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Thursday, June 28, 2018

No Way Out

By Terry Daniel McDonald

“Mike, are you ready?” I asked.

We were seated around a table in the dayroom. Mike was to my right. Don was across from me. Being in the same section made it easy to communicate and plan, even with blaring TVs and overlapping conservations. 

“Yeah, I was up a bit late perfecting the strap for my leg.” As usual, Mike’s hair was wet. Every morning he would walk over to the sink and splash water on his face. He’d then wet his hair and finger comb it. He was in his normal, rumpled state as well: baggy, paint-spattered pants, a loose shirt, boots unlaced.

Don was more orderly, but then twenty plus years in the Army had a lot to do with that. Other differences existed – most notably with size. Mike was 5’10”-5’11”, 230 pounds or so; Don might have crested 5’6”, weighing in at around 165 pounds. I was somewhere in the middle. I guess you could say we averaged each other out.

Lowering the newspaper, Don inquired of me, “Did you finish them?”

I nodded. No one was really close enough to hear, but you could never be too cautious. Commercials on the TV played their part too. What had I finished, though? Nylon-wrapping hilts and wire-wrapping rods to make weapons. I also needed to make some last-minute alterations to a Balaclava made from a pair of gray socks.

After a few more pointed questions, the conversation became more casual. Not that anyone around us knew the difference. Everything was in order. It was January 29, 2010, the day we planned to escape. 

The day passed quickly, as expected.  After midday outside recreation, we began the process of getting dressed.  Specialized gear had been kept sewn inside our mattresses: reinforced leather gloves, and a few pairs of stainless steel mesh gloves pilfered from the kitchen; camouflage clothing; weapons.  A potent pepper-elixir had been premixed and stored in bottles – a scent masker.  And finally, selected paperwork.

Don wasn’t my cell mate, but he “fell out of place” so I could help him dress.  The camo clothes were the first layer.  Wrist sheathes held homemade shanks.  Then came the braided rope I helped Don secure about his midriff – held in place by a back wrap. Wide, custom-tailored pockets in the camo pants held our masks, extra gloves, and other assorted items.  The last thing I added was a vitamin pack.  A few pouches would provide an after-action meal to keep me going.

Over it all were whites.  A bit baggier, but not too noticeable.  Especially with a coat on.  It was nice and cold outside.  That, too, was part of the plan.

“How do I look?” Don asked.  He was bundled up, but not too bulky.

“Looks fine; how does it feel?”  It had taken some time to coil the rope and secure it with the back brace (really just an elastic wrap that Velcro held closed).

Don patted his chest and turned.  Bent.  He went through some other motions to test mobility.  “Feels good, not too tight.”

“Make sure.  There won’t be time to fix it later.” It was an obvious statement, but both of us had been in the Army.  Redundancy could save your life.  Once dressed, all that was left…  was to hope our plans went smoothly.

“Let’s go.” Don was near the door. We’d taken nearly an hour to dress and cover some contingencies. The officer on the floor was coming around as the doors rolled.

I followed Don out after grabbing my hat – a full head-covering. A pull-on that shielded the neck, ears, and cheeks. Mike exited his cell, which was nearby, and followed us down the run.

Once again, we took our seats at the table. Talk was light. Mike assured me that he was ready, but he looked tense. All of us had our doubts and concerns. Only one task was left before we were fully committed: paying “The Fool.”

Don made his way over to another guy we all knew well. One of the ever-present crash-dummies willing to do just about anything – for a price. Don had made a deal with The Fool… to run interference for us.

Soon we would walk to chow. On the outside walkways an officer would be waiting, wand in hand. Our “Fool” was going to zig and zag and make a scene, if necessary. All to draw interest away from us – from the possibility of being called out randomly and searched.

None of that was necessary, though. Our walk was uneventful. The officer with the wand had the air of a man just waiting to go home. Not even The Fool could entice him to do extra work.

Even so, our plans were about to change.

Everyone understood that a point-of-no-return existed. So, if any significant issue arose before then, we could abort. Several weeks before, we completed a trial run, testing how smoothly we could move about – which became necessary after the mass migration from 3-building. 

In mid- to late-2009, the Administration decided to have everyone in 7-building (on B-side) and everyone in 3-building (on A-side) pack up and switch. Try to imagine it: a whole building of offenders carrying, or having property carted (if lucky), from one side of the unit to the other. 7-building was first. They packed those guys into 3-4 Gym like sardines, property and all. When it was our turn… ugh! I no doubt looked like a cross between a donkey and a camel, with the towel-linked bags draped over my shoulders, and other bags gripped in my hands as I waddled along.

Later we learned that the offenders from 7-building (all overflow with minimum custody status) had been complaining about their continued confinement on the more restrictive side of the unit. So, instead of a few moves here and there, the Administration figured “all at one time” was a good idea. 

Well… fine. Smirk if you want to. I certainly did, and worse when I got to my destination. 7-building sucked! One guy’s cell was completely wall-papered with pictures of half-naked women. Not a horrible thing, but what about the missing mirrors and broken co-axial connectors? Paint-chipped walls, mold, and trash? It was like walking into a warzone. 

The security was definitely more restrictive too. Don, Mike and I spent many hours rethinking our plans. You see, A-side had been easier to navigate. Our new home on B-side required us to exit 7-building, make a long walk, hang a left, then snake around to the Chow Hall. More security restrictions meant we were going to be subject to more random searches. But the worst part was the need to go through Central – a guard post between locking gates that divided the two sides of the unit.

Our access to Central was right outside the Chow Hall, but that was hardly the point. Once through the first gate, we’d be temporarily locked in. Officers at the desk would want to see our IDs. Walking in front of ODR (the Officer’s Dining Room) would open us up to more scrutiny.

More problems.

Thankfully, our test run was a success. Once done with chow, we immediately passed through Central. From there it was an easy walk to 3-4 Gym where church services were held. All of us had been “ready to go” then, but we decided to test security in a “live” manner instead.

The second, real time was different. If it was necessary to abort on the 29th of January, our whole plan would have been scratched. Soon, a major lockdown/shakedown would take place. Keeping all the necessary contraband – so central to the plan – in our cells was too risky. Even worse, more and more Veterans were starting to be employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. We didn’t know how they might affect/improve security. 

We didn’t want to find out.

“I think we have a problem.” Don was facing the Chow Hall entrance. From his vantage point at the table, he’d been providing a play-by-play.

Officers' movements.

Which Ranks were about.

And how other offenders were being prevented from going through Central. We knew who planned to attend Church that evening.

“You’re sure?” I asked, after eating the last spoonful of vegetables.

Many conversations swirled about us, so Don answered directly. “Four more who usually go to Church were denied. Now a Sergeant is posted over there.”

Great.

“So, we go back?” To the average person, Mike’s question would be taken as an obvious reaction. But we knew better. Mike was really asking whether we were aborting.

Which was ultimately up to Don. We had all agreed, all five of us, that Don would make those decisions. The other two members of our escape group were seated at a different table. They also lived in a different section. Whatever the decision was, they would follow our lead.

Just as we finished, and were ready to get up, Don replied, “No, we’ll play it by ear.”

Murphy’s Law: When or if anything could possibly go wrong, it probably will. You can’t really plan for such events. You either work through them or fail. We were already committed, so it was no problem to file out of the Chow Hall and walk back to 7-building. Luckily, because it was late and cold, no officers were posted to do random searches. We also learned that church services would be called out.

The wait was on.

But it didn’t take too long.

The sliding door was a familiar, but unwelcome sight. So too were the plexiglass windows, three-tiers of cells, and the tension that exists within an overcrowded dayroom. I sat at our table. Don and Mike, separately, found a secluded place to make a few adjustments. Mike’s strap had slipped a bit – the strap holding the sheathed knife to his right thigh.

Nearly a forearm in length, the iron was sharp-edged and pointy, and had a wrapped hilt. It was the largest weapon our group carried. One of Mike’s tree-trunk-like legs made a perfect resting place.

Don wanted to re-center the rope.

All of us took turns using the restroom. Back at the table, conversation was at a minimum. Mostly, we just watched TV – one of the Spanish soap operas other guys were fond of. At that moment, a woman in panties and a bra bounced across the screen.

Then they called for Church.

Once again we left the section, hopefully for the last time. In the communal walk-space we met up with the other two members. Beyond the central picket, we passed through a series of sliding doors. A line formed from the front desk; we staggered ourselves and hoped for the best.

Don’s words echoed in my mind: “If any of us get searched, the game is up.  Don’t react. Try to get back to the section and offload.” We had reached a point when Murphy’s Law would either make or break us.

4-Gym was set up to handle a full house. And it was already loud. There were rows of chairs. Instruments up front where a band would play. As we walked in, after having our names checked off a roster, we passed the computer room. A guy was in there, in low-light, working on the programming for the evening. A glowing computer screen gave him a ghostly pallor. 

The large projector screen was draped on the wall. From its stand in the center of the room, the projector flashed images – welcoming messages. Christian rock music played in the background.

Men milled about, shaking hands and patting backs. Those in my group knew many there, so we mingled. I caught the scents of cheap aftershave, and myriad types of cologne from the strips guys would rub on their clothes. I evaded one guy with dragon-breath, and watched another guy pull a radio out from under his shirt and pass it to his buddy. Finally, we found some seats on the left side of the Gym and settled down to enjoy the evening.

Polunsky Unit always offered communal services on weekends. A Spanish version on Friday, and an English one Saturday night. We had remained flexible about which to use as a launch-point. The likelihood of appearing out of place wasn’t really an issue, either, because the other two members were Mexican. Well, one was – the other was from a country like Columbia. 

Only one of the pair spoke English.

We’ll call “him” Alex (because I don’t remember his real name). Alex was from Mexico illegally, from what I understood. He killed a cop, narrowly escaping death row. As part of the planning – as a result of all the “favors” we needed – we were “told” to include him. Evidently, he had either molested or sexually assaulted a girl/woman associated with a Cartel member. Alex absolutely did not want to return to Mexico, so he killed the cop to avoid extradition. I guess he felt his chances to “live” were better in the United States.

Alex was on a short leash; he didn’t know he was expendable. 

The other non-English speaking guy was Alex’s handler. As part of a South American paramilitary group, he supposedly had the connections linked to those who wanted Alex back. Even in an escape plan there were political ramifications. 

And they wondered why I carried a shank…

Church was, by all accounts, uneventful. The visuals were nice. The music was good. Especially when the saxophone got involved. Outside groups normally came in to minister and socialize. That night was no different. In the past there had been skits and plays, even short movies as filler, but the services on January 29, 2010 were fairly standard. And they passed quickly.

Soon we were all standing – members in the crowd waiting to be let out. Outside, night had fallen. It was definitely colder. All five of us moved about together, fitting into the press of bodies – letting the mass carry us forward. I put the stainless-steel mesh gloves on, which looked like any other white gloves in low lighting. Random snippets of conversations pierced my awareness, but mostly I was focused on what we had to do. 

It was a brief conversation I had with Don that whispered in my mind.

“What are the chances we will make it?” Don had leaned over and whispered during the service.

“Good. We’ll be fine.” My response had been automatic, because I had given it a ton of thought. I was still considering it when I pulled my head gear on and exited the Gym to stand in the caged holding space. 

Which is where Murphy and his retarded Law decided to strike again.

Had I been talking to Mike – an Odinist – he would’ve told me that the spinners of fate beneath the tree of life, Yggdrasil, already knew our path. We would succeed or fail by their whim. Or he’d quote the Hávamál: “Never walk away from home ahead of your axe and sword. You can’t feel a battle in your bones or foresee a fight.”

Don would’ve been less theoretical, more direct. Perhaps severe. “Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.” Well, thank you Euripides, but wisdom could hardly dispel fear and uncertainty. 

Definitely not mine.

Fear had made it easy for me to join this endeavor. To bond with a ready-made group for some semblance of stability and protection. I was a young Buddhist practitioner back then, broken and battered. I had yet to find my way onto the middle path of controlling desires. Balancing cravings and needs to lessen suffering. My Dharmic wheel was less about purpose in life, but simply how to survive.  I was adrift on a sea of many indecisions. Trying to escape became a focus, a mission.

Before the night ended, that mission just might kill me.

We needed to best Murphy, because he was bound and determined to break us up.  Each time the officer opened the gate a random number of offenders were let out. I tried to calculate our best chances to make it out together, but it was impossible to know which offenders would go right – to 3- or 4-building. The chaos should’ve worked in our favor, until it nearly didn’t. 

When the gate opened again, I was near the front. Don made it out with me. Mike and the others weren’t so lucky. Some last-minute pushing and reordering, and officer intervention, had pushed them back. That meant Don and I would have to stall. We headed left, slowly. All of us wore wristbands that “indicated” where we lived, but we needed to move together.

Despite our marginal pace, Don and I soon reached the wall near the access-gate to the laundry. We waited with a few other guys. The line was ragged, so it was easy to maneuver until we were near the end. Once the walkway was clear, the officer near the dorm access-gate unlocked and opened it.

The men ahead of us moved automatically, filing passed the guard.

“If you’re going, come on,” the officer urged.

Don and I didn’t move.

The officer gave us a pointed look. “What are you waiting for?”

What could I say? I just shook my head and stamped my feet in an effort to warm up. The officer closed the gate in frustration. The tension rose, but luckily Mike and the others were in the next wave. They quickly fell in with us. We chatted with them to give the impression that we’d simply been waiting on friends.

A few men extended our line, prompting the officer to open the gate again. We didn’t hesitate. As we passed the guard, he said, “Make up your minds sooner next time.”

I just nodded as the cloud from his words chased us down the pathway. Behind us the gate closed and locked. There was no way out.

We had reached the point-of-no-return. 

“Hi, Mike,” some random guy said. I cringed. Mike was in several programs, which made him fairly popular. It wasn’t surprising that someone noticed him, but the timing… Murphy!

We would just have to hope that guy didn’t become too curious – thinking like: “I know Mike doesn’t live in the dorms, so why is he out there?” I gritted my teeth and glanced around.

All five of us were loosely huddled near the crash gate, a service gate between the dorms and maintenance. All chain-link with razor-wire on top, the gate could be opened from both sides; but, when not in use, a rod pinned everything in place, all secured by lock and chain. 

A quick evaluation, and Don’s furtive “test”, revealed that another change was necessary. We had hoped to be able to bend one gate enough to slip through. However, whoever had secured and locked the gates had done too good a job of it. Great. At least the guards were too lazy to actually stand their post at the gateway to the dorms. Murphy was dealing us a dirty hand, but it wasn’t a complete loss.

I marked the time, while keeping track of those who passed us. It wasn’t long before the walkways were clear. Only the perimeter remained an issue. A van was out there creeping around with its lights off. After I timed its circuit around the unit, and considered it a safe move, I said, “Climb over. Go.”

Don was first. And quick. Mike was next. A decent athlete for a big guy. I made it over easily enough, and the others followed.

“Change. Hurry.” We had time, but it was going to be close.

As partners, we aided each other to pull the white layers off, leaving them pooled near/against the fence. That done, we sprinted and knelt behind the generator. We had access to the utility road, but the perimeter fences were our goal.

First, the van needed to pass. Because my eyes were on my watch, I didn’t notice that Don had gone ahead to scout. When I glanced up, however, looking for the van, I also saw Don.

He was coming back at a jog; he wasn’t going to make it.

“Don,” I hissed, “down!”

To his credit, Don hit the deck instantly. He slammed into the mostly dirt access road and didn’t move. As the van slowly passed, I focused on the earthy smells. How the cool breeze rippled the grass. No one moved. I was hardly breathing. Maybe they saw Don, maybe not. Surely the spinners of fate knew, but they weren’t sharing their secrets. 

And Murphy was probably giggling like an idiot at our misfortune!

The van passed and didn’t stop or give any indication that it had seen us, which was good. Soon it was out of sight and we were up and running. We had about three minutes to do our best.

I fully expected the fences to do everything in their power to hinder us. All that razor-wire. Their shadowed rings of light. And all their sensors that we knew were there.

My problems began before I ever reached them, though. At the end of the short run, I hard-planted with my left foot to stop… and would’ve screamed had I been able! It was like a bolt of lightning shot through my leg, radiating out from my knee. The pain was so intense that I was momentarily paralyzed. Shocked. All I could do was watch through watery eyes as I fought back the tears.

Mike was going “straight up”, as I’d directed him to do before the pain ripped through me. Don had split right, finding a gap between the lower and upper strands of the wire. The other two were simply watching, and I couldn’t get my mouth working to get them moving. 

Then Mike looked down and growled, “Daniel, come on!”

Some sort of primal need responded to his words and the pain vanished. Everything slowed down. A sense of mental clarity forced me to move. To not think, just act. Before I knew it, I had kicked in the lower fence, leapt, then used Mike’s back like a ladder to the top. From there, I easily made it over and down.

Only to pace in frustration as I urged him to move faster.

Mike tried but got entangled in the razor-wire. Don finally crested the top, then slipped and rolled until he was dangling by where the wire snagged his pants. I reached up and yanked Don down.

He crashed to the ground, groaning, but was soon up.

All of a sudden, Mike was there, breathing hard.

The other two…? I hoped they’d finally convinced themselves to move, but I had no time to concern myself with them. Mike, Don, and I were already jumping onto the second fence but, as we grabbed it, fate reached out and pinched Murphy on the behind.

“Stop!” The warning rang out. “Get off the fence!”

Well, that wasn’t going to happen.

Climbing furiously, we formed a line abreast: first me, then Mike, with Don beyond to his right. We were close enough to offer each other assistance, if necessary. Unfortunately, the razor-wire on the second fence was strung on the inside lip. Leveraging each other up would take too long, so we did the best we could individually. The stainless-steel mesh gloves allowed me to grab the wire fully, around the barbs, and pull myself up, but it was slow work.

As if I needed more motivation, the command, “Get off the fence!” kept ringing into the night.

Then the shooting started.

We were all dark silhouettes beneath the pale glow of the perimeter lights. Even through our masks, heavy breathing formed whip-like clouds. The coughing, rapidly firing AR-15 was a distant echo and, in the still night, it sounded like popcorn in a microwave. 

Pop. Pop-pop. Pop-pop-pop.

I tried to ignore it. Keep climbing, I told myself. The top is right there! But then, to my left, I saw a flash. Peripheral awareness. It had been entirely too close. And I was too intensely focused to feel pain. I did, however, register the sensation of falling – being weightless, for a brief moment, until I slammed into the ground on my left side. I felt a tooth chip, but I was quickly back on my feet.

So was Don.

Mike was in agony, though. “Ahh, it hurts. Damn.” He was shot in the left thigh. No doubt the bullet had hit the bone. Mike wasn’t going anywhere.

“Where are your gloves?” I asked, while starting toward him. Mine had torn free when I fell. 

“Stuck in the first fence,” he hissed out, grimacing as he motioned in that direction. 

“Damn.” What a waste. With a shake of my head, I put on my reinforced leather gloves and returned to the fence with a stoic expression. Don climbed at my side. Near the top again, we were working to help each other over when a car came flying around the corner and skidded to a halt. 

The road was less than ten meters from the fence line, so the occupants quickly arrived and drew down on us. 

“Get down. Off the fence. Now. Or you’re dead!” 

And to think, the Senior Warden had always seemed like such a tolerant guy. I guess climbing the fences crossed a line...

Don and I got down.

“Now, lay on the ground. Move!”

And we did; just not as the Senior Warden directed. While he ranted and raved, I went to check on Mike. He was still in agony, holding his leg. Blood was saturating his pants where the bullet had entered. 

From a pocket, I pulled out a spare sock and then, under the baleful ravings of the pistol-wielding Senior Warden, commenced tying the sock around Mike’s upper thigh.

“I need to pull it tight. This’ll hurt. Hang on.” I made it quick. 

Mike groaned, but didn’t say anything just then. Soon I was laying beside him, though. Once there, he whispered, “It was nice knowin’ you, man.”

Yeah. There’s that, at least.

As I helped Mike, Don went to check on the other guys. The handler had got shot in the collarbone area – literally shot off the first fence. Seeing that, Alex had climbed down on his own and quit while he was ahead. Don instructed Alex on how to apply pressure to the wounded area...

Mike had taken a bullet in the thigh; Mr Handler had nearly been shot in the neck; and Don had suffered a graze.

Which left me… did I get shot?

At the end there, when I knew there was no way out, I had the time to remove my shank and throw it far away. Some sensitive items I destroyed, by swallowing them. The remaining paperwork was unimportant. Useful as a plant, though. Every critical thing had been memorized; I set myself to quickly start forgetting.

Laying on the ground beside Mike, I could feel when the adrenaline faded and the pain rushed in. The cold was soon to follow. My knee started to throb in a way that made me feel as if I had a second heartbeat. The pain was amazing, brutal, alive. So real, it nearly consumed my ability to reason.

“If any of them move,” the Senior Warden instructed his response team, “get out of the way and I’ll shoot them.”

Pure bluster. He knew we weren’t going anywhere. The blood had to be visible but, I guess, he had to save face somehow. A lieutenant helped me up, and that was about it. My left leg was worthless – it couldn’t support my weight.  To stabilize me, the lieutenant grabbed my right arm to reposition it; but he paused with a curious expression when his finger sank into the bullet hole.

“Ahh, I guess they got you,” he remarked.

In more ways than one.

Maybe I laughed then, or shed tears? I was in and out of lucidness, fighting the pain.

Supported by two officers, I slowly hopped along, passing Mike who was on the ground near the back gate of the unit. Another pair of guards were pulling at Mike’s clothing. They’d taken the sock-tourniquet off. A large pool of blood was spreading. 

“Oww,” Mike called out weakly, as they worked to pull off his pants (evidently, Mike told them about the knife), “that’s a lot of blood.”

I felt a horrible sorrow to see him suffer like that. Mike had faults, but he was a kind man. Stalwart and strong. Great at wrestling; though he had accidently hurt my knee once – and it is amazingly sad to ponder how that initial, partially torn ACL evolved into what we endured on that winter night…  

Even assisted, the walk to medical was a horrible burden. Definitely a humbling experience because I was helpless. Soon enough, I was laid out on a stretcher, yet still so cold. The chill had seeped into my bones. We were inside, finally, but the idea of warmth was a distant fantasy.

I don’t know how long I was there. My vision would fade… then return. At times someone would come to check on me. Eventually it began to hurt to breathe.

Then I went into shock. Heaving. Shaking uncontrollably. The next thing I knew was the sensation of shaking and bouncing as a vehicle accelerated. When I could see again, a female EMT was moving around, grabbing things. Catching herself as the ambulance shifted and turned. My eyes clouded until I felt a new weight – the woman straddling me… applying bandages…?

I will never know because the darkness came to claim me.

Hospitals. I have a long, love-hate history with them! The hospital in Livingston, Texas, added to that dark legacy. Especially when I was finally deposited in a bed, in a room, with an older doctor casually, and not gently, inspecting my wounds.

What did he find? Luckily, I didn’t have a “hot stomach” – that is, bleeding in the stomach – which is why they had rushed me to the hospital. Puncture wounds were in both hands, though. A ragged gash was on my chin (thanks razor-wire), and another existed on the front side of my right leg near the ankle. It looked like my skin unzipped itself. Finally, the Doc found a through-and-through (an entrance and exit) bullet hole in my right bicep.

Of course my knee subdued me, to a point. It really overrode my ability to feel pain anywhere else, so I barely blinked when the oh-so-friendly doctor stapled my chin closed. Then my leg. After applying salve to my arm, he left. Obviously to check on the others. 

In the interim, a sergeant from TDCJ came in and wanted to talk. He was an Army veteran. His goal was to build a rapport, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk. Sometimes I nodded; sometimes I shrugged. When he left, I tried to take a nap.

Maybe I did, but I “felt” the doctor return. 

Admittedly, I paid more attention to him. “You are cleared to go,” he said, a bit waspishly, “but I’m going to check you out one more time.” Which is how he finally found the second bullet hole… in my left knee.

“I’ll be damned!” the doctor oozed displeasure. He wanted to get rid of me; instead he had to coordinate with an ambulance to take me to Galveston.

The bullet is still in my left knee, like a grave marker. Death chased us that night; we were lucky. The bullet is also a grave reminder. Participating in the escape was a horrible mistake; I suffered a harsh lesson. Internal and external scars remain as mementos of that dark time.

Fears remain, as well.

I still struggle, at times, to reconcile the weight of my father brutally beating my mother, and the childhood abuse, and all of the moving that made it nearly impossible to make friends. I’ve managed to begin the quest to unravel the Gordian Knots binding me, mentally, but I recognize this will be a lifelong journey.

At least I now understand that it is possible to find grace and strength in pain. That has helped me to look outside myself to build and repair relationships that are vital. Forgiveness is powerful, but not easy.

Back in 2010, I didn’t think there was a way out. My life was a broken shell of burned bridges and self-destructive behavior. My mother even wrote to ask: “Do you have a death wish?” 

I didn’t, but there is a fine line between that and “Do you want to live?”

Another lady who is near and dear to me commented, “I see your IQ dipped for a time.” Maybe so.

None of that made me feel any better. It was about as enjoyable as travelling to Galveston, Texas, in an ambulance, then being rushed through a minor procedure. Prior to the planned operation, I asked one of the doctors if my ACL was damaged. He told me he would check when I was sedated because the leg would be fully relaxed.

It only seemed as if five minutes had passed by the time I woke up. They scoped the knee and cleaned out the excess debris inside but left the bullet alone. The doctor told me, “Yeah, your ACL is probably damaged.”

More like torn to shreds; ripped apart so thoroughly that an orthopaedic surgeon would eventually have to cut my knee open and insert a dead person’s ligament… 

But that’s a story for another day.

First, I had to go back to Polunsky Unit, where they housed me in a Death Row section for several days. I would have to endure their investigation and answer questions. Was it all a test?

All I know is that Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld – the fate spinners – got the last laugh. Fate is inexorable. Evidently, so is Murphy’s stupid Law.


Terry Daniel McDonald 01497519 (pictured with his father)
Michael Unit
2664 FM 2054
Tennessee Colony, TX 75886

2 comments:

babydragon said...

It’s been a long road for you. I am glad you have made it through. I have thought of you time to time. I hope you continue to be well.

A Friend said...

The following comment is from Daniel McDonald: Hi April. Wow. How did you find me? It is wonderful that you did. If you thought of me time to time, know that I have thought of you quite often. And I would love to be able to communicate with you more but that is up to you. If that is okay with you, then please write me, my address is listed. Have a great day. Peace, Daniel