at him. His companion jumped off the moped
and pulled out a tek-nine and attempted to fire off a few shots as
everyone ran and ducked for cover. It was a good thing one guy had
the gun and the other had the clip. That small separation gave us
enough time to reach safety. The girls were screaming and grabbing
on us making it difficult to deal with the situation. My boy T-Loc
and I met at my truck passenger door where I found him reaching
behind my seat. I whispered to him.
"T-Loc I took the guns out."
A look of
panic came over his face as we heard several shots rang out. It was
one of the homies with us whom had a gun on him. The sound of Police
sirens were now audible as the two guys got back on their moped and
took off. Everyone else entered their vehicles and exited the scene
as well. We all met a few blocks away to make sure everyone was
O.K... Things are always happening in the hood so we were not going
to let that little incident at the barbecue ruin our posse gathering
and we decided to go hang out on Main Street at a local restaurant.
Being that my truck was on the scene of some more drama, it was
necessary for me to change cars. During a quick stop at home I was
able to convince my sister to allow me to use her car. It was one of
those Oldsmobile Calais. She had recently gotten the car for her and
my niece to ride in. On my way out a school friend called and asked
for a ride. I was always running late but agreed to pick him up
anyway. As we traveled up Loop 610 towards Main Street at about
sixty five miles per hour a car pulled next to me and taunted for a
race. Speeds reached over one hundred miles per hour as we zigzagged
in and out of traffic. As I passed back into the far left lane there
was a car traveling at about thirty miles per hour. To avoid running
into the rear of the car I jammed on the breaks as hard as I could.
My passenger was grabbing my right arm in fear as he yelled to get
my attention. The car was equipped with anti-locking brakes and
immediately sent the car into a tailspin. The car was out of control
at top speed doing countless spins from one side of the freeway to
the other. The car would whirl one way and then reverse and whirl
the other way. This went for about a one mile stretch of freeway
until the car struck the concrete divider which reversed the
direction of the car's spin and thrust it down an off ramp into a
gas station all in one motion. The car barely stopped before
striking one of the gas pumps. My passenger and I jumped out of the
car. Hearts still pumping fast and the body in fright or flight
stage. The tires were still smoking and you could see where the
rubber had worn away as the mesh wiring inside the tires was
exposed. My first reaction was disgust do to the fact that I had
wrecked my sister's car. My immediate inspection of the car revealed
only minor damage underneath the front bumper on one side of the car
with the exception that the tires were no longer usable. A certain
sigh of relief came over me when I noticed the car was not totally
damaged. My passenger was frozen still with his mouth still hanging
open by the time I paid any attention to him.
"Hey man snap out of it."
I managed to
get him back into the car and we made it to Main Street. After a few
hours I decided to go home as the thought of the accident kept
replaying in my mind. God had to have been on my side. I lied to my
sister the next day about the dent underneath her bumper and never
did explain the tires. One thing I did know was that I had one too
many brushes with death in the last few weeks and I needed to go to
It was a
beautiful Sunday morning. The sun was shining brightly into my
bedroom window as the sound of the birds chirping happily
highlighted the season of Spring. Church would be starting in a
couple of hours and it was my intention to be there promptly. A
female I was seeing informed me she was pregnant a few months
earlier but it really did not register in my mind until today. The
bigger issue was explaining to the woman whom I was living with at
the time how that happened. It was a must for me to get focused and
prepare to become a responsible parent. So there I sat in church
trying to find a way to get my life back on track. One bright spot
was that the City Public Works had just hired me and steady work was
in my future. So there was no fear as I walked down the aisle to
make alter prayer and give thanks for the good things that happened
to me. On the way back to my seat Alvin caught my attention as he
waived to me from across the room. Alvin was like my adopted father.
From about the age of ten or eleven he took me in as his own son. We
talked and shared everything together. No matter what I was going
through, he was always there to give me some helpful advice. He had
given me one of my first cars. We always had a strong bond. I waived
back to him before I seated myself. Upon reaching my seat I noticed
a beautiful female sitting in the space next to me. My attraction to
her made it hard for me to pay attention to what the Pastor was
preaching about. Right then I knew it was a must for me to get a
grip on my situation with women. At that moment my rules of
discipline were implemented. A week had passed since that day in
church. No women, no sex, no alcohol. That was a long quiet week and
it seemed my entire world was turning in slow motion. The weekend
had finally arrived. It was Saturday morning and my first order of
business was to cruise down Fondren Boulevard to see some of the
young ladies walking and waiting at the bus stop trying to make
their way to the beauty shop and take care of other personal
business before getting ready for the night life. Before getting
halfway to my destination my pager went off. It was my mother
calling me. When I returned the call she informed me that my child
was being born at the hospital. I turned around and headed toward
the hospital after picking up CP and a couple of cigars. It felt
like my chest was sticking out an extra ten inches as I entered the
hospital as a proud father. Holding my daughter for the first time
was a special moment. My new responsibility was to be a father and I
knew all the foolishness had to come to an end. My work days got
longer and my party nights shorter. Alvin and his wife Jean called
to congratulate me on having my first child. Jean was a sweetheart.
She would always stay on me about going to school. After twelve
years of school more education was the last thing on my mind.
Eventually my mother and Jean convinced me to go to college and I
officially became an attendee of Texas Southern University. A good
job, a college student, and a responsible father. My life was
finally taking some grounded structure. During the course of the
next few months everything went well for me. My mother was proud of
me. At times some of the back and forth from work to school took
it's toll on me but, knowing the future benefits would be great
motivated me to continue on. My weekends became rest periods when
school classes were not in session. One Saturday morning was
beautiful and calm. It was around eight o'clock in the morning and I
had no particular place to be but found myself getting dressed for
the day. My early morning drive started around nine in the morning.
The sunroof was open on the Volkswagon Jetta and the feeling of the
fresh morning air across my face was calming as I cruised down the
freeway. Shortly into my drive thoughts of my father came upon me as
sounds of the blues came from the radio. My father could play any
instrument you put into his hands. At that moment my mind was made
up and three and a half hours later through a non-stop drive, I
arrived in Dallas South Oak Cliff Texas looking for my father. Not
having a clue where my father lived, my first stop was to my Aunt's
house. She was one of my father's younger sisters. Nobody was home
so my next stop was at my uncle's house. Everyone called him "Rev"
because he was a preacher just like my grandfather was. His wife
answered the door and did not recognize me. After he arrived at the
door he looked me over and then was surprised to see me. The last
time he had seen me was when I was fourteen years old and now at the
age of twenty my appearance was different. He hugged me as he led me
into the house. We talked for a few minutes as he began to call all
over town trying to get the phone number to my father's job to tell
him his son was in town. About thirty minutes later my father pulled
up in front of my Uncle's house. We could hear him from the street
as he approached the front door.
"Where my son at?"
He was so
happy to see me. He probably hugged me for about twenty minutes
before letting go. It had been six years since the last time he saw
"Where you get this new car from son?"
"I got a new job so I need something to to get me there everyday."
"Give me the keys. Let's go. I got some people I want you to meet."
After my long
drive down I did not mind him taking the wheel. We pulled into his
place of employment after a short drive. It was a nursing home. As
soon as we entered the building he jumped on the piano in the lobby
and started playing for the elderly who were gathered in the room.
My father introduced me to everyone and they all spoke of how much
they loved my father and enjoyed him entertaining and caring for
them. My Uncle Rob worked there as well. We talked for a few minutes
and invited us to come by his house later that night. We then
encounter my Father's supervisor. We shook hands with one another
and my father told him he was taking the day off because his son was
in town. The guy saw how happy my father was and just shook his
"See you tomorrow."
We left the
nursing home and headed towards my father's house. We drank a beer
on the way as we chatted about everything catching up on lost time.
We were like two brothers. He told me about his new wife. I did not
even know my father re-married. Once inside the house, my stepmother
just started hugging me. Her name was Liz. As usual, my father was
on the sideline bragging.
"Ain't he handsome? Don't he look just like me?"
ear to ear we could not shut him up. My stepmother got on the phone
and made several calls. Within minutes my two step-sisters were
there along with a house full of other people. It was like a big
party. The next day my father and I visited my grandmother in
Garland Texas. She was so happy to see me and would not let me out
of her sight. We all had lunch together until it was time for me to
head back home to Houston. On the way back to Houston it felt like I
had accomplished something but I could not figure out what it was.
Upon arriving home my sister called with a million questions after
finding out where I went. She never mentioned our father that much
before but after that day I knew she really wanted to see him. After
seeing how curious she was, I decided to set a date to take my
sister to visit our father within the next two weeks. The days went
by fast and it was finally the weekend of the trip. My sister was
happy and anxious all at the same time. We loaded the kids into my
car as our mother saw us off. My sister's daughter was three years
old and my daughter was only a few months old. Our father had not
seen any of his grandchildren and the excitement of seeing them
overwhelmed him. The drive to Dallas went well. When we pulled up in
front of my father's house everyone was waiting outside. We could
hear my father talking loud with the windows rolled up air tight.
"Here come my grandbabies."
had been bragging from sun – up to sundown before we arrived.
Between all the fuss and commotion , my sister and I did not see the
kids again to bedtime. The next day we went to visit our grandmother
whom had never seen her great grandchildren. When we turned on her
street she was standing on the porch waiting. Once we got the kids
out of the car and inside the house, she grabbed both the kids and
sat down on the couch. She pulled me down next to her on one side
and my sister on the other while holding the kids in her lap. She
held on to my arm so tight that it hurt. My sister was trying to pry
herself loose to take pictures of us. My grandmother must have held
us on that couch for an hour and would not let anyone move. It was a
long quiet sit. My arm was about to loose circulation but I knew my
grandmother was happy so I did not disturb her peace. She would not
let me out of her sight. Every move I made, she was right behind me
with both kids in tow. The trip was wonderful. It was a reunion long
awaited. After returning back to Houston my sister and I were both
happy to have our father in our lives once again. We were already
planning our next trip once my daughter got old enough to walk.
After about a week my sister got the pictures back from the trip. We
looked over them and talked about how fun the trip was. It was
probably the most my sister and I had talked in a long time. After
all the hype it was back to work and school. Spending time with
family made me think. Our family ties should be closer and we should
spend more time together. That would be my next focus. About two
weeks later work and school had me exhausted once again. For some
reason school would have to take a backseat today. It was my usual
routine to take nap at my mother's house before going to class in
the evening but this day I just did not want to get up. After about
thirty minutes had passed the phone rang. It took a few seconds to
recognize it was my sister on the other end because she was crying
while trying to talk.
Angie was one
of my step-sisters in Dallas.
"Angie called and said daddy is dead."
My body just
went numb as it felt as if my heart came to a complete stop.
"She said she will call me back with details."
"O.K. call me back."
up the phone my anger turned toward the world. After all these years
I finally had my father back in my life and now he was gone. The
first information received was that my father was found dead on the
side of the road. At this point my first thought was that someone
had murdered him and I was ready to take revenge. A little while
later my sister called with the accurate information. It turned out
my father was in an automobile accident. The truck my father was
driving had rolled over several times tossing him from the vehicle
and rolling over him. It was not a murder after all but the anger
was still inside me because of his death. A few days later we left
for the funeral in Dallas. My sister and I took the kids and my
mother came along as well. Everyone came out to show their sympathy
for the family. Their were relatives there that had never seen
before. It was nice to see them but I hate it took something tragic
to bring them all together. My stepmother Liz had arranged a
beautiful service. At the wake, I just stood and watched my father
lay in that casket for about an hour straight. You could still see
the expression of pain on his face from the vehicle crushing him. My
sister stood behind me crying the entire time. I could hear her
asking my mother why I was not crying. My mother tried to comfort
her the best she could and told her I was crying even when I was
not. It was not that I did not love my father, it was something I
learned from him. Never show your true emotions no matter what is
going on in your life. My Grandmother still had that same look in
her eyes from the last time I saw her as she kept me, my sister, and
the grandkids right at her side the entire time we were there. My
Uncle Robert sang a song at the funeral as my grandmother watched
one of her son's be laid to rest. They lowered him into the ground
and my father was gone forever.
The sound of
the phone ringing awoke me from an early morning sleep.
"Hey son you coming by the house today?"
It was Alvin
on the phone.
"Yeah dad, I got an early class at the college and then I will stop by."
It had been
about a year since my real father died and Alvin and I had become
really close. He loved to work on cars. My real father worked on
cars also so it was alright with me to help Alvin out from time to
time. We would spend half the day working on cars. Mama Jean would
come outside and fuss at us for keeping so much traffic in the
driveway but we would keep right on working. By the time I arrived,
Alvin had all three driveways occupied with cars for us to work on.
Shortly after being there some of the homies from the hood stopped
by after noticing my car parked out front.
"What's up Ron?"
"Nothing much baby boy just chillin."
"Man you hardly ever come through the hood anymore. What's up with that?"
"I'm doing the family man thing right
"Tell her let you come out and kick it with the boys sometime."
"Fool I pay the bill over there. I roll out
when I get ready."
"So what's up with the club tonight? Drinks
"That is a bet. See you at the spot tonight."
I chuckled to
myself at the way the homies teased me as they drove off. The last
few months had been hectic after working long ten hour days, going
to school at night, and dealing with my pregnant girl with her
pains, cravings, and attitude all through the night. That was enough
to warrant a night out on the town. At about ten thirty that night I
rolled into the parking lot of the club. The place was packed with a
long line outside to get in.
Approaching the front entrance of the club, one of my friends whom
had become a Police Officer was working security and waived me over.
"Go ahead on in playa. You don't have
to wait in line."
"Thanks "G." I'm gone drop something in
the Christmas fund for your kids."
"It's all good."
It was packed
inside the club. I mean everyone was shoulder to shoulder. While
making my way to the back bar area one of the homies spotted me in
the crowd and raised up a half gallon of Hennessy in the air as he
waived for me to come in his direction. The entire Hershelwood crew
and Northridge Playas were there. Some of these guys had not been
seen in years and everybody was passing me a drink. The women were
just rushing up to me. They were looking good and barely wearing
anything. I had been off the club scene for a minute and I was like
new meat to them and they all wanted a piece. Half of them I did not
even know. Leaning over to one of the homies:
"Man these freaks out of control in here
"Toss and roll baby. Toss and roll."
female pulled me close to her while looking into my eyes as she
guided us towards the dance floor. Allowing her to lead the way
while finishing off one of the shots of liquor in my hand set the
tone for the rest of the night. After several drinks and dance
partners the constant vibration of my pager got my attention. My
pager showed the time two – thirty a.m. and it was my pregnant girl
calling me from home with 911 behind the number. It was surprising
to me that it had gotten that late. It was definitely time to go
home. Getting to the front door of the club took forever. Along the
way some female was hanging all over me grabbing me in my private
area while whispering in my ear something about going to Denny's and
then the Motel. I could not remember her name and the room seemed to
be spinning a hundred miles per hour. In the parking lot she was
still tagging along behind me begging to go along but I pushed her
away and made my way to the car. I had drank way more than usual and
was sloppy drunk needing someone to ride with me but definitely not
this chick. All of the homies were gone so I would have to make the
trip home alone. My apartment was only ten minutes away so it was
not that long of a drive. Making my way up the entrance ramp to the
expressway there were no Police cars visible so that brought some
relief to mind. Having a run – in with the Police at this hour in
the morning would not be a good thing. Halfway into my journey home
my already blurred vision got worse as I entered a curve at about
fifty miles per hour. It was now triple vision and nothing was
clear. I panicked and lifted my foot off the accelerator in an
attempt to reduce the speed of the car and a second or two later
everything went silent as I blacked out. My eyes began to open
slowly. Everything was peaceful and quiet. The blurred vision of
daylight made it clear that some time had passed. Slowly raising my
head as my vision became clear I noticed I was at home in bed and my
girl snuggled close behind me still sleeping. Leaping out of bed
awaking my girl, I ran outside to the car. Slowly walking around the
car inspecting it, there was not one scratch found. There I was
standing outside half naked with my mouth hanging open in amazement.
My girl was peeping out the window in fear wondering what in the
world was going on with me. I could not believe I did not have a
wreck. Not knowing how I made it home was even scarier. I knew I
blacked out on the expressway and everything from that point forward
was a mystery to me. I looked up into the morning sky where the sun
was shining and spoke out:
"Thank you Daddy."
I knew alcohol
played some part in my father's death and as an Angel from above he
did not want it to play a part in mine.
The days were
coming and going. My level of maturity had grown. My girl and I had
moved into the new home I purchased in Missouri City along with our
newborn baby. Work was steady and classes at the college were going
well. Adjusting to responsibilities was no problem, however, every
now and then the need to unwind would grasp the attention of my
conscience mind. Figuring a game of pool and a few drinks would do
no harm I found myself accepting the invitation to the nightlife
once again. The scene in the club was always the same. Some nights
more lively than others. As usual some female was whispering
something in my ear yet I remained faithful to my girl and went
home. The next morning my girl confronted me while washing my face
in the bathroom. Somehow lipstick had gotten on the collar of the
shirt I wore to the club and she went ballistic. It was not my
interest to hear that type of nagging so early in the morning while
nursing a semi-hangover. Especially knowing my faithfulness to her
was not tainted. But she made it clear the situation was going to be
heard when she punched me in the mouth while I was brushing my
teeth. The toothbrush nearly came out the back of my neck. While
gasping for air my reflexes sent a backhand slap that whirled her
out of the bathroom and on to the bedroom floor. It was never my
belief in a man putting his hands on a woman and here this woman
caused me to loose composure and commit such an act. Hitting her
made me feel bad and it was truly the beginning of the end for me.
My thoughts were that if two people in a relationship had to touch
one another in a violent way then it was best that they were apart.
My girl and newborn baby departed the home that day and my
relationship was officially over. Forgive and forget was not a part
of my vocabulary. The single life was now in full effect once again.
Being single again was a temporary relief but, deep down inside it
really was my desire to settle down and have a wife. My luck with
women was terrible so the search for that special lady went on. The
sun was going down over the city. That was the time of day when all
the players pulled their nice cars out and cruised the streets. The
phone rang breaking my moment of relaxation. It was my good friend
"Say fool come through and scoop me up."
"I'll be there shortly."
Sensa hated to
see me upset or depressed so he wanted to hang out with me to take
my mind off the break up with my girl. Sensa and I were like
brothers. Nothing ever came between us. He always had my back and I
always had his. After picking him up we cruised down Hershelwood
Street to see what was up in the hood. As we pulled up on the 8100
block Duke had the doors and trunk of his eighty-eight open banging
some screw music, a few homies were shooting dice on side of the
street, my other little homie was selling some sweets, and girls
were everywhere. Four or five girls ran up to the car before we
could even stop. One girl leaned in as my driver side window was let
"Let us in. Can we go with you and Sensa?"
"Hold up a minute."
For a quick
second I rolled the window up and looked over to Sensa.
"What's up with this freak?"
"Man every time I roll through here she asking about you dog.
She all on your tip. I don't know who gal she is but, right
now she wants to give it up to you."
window back down.
"Look here lil mama let me give you my beeper number and we will hook up later tonight."
"You better call me right back when beep you."
"Yeah I'm gone call you."
We pulled a
little further up the street and another homie walked up to the car.
"Everybody meeting up at the club in a little bit. Ya'll coming through?"
"I got a few more corners to turn and then we will be there."
"That's a bet. I here you single again so we gone do it up. Drinks on me."
A few hours
later we pulled into the club parking lot. It was jammed packed. As
usual my boy was working security at the front entrance and he
waived Sensa and I on in. The club scene had really gotten wild. The
women were practically naked. Sensa passed me a drink as we made our
way through the crowd. We paused for a moment just to look around.
At that moment a hand went into my drink and pulled the cherry out.
As I looked up she put the cherry into her mouth in a seductive way.
It was one of my ex-girl's best friends. She had this V-cut leather
vest on allowing her breast to slightly be exposed along with some
really short daisy duke shorts and three inch pumps with legs
shining and lips glossing. She leaned over to whisper something in
"I heard about the way you have sex now I want to see for myself. Meet me after the club."
encircling her tongue around the inside of my ear as she backed away
momentarily shocked me nearly causing my drink to slip from my hand
onto the floor. This girl was pretty and attractive but was one of
my worst nightmares when my girl and I was together. She was always
in our business and had something to say about me. Now it seems she
was orchestrating our breakup from behind the scenes so she could
get next to me. As she disappeared into the crowd, Sensa elbowed me
in the arm breaking my stare.
"Them freaks act like they hate you but they really love you.
I got some extra rubbers if you need them."
He laughed as
I pushed him away. At that time an old friend walked up.
"Hey girl. I have not seen you in a minute."
"I got married and just been at home."
"Who you tricked into marrying you?"
"Boy stop being silly."
"Where is your husband tonight?"
"I hanging out with my girlfriends. I see you and Sensa up here chasing these freaks."
"Why you don't call me anymore?"
"Do your husband allow that? I tell you what, you call me."
"I'll do that."
"O.k. Mimi. If you call its good. If not, so be it. Right now some people waiting on me so I'll chat with you later."
"When I page you my code is 69."
were all around one pool table taking shots of liquor. We were
partying for hours. Before leaving my temptation to hit the dance
floor got the best of me. This female agreed to dance with me. She
was thick and fine too. She wore this sexy warm-up suit. We
exchanged numbers after the dance and said her name was Dee. It was
nearly two in morning as me and Sensa made our way to the car along
with some of the other homies who were leaving. Looking across
the parking lot I saw Dee standing on the curb in front of the club.
"What's up Dee? You need a ride?"
"I'm waiting on a cab."
"For what? I'll give you a ride. Where you live at?"
"I'm passing that way."
"You promise you gone take me straight home?"
By the time I
looked over to Sensa he was already getting out of the car.
"I'll ride back to the hood with Ren. Handle your business."
Dee got into
the car and we drove off. She did not bother to readjust the seat
and left it leaning way back like Sensa had it. There was some
traffic on Main Street because everyone was cruising around after
leaving the club.
"Why you got the sunroof open? Turn the A.C. on. All that dancing made me hot."
her warm-up jacket as the cool air blew into her chest. She then
looked up at me with a little smile on her face as she removed the
jacket revealing nothing but the bra she had on underneath. As we
traveled a little further, she kicked her shoes off and removed her
pants and lay back in the seat wearing only a g-string and bra. By
the time I pulled into my garage, she was all over me. If the single
life brought on one night stands like this, then there were no
complaints from me. After a night of good sex daylight struck me in
the face through my bedroom window. Dee was sitting up in the bed.
"I thought you had to work today and I need to go home."
"I'm calling in sick."
After a quick
shower I whisked Dee home. All of her clothes were in the car so she
got dressed along the way. After dropping her off, I returned home.
My bed was where I wanted to be. Not long after falling asleep the
"What you doing at home?"
"Hi Mimi. The question is how you know I was at home?"
"I just called like I said I would. What's up for today?"
"Come have lunch with me."
"Where your husband at?"
"He at work. Meet me on Main at noon. You coming or what?"
"Yeah Mimi. I'll be there. Bye."
My two hour
power nap was much needed. Going to meet Mimi was definitely taking
away from my rest. She had always been a big tease to me but, my
desire to have her outweighed everything on my schedule for the day.
She pulled into the Mexican café we agreed to meet at shortly after
I arrived. We ate lunch and shared several margaritas over stories
about our current lives. She was curious about my new home and
wanted to drive out to see it. So she followed me back to the
residence. She fell in love with the fireplace area during the tour
of the house and then made a second trip back to the master bedroom.
Watching her from the doorway I noticed how she tested the softness
of the bed. Making my way up behind her I gently glided my hands
around her waist without notice allowing my bodyweight to lay her
softly onto the bed.
actions were inappropriate, I lifted my body allowing her room for
escape. She quickly stood up in the middle of the bed and ripped all
her clothes off in five seconds flat and dove on top of me as if she
had not had sex in years. Here I was having sex with this married
woman and my hormones would not allow me to reject her. Spontaneous
sexcapades and one night stands had become a weekend ritual in my
life and the party only got bigger and wilder. One morning I took a
look in the mirror and told myself I needed to slow down. The
streets were killing me. The long hours at work, school at night,
going to the club five days of the week, and different women every
other day had taken it's toll on me. No matter how much I wanted to
slow down, it just seemed I was not the one in the driver's seat.
Reaching to retrieve my buzzing pager, the number that appeared was
a familiar one. It was Nancy. It had been months since we last spoke
to one another. At the conclusion of our last encounter I promised
myself I would never get involved with her again. Returning her
phone call seemed harmless.
"Hey, you called me?"
"Yeah, How you doing?"
"I'm good. Long time no see."
"Where you at? I want to see you."
"Where your boyfriend at? I don't think he would like his live-in girl visiting me."
"He got locked up in Louisiana. Are you gone meet me or what?"
"Meet me on Main and Hillcroft in thirty minutes."
On my way to
meet her I knew I was making a big mistake. My motto was to never
get involved with any of my ex-girlfriends and for some reason the
rule was being broken today. It was easy to spot Nancy in her
mother's car. She always drove her mother's car. She immediately
pulled in behind my car to follow me back home. Within minutes we
were back at my place.
"This is a pretty house. You bought this for that girl and she don't know how to treat you?"
"Stay out my business Nancy and what was so important that you had to see me."
"You know I had a little girl right?"
"Yeah. I named her after you."
"You full of sh_t Nancy.
"I wanted her to be your baby so bad and I never should have stopped being with you."
"Stop Nancy. Get your hands off me. You know we don't get down like that."
to grab and pull herself close to me while trying to force kisses on
me. Past memories of how great sex was with Nancy began to weaken my
attempt to keep her off me. The temptation grew to great and within
minutes we in bed having sex. After sex my conscious mind revealed
two mistakes. The first was getting involved with Nancy again and
the second was having unprotected sex with her. Usually I'm alert
and on top of my game but for the last few weeks it seemed as if I
were slowly slipping. After that encounter with Nancy it turned into
a two or three times a week affair. One particular day Nancy arrived
at my place with her older sister. We had never met before and she
"Hi. I'm Champaign."
"Hey Champaign, let me call one of my friends over to entertain you."
hour my friend CP had made his way to the house. We mixed up a few
drinks and began chatting it up. While admiring the house, Champaign
peeked into the garage from the kitchen entry and noticed the
convertible B.M.W. inside. She yelled back into the other room.
"Ron this is a nice car. I want one just like this."
"You can buy that one. I got all the miles I wanted out of it."
"I have some money saved up and I will ask my boyfriend for the rest."
"Let me know when you ready."
our conversation and pulled Champaign off to himself. Shortly
thereafter they both retired to one of my spare bedrooms for a
little fun. Nancy and I went into my bedroom and did our usual
thing. Some hours later my thirst led me out of bed to get some
water. There were some noises in the kitchen and to my surprise it
was Champaign cleaning the kitchen.
"That could have waited until morning."
"I know but I made the mess while cooking. Since you are up, I want to ask you something."
"Sure what is it?"
"Do you know somebody I can get a couple of ounces of cocaine from?"
"Look Shorty. I'm not in the game and what the hell you need some dope for?"
"I know somebody who wants to buy some and it will help me buy the car in your garage. You know I got three kids and I wouldn't be back living with my mom If I did not need the money."
"I'm not making any promises. If something comes up I will let you know."
morning was at hand. These were usually slow for me but after
arriving at work my ability to function reached one hundred percent.
My supervisor informed me I would be working overtime on the eleven
o'clock shift until seven in the morning on a special project that
was going on in addition to my normal work hours. That immediately
ruled out my social nightlife for the next three days. Putting in
long hours was nothing new to me but the humid June weather kept the
heat in my face. After a few days of long hours I was worn down. My
eyes were so heavy that the only thing that crossed my mind was a
bed. Unfortunately today was the last day for class registration at
the University and I had to make it there after work. The line
seemed to never get shorter but eventually I made it to the
administrator's desk. Before I could finish enrolling the clerk
informed me to report to the campus police office to pay some past
parking citations. It seemed one thing after another kept me from
making it home to that bed. While paying for my parking citations my
pager went off. The code on the display alerted me that it was Nancy
so I gave her a call back.
"Hey, what is up?"
"Can you give me a ride home?"
"Where you at?"
"I'm at my grandma's house."
"Let me finish up her at the school and go switch cars."
only lived a short distance from the university so it was nothing to
stop by on my way to take the truck back to the shop. People were
sitting out in front of the house when I pulled up. Champagne ran
over to the truck once she saw it was me that Nancy was talking to.
"Hi Ron, you didn't get back with me on that situation we discussed. My boyfriend has some money for me to buy the car and wants to meet you."
"When come back to pick Nancy up we can ride over and get the money."
"O.K. I'll let him know we are coming."
the car switch I made a quick stop to pick up a few ounces of
cocaine just in case I decided to do business with this guy. I
didn't tell Champagne because I didn't want her to know what I was
or was not capable of doing. After a quick stop at the corner store
for a beer we were on our way. Champagne gave me directions as to
where to meet this guy. The location was somewhere around Memorial
and the loop. As we neared the exit, I took a sip from my beer and
then suddenly it seemed as if I blacked out. Everything went quiet,
my muscles in my leg contracted lifting my foot from the accelerator
causing the car to slow down, and then I heard a voice saying to me:
In a panic,
Nancy had reached over and grabbed my arm which brought me back to
"You alright? You need to stop drinking."
driver's side door while exiting the freeway I tossed out the
remainder of the beer but I knew that was not the problem. There was
a U-turn at the end of the exit that I contemplated taking but then
shook off the effects of the entire incident that had just occurred.
Upon turning into a convience store parking lot where we were to
meet Champagne's friend two white males sitting on a bench in front
of the store caught my attention. The scene did not look good to me
at all. Before the car was completely parked, someone had popped the
back door behind me and entered the car. The guy introduced himself
as Charlie. It was Champagne's friend but I didn't like the way he
just jumped into the car. Nancy and Champagne exited the car and
went into the store leaving me and this guy alone. He began to ask
lots of questions about drugs and prices. I didn't like his style
and didn't want to do business with him and told him I could not
supply the large quantities of drugs he was asking for. He got
pissed off and told me to give him a call if I changed my mind as he
exited the car. While watching him walk away through the rearview
mirror, the two white men on the bench jumped up with guns pointed
at me and dragged me out of the car to the ground. Cars pulled in
from everywhere surrounding the scene. The girls were screaming in a
panic as the undercover officers arrested us. I never did sell the
drugs to Charlie or make an exchange but finding the drugs during a
search of the car was enough to send me to jail. During the entire
ride to the County Jail it was still hard to believe what had just
happened. After being processed in to the jail, I made my way over
to the phone to call my mother. After telling her that her only son
was in jail and the reason for me being in jail, she burst into a
loud cry. Between the tears and sobbing she managed to get the words
"Where did I go wrong raising you?"
went through my body like a bolt of lightning nearly knocking me to
my knees. Hearing those words brought tears to my eyes knowing how
much I hurt my mother. The thought of asking her to send bail money
to get me out was no longer an option.
"Mom this is all my fault. I will deal with it. Don't worry. I'm O.K."
At that moment
I hung up the phone without saying goodbye. The only thing that came
across my mind was that it was time for me to take responsibility
for everything that happened and everything that would come to pass.
On Friday the initial Court hearing would be held. Nancy and
Champagne were already there when I arrived. We all discussed the
case and agreed to stand together and go to trial. After the
hearing, the Judge granted the girls release on PR Bond and denied
me bail all together. That entire situation seemed bias to me and
the Prosecutor painted a real ugly picture of me as a danger and
threat to society before the Grand Jury. A few days had gone by and
sitting in the County Jail had gotten old. After a lot of thinking
there were a few of phone calls that needed to be made. The first
call was to CP to go and pick up the car that the D.E.A. had
confiscated and return it to my mother. The next call was to Jay. He
had some belongings at my house and agreed to move in and take care
of things until we came up with a permanent solution. Another week
or two had passed and finally my lawyer came to visit me. He
informed me of another Court appearance on the following day. They
finally agreed to give me a bond. That was relief to my ears. At
least there was an opportunity to taste freedom once more. Arriving
in the Court room the next morning, my mother was present. The Judge
granted bail at fifty thousand dollars. Turning to look at my mother
as the Bailiff escorted me out of the courtroom, she whispered;
"Don't worry, I will get the money."
were to limit her involvement as much as possible. Deep down inside
I knew she was still hurt and angry but she was not going to turn
her back on me. That was nothing more than a mother's love. Sometime
after midnight they released me from jail. I didn't know where my
mom got the money from. My release papers noted that I would be on
house arrest at my mother's home. It had been a few years since I
last lived with my mom but, those were the conditions of the
release. When I opened my room door at her house the next morning,
the bed was filled with gifts for me from Father's Day that had
recently passed. That reminded me how bad of a situation I was in
knowing my children needed me as well.
After a fresh shower it was time to hit the streets. Things move
fast in the city. A month in jail seemed like a year had passed. My
first stop was on Hershelwood St.. The homies were shocked to see
"Man they said the FEDS had you and you were never getting out."
"Is that the rumor out on me? Well just believe half of it."
"We having a party for one of the homies. It's his birthday so come through."
"I'll be there.
Later on that
night I finally made it to the party. It was wild. I downed one shot
of whiskey after the other. Luckily the drive home was not that far.
My stomach was not prepared for the onslaught of liquor which left
me feeling really bad. I quietly made my way into the house but the
sound of me vomiting awakened my mother. She was furious as she
looked at me with my face in the toilet bowl gasping for air. Her
yelling and screaming along with the ringing in my head did not
compliment one another. Finally I was able to sleep it off. I felt
bad the next morning but mainly because my mother was still mad at
me. I decided to get out of the house before any words were
exchanged. My first stop was to see my supervisor of employment to
make sure I still had a job to go to. That worked out well and I was
scheduled to report to work the following day. My wardrobe was
running thin so a trip to my house was very much needed to retrieve
some clothes to take back to my mother's house. Upon arriving, I
noticed an old foe standing in the doorway. Jay was cool with this
guy but this guy and I had a bad exchange of words back in the day.
Trusting Jay to stay at my place was one thing but dealing with this
guy was another. Nevertheless, there were bigger issues in my life
that needed to be dealt with at this point so choosing to fight this
battle at a later time was an easy decision. Me and Jay sat down and
talked for a few minutes. As my eyes scanned the room, the house
looked a mess. It appeared that a wild party had taken place. It was
clear Jay was trying to rush me out as he noticed the expression on
my face. I was pissed off deep down inside but decided to think
about how I was going to get a handle on my life's situation before
saying anything. So I grabbed a few things and made my way out.
While backing down the driveway, I noticed that the red flag was
raised on the mailbox and stopped to get the mail. The mailbox was
stuffed with mail. I figured I would take the mail back with me to
my mother's house and sort through it later. The drive back to my
mother's house was quiet. It was my choice not to turn any music
because it would have only disturbed the many thoughts going through
my mind. Going out to my house and not being able to stay there left
me with a miserable feeling. Later that evening I began to sort
through the mail and noticed that it was one duplicate bill after
another. Upon opening each one of them, they all read the same:
"Late", "Past Due", and "Final Notice." I could feel my blood
pressure going up while looking at those thousands of dollars in
unpaid bills. Jay had been living in my house for two months and had
not paid one bill. It was definitely time to evict and my mind was
already made up on how to handle it. Jay must have sensed something
because by the time I made it to my house the next day, jay had
already packed his things and moved out. My old foe was gathering
the rest of his things as I entered. He was trying no to make it
obvious that they were planning on leaving without saying one word.
Jay was supposed to be a good friend and I never expected behavior
like this from him. Life had to go on so I picked up the phone and
called the realest homie of them all, "Sensa" , and invited him to
stay at my place until I got my legal situation resolved. I moved
back in as well. It had been less than a year since I purchased the
house and figured it was time to enjoy it. Forget the probation and
home confinement, you only live once.
A few months
had passed now and my trial date was quickly approaching. Most of my
time was being spent with family. My mother informed me that some
people had been calling her house looking for my old foe. He had
used her name as a reference. That really pissed me off because I
knew he had some type of scam going on. Later that evening I
returned the call to the person who was inquiring about my old foe.
This particular gentleman was the owner of a car lot and explained
to me how my old foe had defrauded him out of an vehicle and spoke
of how much it was costing him to try to locate the car. That
conversation immediately sparked an idea in my mind. I made the
gentleman an offer. For the right price I would bring him his
vehicle if it meant that much to him. His response surprised me. He
agreed on my terms and even opted to send me a spare set of keys to
the vehicle. My first thought was to get some of the homies from the
hood to handle this but because of the way he and Jay left me with
all those unpaid bills and included my mothers' name in some scheme,
I decided to do this job myself. It wouldn't be hard finding this
guy because he does the same thing every weekend. On the following
day the gentleman met with me and provided the car keys. This really
made things simple. Later that night some friends came by my house
and we had a small party with drinks and all. During the party I
told my guest to continue to enjoy themselves while Sensa and I go
out to pick up some girls and more liquor. As Sensa drove, I
directed his path of travel to the Skating Rink where everybody
hangs out on Sunday night. Once we arrived, I told Sensa to let me
out and meet me back at the house. The rest was history.
The closer it
got to my trial date the more gloomy some of my days were. Here I
sat reading a pre-drafted script over the phone to a voice
analysis specialist. It was part of my defense strategy. The thing
that bothered me most was the fact that I had to defend myself
against something that never happened, nevertheless, the D.E.A.
claimed to have tape recordings. True enough they had over
thirty recordings and as I listened to them one by one, not one
recording was of me. They were all of some guy from the North Side
that called himself Ced. What pissed me off the most was the fact
that my Court appointed lawyer did not even believe me. This whimp
lawyer had been wanting me to cop to a plea deal since day one. One
thing he didn't understand was that deep down in my heart I knew
none of those recordings were of me. My thoughts were that this case
was beat because there was no evidence at all of a crime. The only
way I ended up with this sucker lawyer was because I had already met
with another lawyer. He was a Black man and really wanted to help me
but couldn't. Nevertheless, he gave me good advice. You can't beat
the F.E.D.S., so don't waste your money on lawyers. He went through
the law books and showed me everything I was facing. It was hard to
accept what he was saying because there was no way a court could
convict me without any evidence. Shortly after completing the voice
analysis, Nancy called and informed me that Champagne had been
sentenced to ten years. I told her she didn't know what she was
talking about because Champagne and I would always go to Court
together and we agreed to stick together through it all. Nancy tried
to assure me that she knew for a fact about what had happened but
the conversation struck a nerve with me and my temper flared as I
discounted the information Nancy gave me as untrue. Later that
night Nancy came by to visit me. After all, we were still sex
partners. She knew she upset me and wanted to comfort me. She loved
me like crazy and would do anything for me. I noticed a sad look on
her face as she entered the house. She embraced me and looked
directly into my eyes:
"No matter what happens from this day on don't trust that hoe."
"My sister Champagne. Don't trust her."
It was the
first day of trial. A cold February morning. My mother accompanied
me to the courthouse along with a good friend and co-worker who was
willing to testify on my behalf. It really hurt me that this man was
the only one willing to speak on my behalf. The people who were
closest to me would not even stand up for me. Some them I even
risked my life for and risked going to jail for, nevertheless, here
I stood with a man I had only know for a few months willing to stand
up for me. We were the first ones to arrive which gave me a few
moments to survey the room. My lawyer entered and began to
give my friend and I a quick preparation talk. Shortly after,
Champagne and her lawyer entered the Courtroom. The prospective
jurors entered the room from another doorway and finally the Judge
entered and began her roll call to see if everyone was in
attendance. Immediately after the last name called, Champagne's
lawyer jumped up and interrupted the Court:
"Your Honor, my client would like to speak."
"Approach the bench and proceed."
"Your Honor I plead guilty to all the charges brought against me and will be witness for the Prosecution."
Right then it
hit me, the words Nancy spoke:
her." It felt like somebody had just shot me. At the last second
without warning, Champagne pulled out on me after we agreed to stick
together. She crossed me.
The Judge gave
orders for my trial to begin later that afternoon. The trial lasted
for two and a half days. One after another the D.E.A, A.T.F, Lab
Chemist, and pawn shop owners gave their testimony. It was all
useless testimony and had no significance to the case at hand.
Finally Champagne took the stand. She sat there and pointed me out
describing to the jury how it was all my doing and she was forced by
me to commit those acts. She could not look me in the eyes as she
spoke those lies to the jury. As my thoughts revisited some past
currents events it was obvious that she was compelled to speak out
against me in exchange for a shorter sentence, the opportunity to
keep her children, and get Nancy off the case without any charges.
My mother had tears in her eyes as she left the courtroom while the
jury deliberated. I knew she would not return and I understood why.
Things did not look good for. I called my brother-in-law over and
emptied my pockets of my personal effects and told him to take care
of my sister and mother. Within a couple of hours the Judge called
for everyone to re-enter the courtroom for the reading of the
verdict. No surprise. "Guilty" on all counts. What upset me the most
was being convicted despite the lack of evidence. The voice analysis
came back negative and could not confer a match so prosecution
passed out a transcribed conversation and inserted my name as the
speaker without verification. That was low down and dirty. Not to
mention that they never proved a conspiracy existed. But I guess the
Hollywood performance by the Prosecution was enough to convince the
jury to take a man's freedom for seventeen years and seven months.
Not to say I had never done anything wrong or deserved jail time
but, seventeen years was unreasonable for a man willing to take
responsibility for his actions but not willing to be responsible for
actions he did not commit.
The last few
months in county jail gave me a small taste of what the next few
years would be like. It was about two-thirty in the morning when the
guards disturbed my sleep with the sounds of rattling handcuffs and
shackles along with a breakfast tray. When the guards awake you at
that hour in the morning you know you are definitely going
somewhere. They escorted me out to a bus. Today was the day I would
be transferred to a real Federal Prison. After a few hours on the
road the sun began to rise and I could see the warm July skies. It
had been months since the sun shined on me. In most county jails you
never get to see daylight or anything in connection with the outside
world. Taking the window seat on the bus provided me with a precious
moment to realize the simple things in life one would miss. The bus
had been traveling all day and finally stopped in the city of El
Reno, Oklahoma. All the visions of prison and things seen on
television had now become a reality. The countless rows of wired
fencing, concrete walls, and armed guards intensified my feeling of
nervousness, fear, and courage all simultaneously. One thing that
was known for sure was that my life would change forever once I
passed through those gates. The task of processing me in took hours.
Most of my time was spent observing my surroundings during the
entire process. Around seven o'clock the process was complete and a
guard escorted me to my cell. After the long bus ride I needed
some fresh air and decided to journey out to the prison recreation
yard. The place was very large. A young black man approached me
during my walk:
"Where you from homie?"
"Your people over there."
He pointed to
a group of men in a crowd. I went along with the situation and made
my way over to the group of men. After the introductions, one of
them reached under his shirt and pulled out a homemade knife about
two feet long made of steel and passed it to me.
"Treat this like an American Express and never leave without it. I'll make you another one and you can pay me later."
All sorts of
thoughts were going through my mind at the time but I remained calm,
tucked the knife inside my pants and walked away from the men. There
were hundreds of men on the yard. Some walking the track, some
playing basketball, and others just playing board games on outside
tables. I noticed an inside gym and decided to check it out. It was
a nice. It had an indoor basketball court and indoor weight
room combined. I wasn't into lifting weights but this guy caught my
attention as he was bench pressing about three or four hundred
pounds with ease. Then before he could finish his last couple of
reps, some guy walked up and smashed him in the face with a forty
five pound plate while he was still lifting. The weight lifter
jumped up to fight off his attackers only to receive several
stabbings to the mid section. The guards finally arrived to diffuse
the situation but blood had already been shed. Large groups of
people began moving around and I figured that was my sign to get out
of the way so I made my way back to my cell and just lay there.
Every now and then I would get up to look out the window but would
find myself right back in bed. It was seven times by my count that
the ambulance service came to pick up a badly beaten or stabbed
inmate and this was just day one for me in prison. Right then I knew
it was going to be a long seventeen years in prison.
few months had passed and I was now transferred to another prison in
the panhandle of Texas. I met some guys from my old neighborhood
back home. We were all like brothers and had to stick together and
watch one another's back due to the large amount of gang activity on
the yard. A riot once every other week was nothing unusual. My days
went wasted doing nothing until my eyes were opened to the fact that
it was up to me to do something for myself because this prison
system was far from being about rehabilitation. There were a few
classes offered but most of them were discontinued due to
legislation passed by lawmakers to forbid inmates from receiving
Pell grants for education and training purposes. That eliminated my
opportunity to try to finish completing my college degree in
Engineering. The only thing left to do was to gain as much knowledge
as possible from the library and from people who had good knowledge
on certain topics. With knowledge I knew I would still be in control
no matter where they sent me. The days didn't seem to come and go
any faster. It was only the year 1995 and I could not imagine what
the year 2008 would look like when my freedom would finally be
relinquished to me. My only comfort came from the phone calls I
would make to my family once a week. Somehow my mother managed to
scrape up enough money to bring the kids to see me. My daughter had
just turned four and my son was about two and a half years old. The
visit was great. After seeing my kids It was my number one agenda to
earn my freedom back in order to be a real father to them. There was
nothing left but to take responsibility for my actions and move
forward. There was no way I could continue to put this type of
burden on my family to travel seven hundred miles by road to see. I
asked my mother not to come again. She didn't understand why I was
saying such a thing. It hurt me a lot to make that decision but I
needed to make something happen. Massive headaches would pound my
head at night while trying to figure out how I got into this
situation and how to fix it. My prayers went up to God as tears
would form in my eyes before falling asleep. My mother sent me some
Bible scriptures to read and they proved to give me peace and help
me endure the day as I read them each morning.
Early one morning my walk across the yard was interrupted by the
sound the voice of an older gentleman from the east coast. He was
the head spokesperson for the Moorish Science Temple.
"Hold your head up. I'm giving a class on how to do legal work. The law is what got you in here and the law can get you out."
his words made sense to me. If I could understand the law in it's
complexity, then it would be just as easy for me to operate in a
legal sense within society. That encouraged me to sign up for the
class. A few weeks into the class some good news surfaced. The
Supreme Court had just made a ruling in a case involving firearm
convictions and enhancements. The issues in the case were nearly
identical to my case. Immediately I made my way to the telephone and
called my mother informing her of the news while encouraging her to
gather every penny we had saved in order to get me a lawyer to file
an appeal for me. Even though the class had taught me to write these
motions on my own, it seemed to me that an approach from an outside
lawyer would work better. The thoughts of being able to get out soon
overwhelmed me. The excitement left me sleepless at nights. I had
already recalculated my sentence in my head and came up with my new
out date. This appeal was a no-brainer. Once the appeal was filed
there was nothing left to do but wait. Months had now passed and
daily I would witness other inmates getting immediate release from
filing the same appeal I submitted. I just knew my day was coming
soon. The wait continued. A year had passed now and still no answer.
My frustration had set in. Today was the day of my progress review
by the prison board and my anger would not let me focus on that. My
request to not attend the review was denied so I showed up but in a
bad mood. To my surprise there were some unexpected visitors. They
were some people from the prison's regional office wanting to sit in
on my review. Then a thought came to mind. Why talk to people who
relay information when I could talk to people who make
decisions? Shifting in my seat, my focus was geared toward a female
regional officer. Before the prison board members could cut me off,
I introduced myself and immediately went into my complaints and
requests to be moved to a prison closer to my family. The woman
seemed to have interest in my concerns and requested to see my file.
After reviewing my file, she turned and asked me a few questions.
Pleased with my response she immediately turned to the case managers
"Waive his violence and public safety factor and transfer him to a prison closer to his family."
managers were shocked. Her words even surprised me. My case managers
had turned my request down numerous times. The policy requires a
total of five years plus an additional year of clear conduct before
a public safety factor could be removed and here it was only two and
a half years into my sentence that this stipulation was being
removed. I thanked God for that small victory because He heard my
cry. One thing I learned that day was that anything is possible,
even when they say it can never happen. A couple of months later my
transfer was complete. This brought me much closer to my family and
eliminated the long distance traveling. My family only had to drive
eighty-five miles outside of Houston to the town of Beaumont, Texas.
It was the end
of the year 1996 and New Year's Day was right around the corner.
This was my first time during my incarceration where the population
of Black Americans was a large number. The last two prisons were
predominately Hispanic. There were plenty of acquaintances here from
Houston. We would all sit around and chat about who slept with who's
baby mama and who's girl was tipping out on the side. Most of us
were players about the situation but some guys could not handle the
truth about their women. In prison this was something guys would
tease you about until you were steaming mad and ready to fight. My
photo album eventually became off limits to the public eyes because
most guys would always see someone who was suppose to be their
so-called woman and get upset. Most days went by fast because there
was always something happening on the yard. It was either a fight or
some comical drama. After fooling around with the guys, it was time
to put my ticket in for the football game. Gambling was something
that passed time for everyone who liked sports. On my way back from
meeting him it was surprising to hear my named called over the loud
speaker to report to the visiting room. My conversation with my
mother earlier that morning gave no indication that the family would
be visiting me today. Curiosity caused me to rush to dress and
report to the visiting room. Upon entering the visiting room a quick
surveillance of the area did not produce a recognizable face. Then
someone grabbed my arm from behind and spoke.
It was my son
squirming underneath my arm getting close enough to wrap his little
arms around me.
"Hey son. Who brought you up here?"
"My momma sitting right over there."
He pointed her
out in the crowded room. It took all my energy to camouflage all my
anger towards her for not letting me see him sooner or letting him
spend more time with my side of the family. Nevertheless, it brought
joy to me that she took time to bring him to visit me that day and
that somewhat nullified the intention of me wanting to slap her
across the head. Not long into the visit, it felt like the F.E.D.S.
were interrogating me all over again. She must have asked a million
questions about things that didn't even matter anymore. We had
broken off our relationship a year prior to my incarceration and
here she was asking questions about who I dated years ago. While
trying to ignore her by playing with my son, it became clear she was
there looking for answers and when she didn't hear what she wanted
to her that visit was over. Later that night the pondering over how
strange that visit was disrupted my attempt to fall asleep and added
It was already a new year and the months were going by fast. There
was still no word from the appeal court on my case and that left me
wondering what was taking them so long to reply. Being able to visit
and talk with my family weekly made things much easier. The phone
calls were not cheap at three plus dollars for 15 minutes but the
bi-weekly visits made up for the lack of phone calls. My daughter
could not wait to jump into my lap when they came to visit me. She
wanted all the attention and wouldn't let anyone other than her get
a word in. Those moments were cherished greatly by me.
There was nothing good about prison life, however, there were some
good men who came together for a positive cause. It was a group of
men who were all from Houston. Most of us knew one another from past
encounters and others were just interested in a positive cause. We
would all meet once a week and make plans for the future. We created
our own business and investments classes which gave one another
advice on starting a business and investing in our community to make
it more productive. It was good to see all the brothers working
together because if we were on the streets it probably would have
never happened. I would even call Alvin and tell him about my ideas.
He and I planned to start a business together buying and selling
cars. He would get excited when we spoke about the things he wanted
us to do together. Through all my troubles he never gave up on me
and always told me I was his son and that he loved me. That touched
me more than anything because he was not my real father nor was I
his responsibility. He was just being a real man giving guidance to
a young man.
It was already 1998 and during the course of time it became easier
for me to block thoughts of many things on my mind and serve my time
a little more peacefully. My work day usually ended around 3
o'clock. The prison had constructed a factory within the perimeter
that rebuilt diesel engines. My decision to work there was based my
past experience of working on cars with my father and Alvin. It was
part of my preparation for the business me and Alvin was creating.
My hard work in the prison factory rewarded me with advancement into
a quality assurance position. My duties were to assure all the
rebuilt engines met the technical manual standards and to test the
engines in a dynamometer center. People on the streets were making
around $20.00/hr for the job I was doing making only $1.00/hr in
prison. It allowed me to earn about two or three hundred dollars a
month. That was a lot of money in prison. Most of my money was sent
home to my mother to provide for my children. Of course the kids
always thought Granny was rich and bought them whatever they wanted
and never knew the money was actually coming from me. The experience
gained working in that factory was valuable to me at the time and
temporarily outweighed the fact that this was pure slave labor. At
the end of the work day most of my time was spent in my cell. While
laying across my bunk I took some time to read up on Wall Street
activity. Some friends taught me about trading stocks and that
encouraged me to trade stocks on paper to get a feel for the market.
The sound of someone clearing their throat interrupted my search for
a closing price.
"Will you go to church with me brother?"
lowered the newspaper slightly below my eyes just enough to view the
person in my doorway and then lifted it back up to let the person
know he was being ignored. It was JF which was already know by the
sound of his voice. He was skinny fellow about five feet tall and
weighed around a hundred pounds soaking wet. His voice got louder.
"I said are you going to church with me?"
"JF you got about three seconds to get out of my room before something bad happens to you."
There was a
small silence between us while counting down three seconds in my
mind and then I leaped from the bed without warning. Before I could
grab him, he was already about a hundred feet down the corridor
running in full stride. He could have out run and Olympic sprinter
at that pace. After realizing he was not being chased by me he
stopped and turned to look at me all out breathe while extending his
arm out to the wall to help hold himself up. He then shouted back at
"I'm not scared of you."
Then he burst
out into laughter and so did I. He didn't think I would put a real
hurting on him but decided not to take any chances today. JF had a
twenty year sentence to serve and turned his life over to Christ. He
was in his last phase of becoming an ordained pastor and wanted to
invite me to hear his sermon tonight. Today It just was not in my
interest to go. It wasn't like my schedule was full. There was
nothing but free time on my hands and many days I had been promising
myself I would go back to church soon. Nevertheless, It was the
weekend and sometimes we men would act just like we were still on
the streets. My homie had already stopped by earlier and left me a
half quart of homemade wine. Drinking that stuff was like taking a
shot of one hundred and fifty proof whiskey. After drinking a cup of
that it was time to make my way to the recreation yard to get some
fresh air. The Columbians and Mexicans had a ten thousand dollar bet
going on a soccer game so the yard was crowded. Me and some of the
homies joined the watch while smoking some weed. That really put me
on cruise control for the rest of the night. The female guards come
to work looking extra good for the weekend and if your money and
your conversation was right, you might get lucky.
The feeling of
relief went through many men at mail call hour if they received a
letter. Receiving mail from a close family member brought joy at a
much needed time. Sometimes it was just mail from a friend sending
you the latest gossip going on in the world. No matter what it was,
it either made your day better or made it worst. My letter was from
my mother. It was a big package because she would always send me
magazines to read. A yellow sheet of paper inside the package caught
my attention. It was a short handwritten note from my mother. Once
inside my cell, my eyes began to swell with tears as I read the last
few lines of the letter. She had just informed me that the Court had
denied my appeal after three years of waiting for an answer. She
wrote the bad news in the kindest way she could and reminded me that
we would always keep trying. My mother was always encouraging and
inspired me to never give up. Through all the kind words my anger
still arose because there was no way the Court should have denied me
this appeal. My heart felt as if it were in my stomach and my
headaches became even more painful as the pounding matched every
pulse. For the next few days I was stressed out. The migraine
headaches were crippling me for most of the day. It had been a few
years since my last migraine headache but the pain from the
magnitude of this headache quickly reminded me of how they felt.
After getting some medical attention from the prison hospital I
decided to call home and let my mother hear my voice so she wouldn't
worry about me. We had not talked since she gave me the bad news
about the appeal. She was happy to hear from me and immediately
started giving me an encouraging speech. We chatted for a few
minutes about the family and then she went into a silence. Finally
the silence was broken.
"I been staying at Mama Jean house for the last couple of nights taking care of her."
"What's wrong with Mama Jean?"
another silence in her conversation.
"Alvin was killed in an accident a few days ago. You didn't see it on the news?"
started pounding really fast and it got difficult to breathe.
"Are you there? Hello."
"Yeah, Mom I'm here. Let me call you back."
"Yeah, just let me call you back."
My mind was
going in circles. First my appeal was denied and now this. This was
hard to swallow. Me and Alvin had gotten really close over the
years. Both of my grandfathers were deceased, my real father was
dead, and now the only other man I could call dad was gone too. The
migraine headache reoccurred quickly numbing the entire right side
of my head. My vision was blurry and the feeling of faint came upon
me. The thought of having to walk all the way back across the prison
yard to the medical facility was discouraging but knowing that the
pain would never stop prompted me to go. The nurse was a very kind
person. She opened the door as she saw me approaching.
"Mr. Wallace are you well?"
"My head killing me and I feel faint."
She hooked me
up to a little machine to take my temperature and blood pressure.
Once the machine gave the final reading she began running from
medicine cabinet to medicine cabinet. My blood pressure had raised
to an alarming high. She gave me some pills to bring my blood
pressure down and some other pills to stop the headache. I didn't
appear to be that serious to me until she told me to lay down on the
table and don't move as she turned all the lights out. She really
got my attention when she told me that if my pressure didn't go down
in five minutes that she would have to call an ambulance to take me
to an outside hospital. After a few minutes my blood pressure did go
down but it was still slightly high. That was a scary situation and
my first lesson on how stressful life could be.
After a few
months had passed my focus became clear and my days were less
stressful. Some of the conversations about starting a business
resurfaced in my thoughts and brought me to the conclusion that
nothing from this day forward would keep me from being successful in
life. The Federal System would be holding me for several more years
but my philosophy was not to leave there a poor man. Starting a
business had become my everyday motivation. The countless hours of
reading business books, writing heads of corporations and agencies
had finally enabled me to complete my first two business
plans. After making a few contacts to some outside persons, my
people were in place and the project was set in motion. My first
desire was to take on Hollywood. It was always my dream to write and
direct my own film. My High School English teacher always
complimented me on being a creative writer. Many times she would
embarrass me in front of the class by reading my essays aloud. She
would sway across the classroom in dramatic fashion while reading to
the class and then come and stand next to my desk as she completed
the story. Those thoughts of her inspired me to write my first
short story. My research allowed me to put it in screenplay format
and send it out to a few agents in the production industry to test
the water. My eyes were set on the independent route to success but
some recognition from the majors was welcomed. No matter what
happened, the joy of creating my own company, copyrighting my own
works, and writing all my own material was success in itself. What
was thought to be a impossible task became simple through motivation
few days later in the prison factory my friend and I chatted about
our latest business moves. We also discussed the stock market
activity for the week. We both had some money in the market and were
comparing notes to see which one of us made the best move for the
day. During our conversation we noticed a lot of unusual movement in
the factory and some people running.
"Lock down. Lock down."
It didn't take
long for reality to set back in and remind me I was still in prison.
Me and my homie made our way over to where all the other Black men
were because it was evident some drama was going on. After a few
minutes the word came that was a race war between the Blacks and
Mexicans. The prison officials ordered everyone back to their cells
in the housing units. All the Blacks strapped up with our knives and
shanks for the journey across the yard because you never know what
will happen between point A to point B. Upon entering our housing
unit, we were approached by one of the shot callers for the Mexicans
and he informed us they only had issues with the guys from N.O. and
asked us to stay out of it. We went over to the N.O. guys and asked
what was up. They said they could handle their own so we stepped
back and let them do their thing. It was late 1999 in the mist of
the holiday season. None of us wanted the entire prison to be locked
down for the holidays so the situation was diffused with minimal
damage. You could still feel the tension in the air once it was all
over but that was just everyday life in prison. The prison was
overcrowded beyond capacity by thirty percent easily and that kept
tension on the yard. The regional office found out about the riot
and sent some investigators to the prison. The investigators agreed
that the prison was overcrowded and ordered the prison officials to
ship two hundred inmates from the facility within the next fourteen
days. About three days later my case manager informed me that I was
being shipped. It was not in my interest to be shipped. My family
came to visit me before leaving. It was somewhat a sad moment. It
was a blessing to be this short traveling distance from them and now
I knew the visits would not be frequent. The word came around twelve
thirty the next morning that I was going to El Paso, Texas which was
about nine hundred miles away from my family.
mountains, and desert was all that visible to me for the last six
hours. My only view of something like this was from watching an old
western on television. After eighteen hours of traveling while
handcuffed and chained at the feet, the bus finally arrived in El
Paso, Texas around two-thirty in the morning. The two peanut butter
sandwiches they fed us had worn off and hunger pains were agitating
my stomach as well as all the other prisoners. Due to the late hour
arriving, we had no choice but to wait until morning for our next
meal. The next few hours sleeping in a comfortable position was
welcomed by everyone. After sunrise a group of us new prisoners made
our way to the dining hall for some breakfast and toured the prison
along the way. Right away one could tell the institution was built
many years ago. The place was actually a housing unit on an old
deserted military air field converted into a prison. From the looks,
the place had to have been built in the 1930's or 1940's. It was
early December and the cold wind coming off the ice capped mountains
just to the west of the prison stuck to me like glue. The uniform
provided to me was paper thin and provided no warmth from the
weather. A jacket would have been nice but when you are in prison ,
nobody cares about your well being. We finally made it to the
entrance of the dining hall and were immediately approached by a
tall Hispanic correctional officer as we entered.
"Where are you guys going?"
been pissed off since we left East Texas and it didn't take a half
second for him to respond.
"We going to get some breakfast. We hungry. Ya'll didn't feed us nothing last night when we got here."
"You inmates can't eat now. This is for Unicorn only and you guys have to go outside and pick up paper and cigarette butts first or I won't let you in."
excuse for a correctional officer had the nerve to expect us to go
outside in twenty degree weather with no coats and only wearing some
prison transfer clothing which was thin as bed sheets. Cruel and
unusual punishment was something we were not accepting. We had all
came from a rowdy prison so getting into a conflict with guards was
nothing new. There was seventeen of us. All Black Americans with the
exception of three Hispanics whom predominately grew up around Black
Americans. The entire group became angry after the Officer's words.
I literally went into a verbal frenzy on the officer only to be
drowned out by Ray-Ray who was really laying into this guy with
words. This sent the Officer into a panic which caused him to radio
for back-up. Within minutes help came running and we were surrounded
by an army of Hispanic Correctional Officers. They made it clear to
us that we should consider this place a privately run institution
and they were going to run it the way they wanted to. During all the
commotion all of us new inmates looked at one another and in a
silent code gave the acknowledgement. Then a voice rang out from
"You police can let us eat or we going to war with you and shut this entire prison down right now."
expressions on the face's of the officers changed immediately. You
could see a few of them trembling already. This prison was somewhat
small and the officers had only dealt with inmates who had white
collar crimes, bank fraud, and child molesters. They were not ready
to deal with drug dealers, gang bangers, and real people from the
streets. Right before things really got out of hand, a voice spoke
out with an Hispanic accent.
"You guys go ahead and eat but I'm letting you know you are not going to run my prison."
He was the
Captain of the prison guards. He was a tall fellow. Appeared to be
somewhat feminine to me. Nevertheless his people seemed to respect
him. The situation diffused with tension in the air. The tone was
set as both parties went about their way. From that day forth I knew
it was going to be a long and rough stay at this prison and we
officially became know to the rest of the inmate population as the
Beaumont Boys. The only people to stand up to the people in charge
at that prison probably since it's inception.
Not much had
changed since our arrival to El Paso. The tension was still in the
air days after the altercation with the guards and it was my desire
to leave since the day of arrival. It was hard being over nine
hundred miles away from my family. The collect phone calls cost
about a dollar a minute which also put a strain on communication
with my family. Everything about this entire place was getting old
to me and my frustrations began to emerge.
voice sounded out from the distance. Standing up to be counted
everyday only added stress to my day. This age old ritual was a
constant reminder that one was in prison. Following the lead of my
five other cell mates, I stood to be counted as the guards proceeded
through the unit counting. While waiting for them to make their way
to our cell, I decided to read a book while standing.
"Look at me when I count."
One of the
guards yelled as he slapped my book to the floor. He thrust his hand
toward my face with his index finger extended probably not realizing
how close we were but still making contact to my face.
"Get your hand out of my face."
As I literally
tried to break every bone in his hand while removing it
from my the presence of my face. He jumped back.
"What did you say?"
myself in an even louder tone.
"Keep your hands out of my face."
"Let's take it outside."
My pursuit of
him towards the exit was swift as he called for backup on his radio
along the way. Once outside we went toe to toe and word for word. By
the time the Lieutenant arrived, we were both out of breathe and
still arguing. The lieutenant listened to both of us tell our side
of the story and as expected he sided with the guard after a private
conference. The Lieutenant knew his guard was in the wrong for even
inviting me into a physical challenge and tried to invoke a lesser
punishment on me to calm my anger. That was totally unacceptable. It
was an insult to my intelligence to try to convince me that my
actions were wrong for defending myself. After rejecting the
punishment, the Lieutenant threatened me with a few words of his own
but I didn't back down. He knew they were in the wrong and could not
push the situation any further at that time. We all went our
separate ways. It was a sigh of relief when they decided to retreat.
There were no witnesses around to tell the real story if things went
further. Anything could have happened in the middle of the desert
and the truth would have remained buried in the sand.
Upon returning to the housing unit I quickly made a phone call to my
mother. She became really upset and concerned for my safety
after informing about the incident that had just occurred. She
immediately called to Washington D.C. to speak with the head of the
Bureau of Prisons and voiced her complaint to the point of
threatening a lawsuit if no action was taken. I made it through the
night safely but early the next morning I heard my name being called
over the announcement system. It was the Captain instructing
me to report to his office. Upon my arrival he imitated the good guy
role by acting as if he really wanted to help me. He explained how I
could always come and talk to him if faced with any problems or
concerns. It was clear to me that Washington had responded and this
guy was trying to make peace with me by playing on my intelligence.
He even had the nerve to pretend to be returning my mother's phone
call and said he could not get an answer on her end. My mother was
always at home so I knew he was being dishonest. He must had
forgotten that I was from the streets and could recognize game from
a mile away. The lieutenant came into the office while we were
talking. He had a few of his flunkie guards tagging along with him
all making mean faces at me as they passed through the room. My
source from the inside of their organization had already passed the
word on to me that it was their intention to make trouble with me so
I could be found at fault. Now it was time for me to buckle down and
do whatever that was needed to be done to make it out of this place
alive. The Devil had taken full control of me and the worst of the
worst was about to be released. My thoughts were plagued with ways
to make the life of each one of them miserable, one by one. One
thing about being in prison is that there are people there who know
how to do all sorts of things and acquire all types of information
and these were the people who would put the pieces of my puzzle of
revenge together. Every piece of information gained was used to my
advantage. My observations went on daily learning my enemy's habits,
likes, dislikes, weaknesses, family members, past history, and
financial status. My motto was already in place, "Hit Hard and Move
Silent." So I humbled myself daily to avoid confrontations with the
guards and put up with all their threats and mistreatment. I was a
walking time bomb on their hands but they were too busy harassing me
to notice. Just because a person is quiet doesn't mean he fears
something, I was only waiting for the perfect time to strike.
"Ha Ha Ha Ha!" A laugh came from afar.
That was the
loudest laugh I heard in a long time. The laugh came from a group of
Christian brothers walking towards me on the prison yard. As they
came closer a new face was noticed in the crowd among them. He was a
medium build and somewhat muscular fellow about the average height.
When he saw me he immediately smiled and walked over to shake my
hand and introduce himself.
"Hi, I'm Mr. Powers."
We had never
crossed paths before in life but it seemed that he really wanted to
meet me for some reason. After a little small talk it came to my
understanding that he was a co-pastor of a church in Dallas Texas
and he invited me to come listen to him speak at the prison church
at the next Christian service. By the time Saturday had come which
was the day Christian services were held, I managed to put my
frustrations of the week aside and attend church service. The new
brother, Mr. Powers gave a powerful message and one could see his
true passion for the ministry. It had been a long time since I last
heard some good preaching that really moved me. After the service it
did not take long for my thoughts to go back to the upcoming
troubles of next week. My prison job consisted of me leaving the
prison daily to go work on a military base. This prison job was the
only thing I looked forward to because the temporary freedom form
the prison was just enough to keep my mind focused on something
positive. The fact of being cheap labor did not bother me at all
because the temporary freedom outweighed that. Besides, under any
other conditions no one in their right mind would work for seventeen
cents an hour in the desert heat of El Paso at their own free will.
The Sergeant Majors Academy was crowded today for a ceremony they
were having. Cleaning the place afterwards was going to be a heavy
workload for me. As people began to leave the ceremony, a pretty
young lady approached me.
"Hello young man."
She spoke with
a soft voice. The scent of her perfume drifted into my nostrils. She
was an attractive women in her forties with long flowing hair,
sparkling brown eyes and very fit with a nice bodily shape.
"Hello Maam. Is there something I can help you with?"
conversing with me in a comfortable manner as if this was not the
first time we met. That really surprised me because most people
would act nervous or scared around me knowing my status as an inmate
in the Federal Prison. After listening to her conversation it was
apparent she already knew my situation. She informed my that she was
involved in prison ministry and invited me to attend a service at
the prison on the date that she would be speaking. I smiled and
accepted her invitation as we parted ways. Ms. E.B. was a very nice
person and for the remainder of the day the scent of her perfume
lingered in my nose inspiring constant thoughts of our previous
encounter which left a lasting impression.
few weeks had passed and I failed to make an appearance at Church.
Bro. Powers constantly reminded me that he missed my presence at the
services every time he encountered me. On my work days at the
academy Ms. E.B. would remind me that she missed my presence also
and invite me to attend the next service while displaying her
beautiful smile. Truly I was misinterpreting her intentions but her
interest in me drove me to curiosity. The thoughts would whirlwind
through my mind. Why is she always being so nice to me? Why does she
always speak to me? Why does she always invite me to her service?
Why me period. What is it about me that is grasping this woman's
Life in prison was not getting any easier. Daily the guards harassed
me just to see if they could get an reaction out of me. Leaving the
prison to go to work became my refuge. This was the only time I
could have some peace from the drama. While working at the Academy
Chapel one day on the sprinkler system a thought of Alvin came to
mind. I remembered something he told me in a conversation once:
"Learn everything you can while you are there."
It was my
motivation to be observant and learn from others.
A voice broke
the concentration of my daydream. It was the Base Chaplain. He was a
white male in his forties and appeared to be in good physical shape.
He bore a big smile.
"Thank you for keeping up the landscaping around the Chapel."
"No problem Sir. Glad to help."
"Would you care for a drink or water? Come inside. I would like you to meet my wife."
I went inside
and talked with the couple for some time. They were really nice
people. It was surprising to me that I was thanked for my work
because it was my job. The way he presented himself grasped my
attention because he was a kind and caring man whom invited a
stranger in for comfort and recognized me for nothing other
than a man. That brought a question to mind. What does it take to be
a man of that character?
Months had passed and it was a new year. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
was approaching and one of my cellmates asked if I could write him a
poem for the Holiday program. He was an older white gentleman in his
mid forties. It surprised me that he wanted to participate in the
program so, I wrote him a poem and attended the program to hear him
recite the poem. During the program Bro. Powers spotted me in the
crowd and approached. With his kind smile he reminded me that he
missed my presence in church service and as always I responded with
a promise to attend the next service. We shared a few laughs and
enjoyed the remainder of the program.
following day, work was slow at the Academy which gave me a little
time for some relaxation. While sitting in the outside lunch area
the aroma of a beautiful fragrance entered my nose. It was no
surprise as I turned around to see Ms. E.B. approaching me
displaying her wonderful smile.
missed you at the service last week. You are a young man anointed. When
are you going to accept my invitation?"
reason she really had me concerned this time and I did not want to
lie to the lady, so I promised her that I would attend the next
service. Once Saturday rolled around I put everything aside and made
my way to the Christian Service. Upon entering the church, Bro.
Powers and Ms. E.B. greeted me at the door. Ms. E.B. rushed up to me
and gave me a big hug and it looked as if she were about to burst
into tears. Her actions left me clueless as to how to respond to her
being so emotional and it made me question myself as to why they
were both so happy to see me in church. After the service, I was
introduced to the speaker for that evening. His name was Pastor
Mayes. He was a Sergeant Major in the Army whom also was a volunteer
in prison ministry spreading the word of the Gospel. He was a middle
aged man in good physical condition that was serious about his
teachings. He shared with us how he was planning to start his own
church and it would be called Word of Life. Regardless of his busy
schedule he still found time for incarcerated men hoping that one
would receive the word of Christ. On the following Saturday, I
attended the service once again. During the service Bro. Powers
invited me up to read a scripture aloud in front of the
congregation. That was frightening to me. Public speaking was not
one of my strong points. All through the service Bro. Powers
constantly whispered in my ear the countless ways I could volunteer
my time to the church. It reminded me of the Bible story of Jacob
when a man wrestled with him until the rising of the sun. Bro.
Powers just would not loose me until I finally agreed to volunteer
my services to the Church. I left the service feeling refreshed and
wondering what was all the joy about.
Months had passed and still no word from the Appeal Courts. No
visits, limited phone calls to my family and lonesomeness made my
days long and full of sadness. After talking with some guys they
informed me about a pen pal service on the internet. We did not have
internet service at the prison but if you had someone on the outside
they could help you get a profile listed on a web page. So I took my
chances and subscribed to a pen pal service just to be able to get
some mail from time to time. After about a month, the responses were
overwhelming. All types of people would write me for all sorts of
reasons. There was one letter that stood out from among the rest.
The words of the writer seemed to be full of life. She was a young
lady. A white female in her mid twenties from Ohio. She was always
vibrant and sending me kinds words of encouragement. She and I
became good friends and over the next several months wrote countless
letters to one another sharing our deepest thoughts. It turned out
that her father was a Minister of a church in Ohio. She told him all
about me and other members of her family as well. Our communication
went from letters to phone calls and surprisingly she told me that
she was convinced that I was a changed man and that there was
something special about me which caused her to have a great desire
for us to be together because she had fallen in love with me. Being
in a serious relationship was the last thing on my mind knowing the
length of time left for me to serve on my sentence. But those words
did not matter to her. She said she would wait until the day of my
release never leaving my side along the way. Her expressions of love
and sincerity touched me deeply. Seeing men in prison go through
hardships with their wives or girlfriends was hardly inspiring to
me, nevertheless, this little five foot woman had broken down all
the barriers around my heart and drew love from me that had been
buried inside for many years.
As a man in love, it was hard to show my happiness due to the prison
guard mob that had sent my sinful temptations to new heights. The
encounters with the guards had gotten more intense and sooner or
later the bubble was going to burst. As dawn began to set in the
view of the sun hiding itself behind the desert mountains was a
beautiful sight which allowed me to have some peaceful thoughts
while on my way to the Christian service. Upon entering the Church I
noticed Pastor Mayes and the other brothers having a meeting. They
greeted me with warm smiles and invited me to join the meeting.
Within a few seconds they informed me that one of our Christian
brothers whom was the director of the choir was leaving and all the
brothers had nominated me to fill his position as choir director.
Small trembles of fear passed through my body but somehow my lips
uttered the words yes. Upon my acceptance, Pastor Mayes made me a
member of the Church board. I was scared to death. I did not know
one church song by memory, had no voice for singing, never sang in a
choir before, and had no experience in directing. How in the world
was I going to make this happen? After the service I walked alone
back to the sleeping quarters. On the way I prayed silently that
somehow all of this would work out. My meditation was broken when I
noticed one of the prison guards eyeballing me from a distance.
Dealing with this clown was the last thing on my mind but as I
approached him something strange began to happen. Everything around
me became silent as if my ears had fallen deaf, all movements
appeared to be in slow motion and as I looked into the guards eyes,
it seemed as if something was restraining him from physically
approaching me or allowing words to come from his mouth. Once a safe
distance past him, everything returned to normal. Right then I said
"Thank You Lord" because I knew the spirit of the Lord was with me
at that moment.
Some days I had to laugh to myself just wondering how I could be in
prison and still happy at the same time. Beth and I were into a
serious relationship now. She had told her entire family about us
and wanted to meet my family as well. She had no fear about
interracial dating. Beth's daughter never had a father in her life
and the little girl was all excited about getting a dad for the
first time. At times the entire situation left me with a loss for
words. How could a few phone calls a week and some kind words make
this woman so happy? Never in a thousand years would I have imagined
myself in love, having a long distance relationship, being faithful
and honest, and happy about it. When there was peace and happiness
in my life the days went by really fast.
Around six o'clock that evening the Christian brothers were
expecting a new volunteer to teach a Bible Study class. When he
arrived everyone was excited. He was an elder gentleman who stood
about six feet tall with a gleaming smile. His Bible was tucked
under his arm and you could tell he was a man about God's business.
We soon learned that he was the Pastor over the largest Black
American congregation in El Paso. It was amazing to know that even
as head of Mt. Zion Church, this man still found time for prison
ministry hoping to save yet another soul. Week after week Pastor
Williams showed up to enlighten us about the word of God. Sometimes
there would only be myself and another person in the study so one
day I asked him a question.
"Is it worth it
to you to drive all the way here to teach just two men?"
He paused for
a moment and then rested his Bible on his lap. A tear swelled in his
eye and began to roll down the cheek of his face as he began to
respond to my question. He told me that he would come if it
were only one person whether rain, sleet, or snow because if one
person was willing to change his life, then he would be there to
help them. From that day forward I had so much respect for Pastor
Williams because he was a true man of God. I learned many things
from him that would guide me in my Christian walk. His dedication
prompted the Christian brothers to arrange for him to give a sermon
at one of our Saturday services. Pastor Mayes and Pastor Williams
collaborated and shared the duties of bringing the word of God to
the prison. It was a beautiful experience and the prison population
was hearing about it. The attendance for the Church services began
to grow larger every week. We quickly went from about 15 people to
about 5o people attending service. I saw a few guy whom I never
thought would attend church. Near the end of one of our services the
Lieutenant over the prison guards walked in while we were having our
final prayer. For some odd reason her interrupted our prayer and
announced that the service was over and that we needed to clear out
of the Chapel. How could this man have so much hatred as to not let
us conclude our prayer? The Pastors made their way out
peacefully but we inmates took the act personal and challenged the
Lieutenant on his actions after everyone had exited the Chapel. We
were in a no-win situation, however, we refused to take it laying
down. We voiced our opinions and made written complaints to the
Warden of the Prison. To our surprise, the Warden sided with us
inmates and ordered the guards not to interfere with our religious
services. It was a week long battle but worth the fight.
It was Saturday once again and as choir director it was my duty to
arrive early to the Chapel and set up all the musical equipment and
microphones for the service. As I prepared to leave my room I
grabbed my Bible and stuffed it inside my gym bag. This was a common
practice for me. I would always hide my Bible in my bag as I walked
the yard because I knew some of the guys would be whispering or
having something to say to me. Before leaving I remembered a lesson
taught in Bible study that one should never be ashamed of the
Gospel. I took my Bible out of the bag and tossed the bag aside.
With Bible in hand I walked passed all the men on the prison yard in
journey to the Chapel. Upon reaching the Chapel, the door would not
open. It was locked. My trip to the Lieutenant's office could have
easily doubled for a power walk. As I entered his office he had a
devilish smirk on his face as if he were already waiting for me. He
passed me a sheet of paper which was a memorandum from the Prison
Chaplain. It stated that no further services could be held unless
the prison Chaplain was present. Now this Chaplain only appears at
the prison maybe once a month so immediately I knew the buddy –
buddy system was in effect. The Lieutenant and Chaplain were good
friends and I could not believe that the Chaplain himself had so
much hatred for the Christian service. As I looked out of the
Lieutenant's office window I could see Pastor Mayes and Pastor
Williams being turned away and disallowed to enter the prison at the
main entrance gate. That scene made me so angry and a flow of words
came out towards the Lieutenant. The argument got very loud and
nearly into a shoving match. That was only one of the countless
oppositions against the Christian service. I found myself
spearheading the challenge and speaking out for the Church. But how
could this be when I was only a babe in Christ? And then it came to
light, remembering some of the teachings of Christ that like any
other thing one has love for, may he pursue it with a passion.
Mail call was
everybody's favorite time of day. Those letters is what got most
guys through the day. I read a few messages from this pen pal
service I had subscribed to. Sometimes I would just chuckle to
myself after reading some of the messages. Some people will say some
outlandish things. One thing that caught my attention was the
constant pattern of Christian women writing me all stating that they
were looking for a man of God. I stretched out across my bunk and
pondered on the topic of what a Christian man meant to a woman. Then
suddenly the inspiration hit me. It was then that I decided to write
a book about a Christian man. Before I could finish creating my
first story plot in my mind, the prison guard we call human waste
entered my room. He ordered me to get out because he wanted to
search my room for contraband. So I stood outside the doorway and
watched him as he tossed my mattress and sheets onto the floor. He
emptied my personal locker leaving half my property on the floor and
confiscated other items he did not want me to have whether they were
legal or illegal. He searched none of the things belonging to my
cellmates so I knew this was a form of harassment in an effort to
piss me off and it worked. I was so mad that I nearly passed out
because my blood pressure had shot through the roof from my anger.
He was on his way out and I was in the hallway waiting to meet him.
Suddenly a voice came to me reminding me of something that was
taught in one of the Bible studies, "Love and pray for your
enemies." Somehow I managed to contain myself without a word being
uttered as the guard passed me on his way out of my room. I just
entered my cell and began to clean up the mess as the guard watched
me from outside the doorway smiling as if he accomplished his
mission. That night before I went to sleep was the first time that I
prayed for someone whom I hated with a passion.
The next day I made a request to one of my Administrative Evaluation
Members for a transfer to another prison. Without thought, the
response was no with a look of anger and despise on her face. The
buddy – buddy system had gone too far now. I couldn't figure out why
this woman disliked me so much. We had not shared five words in
conversation the entire time I had been there. The only thing I
could recall was the fact that she was dating one of the guards on
and off in which I had several confrontations with. Enough was
enough. It was time for me to take some action. After going to the
law library and getting some grievance forms, I fired up the
typewriter and voiced my complaints to the highest authority I could
find on record. I knew following the normal chain of procedures
would be useless and my formal written complaint would end up going
through someone's paper shredder. So I called on one of my sources
to smuggle the paperwork out of the prison so it could be delivered
to the desk of someone with authority over the people whom I was
dealing with. Knowing my complaints would eventually be heard
provided only a small amount of comfort so again I practiced what
the Bible taught. That night I added another enemy to my prayer list
and prayed that I would be delivered from these hearts of stone.
Several days had passed without me receiving a letter from Beth and
I got no answer when I phoned her. At mail call a letter was passed
to me displaying Beth's return address but the handwriting did not
appear to be hers. Upon opening the letter it became clear the
letter was written by Beth's roommate. Halfway through the letter I
could not believe the things she was saying to me. No matter how
nice she orchestrated her words, when she told me Beth had died due
to complications from an automobile accident, it still hurt. She
told me how much Beth loved me and how she spoke of me all the time
and had planned a surprise trip to visit me in a few weeks. I had
just lost the first woman that I ever trusted. I thought briefly of
the time before my father's death when he had the opportunity to see
his children and grandchildren before his death. That had to be a
happy moment in his life. Beth had always told me that I was the
best thing that ever happened to her. So I knew that she died
knowing that she was loved and her last days were her happiest
moments. I said a prayer for Beth's family that night and I also
said a prayer for me and all the things that would come thereafter.
The devil had
been attacking me vigorously in the last few weeks. Every direction
I turned their was one trial and temptation after another. As one
who never possessed the characteristics of one who quits, my faith
grew stronger knowing that God had an answer for everything that was
going on in my life. I noticed some mail on my bunk. As I read
through some of the pen pal messages a little laughter and peace
came to me. One particular message caught my attention. It was
something well needed now that Beth was gone. This particular person
had never written me before and described herself as a Black
Christian woman. The concern she showed towards me and the words she
used highlighted her character as a loving and caring person.
Something drew me towards her and it was my interest to immediately
respond to her. After our initial letters were exchanged we
acquired a great friendship between us. She would always be
comforting and find words of inspiration to share with me. God had
blessed me with someone to give me peace once again.
My anger would
not allow me to sleep at nights. How could the Appeal Courts do this
to me again. The Supreme Court had clarified their interpretation of
the law and now this District Court was refusing to hear me case
claiming they don't have jurisdiction to respond. Having attended
some college gave me enough understanding to interpret the law as it
read that one must appeal his case in the current district he
resides in. The Court was boldly denying me Constitutional rights
guaranteed to me. It was so frustrating to deal with the Courts when
you know you are right and they refuse to give you relief. I was
about to lose control when I suddenly heard my name called over the
speaker system to report to the mailroom. I had no idea what this
could be about. I already had enough bad news for one day. After
retrieving the letter from the mailroom I became curious about. It
was a letter in a unmarked envelope. After opening it, God showed me
that he was still working in my life. After months of waiting, a
response from my grievance came. It had actually made it to the desk
of someone in Washington, D.C. whom was willing to listen to me and
agreed that my complaints were legitimate and warranted immediate
action. A few days later I approached my case management team about
the situation only to learn that they trying to find any possible
way to dishonor that order from Washington. They claimed papers had
gotten lost, they received no memos, to down right I don't know what
you are talking about. The entire situation upset me greatly nearly
forcing me to forget everything I learned in my Christian walk. But
before losing my cool, God sent me another angel. Someone in their
own administration stood up for me. It was the new Warden of the
prison. I actually remembered him from a previous prison I was in.
He assured me that I would be transferred within a matter of weeks.
I immediately called my family and informed them that I would be
closer to home soon. Next I called me new lady friend and told her
the good news. God showed me that he would prevail no matter how
many obstacles came before me. Just recognizing how the Lord was
working in my life gave a new meaning to true happiness. But the
blessings were not over yet, the prison secretary called me in and
informed me of my date to transfer and told me that I would be
leaving by furlough transfer. That news really sent a bolt of
excitement through my body. It had been a long time since I traveled
alone without being handcuff, shackled with chains, and surrounded
by armed guards. Traveling unescorted to another prison with those
few hours of freedom after being locked up for ten years was like
winning the lottery. Just seeing society without limitations and
taking in a few breaths of freedom was enough inspiration to want
more in life.
As my transfer
date grew near, most of my days were spent relaxing and preparing
for my departure. I decided to take a walk around the track and view
the sight of the mountains and desert one last time. Some Frankie
Beverly and Maze was playing on my walkman radio which help calm my
walk around the track. As I peered around the prison yard I noticed
people running in all directions. I pulled the headphones off my
ears to see what was going on and then a cloud of dust and smoke hit
me. As my vision became clear I could see a dump truck had smashed
through the prison fence. It was an escape attempt. I rushed out of
the area and backed myself into a corner so I could see what was
going on around me. After a few minutes, the prison guards started
showing up and locking the prison yard down. I was about to leave in
a few days and didn't need to get caught up on an escape charge. We
were on lockdown all night and they must have counted us a hundred
times. Whoever committed the act got away. Man this place is crazy
and the guards didn't know how to handle the situation because they
never seen anything like it.
A few days had
gone by and the prison fence was repaired. Things had settled down
and back to normal operation. After being on lockdown for a few days
everyone wanted to go outside and stretch their legs. Me and the
Houston guys went out for a workout on the weight pile. Halfway
through our workout people started running like crazy again. This
time it was the Mexican gangs rioting against one another. The first
thing came to my mind was if I was going to make it out of here
alive because there are no rules when a riot is going on. All the
Blacks got together and stood back and let them do their thing.
Sometime later the prison guards came in and broke it up after they
called for some backup from a nearby prison. Once again we were on
lockdown. The word came from Washington that they wanted no movement
at the prison until they found out what was going on. That situation
finally dissolved. After nearly five years of what felt like a
hostage and torture situation, my day to leave had come. A few hours
before departing the prison, the guard we call human waste saw me
sitting on the steps outside my housing unit. He approached me and
wanted to know why I was not on my work detail. I informed him that
I would be leaving shortly and his entire attitude changed. He
pulled his dark shades from his eyes and looked at me. The words he
next spoke dumbfounded me. With a showing of sincerity he wished me
good luck and said he hoped I would do well in life. After all the
bad things this man had said and done to me, it was hard to believe
he was saying this. The only words that could come out of my mouth
as it hung open in disbelief were, "Thank You." He walked away. The
encounter was weird but it had to be the work of the Lord. The Lord
heard all my prayers and he showed me that with patience and in his
time, he would answer.
After years of
being surrounded by desert, the view of green grasslands was a
wonderful sight. It was a good feeling to finally be back in the
South. The humidity everyone complained about didn't bother me at
all. The prison was located in the valley just south of San Antonio.
Everything about the place seemed calm and gave off a vibe of
peacefulness. It did not take long for me to settle in. Within a few
weeks the entire family came to visit me. It was wonderful seeing my
kids again. They had grown so much and were teenagers now. For the
first time in over ten years I felt as if I were in a place of peace
and could finally just focus on me. One thing that caught my
attention was the fact that the prison had it's own wastewater plant
for the prison. Having previous experience in the field prompted me
to apply for work detail position to operate the wastewater plant.
My request was granted immediately and I would start work on the
following Monday. The Christian brothers there were so kind. From
the very moment I arrived, they were comforting me and providing me
with needed essentials. It was a warm and loving environment where I
knew I could grow spiritually. My female pen pal was happy for me
after describing my first few weeks at the new prison. We had been
corresponding for some time now and decided to take things to a more
serious level. Committing to a long distance relationship was really
putting my relationship skills to the test because it was something
I never really experienced for a long period of time. The situation
became even more challenging my new girlfriend, being a woman of the
military, was informed that she was being deployed to Iraq. We made
a promise that we would be there for one another and write a letter
once a week to each other. My fondness for her had really grown. She
displayed things to me that no other woman I previously dated had
ever shown. After her departure from the states the love letters
began to go out week after week expressing my feeling for her,
sending her my prayers and letting her know someone was awaiting her
safe return. The weeks were going by really fast. She only had to be
in Iraq for one year but, anytime you are in a war zone a safe
return is not guaranteed. One would thing she would be safe since
she was stationed at Abu Ghraib Prison but the danger was not far at
all. In her letters she would inform me of the countless attacks and
dangers faced daily. Sometimes I would just smile to myself as I
read her letters that expressed the only way she made it through the
week was being blessed to receive a letter from me. It felt good
knowing I could impact someone's life in that way. Those letters
meant a lot to her and she wanted to show her appreciation by
visiting me once she returned to the States. Receiving that visit
became one of my highest expectations. We had never seen one another
physically before and the anticipation was high for the both of us.
After months of writing one another the day had finally come to meet
face to face. Many nights I prayed to God to put a good woman in my
life and now his gift was about to be revealed to me. I was nervous
as I entered the visiting room that Friday night but at first sight
it was already understood that she could make me a happy man.
Standing slightly over five feet with sparkling brown eyes and a
pretty smile ,she reached out and we embraced for the first time.
After those three days of visits, we knew we were made for one
another. Things had really taken a turn for the better in my life.
Having my children and family nearby and then finding the new love
of my life was definitely something to be happy about. Thank You
It was time to
say goodbye to one of our Christian brothers. His time had come to
be released from prison. He was our choir director. So we all got
together and prayed for him. We never had much of a choir. It was
only about four of five of us. We would all sing off key and
everything. It was funny at times, nevertheless, we were singing for
the Lord and if we didn't do it, then we would not have had a choir.
After his departure the brothers nominated me to take over the
directing duties. Even though I had done it before in El Paso, I
kind of wanted to stay in the background and just participate from
time to time. While laying in my cell one night I thought on the
subject and came to the realization that God was giving me some
responsibility. Someone had to step up to help keep the Church in
order and God called on me. So once again I gave my all trying to
make a joyous sound for the Lord. Most of the Church attendees
appreciated our attempts to sing good songs and that was inspiration
enough to keep going forward. Doing more positive things became a
part of my daily living and people began to appreciate me for it.
Looking in the mirror allowed me to see changes in my life. It was
evident in my change of actions, speech, and thoughts. So as we
ended one of our services for the week, the Christian brothers
prayed over me that the Lord's hand may strengthen me in my
It was well
into the second day of constant rainfall. The sky was dark and the
cool breeze of wind reminded me the season of Winter was near.
Making my way into the quiet and empty prison Chapel, it seemed
evident that our service for tonight would be cancelled due to the
bad weather. Nevertheless, my heart told me to set up the Chapel for
service anyway. It had always been my responsibility to set up the
chairs and audio equipment. After arranging the last row of chairs,
the sound of the Chapel door opening behind me caught me attention.
As I turned to look I noticed a prison guard escorting two volunteer
guest inside who would be providing our service for tonight. The
woman approached me and greeted me with a warm smile. She was in
great spirits despite the bad weather outside. Her husband
introduced himself displaying the same character. We talked as I
helped them prepare for the service. Once everything was ready, I
walked the prison yard letting people know that service would go on
tonight. The rain didn't bother me as I became slightly soaked. I
just wanted people to come and enjoy the worship service. It was a
wonderful experience. The woman gave beautiful testimonies and her
husband provided a good sermon. He even sang songs and played
musical instruments during his message. It was his way of having fun
and getting God's word out at the same time. Many of the attendees
left the service happy and inspired. Later that night while in my
cell I was looking through some of the literature that the
ministering couple had passed out. Inside one small booklet a couple
of scriptures caught my attention. The first was Isaiah 6: 8-10 and
the second was Hosea 4: 6. It seemed my eyes were suddenly opened to
what the scriptures meant. God was telling me something. It was like
an explosion inside my mind. After a few moments of thought a
question came to me. Why did these two people drive from another
city in bad weather on slippery roads to a prison just to tell
someone about God? Can you imagine what it was like long ago when
the prophets traveled to distant lands by foot just to tell someone
about Christ? It became clear to me that if I saw with my eyes,
heard with my ears,, and understood with my heart that I could be
healed and my children saved. It was a two for one deal and all that
was required of me was to accept God's word to be a winner. Thank
God. Thank God. Now I see the light.
understanding of many things was becoming more clear. Recently the
prison had appointed a female Chaplain. I did not have any issues
with her but some of the inmate population was not receptive to a
female leading the Church. I tried to convince some of the men to
just give her a chance. For most people in the world it was their
mother or grandmother who first told them about God or introduced
them to the Bible. So it seemed fare to me to let her speak as long
as she was sincere and her words were of God. In time more men began
to accept her in the ministry and attended the services.
Coming to this
prison actually seemed to be beneficial to me personally. I met some
really good people and the place allowed me to put some of my skills
to use. My release date was a few years away but now was the time to
prepare myself for the free world. Getting my health in order was
also a concern. Being diagnosed with hypertension and cholesterol
problems prompted me to create a good exercise program for myself.
Being a certified personal fitness trainer allowed me to see how
diet and exercise affected one's medical conditions. That inspired
me to instruct a cardio and abs class through the recreation
department. The class was fun and it helped the days go by fast and
obtain good health. It was the first time in a long time that there
was some consistency of peace in my life. My girlfriend and I had
grown really close. She would visit me weekly and we enjoyed one
another's company. We had made plans to get married and started
planning out our future together.
returning from the visiting room one evening, one of my friends
approached me and told me he was going home. I thought he was
talking about escaping or something because I knew he had about five
or six years left to serve on his sentence. Then he became more
specific on what he was talking about. A new Supreme Court ruling
had just come out which would open the door for many offenders to
get early release. As I entered the law library it was full of
people trying to find out how they could benefit from the new
ruling. Finally I got a glimpse of the case to see what it was about
and it appeared to be a blessing in disguise. After reading that
case I immediately started working on my appeal to the courts that
same night. This was a for sure winner. It only took me about two
days to prepare the documents and mail them off to the Court. Now
all I had to do was wait for a response. I had really good feelings
about this appeal. In about four weeks the Court came back with a
response. DENIED. That letter really broke my spirits. I could not
believe how the Court would continually deny me freedom in violation
of the constitutional laws. I was upset for a few days but it was
not the first time I had been denied. I had about three years left
to serve so I decided to transfer one last time to help the time go
by faster. My girl was not happy at all about me transferring. She
wanted to be as close to me as possible. Knowing that this would be
my last move before being set free, I encouraged her to be strong
for the next few years. My last few visits with her and the family
were wonderful. Nevertheless, it was time to move on once again. I
knew God had something more planned for me. So I took everyday
with a gracious step giving him thanks all the way.
Wow! After years of being located in well hidden small towns,
finally the site of civilization was well welcomed. The trip to the
new prison was even more wonderful. I had been blessed to travel to
the new prison unescorted once again. The bus ride was lovely.
Taking in all the sights was a beautiful experience. Just that small
dose of freedom for those few hours created a burning desire
for my freedom. My focus was to use the next couple of years to get
focused on life after prison. The prison was really old and run down
looking. The place was not too clean and there was no air
conditioning. It was definitely going to be tuff surviving those 103
degree hot summer days. Some Christian brothers met me with open
arms and invited me to a Monday night worship service. After
becoming familiar with the new place I looked around the room where
I would be spending the next couple of years and began to speak to
"This must be
in God's plan and I receive it with joy."
morning was beautiful. It was my plan to enroll in a residential
drug abuse program that was offered at the prison. The only reason I
wanted to participate in the program was to receive the twelve month
sentence reduction for completing the program. Everything seemed
well until the enrollment process was complete and the counselors
advised me that I did not qualify to receive the twelve month
reduction because the system viewed my firearm possession as a
violent offense. This charge had been paralyzing my efforts to win
appeals and get out prison early for the last eight years. After all
the Supreme Court rulings, my sentencing Court still refused to
remove this unconstitutional charge leaving me to serve an extra
five years in prison for a crime undefined by law. My blood pressure
went through the roof, nevertheless, I pressed forward and
volunteered to take the program without receiving the benefits of a
sentence reduction. The days went by slowly after receiving the bad
news but Monday finally rolled around and I attended the worship
service the brothers invited me to. The very moment I walked into
the Chapel my mood changed. The warm greetings put a smile on my
face and the Christian band played music to my ears. The total
environment was different from any other service I had attended.
Then something caught my attention. There were two elderly women in
the room whom volunteered their time to spread the Gospel to
incarcerated men. The service was wonderful and for the next few
days I felt some peace and joy. My girlfriend had even took time to
come and visit me even though I had only been there a few days. We
were now officially engaged and happy as ever. Not long after, my
family visited me as well. We were even allowed to go to Church
together during visitation. Everyone got a chance to see me singing
in the choir. Everyone made the trip except my son. I really wished
he could have been there but I knew it wouldn't be long before we
would be able to share some time together. Of course my singing had
not gotten any better but I always felt the need to participate in
the choir. I always had a thing for music since my early childhood.
The days went
on and my participation in the treatment program remained steadfast.
Many times I had thoughts of just dropping out of the program but
something kept telling me to stay. After a few weeks I began to
realize that some of the things being taught in the program could
help me in life regardless if I had a drug abuse problem or not.
This small interest allowed my days to go by smoother. Taking the
class more seriously and going to worship service on Monday nights
allowed me to make it week to week stress free. At times the thought
of all the other people in the class graduating and going home early
would brake my peace. Yet every Monday night one of the Christian
ladies would repeat the same message to me every time she saw me,
powerful. Just keep praying."
Every night I
did pray that this prison time would come to an end. I remembered
how I prayed to God for a good woman and he blessed me with one. My
belief in the power of prayer had grown and I was willing to accept
what God had in his plans for me. The holiday season was just around
the corner. There was a lot of talk in the news about the sentencing
commission possibly revising the disparity in the drug laws for
those who receive harsh sentences. And to me personally, 211 months
was a harsh sentence. Taking that issue to prayer came natural.
Within a few weeks the law was passed. That was good news for people
like myself whom had been incarcerated for more than ten years.
However, some bad news came along with the good news. The sentencing
commission was giving the sentencing courts discretion to choose
whom would receive relief under the new law. That was bad news for
all the people whom the prosecutors painted a bad picture of in the
court rooms. And that label had been following me for the past
several years according to man's law. Once again I made my way to
the law library and typed up a motion to appeal to the Court to give
me early release. After my last appeal I said I would not send in
any other motions after all the rejections but something would not
let me quit. I sent my motion in and awaited a response. It was six
weeks until graduation day for completing the drug abuse program.
The sessions were fun and I learned many things from other people.
Through it all my faith did not whither. Day and night my prayers
for a blessing continued. Finally on March 11, the news came. My
case manager called me into his office and spoke the words I had
been waiting to hear for a long time. I was finally being released.
Feelings of joy and happiness rushed through my body. I thanked God
all night. My family was happy for me and my fiancé was elated.
After a few days I walked out of that prison after serving 14 years
and 2 months. It was the day after my mother's birthday and she said
it was the best birthday gift she had ever received. I kept my
release a secret and surprised the kids once I arrived home. It was
a very blessed day.
My first few
days of freedom were well spent enjoying time with the family. As
for my fiancé', we set our wedding date for May. We were so happy
together and could not wait to spend the rest of our lives together.
God had really blessed me in so many ways and I couldn't thank him
enough. Sometimes we as people can't understand why the storms in
our lives are so rough and last so long. Many years ago Satan saw my
weakness in women and he exploited that weakness which resulted in
my sinful nature which caused me some painful times in my life.
Nevertheless, through all my trials and tribulations God's presence
was still there in my life and once I opened my heart to him, God
used that same weakness, a woman, to draw me back to him. Even when
Beth was alive, God used her to teach me how to bring happiness to
someone else. Whenever I tried to take matters into my own hands in
times of trouble, God showed me that through prayer he would make a
way of escape for me from my burdens. When I was ashamed to walk
with my Bible in hand, my passing for Christ allowed me to stand for
what I believed in. God used many of my past female pen pals to
inspire me to tell my testimony because many women were looking for
a Christian man. Then God blessed me with the woman who became my
wife and she taught me how to love and be loved unconditionally. God
was molding me into the man he wants me to be. Continue to pray for
me as I grow in Christ. Regardless of all the things you hear about
Black men or men in prison, just know that God is still in the
business of constructing true Christian men. God truly blessed me
even when I had nothing at all. Then I was able to be a blessing to
my wife by being the Christian man she always sought after.
was growing thin with my job search. Months had passed since my
release from prison and I had not received any positive responses
for employment. With three different types of certification and
licenses, I was sure it would not be long before landing a job in
one of those fields. I had enrolled in a prisoner re-entry program
that helps ex convicts prepare for the job market. My counselor
there was really great at helping me. The program was called Moving
Forward which was operated by a community Church and was sponsored
by the government. After all the preparation and countless
interviews, finally I got a call for employment. Acquiring my
wastewater license had paid off. It was a blessing for me to get a
job and be doing something I like.
My wife and I
had gotten a home for us. It was beautiful having my own family. The
kids would come over and spend time and my wife enjoyed cooking in
the kitchen. This is what life was suppose to be about. After
getting a few paychecks I took my kids to the bank and opened
accounts for them. I was teaching them responsibility and what real
life was about. The things a father suppose to tell their kids. They
were enjoying being exposed to new things. We all attended Church
together and had some really joyful moments. It was a blessing to be
able to take my kids out and participate in sporting activities with
them and give them driving lessons. I had missed out on all of their
early childhood so these moments were precious.
going well for me. It had nearly been a year since my release.
At some point I began receiving frequent calls from one of my
child's mother. She would speak of how she was still interested in
me regardless of the fact that she was married and so was I. I
stopped taking her calls then she began leaving me sexually
orientated text messages. I figured I would put a stop to her
nonsense and I flat out rejected her proposal to have a secret
affair. That sent her into a tailspin. After I rejected her she
began to attempt to blackmail me for money and threaten child
support. It was her right to seek child support so that was the
option I gave her. During the process she forbid my child to have
any contact with me. It is a shame how women use children to further
their own agenda. She taught my child not to love me if money was
not involved. This woman at one point in her life was an Evangelist
who stood in the pulpit preaching God's word and then quit
evangelizing and turned her back on God. She was the devil teaching
her child to hate her Christian father. She even went as far to
persuade my other child to dislike me as well and that child lives
under a totally different roof. My kids then teamed up, went on the
internet, cursed my name and disowned me as a father on MySpace.
They never thought I would see it but, every parent should know what
their children do on computers. It hurt me to read what my kids
thought about me but I knew it was not all them. Satan had tainted
their minds through one of the kid's mother. So I put the situation
in God's hands. One thing I have come to understand is that every
storm in my life is not always about me. This woman of Satan had
even convinced my other child to seek child support as well. Her
attempt was to financially ruin me. This woman of Satan even managed
to acquire the assistance of a supervisory personnel in the Office
of the Attorney General whom conspired with her to bring financial
ruin on me. This man even went outside the guidelines of the law to
bring financial hardship upon me with excessive garnishments of
wages. At one point I was required to pay over one thousand dollars
per month for one child and that was more than my take home pay and
it didn't include the child support for my second child. Things had
gotten really drastic and I had to employ the assistance of a
lawyer. Through it all God continued to provide for me. No matter
what happened, at the end of the month all my bills were paid and I
had food on the table. God continued to open doors for me no matter
what was going on in my life. My children abandoned their
grandmother, aunt, and cousins whom had nothing to do with whatever
they were feeling towards me. I lost a lot of respect for my
children but I have three wonderful step children who love me more
than my own. God always fills the void. To this point my kids still
have not apologized for their actions, nevertheless, I leave it in
God's hands and I continue to be about my Father's business. His
plan will prevail and in the process make me the man he wants me to
be. People really don't know the struggles of a Black Man in today's
world. The burdens are heavy so I stay prayed up and press on
towards the high mark. If you truly love the Lord, change your ways
and let him direct your path. Trust in him. Let your faith be not
shallow and love the woman he puts in your life. This is what makes
the Black Christian man sought after.
The Black Christian Man Sought After.
Copyright 2008 by Rondrick L. Wallace.
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever
without written permission except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles or reviews.
For information, contact Acewall Entertainment at:
Copyright © 2000-2023 All Rights Reserved.
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