“GIVING YOUR LAST”

I thought I’d try to tell you about today, it’s been a good day. Let me go back to the beginning when I sent you the first email this morning. I sat at the computer alone for thirty minutes trying to peck out each word and compose my thoughts at the same time. Normally if I’m going to try to quote scripture to you, I’ll stop and go in search of my Bible because I know how big you are on where  it is in that little black Book, who said it, you know the author, chapter, and verse. This morning for some reason it was more important to convey the thought than where I could find it in the Book.
About thirty minutes after I had finished composing my thoughts and hit send to get the email to you, I walked back into the computer room and there sits my Strange child reading a book. We have a ritual, either me or him, always start our first greeting of the day with a heartfelt ‘good morning.’ Today it was me, “Good morning Strange One. What are you doing?” He replied, “Reading a book.” I went “Duh, what book?” He said, “Orange is the New Black.” I was like “I’ve heard of that somewhere before, isn’t it a TV program?” He said it was.
My next question to him was “Hey you know the story in the Bible where this woman only had a little flour in her barrel and she was making a meal for her and her son so they could die?” (Remember I told you Strange One is a Bible scholar. He grew up in a religious school.) When he said no it shocked me. I thought to myself, damn am I getting old and my memory playing tricks on me? Then I was like nah, maybe I read it in the Torah, Inja or Koran. The more I thought about it the more I kept seeing a vision of those words in the Bible. Strange One could see my confusion and told me to ask Amish. Strange One has a very high opinion of Amish where religious studies are concerned.
His religious background really is Amish, you know those people who still live close to nature as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. However, he has just a touch of modernization in his background. He’s a professional artist in the world. Strange One and I talked a little bit longer about the story I was in search of and I took off to see Amish. He and I have talked extensively on several occasions about scripture and our understanding of what those scriptures mean. However, today I got a real surprise when I explained to him what it was I was looking for. He had a blank stare on his face. I mean totally blank. “I’ve never seen that before Old Skewl.” He said, “It has to be a parable. It sounds like a parable to me anyways.” Now that I think back on that part of the conversation that he had not doubted for a minute that I’d read what I had said that I’d read.
I left to go to education to work for a few hours on the Egyptology class I’m going to be teaching. when I returned the first person I saw was old faithful (Strange One). “Hey, did you find that scripture I was talking about?” He replied that he hadn’t but he had talked to Amish who was looking for it and had left it at that. When I found Amish he was in the room with Jeremy who is affectionately called Giraffe. He is a Bible scholar to some degree in his own right. Kevin was in there also with a Bible in his hand. The three of them were discussing this woman who had been preparing a meal for her and her son so that they could die. Remember now, I’d been out of the unit for a few hours so I can’t say they had been discussing it the entire time, but when I walked up on them they were. In that moment I felt something special was floating around the unit. The first thing that came to my mind at that point was call Big Mama, she would know. So I did. After hanging up I went back in search of our other child. Strange One was in the room with Clark. You remember the guy I told you about that I was so proud of Strange One for smashing him with the Word, so I told him what was going on. Clark really thinks he is the residential Bible scholar and as much as I know it hurt Strange One to give him props, he did tell me later that Clark said he recalled the story and believed it was in Kings somewhere. But they were still not able to find it.
This is the part of the story that I really wanted to tell you. Sometimes God has a ram in the bush and He’ll only show that ram on his own time. There’s another guy in the unit, a guy from the Dominican Republic. His English is good, but is often broken. I’ve seen him on numerous occasions studying for a college level Bible study class. We’ve even spoken about the Bible on several occasions. I didn’t pose the question to him about the woman and the meal. His cell is across from Jeremy and he overheard them talking about it. That was about 2:30. As you know, we have a 4 PM stand up count. During that time the officers expect quiet and everyone standing. I hear someone saying, “Old Skewl,’ in that quiet way of speaking that’s loud as hell. When I look up it’s Fox (the Dominican) saying “I Kings 17:8”
At first it didn’t dawn on me what he was talking about. I picked up my Bible, turned to that scripture and felt an overwhelming sense of elation. He didn’t stop there. He was telling everyone that he knew that had been looking for that scripture where to find it. Vicariously you touched quite a few lives in here today. I shouldn’t be surprised, you’re special. I went to the computer at 4:30 and there you were with the exact same answer for us as well. Thank you for shining a little light in the Twilight Zone today.

I love you.

” BIG BOY”

Louise, this post is from a friend of mine that we affectionately call Big Boy. He’s about 6’3″ and really close to the 400 side of 350. Big Boy is very intelligent. He has a affection for the older guys in the unit and has no problem showing it if he feels that any of them are threatened in any way. Be it black, white, Mexican or mixed. He’s in his mid thirties. Nobody has to worry about him biting them but once you look at those arms you know right then that teeth are the least of your worries. I considered him writing on the blog on several occasions but today he was heated and went to telling me about how he felt about what was going on with the case that he speaks of in his blog below. Big Boy is European which should have no prevalence where his opinion is concerned. I only mention it because I want to give the bloggers a clear picture of the range of anger that is being displayed over what’s happening with lives matter. Post this with what you told me you were posting on yesterday.

Why? So I sit here watching the news from this dump they call prison. Holes in the windows, tiles missing, and black mold in the bathrooms. Ceilings caving in held up by floor jacks, asbestos in the ceiling with water leaking out on top of bunks. Buildings leaning, plumbing backing up every day causing shit to stand in the shower. The biggest thing of all is a bunch of COs that disrespect and laugh at you like your life is meaningless. All because I made a mistake.
Yet these police are killing innocent people and nothing is happening. I mean they have not even suspended these officers that just killed Stephon Clark. Why is there no justice for this innocent family. Why can we make a mistake and the key is thrown away like our lives don’t matter. There is no excuse or explanation that makes me understand why all of these police are above the law. Action is needed now. Not tomorrow or next year, but NOW!
~Big Boy

“DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS”

 

I’m back on the Blog….

Introduction

Greetings to my fellow Bloggers. Sending our support to DACA (Deferred Action for  Childhood Arrivals), recipients encouraging them to stand strong, continue to pursue your Dreams and trust that God is overseeing your Well-being..

It’s Human tendencies to manipulate the rules and to set double-standards in order to achieve ulterior-motives and create other secular objectives. It is a well-known phenomenon in societies where corruption resides, (i.e. in Nations recognized as Super Powers). Particularly countries that have lost the basic concepts of morals, dignity and justice, by merely replacing their image with quailities of Arrogance, Greed and Oppression.

OUR AMIGO’S

People will began to undermine the very foundations of their constitution, contracts and their committment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of mankind. Their belief in God will be watered-down(saturated), driven totally by desires and self-interest. Witnessing continued rhetoric of “Build a WAll” and “increase border patrol” will circulate thru mainstream media, while Arizona Sherriff’s are given full Pardons for racial-profiling of Latino immigrants. Remebering the innocent life of the young Mexican Boy while just playing a “game of chicken” was murdered by a border patrol agent? The case making national news was decided February 21, 2017, resulting in no disciplinary action, no leave-of-absence nor any means of reprimand for the erroneous actions of the agent? We only heard expressions of justification to support their theories of displacement and to enforce bias legislation.. Our prayers go out for Korena Boranca – a DACA recipient as she awaits the decision for citizenship status. She has worked hard, abided by the laws of land and born in a Country via Parental-migration. So I leave these words to those who are placed in challenging times, that no matter what it looks like right now. No matter how much it hurts. No matter what U have to leave behind. U can be wounded and walk! U can be broken and believe! U can be pieces and still have PEACE!.. Never give up….

“MEMOIR PT. I”

Memoir from the Black History Program as seen through “Poetic Justification’s” eyes.

Finally, “Black History Month’ closing program “Giant of a Woman” arrived. For us here in the Ashland, KY ‘Twilight Zone’ it started February 20, 2018; at noon, inside our gymnasium, while schedule to end at 2:00 PM.

Six days before: Wednesday February 14

We were just ending rehearsal, I stopped to wait on Twilight, who was wrestling to win the support of the only black male Unit Team Manager (UTM). Although there was only three black male staff here, period. But the one Twilight was confronting, was something to reckon with.
“I’m telling you, you ain’t never seen anything like this.” Twilight pressed on. “We’re going to bring something different.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…same ole bs.” The UTM paused to glance around, “I don’t want to hear all that rap shit. Same shit every year.”
I’m thinking to myself, why is Twilight talking to this fool? I had heard the UTM say a year earlier, while scanning inmates IDs during our lunch meal, “I can’t stand black people with gold in their mouth, they think they’re all that.” Speaking openly to no one but himself. As much as I wanted to challenge him I held my peace and judged him for what he spoke.
Now, here I am facing someone I believe had self hatred toward his own kind.
“Hold up,” Twilight gives me a look that passes with understanding. “Dee, give the UTM a paragraph…”
“I’m telling you, I don’t want to hear that shit.” UTM forcefully interrupts.
“Dee, give him a paragraph.” Twilight said with a more authoritive tone, disregarding what the UTM said.
I said, “My message is a ‘Giant of a Woman.’ This giant is none other but Mrs. Coretta Scott King. I’d like to tell you a few things about Mrs. King that is not common knowledge…” I went on with that a few more lines before I was stopped.
“Alright, that’s enough…Now Townsend-El, give him your portion.” Twilight said, while in his take charge mode. Seeing that he had cracked the UTM’s attention
“This ‘Giant of a Woman’ that I will be talking about stood 6’5″ and weighed 200 pounds and quoted, ‘No man ever helped me or picked me over a puddle…” Townsend-El would go on with his natural Southern Atlanta gift of gab and smooth oratorical skills.
“Alright, that’s enough. You see, this is what we’re bringing!” Twilight said, with a bit of open satisfaction. Accepting his victory as proof that persuasion comes first with hearing and then seeing.
“Hum! That’s something, we’re going to see how this turns out.” The UTM responded with a stunned look wearing on his lips and eyes. He was at a loss for words.
Twilight, seeing that he was in awe, pushed the UTM further before we exited back to our housing units, “Make sure you bring all your coworkers with you. We’re going to give Ashland something they have never seen before!”
We all walked out of the gymnasium listening to the UTM’s final statement, “I’m’a see what I can do.”

Two days later: Friday February 16

“General work call, recreation, education.” Was an alarm blasting over all the intercoms at 6:45 AM throughout all federal ‘zones.’ Unless it was a holiday, weekend, an incident prior disrupting the security and safety of the ‘zone,’ or some administrative meeting that required a significant amount of staff to attend in one area.
For the last two months I had barricaded myself in the education department for every open hour that the department made available so I could finish a self-help/game conscious book I was working on. Due to a prohibited act I was placed in the Segregated Housing Unit (SHU).
Friday is one of the department’s shorter days, closing at 3:30 PM and reopening for another short day on Sunday. But today, I have other things that shortens my schedule: two hours of rehearsal (8-10AM), lunch hour (10:30-11:30) and a Nation of Islam service (2-3PM). It roughly leaves me a maximum of 4 hours, if normal operations run systematically. But that’s never the case in the ‘zone.’
It was shortly after 7 AM, I had just finished loading an old 1980’s style electrical edition IBM Wheel writer, with it’s wheel, type ribbon, and paper. The typing room was no bigger than a double size car pool. Providing 8, 60″ tables, 10-14 typewriters (if none were broken down that day) two clerk desks, a book cart with dictionaries, thesaurus, writer’s books, storage cabinet, as well as a big glass window that ran down the length of the right side of the room with only a view of several large cooling units.
You would think having 14 typewriters divided amongst 1025 inmates (at this time) would be scarce, but it’s the other way around. Most of the time there are very few inmates using the typewriters. Often times it’s the normal writers with occasional jail house paralegals who routinely govern this paradise.
“What’s up youngster?” Rafee greets me while pulling up at the table that we’ve grown accustom to sharing. The typewriter beside the one I’m using seems to have some sacred value, because all the other ones can be open and he’ll still sit next to me. However, I feel the same.
He hasn’t quite gotten my name down pat, or it holds no importance, since it is simply ‘Dee.’ Also, it could be that he’s been in the ‘zone’ for 27 years (from what I heard) and doesn’t take to people so easily. This environment seems to have that effect. In regards to each encounter I sense a gain of respect.
“Oh, what’s happening Rafee?” I say with a quick glance, still concentrating on the task at hand.
“Man, we’re going to have to get Skool back before Tuesday. He’s the glue.”
Most people refer to Twilight as Skool, Ol’ Skool, or Mr. Hoard, but I call him Mr. Hoard.
“I know…he’s probably back by now and sitting in the SHU.” I felt the worry in my own voice and stopped typing to look at Rafee. It was yesterday, Thursday, most of us in the program had learned that Twilight had been taken to the SHU on Wednesday night for an outside medical appointment,. This is normal security procedure when being transported for medical appointments. He had told me weeks before he would be leaving but didn’t know when. Unfortunately this landed with unexpected timing and no one knew what his medical conditions were and how long he would be gone. Despite the circumstances, one thing we all knew, verbal or unverbal was that we had been navigated by him and things would not be orchestrated the same if he didn’t make it back on time.
“Yeah, even if he’s back, they don’t do SHU releases on Friday. That means he will not be returned to population until Monday at the earliest.” (The SHU is a jail within a jail, and works like the local county court system. Unlike outside the zone, we only have 4 working days to be released on our own recognizance-OR; Friday starts the business closing hours. However, there are always exceptions to the rules.)
“You’re right, I forgot all about that. Now that you mention it, we’re in more trouble because Monday is a holiday, President’s Day.” (The rules for the holidays are the same as weekends.)
Let’s just hope that he’s here, cause he’ll be able to make it out Tuesday morning. We only have a few more minutes before they call the move. We’ll see how we do in this last rehearsal.” Rafee says while I start to unload my typewriter in order to return the wheel so I can retrieve my ID from the clerk.

Gymnasium 8 AM Rehearsal

As everyone files in, there is a silence in the atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be said to speak what is there. It’s Twilight’s absence. Their bodies are speaking more than words can say. We had lost a little hope and began to discuss who was best suited to fill Twilight’s shoes.
Physically nothing had changed for me. I was walking around the gymnasium meditating and reciting my speech. I was sure, more than words can say, in faith, that he would make it on Tuesday morning. Even if Mr. Breckenridge had to talk to the warden, the overseer of the ‘twilight zone’ himself. We all had worked too hard to let the vital organ, the heart, cripple us with a sudden stroke.
Sensing a thick weary aura, Mr. Breckenridge himself took charge, “OK guys, everyone move to the left side of the gym. Set all the white chairs here.” He pointed to an area under the basketball rim. “Who has the roster showing the order each of you participate?”
“I have it right here.” Brunson Bey said.
Brunson Bey is another older gentleman with brown skin, salt and pepper gray beard and a small fro. He doesn’t smile much, carrying a no-nonsense attitude. I just met him two and half months ago at a Moorish Science Temple service. He was giving a lecture about Amexem before it became Africa. I was captivated by his ability to drive his points and keep the message interesting. His speaking skills are unmatched when it comes to the old cliche, “words without emotions are dead.” He definitely has emotional fire which may explain his serious but well mannered demeanor. So for this reason and his keen knowledge with history, I assume, he was chosen as our anchor.
“Let me see it.” Mr. Breckenridge responds, “Okay, we’re going to sit in the order that each performance is to be called…Boyd, you first, George, McRath, etc..” He calls out until everyone is seated and organized.
“Now look, Mr. Hoard isn’t here…,” he said to give us a motivational pep talk. “He has put a lot into this, this is the last rehearsal, let’s do this for Mr. Hoard!”
What he was saying was correct, but someone still had to fill Twilight’s shoes as the Emcee.
“Rafee we need someone to take Twilight’s position or get familiar with it, just in case he doesn’t make it back.” I said.
“Yeah, you’re right.”
“How about Townsend-El?” I said, feeling he was the best speaker amongst us, aside from Brunson-Bey, who had to give the longest and strongest closing of the program. He could not be compromised. Again, I felt Townsend-El was the man who could do it all.
Rafee gives me a look of confirmation needing no more words to be spoken. “Townsend-El, you’re going to have to fill in for Skool just in case he doesn’t make it back.” Rafee said with a voice that I didn’t know he had.
“Alright, I got it. I was ready for this.” says Townsend-El. He gets up, grabs the program and takes position at the podium. Before calling up the first speaker, Townsend-El, mistakenly reads Rafee’s typed out introduction speech. Nevertheless, he’s going in!
Instantly, I look around and see relief in everyone’s eyes. The spirit in the gymnasium is back to talking!
As things play out and parts are being finished, small groups and discussions are taking place again. I couldn’t quite pin-point what was going on, but the gym had an eerie way of speaking more so today, than all the other days. Following my intuition, I decide to investigate. I got up from my chair and sat with Rafee at a chess table. He is rearranging names on the program.
“Rafee, what’s going on? I can feel a change in the atmosphere.” I said with a subtle concern.
“We’re changing things around. The Black History program is about giving the people the History, not all this singing and stuff. When you see Black History Programs out on the streets, you don’t see singing, rapping, and concerts. Do you?”
“Naw.” I said to agree, not really knowing.
Rafee said in an attempt to make his point clear, “I’m trying to do what is best for us all, the right thing, and how things traditionally go.”
I eased away from Rafee and breathed down on Brunson-Bey who seemed to be too quiet sitting by himself.
“Brunson-Bey, what’s up? Why does it seem like something is going on?” For some reason my spirit connects more with him and my words seem to open an avenue for him to breathe in the frustration that I’m witnessing on his face.
“They’re changing things around from how Twilight intended it to be. Skool has to make it back or this isn’t going to be anything.” Though he was speaking how he felt, I felt something different and mentally asked myself what have I gotten myself into? Things had been going on that I had no knowledge of. I could see now that the others had their own agenda and I was out of the loop.
For the most part the rehearsal was impressive, everyone did an excellent job. Other than some people were taken off the program, the music and plays were pushed back to the second hour, when most people were expected to leave. Singers now wanted band equipment and certain individuals were bickering to have their way.

“MEMOIR PT. II”

Friday, 3:00 PM

“Hey, Dee!” Townsend-El hollers for me, coming in from outside. We’re in the same unit and he was the one who actually introduced me to Twilight as being a possible candidate for the Black History Month program.
“Yo,” I say while walking his way.
“I talked to Breckenridge and he said Skool is back and he’s in the SHU. They’ll probably let him out tomorrow if the counselor is here.”
“Good! I’m so relieved.” I said and Townsend-El returned the sentiment.

Saturday February 17, 12:00 PM

I was in the housing unit, inside a small storage room you would find in a typical 3 bedroom house. This was one of the many conversions the ‘zone’ had improvised as a computer room – after issuing 1 computer per 20 inmates (which provided us four). The ‘FBOP’ (Federal Bureau of Prisons) added a new form of communication: email with our friends and family in 2007-2013. At a rate of 5 cents a minute, with a 30 minute session time and a 30 minute wait to log on again after logging off. Even though outside the ‘twilight zone’ email is free. For us in the ‘twilight zone’ this too can be a financial burden upon our loved ones. In fact the housing unit I am residing in had once been a horse barn and is still being referred to as ‘The Barns.’ So you can imagine what it looks like with 90 bunk beds, enclosing each bunk cubicle by a four foot wall, 2 small book shelves, providing four metal hooks beneath them, two 3 foot lockers, two 14 inch stools, and not enough room to squeeze by one another. This is just one side of the barn complex, separated by doors and a middle hallway for which the case manager, counselor, and secretary’s offices are located. Just picture this: we’re still being housed like the animals.
Boom boom boom…boom boom boom. I hear at the unit door. Someone was banging, trying to get the unit officer’s attention, whose office is situated next to the entrance. Typing away trying to save pennies that add up, I was concentrating on the importance of telling my niece about her pursuit toward college. She is a senior in HS and had inherited a leadership that had been placed upon her by her father, my brother. As a new cornerstone to our family and a baton being passed for the next generation of family.
“Excuse me Dee,” Townsend-El said, “that was Skool at the door. The officer just let him in and he went to the other side.” He informed me, knowing the window of time is just as personal and serious as the $3.15 phone call for only 15 minutes, ranging up to a total of 20 calls per month or managed within a 300 minute allowance at a rate of $0.21 per minute. So if you’re not fast at typing, reading and composing your thoughts to reply, emailing becomes an evermore expensive commodity as well.
I giveTownsend-El a nod to acknowledge him, keeping focus on the screen until he mentions Skool. “Alright, good looking.” Elated, I take on a different focus with my niece and finish up my driving points.
Fortunately, it had been our regular officer on shift that didn’t mind us hanging out on either side. I went to my room to grab some new writing material I had just finished, before heading over to the other side.
Twilight was sitting on his bunk looking at some episode of thoughts when I greeted him, “How are you doing Mr. Hoard?”
Trying to read just his thoughts, he replies, “I’m fine, about to get myself together (shower). How are you?”
Whatever had been on his mind in that brief moment I interrupted was still attached cause his eyes betrayed his words, and the piercing look he gave me to confuse what I may have seen convinced me the more that he was mentally outside the ‘zone.’ Years in the zone has that effect: drifting in time ‘zones’ that don’t exist. But very real in the dichotomy of a projecting mind, rolling on the wheels of old and future times.
Respecting his space, I took a different approach, “I’m blessed. Everybody has been worried about you. Have you talked to your wife and family?”
“I just finished talking to my wife for a few minutes. I haven’t talked to anyone else, my email is still off.” (Any time we leave outside the ‘zone’ or are transferred, our personal coded pin-number is deactivated for security purposes. It is generally reactivated within 24 hours.) He continues on, “How did you do at rehearsal this time?”
Happy that he asked, “I nailed it, flawless, without the papers!” Since day one Mr. Hoard had challenged me on every level, insisting that I use my notes just in case I get stuck, or to look down as I speak so I don’t lose my place.
“Yeah, you would do it when I’m not there.” He said in a joking manner, but then goes back to his way or no way. “Listen to me, keep those notes with you.”
Like always when he gets serious with me on this subject, I submit, “Alright, alright.” I speed along knowing that I’m not using them and switch the subject to something more interesting. “You know the program has been changed?” It was impossible for him to know. He just got out of the SHU, or at least I thought.
“Yeah, I already heard. Don’t worry it’s going down exactly how I organized it.” Wherever he was 5 minutes ago, this steered his blood and he was back in charge.
As I wondered how Mr. Hoard knew about the changes in the program, my answer came walking up the hallway. I didn’t factor in Townsend-El had time to fill him in.
“What’s up Skool? What’s up Dee?” Townsend-El addresses us.
“What’s up?” We reply in unison.
Townsend-El enters his cube and takes a seat on the only stool that Mr. Hoard has in his cubicle. I see they have some important things to talk about. So I tell Mr. Hoard, “I’m going to let you get yourself situated…”
Townsend-El interrupts me, “You’re good, I’m not going to be long.”
Even though he offered courtesy, more often than not, you adapt quickly to the four spoken languages: verbal, non-verbal, physical and aura-energies. The first two are general forms of communication. Physical is self-explanitory, but for the sake of understanding: punched, stabbed, kicked, killed, etc. However, aura language is the most critical, it could avoid and eliminate troubles that could personally affect you. For example: walking up to talk to several people while they’re having a dialogue. Abruptly they stop talking to non-verbally speak to you as a message and allow you to speak briefly, and keep it moving. Perhaps you missed the message and don’t feel the awkwardness in their growing frustration. Their anxiety is communicating while producing an aura that should be felt now. All indicators have been shown, even by not giving you any feedback. So in the event you don’t gain the sense of their energy, their frustration breaks through their patience and one or both say “Can you see we’re talking?”
This was one of those moments although I had been talking to Mr. Hoard before he arrived. But it was obvious in one of the four languages,(non-verbal body language) how he pulled up and set on the stool that he had left briefly to retrieve something and come back to finish. I had some other things to do, plus Mr. Hoard had to get himself together. “Now, y’all go ahead….I’m’a holler back at you Mr. Hoard.”
“Okay, see you later.”

Monday, February 19, President’s Day, 12:50 PM

After catching up on most of what I planned, and missing from seeing Mr. Hoard all day Sunday, I stopped to see what he had on his agenda since it was 70 degrees and beautiful outside. The cubicles were empty, so I knew almost everyone was outside. On holidays, the education department and work facilities are closed except for the kitchen workers, trash crew, recreational workers and unit orderlies.
Stopping short of Mr. Hoard’s cube I asked, “What you doing today?”
“Um…that ain’t how we address each other.” Twisting his face as if I committed the ultimate sin.
“Oh, my bad.” Just trying to get some of his old blood moving, “Good afternoon. What are you doing today?”
His face released the sudden tension, “I’m about to catch the move. I have to let my hair dry out in the sun so I can get my hair done tonight for the program tomorrow.”
Mr. Hoard has the longest dreds in this zone, with a full pepper gray beard, he is 5’9″, with chestnut complection and if he hugged you, you would know the meaning of a bear hug.
Before I could say something else, the intercoms blasted, “Ten minute move.” This is an open move to travel through unlocked passageways that are permissible such as the gym, rec yard, units, chapel and education department that may or may not be open on any given day.
Rushing to push me on and fixed on his mission, Mr. Hoard tells me “I’ll see you early in the morning. We have a big day tomorrow.”
“I’m not going anywhere, I’m going outside with you.” I take to stepping behind him while telling him, “I haven’t ever seen you move this fast. Keep in mind that Hoard is 60.

1:00 PM Recreation Yard

The rec yard is 120 yards, catty-cornered from the middle entrance we had exited from. Twenty yards straight ahead is an identical barn that runs parallel to the barn we live in. At the end of this barn is an attached gated fence that gives access to the rec yard. Forty feet inside this small sally port is a one-way turn-style allowing entrance only to the yard. Left of it is an exit gate only unlocked by a rec yard staff member during each ten minute move.
Twilight enters the turn-style and I follow behind. Just to the left of entering, there is a 40×120 foot pavilion with 14 community tables. These tables are generally used for card games, Dungeon and Dragons, social gatherings, and for those who want to test their chess skills against the better chess players on the compound. We briefly stop to speak with Mr. Kelly.
Mr. Kelly is a giant amongst men. Not because of his physical stature, this was just his suit to convey the charisma and wisdom flowing through his mind. He is made of the moral fiber that an anthropologist may seek to uncover today in the Ancient Egyptian tombs. He is rare and one of the few left of a time that has almost passed. A wisdom that we may never see again. It is normal to see people drawn to him, like a moth to a bright light. He is full of life, breathing inside the hopeless, unfortunate or needs of others who have not experienced what he has in life. His physique is another story. Not because he is a body builder, but at 76 years old, he is very fit, and he has the energy of someone half his age. He is blessed with smooth black onyx skin, no wrinkles, 5’7” tall, 180 pounds, bald head and stainless white teeth and he greets everyone with a smile. It’s nothing to see him fully geared up in a head band, wrist bands, gray sweat shirt (with sleeves cut half off), gray sweat shorts, gray diabetic socks (pulled up past his knees), and gray New Balance orthopedic shoes. Either he’s doing sprints on the track on a nice warm day, or doing calisthenics in intervals on the baseball field.
More often than not you’ll find Mr. Kelly plowing over a chess board, humorously antagonizing his opponent or joking with the crowd who enjoys the bags of free candy that he brings as a ploy to distract his opponents.
All of this is found beneath the pavilion where Mr. Kelly showcases his chess talents (for anyone who steps up to the challenge) or telling stories that would match those of James Weilden Johnson, Mark Twain, or any of the great story tellers of their time.
Walking away from the pavilion, we step towards the track when Mr. Kelly hollers out, “Dee, let me get some games out of you. These guys ain’t no competition.” More as a plead for the good times we share at the board.
I respond, “I’m’a get with you.” Telling him the same thing since I started writing back in July of last year.
The track is 100 yards left of the entrance turnstile and 40 feet to the right before you hit the pavement. As soon as Twilight and I hit the track we enjoy the small talk. We’re still in the bonding stage, so I’m listening to him tell me more about his early adult life. Occasionally, I asked questions while being in awe of my mentor. There was something about him from the beginning that I latched onto and have been unglued ever since. Perhaps it’s fair to say that Twilight is a world magnet mixed with all the best ingredients attracting those who desire to learn. Fortunately, I’m absorbed in it.
After hitting our second lap we caught up with a few guys that previously knew Twilight at another zone. They were reminiscing on how sweet the camp life was. Particularly the Father’s Day extravaganza and the nature of animals domesticating to people.

” MEMOIR PT. III”

“Ed, tell Dee how we did on Father’s Day.” Twilight said.
Ed lit up with excitement. “Aw man,” in a baritone voice, “Twilight prepared a meal fit for kings and made us feel like it was really Father’s Day and we all celebrated it as proud fathers.”
“Darnell, tell Dee about the deer coming up to eat out of our hands, the raccoons shaking our pockets for food, the skunk allowing us to feed them and scratch their heads.” Twilight continued.
Darnell thinks for a moment to reflect back to the time, shocked by his own experience, before saying, “I haven’t seen any place like it. You would think the deer were statues standing in front of the building. It wasn’t anything to see animals coming up to be fed.”
Amazed by Darnell’s encounter, he made me feel like they were living in a zoo. I had been in a state prison before infested with ducks you could feed, but nothing of this magnitude. So I asked, “You’re telling me no one was worried about being sprayed by the skunk or clawed by the raccoons? Those raccoons are something else. I once knew a little white girl when I was younger, she lived down the gravel road from my grandmother out in the country. She also took a raccoon as a pet, and it spazzed out and butchered her face. Those things are dangerous.” Hoping they realized how foolish they sounded to me.
“Excuse me, you,” Twilight stops to say. As he unhooks his headphones from his MP3 player. (Another expensive luxury item added to the zone back in 2011. The purchase price for the MP3 player is $88.50, not including the songs costing anywhere from $1.20-1.55 each.) Twilight then hand’s his MP3 to a guy sitting on a bench, shouldered on the left side of the track who was listening to his own MP3 with his Koss R-10 headphones around his neck. Addressing the pepper haired gentleman, “Check some of this out.” Referring to his music. “See if there’s anything you like that you don’t have. I’ll see you when I come back around.”
“Okay, Dee, you think that is something? Wait until I tell you this…” Twilight pauses to allow me to anticipate his next words. “The birds were eating out of my hand.” He speaks this from deep within, understanding how hard this would be for me to fathom.
Twilight looks at me waiting to see how I’m going to respond. Actually, I don’t know whether he is joking or not. However, everything he has said and done thus far has been like a bridge to life you just want to cross over and see what takes you to the other side. Again he is a world magnet and hasn’t showed me anything less.
Instead I say, “Yeah, I’d have to see that.”
We go on talking until we meet the gentleman at the bench again. He stands up and joins us as we walk.
“Joel, what do you think?” Twilight speaks to the pepper haired man, referring to the music on his MP3.
Joel hands him back his MP3 and said, “You have some nice stuff on there.”
“Well, I wanted to talk to you about the program.”
“I heard they took me off the program.”
“Yeah, but don’t worry about that. I’m back.”
“But they said I couldn’t participate because I haven’t rehearsed with y’all.”
“Check this out, I tried hard getting you to agree to do this for me, didn’t I?”
“Yeah.”
“And I don’t beg anyone, EVER.” Twilight spoke that as a man of power. Even I felt it. “All I need you to do is show up. I got this. I’m putting my head on the chopping block. If Breckenridge doesn’t let you participate then I’m not doing anything, or helping in any other programs the rest of the time I’m here. That’s how I roll.” He looked at Joel as a man that doesn’t take no when he wants what he wants. “So are you going to be there?”
Joel gives in and replies, “I’ll e there.”
At that time the move is being called yet again. Twilight and I exited the yard, heading back towards the barns. Tomorrow was THE big day. We extend love as we always do with parting words, “See you later.”
Twilight, however, stops to say one more thing, “Dee, are you ready?”
He knows me by now and exactly what I’m going to say, “I was born ready!” We turn into our doors awaiting tomorrow.