I’ve told this story before and will tell it again and again because it’s relevant to me and my growth as a person.
I don’t know the exact year, but sometime when I was imprisoned at the USP in Florence Colorado I remember sitting in the Commissary line (prison store) with a friend of mine named Tim McIver, from Dallas. Anyway, I remember him and I sitting together and watching as other guys left the store with bags full of stuff, while he and I were without money and buying only the bare necessities. I remember him saying something to the affect that Crack Heads, Wife Beaters, Deadbeat Dads and Women Hustlers had more money sent to them than we did…And as pathetic as it seems to me now I remember feeling sorry for myself as I watched guys I literally thought were human garbage live better than me. And I remember telling young Tim…to remember that moment. To never forget how it feels…and to let that feeling drive you…”remember”, I reiterated.
Later that day I went back to my cell and wrote about how I was feeling, how I was affected by what I was going through, in my journal. Yes, I was affected by it and I wondered how a man like me, who when he was on top had shared so much with so many people had been abandoned…by friends…that entry has survived and is buried somewhere in my book “Where Know One Hears Me”. Why do I bring this up?
Well, first, because I’m embarrassed by what I was thinking, then, and second because today is Store Day here at Three Rivers (no I don’t need anything. My daughter has made sure I have more than I need)…anyway, I had decided not to go to the store today…like I said, I don’t need anything. When they sounded the call for the store most of the cell-block gang-rushed the door…but not me, like I said, I don’t need anything. I have plenty.
As the cell-block cleared out I headed back to my cell. In doing so I looked up and saw that there were two men ( both illegal’s ) standing on the top tier leaning over the handrail and watching the crowd roll out the door.
I hesitated and looked at their worn government clothing and government boots…which means of course that they have nothing of their own…And then I saw their faces and I their eyes I saw two men who wouldn’t be making store…no ice cream, no cookies, no spam, no coffee…no comfort…in their eyes I saw myself only a few years ago…and I remembered.
Yes, I’m all about personal responsibility. Yes, I understand the Laws of Karma, yeah, I know all that stuff. I know that like me they are living out the consequences of their own decisions…and as much as I try to be a hard-ass – it just ain’t in me…because I remember how it feels…and my heart hurts for these my brothers, in chains.
Yep, I’m writing this on the twenty-second and it is my bday. Big day here. The white guys fed me a good breakfast and sweets with sodas. A couple of the Paisa’s (illegal’s) fixed me some bad assed tacitos make with barbacoa, and a DC Black guy named Naim, who is a Muslim, and a couple of his buddies fixed me a Nacho bowl and made a cheese cake.
When I first went to Naim’s cell the guy that was cookin’ for him, for my Bday meal, ask me for a couple of bowls…I have two, but one of them was full of the tacos that the Paisa’s had made for me, so I only took one over. When I walked in I explained that I only had one bowl…the cook says, “That’s ok, you can use one of Naims,” to which I replied, “That’s ok. I’ll move some stuff around and get another bowl.” So I went back to my cell and put the tacitos in my cellies bowl and took my other bowl over to Naim’s cell. All good.
When the meal was ready they called me and I went to Naim’s cell and sat down to eat…they were happy that I sat to eat with them, and said so. As we were eating we started cutting up and tellin’ stories, maybe even a lie or two…and then the guy who did the cookin’ looked at Naim and started laughing…Naim says to him, “Go ahead and tell him.” This is what they were laughing at.
When they told me I could use Naim’s bowl and I said “That’s ok. I’ll move some stuff around,” to get my other bowl, and turned to leave, the cook says to the room full of guys. “Shit he don’t want to eat outta no niggers bowl!” while pointing at Naim. Man when they told me that we all busted out laughing, they started makin’ exaggerated faces like I was thinkin’ “Hell NO” and “After lookin’ at Naim’s black ass, Mr. Mark said, I’ll go get a bowl!” and on and on, man it was funny …have to admit it, man these guys sure give me a lot of respect…and I sure do love ’em too. But, that wasn’t all. After my meal with Naim and his crew, I went back to the cell to sit down and in walks a white boy we call big Mike…and he starts tellin’ my how handsome I am, and how coming out of the shower and I look 50 instead of my age and then gives me a lap dance to the laughter of everybody who was in on it. All in all, laughs were had and it was a fine day. I am blessed.
Thank you for hearing me out.
Three Rivers, 7-20-17