I was happy at Pollock, but, I missed my children, so I put in for a transfer to be near them. About a week after I’d applied for that transfer I was called to the Lieutenants Office. When I walked in I saw Lt. DuCote waiting on me. He was alone. We were alone, him and I … not supposed to happen that way. On paper, I’m a convicted murderer. He trusted me.
Lt. DuCote told me that my Transfer Request had come across his desk and he was thinking about denying my request. “You’re important to the peace on this yard.” It was a great compliment he had given me and I very much appreciated him saying it. But I asked him not to hold me there. I explained how much I loved my children and that I was getting very few visits from them in Louisiana, and even if I couldn’t see them as often as I liked, at least I’d have the comfort of being near them. I explained that I had six grandchildren … and so forth … he nodded, and with a hint of emotion in his voice, said, “Okay, I’ll let you go” … some tough guys we are, right! And that was that. With his approval my Transfer Request was sent to the Regional Office and eventually approved.
A Month Later
I was sitting in the Chow Hall on the afternoon of my early morning departure from Pollock to Three Rivers when SIS Voorhies walks over to my table and right there in front of the other Cons, in front of his peers to include the prison brass, sat down across from me. This is not done, not by SIS. Voorhies didn’t sit down to ask a question, or to feel me out on an issue, he sat down across from me out of appreciation for the work I’d done on that Yard – he sat down to show respect. We sat there, him, Chopper and I, talked not about prison or prison politics, but like men. And though he didn’t go into any great detail about how much he appreciated me, he didn’t have to, him sitting down with me while I ate my meal said all he needed to say. I wasn’t a snitch, an informant … I was just a man. He sat with me through the meal and when I got up to leave he got up with me and walked me out the door and halfway back to my cellblock. We said “Goodbye” to each other, simple as that – two men who by Fate had ended up on different sides of the Law, but who, had things been different, could have been friends. I know you can’t really grasp how far out of character his actions were, but, trust me, this never happens. Suffice to say, I will never forget how much respect I was given at FCI Pollock by those three SIS officers … they treated me like a person, not an animal.
After leaving Pollock I spent three weeks at the Oklahoma Transfer Center; this time I didn’t stand in the corner, hell I knew people there, some I hadn’t seen in years … Prison is a small place and I doubt if there’s a Federal Prison Yard in the whole country where I don’t know at least one person.
Upon my arrival at Three Rivers I, along with twenty or thirty others were put into a Holding Cell to await processing. When my turn came I was led into a room to meet my new Councilor. He told me that he was from this area, that he was familiar with my case … then in a slip of tongue said, “How did you get here?” My first clue that I didn’t belong here. Then he added that I had friends here, other cons who knew I was coming and were waiting for me. With that he welcomed me and sent me back to the Holding Cell. About fifteen minutes later I was again summoned, this time by one of the SIS Officers here at Three Rivers.
When I walked into the office he was reading something on the computer, he motioned me to sit down. I did and waited for him to finish what he was reading. Suddenly he turns from the computer, and with a flash in his eyes, says, ” So. You’re one of those guys who likes to run people off the yard!” He was making a statement not asking a question. Then he forcefully added, “We don’t tolerate that here!” Remember, I had just left a place where SIS had wanted me to run the yard and understood exactly what that entailed, so I was completely taken aback. “I have no idea what your talking about,” I responded. And I didn’t.
He looked at me like I was a liar, then looked back at the computer screen and said, “So you didn’t run off …” and started giving me names, names I didn’t know, or, more correctly, didn’t remember. But as he read off the list I had a sudden realization; every time SIS at Pollock had asked me if a guy could come back out on the yard and I’d said, “If he did, I couldn’t guarantee his safety” that somehow, someway, on paper I was listed as the person responsible for him being transferred. How many there were, I have no idea, but a bunch would be accurate.
It appears that the whole time I was doing my job, keeping the peace, I was, on paper anyway, being branded as a Trouble Maker; that was now being made very clear to me. “You’re kind is not welcome here.”
No, I don’t believe that Voorhies, Lt. DuCote or Lt. Transou deceived me. No, they were all three men of character, who probably didn’t think it mattered what they had thought was the price of transforming a violent yard into a peaceful yard would look to some “pencil dick” in the Regional Office. But, it obviously does. I, a man who put down riots, not my words, but the words of Staff and the words of the men I’ve done time with, was, on paper, a Trouble Maker. To make a long story short, this SIS Officer here at Three Rivers decided to give me a CHANCE to stay here, but it was made abundantly clear to me that any kind of problems I had, I be shipped out of here.
Well, here we are, five years later and I’m still here. Oh to be sure when I first hit the yard the fellas here tried to give me the “Keys” to the yard, I declined, and in time I came to prove that I wasn’t a Trouble Maker and have become a positive influence on my companions. For the most part the Guards treat me well, and SIS has given me a little leeway here and there. So it has all worked itself out. Even still, here, I remain a fish out of water.
Well, here we are, at the end of this Shot Caller Series. In this series I have taken you back with me to when I first came into the system and outlined my time since. No, it hasn’t been an easy path, but, it’s my path and I accept it as such. Yes, there are a lot of stories I’ve not told, some funny, like the “Phantom Shitter” ( see “A Poet Dreams” ), some horrible like the guy I was on my way to get, but who was stabbed by one of his Homeboys and died as I was climbing the stairs to attack him, ( see “As A Convict Thinketh” ). Some I’m proud of like the time at Florence when I jumped two Gang Members for flipping over an old man in a wheelchair because he wouldn’t give them ten dollars, and, some I ain’t so proud of, like the time I spent feeling sorry for myself, but, if you have read my books you can find the bits and pieces of these stories and more in them.
As a Freeman I believed and acted as freemen do. But now, I’m a Convict and so I act as Convicts do. As a Freeman I learned certain disciplines, here I have learned others. Freemen have their faults as well as their noble qualities and likewise the convict too has his or her own set of words and actions which are deemed undesirable or honorable. We are not without honor! So never think for a moment that all of the men here a worthless, for we are not.
I have learned these ways, and those means of convict reasoning. I am here, and so it is that I must be here to the best of my ability, yet, never will I believe that I can be nowhere except here. Nor will I allow myself to become the animal I have been made out to be by my Prosecutors. Do not think that prison has made of me a prisoner. For it has not. It has only reveled and brought forth that strength of character which had previously lay hidden within me. It has only shown me that a man can live within the worlds most violent of societies and not be moved to violent thought, nor violent actions short of self-defense. Prison has taught me to think from a new perspective, to see with eyes which no Freeman can possess. Prison has taught me to examine myself, leading me to conclude that “Sinfulness” is not the taboos taught by Religion, but instead the weakness of the mind which allows one to become enslaved to that which is not progressive, to be limited and less capable as a result of some vice. It is not prison which has enslaved me and my prison companions, it is instead a lack of personal discipline which has brought us, each and all of us, to the selfsame gallows in which we presently swing.
So, here we and I have broken my silence and told you some inside stuff about prison, things I will no doubt be critsized for revealing. So why did I do it? Well, for several reasons really, First: The Laws are changing and there’s a chance that guys like me will someday get out … well, not exactly guys like me … remember, when some pencil dick in Washington looks at my record on the computer, it’s not going to say, “He put down multiple riots”, “He saved this man, or that man”, “He was highly respected by the Prison Staff for being a Peace Maker”, nope, I now know, it’s gonna say that I was a Trouble Maker, and that alone will quite possibly keep me from ever getting a break. Nope, no one is going to pick up the phone and call Voorhies, or DuCote or Transou and ask them what kind of man I am. Nope, they’re just going to look at the paperwork. I ain’t crying about it, Fuck ’em in the ear! I just wanted my kids and my friends to know the truth about how I’ve done my time.
Second: I’m going to shut this blog site down, yep, I’ve told my last story. Why? you ask. Well, I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer want to fight for my innocence; it no longer matters to me what others think. It only matters what my children and grandchildren think.
Third: the other day I told the head of the SIS department here at Three Rivers, that my days as a Speaker are over; likewise I’ve told the men around me the same thing. Yep, this is the end of ol’ Mayor Mark.
Third: I’m going to shut this blog site down, yep, I’ve written my last entry. Why you ask? Well, I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer want to fight for my innocence; it no longer matters to me what others think, it only matters what I know.
If you ask my children who I am, they’ll tell you I’m a loving father. If you ask the men around me who I am, they’ll tell you I’m a man who always has a positive word to share. If you ask the Government who I am, they’ll tell you I’m a Killer. But if you ask me who I am, I’ll tell you that I’m a man that has taken the life I’ve been given, and did the best I could with it. But what does that all boil down to? Well. I guess it boils down to something one of my sons said to me awhile back, “You’ve had a rough life. But I’ve never heard you complain about it.”
What better legacy to have than that.
I am loved by my children. I am respected by my peers and I have always tried, not always successfully, but always tried to do the right thing, and I always understood when I did wrong. So, here we are. This is what I am, this is how I’ve lived my life. With that final word I’ll leave you with this …
If Heaven is living outside this prison as a normal person,
and Hell is living behind these bars with the respect my peers
have given me, then I am compelled to quote, Milton.
“Tis better to rule in Hell, than to serve in Heaven”
Three Rivers, 12-21-18