Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letters to a Future Death Row Inmate, Part 12

by "Old School"

Young Man,

I know this rude but I don’t want to tell you my name. I don’t like to write it no how in kites cause lots of them get read by the laws and then they put it in they files. You can just call me Old School. That been my name forever cuz I been old forever.

I been thinking about what to write you since I saw you pull up and this young cracka been bugging us to write you and its hard to know what to say. You can’t describe this farm. It is so hateful and so cruel that people always be thinking I spinning game when I try. Isn’t no game young buck. This all you got left in front of you. Truth is I been locked up so long I cant remember no other life no more. It hurt to try.

Truth is ugly. I’m scared. All the time. If that was my punishment then I say they doin it right. I ain't proud of what I did but if the police had done they job then it wouldna been up to me to solve that problem. I ain’t sayin that some people just need killin but the police knew that man was doin wrong on the street and they just sat back and did nothin. So now I’m here for doin what any parent would have done but I don’t know what happen to my courage. It all gone. Every damn day I’m scared. I ain’t been to recreation in 7 or 8 years. It be filthy with germ out there and when you come out yo house the laws can go in-there and do heaven knows what. Maybe put cameras and microphones in yo house. Sometimes they will crawl in the pipe chase and talk in the vents like they is a demon and try to set people off. I seen it many time. I only shower one time a month if then. I don’t like livin like this but that water get me sick it infected with somethin. Sometime they take my towel when I in there so I just drip and then catch a cold or leave me in there for more than an hour. They know my knees is bad so I have to sit on they moldy floors and I ends up dirtier than I was when I went in. They do this cuz they know I ain’t gonna do nothin to them. I’m too old for games and violence and they know that. You will see for yourself young buck.

I had me lots of friends once. Out in the world people liked me and they sent me letters thankin me for what I done and sayin they gonna take care of me forever. You gots to try to hang on to yo friend and family as long as you can because they all gonna go one day and then you be like me. This place is bad but it worse when you ain’t got no bread for toothpaste or soap or food to replace they food. I used to have me lots of friends back with us on the Row but they most dead now. They done killed more than 350 mens in my time here. 350 young man. You can’t know what that is like so I wont even try to tell you. My memory not as good as it once was but I still recall most of them. Most were my friends. Some were hard men but they was made harder by this place and only 3 of them was what I would call evil. All the rest coulda done fine in prison and then get released. I don’t feel nothin when I think of they names. I can’t feel nothin no more about much anything, cept to feel scared all the time.

Cuz there ain’t no gettin out. One of my last friends was Rocky. He went bad there at the end not comin out his house and not even wantin to see his kids. They gave him a life sentence but nobody know where he at. His family can’t find him and nobody here no where he at. It like he got buried already. Even if you get a life sentence you ain’t getting out. Ain’t no parole for us. Even if they was you think anybody gonna be waitin for you at them gates? You walk out alone and the world done changed and you get on a bus and go where? Ain’t no world left for you out there.

I don’t know what advice to give you young man. They is going to make you a monster it happens to most. Monster or crazy like me. Or dead. Lots of different types of crazy back here but only one kind of dead. Those is yo choices. I should have killed myself when they move us over to Polunsky. We knewed it was bad the way they clamped down on the chains so we couldn’t feel our hands and how they make us go neckid everywhere. Now I too scared.

I don’t know if God is real no more or what he gonna do to me if I kill myself. They always say that a sin in church but they never seen this place and now there ain’t no real churchman to ask. The preachas here is all white and ain’t gonna waste no time on no old nigga like me cept to tell me to change my ways like I can do it all so easy like. Maybe they right. I’m too scared to find out and too scared to stay living.

Watch they food. You see what look like gasoline floatin on a water puddle on top of them green beans? That some kind of poison. Every time I eat they vegetables I get tired and like I ain’t got no cares. That make it easy to push you around get you to fall in line. They want you like a sheep. That why they feed you breakfast at 3 in the mornin and slam them doors all night so you can’t get no rest. We used to work here on the Row. That the last time I slept good cause I’m the kind of man that likes to put my hands to use. I been workin since I was 12 and my hands is still good and strong and don’t shake none. I worked in the garment factory on Ellis Unit in the old days. I was so good with them clippers that when I see an officer with a shirt or pants that was too big I would fix them for free and it looked like they shirt was made just for them. They would sometimes buy me some food and thank me for real like we was just two people for real people not in prison. That was the last time any of these laws ever smile at me or look at me like I was more than some run down nigga. These days ain’t no work. They always say in that we can get clemency but how that work when they ain’t no programs or church and when you alone in a box all day? Ain’t nobody ever explain that.

I wish I could give you some good words young man. I’m too old and rusty for that. I know some of you is tryin to better yourself but it just don’t matter none now. Ain’t no better or worse. They all want all of us dead and that is what they gonna get. All I can tell you is that the razor blades is dull but they sharp Enough. I wish I had the courage but maybe you is stronger than me. I’m sorry.

© Copyright 2010 by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker. All rights reserved

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