I try hard not to get close to the guys in here because they come and go like the summer breeze…to get close to someone and then watch them leave, is tough, so I usually keep my distance from folks. But, every now and then one of these guys just won’t let me keep my distance – one such man is a guy we call Pimp…that’s not his name, but was in fact his occupation on the outside.

Pimp for some reason beyond my understanding took a likin’ to me and in the end his persistence won over my friendship. Pimp was the head Orderly here in our Cell-Block (lead janitor), but don’t let that fool you, Pimp had his fingers in everything except dope, but he was that guy you went to if you needed something, he was like the Morgan Freeman character in the movie Shawshank Redemption…if you needed something he had it or had a line on how to get it. Pimp always put me first over everyone else in the cell-block…if I even acted like I wanted something, he got it for me, and most of the time he wouldn’t let me pay for it, either

Once I saw that they had brought in some brand new mattresses, never been slept on. I wanted one, but the Counselor I had at that time, he’s since retired, was a peculiar type of man, the type who smiled in your face and acted like he was “cool” but who, in reality, was petty and even malicious, in childish ways, and it was he who had control over the all of the mattresses. Anyway, I told Pimp that I wanted one of those new mattresses, and told him I’d pay good money for one. So Pimp says that I didn’t need to do that, that he’d go and ask the Counselor for one – anyway, he got spun with a promise to give him… me, one later…of course “later” never came. Time passed and passed, again.

The day came when he, the Counselor character in this story, was to retire. Even though I had forgotten, Pimp had not forgotten, that I wanted one of those mattresses, so he came and told me that he was going to put the full-court press on to get me a mattress before dude left. My response was “NO” I ain’t askin’ him for nothin’, it ain’t that important…but of course Pimp knew that it was and drug me down to the guys office and fired at him about the mattress and then gave him the ol’ shuck and jive that we have to give certain guards just to get a damn envelope – you know what I mean. So, ol’ boy see’s me standing behind Pimp, and in fairness to him I guess he felt a little guilty, and so he stammers to Pimp with some flowery BS, then says “Yeah, well, ok,” then adds ” But I’m not supposed to give those out.” which was a lie, because his pets all had ’em. Well, me bein’ me, and not likin’ bein’ lied to, and feelin’ like “do do” because I had asked for somethin’ extra from a guy who made you feel like crap when you did… my pride got the best of me and I just blurted out “Forget it.”

I turned to walk away and Pimp grabs my arm and at that point I think dude realized that he was being petty, and said, “No, no that’s ok. I’ll give you one.” But like I said, I was in my feelings and thought to myself had I been in his position I’d have made sure that all of the older guys got those mattresses rather than having them collecting dust. What I did say was that I thought everyone over sixty should have one…point is: Pimp was willing to allow himself to be spoken down to when it came to helping me…and that to me, was one of his best qualities…he put others before himself.

Now, as most of you know, my family is very successful and in here that is a rare thing, most guys can’t say that. With that said I realized Early on that some of these inmates, even the ones who act like my friend, hate on folks who have more than they do, so I’m very careful talkin’ about my family, but with Pimp it was different. In fact every time my family sent me pictures of their parties, vacations and such, the only person I felt comfortable showing them to, was, you guessed it, Pimp. And he genuinely loved to see ’em, and never one time did I sense that he was anything except sincere in his pride in my kids, grandkids and such. Pimp was my friend.

I say “was” because a month or so ago, Pimp, after doin’ ten years, went home.

The morning that he went home we said a few words like men do in moments like those, and I watched him walk out of the cell-block carrying a mesh bag containing the scant few things that he owned. I was happy for him. I am happy for him.

When a man gets released from Three Rivers they are met at the front gate by a white van, one that takes them to the bus station in San Antonio where they catch the appropriate bus home. And since my cell is situated so that I can overlook the parking lot I pulled up a chair and sat, waiting, so that I could watch Pimp take his first steps of freedom. I waited and waited, no van. Finally I decided to shave while I waited knowing that when the white transport van pulled up that I would know when he was about to walk out. As I shaved I kept walkin back and forth to the window making sure that it didn’t pull up while I was occupied at my sink.

After the third or fourth time of checking for the van, and with a half a shave done, I saw him walk out the door…but it was a stroke of luck because the van never came, but it was him, bag in hand. I watched as he approached a guard coming in from the parking lot and I watched as the guard pointed him up the hill towards a building, and I realized that he was giving Pimp instructions as to where he would find his ride to the bus station. I stood and I watched him as he walked all the way up that hill, at a quick pace I might add. And when he was out of site I finished my shave, drank a cup of coffee – and missed him.

Pimp was a good friend.

It’s damned funny how prison can draw together the most unlikely of people and make friends of ’em…Pimp and I are as different as day and night. He’s black, I’m white. He’ liberal in his politics, I’m conservative…not to mention that he was a damn pimp and I ain’t never bought…well, you know. But even with all those differences between us, I saw his heart, and it was good.

I want to say it here and now: Pimp. Good Luck and God speed in all you do…your friend, Mayor Mark

Peace Be With You.

Three Rivers, 4-2-17