Author Archives: ednamerle
September 7th, 2009 I went to see my parole officer. It was the standard monthly visit with the $30.00 fee, urine test and copies of last two weeks of pay stubs. This time it was different because my leg monitor came off. Wow, it’s over, I thought. The leg monitor was no longer part of my fashion statement. Excitedly, I went home and told mom the news. She was ecstatic seeing my bare ankle. I felt so free.
The next parole visit in October granted me permission to live with Jan. He had driven me to my parole appointment and we went from there to mom’s house to tell her that I had permission to move and had in fact already changed the address to Jan’s new house. Jan had previously sold his house in Stone Mountain, GA and moved to “Hooterville” to be near me so I could stay in the county of which I was supervised on parole. He came to Hooterville and found a beautiful house near “The Lake” and quickly set up house and came for me.
Mom seemed like she couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. I was actually hurt by her reaction to the permission granted me. Upon entry into her house I said, “Mom, they said I could move. I gave them the address and everything is transferred to that new address”. She said, “Well, hurry up and get out of here. Do you need me to carry anything”? I was so shocked that she wanted me gone; I barely kept the tears away until her garage door closed behind me. I cried in the car to Jan, I cried when we got to the house. My feelings were devastated. I figured that she’d lived without a boss for the last ten years and my coming home had put such a strain on her with having to drive me everywhere; work, groups, meetings, etc. that she’d just had enough of that responsibility and enough of having her ex con daughter as a roommate. I had criticized her in different areas of our living arrangement. For instance I had a hard time with every surface in her house having many objects on them. If I put my glasses down somewhere, I couldn’t find them until I searched room to room on all the surfaces for them. They were hard to find because I had to look over so much stuff. That frustrated me a lot. It was an almost every day occurrence that I couldn’t find my glasses. We figured that we needed to design a bell that would ring when we pushed a button to find my glasses. You know like they have for remote telephones. Yes, it’s a good idea but right then I needed my glasses and didn’t have the money or the logistics to work out this great new invention. Also, mom didn’t like for me to load her dishwasher. Every time I would clean the kitchen she would come after me and reload it. That also got on my nerves. I tried to understand why things bothered me so much and finally figured it was because in prison, in my cell, I had very few surfaces on which to put things. I had my bed on which nothing could go on during inspection time, which was from 8:00 until 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. I had the top of my locker which had the same time frame restrictions as the bed. I had the inside of my locker which had to also remain inspection ready until the aforementioned time. So, there were no surfaces on which any one thing could stay unless it was after hours or the weekend. As a result my personal property was limited and thus easily locatable.
When I went home I was astounded at all the stuff on every single surface in my mother’s house. There were photos on dressers, desks, walls, side tables and corner tables. There were dishes and pots and pans on the kitchen counters, as well as prescription medications in various rooms, an illegal thing in prison. There were mirrors of every shape and size on every wall in her house. And, there was dust. There was lots of dust on all this stuff. My first thought was, “Oh God, she’s going to fail inspection”! So, I had to help. I couldn’t live that way knowing that it wouldn’t have been permissible in prison. I learned later that I was overwrought with stress that I’d fail inspection and be sent back to prison. It was frustrating and hard for me to change that belief. Lots of stuff makes me feel as if I’m confused and out-of-order. So, I clean a lot when I have the time.
Now I know mom wasn’t happy to get rid of me. It was that she had just gotten me back and I was leaving again. But this time the leaving was in a good way. Mom told us later over dinner one night “Your father would have approved”. She meant of my new husband. Yes, my dad would most definitely like Jan Cordele. I know he likes him now. Well, it’s just a feeling I have.
Anyway even though Jan and I had already shared our parking lot vows claiming our 1stmarriage in the sight of God I felt it wasn’t quite enough and I wasn’t willing to risk God withdrawing from me because I wasn’t being obedient to His word and ”living in sin”. So, we decided we’d visit the Justice of the Peace. We made the date for November 6th and our second marriage was on that date with only my mother as a witness. Jan gave her a plastic steer for my dowry. That’s what mom said she wanted. She also said she’d need chickens for my sister. But she didn’t get any when 3 months later my sister remarried. Nope. Only Jan was obedient there.
For my 2nd wedding I had nothing to wear so I borrowed a black velvet shawl that went over a lacy top I’d been given by my aunt and a full length black velvet skirt. Jan bought me flowers and a corsage. They were beautiful. My shoes were a little too big and because I hadn’t walked in anything but flat shoes for over a decade I wasn’t the most graceful bride. But the skirt was a little too long so I had to wear those shoes. I was happy and terrified that I was truly getting married in a legal way. When I heard the Judge say “till death do you part”, it really hit me that this thing is forever. But that’s what I wanted. Jan and I say now “we’ll be together forever, and a day”.
So we were married that day and that night Jan took me to see Cavalia for our “Honeymoon”. It was a beautiful, strange and very sweet night for us.
The feeling of being married was different. Suddenly at fifty years of age I felt so mature and normal that I almost wanted to say ‘forget it’. I didn’t want to be changed and I didn’t want our relationship to change. But Jan made me feel so comfortable and natural that I began to relax into my new loved role of being a married woman. Wow! I still can’t believe it. I never thought I’d ever marry.
Our family and close friends were highly perturbed that we got married without them. They let us know on every possible occasion that it “just wasn’t right”. So, we decided we’d do it again on May 8th, 2010 at our home. My mother made beef tenderloin, hearts of palm salad, we had shrimp cocktail and fruits and vegetables, pork tenderloin sandwiches, beer, wines, soft drinks and music. That day I felt was truly the day we were really married. That day was my real wedding. We had a friend who performed our service and the weather was perfect. It was a magical day that I’ll never forget. So, that was our 3rdmarriage. And now you know how and why we were married 3 times.
Now we’re coming up on our anniversary and we’re planning another celebration. We figure we’d like to get married every 6 months or so. And whoever is around, well they can come.
Got to close this out for now because I got to go clean the kitchen and get the clothes in the dryer. And one of our cats is demanding to be fed again. He’s a real tub of lard. This cat is addicted to food. He’s going to have to start going to meetings or something. Guess I’ll give him the low down while I’m doing the dishes.
Married life is a soothing thing. I know where I stand now.
2 Responses to Our 3 Marriages and The Cleaning Bug (17) By Edna Merle
- Barbara says:
Me thinks the Mother was treating you as an adult, who had unfortunately missed so much as the years flew by like the falling leaves . Maybe you forgot she was much older now and perhaps so much of her existance had taken a toll on her and she too had collected “dust” as well as the house and those things just weren’t that important any more .
- ednamerle says:
Yes, I did forget she had aged. I hadn’t seen her in over 3 years during which time she endured much grief. I was selfish, I’m sorry. But so elated to be home I didn’t realize how badly she’d suffered until the last year when she shared her trials and her memories and the things she still hopes for. It hurts that I missed so much and could do nothing to help, but was a heartache on her always in the back of her mind, probably feeling undeserved guilt for my errors. God, how I wish I could undo it all! Yet still, I’m a better person today for having gone through it. And through it all she was there for me. My mother has ALWAYS been my best friend. She NEVER let me down. steadfast through hell. My mother is an Angel on Earth and God rewards her mightily for the heart she shares with everyone. To all who read this please thank God for me, for my wonderful mother.
I was exceedingly depressed when I went to prison at thirty-five years old in 1995, not only because of the diagnosis of mental illnesses I acquired but because I was facing seventeen years in prison. My life was essentially over.
But the hard shell that surrounded me surrendered to the heart of God, allowing me to finally be free from the ways of my past. I began to breathe freely like inhaling a new kind of air. I was finally learning to love myself.
So began a renewal of my mind – my life. For the first time in twenty-six years, I was a drug free.
I felt like an emotional child, excited and happy to be alive, which was new for me. The unexplained fear I’d felt all my life was gone.
The prison years rolled on and the longer I was drug free, the happier I was. Then, in August 2002, I was chosen to be part of a new program called Inmates Practicing Animal Care and Training (IMPACT) at Metro State Prison in Atlanta.
Six puppies were paired with inmates for socializing, obedience, and distraction training. These puppies were the first in a Georgia Women’s prison and would become guide dogs for the blind, if everything went right.
The other inmates and I were like one big family with six babies. We couldn’t stop smiling. We had one year with these pups and we were overjoyed.
My puppy was Joey, a blond Lab with the silkiest golden ears and velvety chocolate eyes. The tiny pads on the bottom of his paws were the softest things I’ve ever touched. I loved to put his paws on my face with my nose between the furry spaces of his toes and just breathe. I loved my puppy’s smell.
He was eight weeks old when I became Joey’s mom. Less than one month later, he weighed thirty pounds. He tilted his head when I talked to him. I knew that meant he was asking a question, even if it was only, “Huh?” I could never get enough of Joey. We were a team.
Joey was a gentle soul who played nicely and never barked unless something was wrong. I heard him bark one time. But he did snore ever so sweetly. His expressive eyes communicated exactly what he wanted or needed. He followed me everywhere, and when I hid from him his eyes lit up when he found me. I could see how much he loved me. I hugged and squeezed him and he returned my love. He knew he was loved, I made sure of that.
People said Joey was neurotic because I loved him too much. So what, I thought. He didn’t like to stand on wet grass or get dirty. When the other dogs had free play (free-dogging), he ran and played for a while and then stood on the sidewalk and watched the other dogs from afar.
He disliked cold water on his body and hated being hosed off, crying until it was over. That broke my heart, so Joey got warm baths instead, for which he was thankful.
That year it was so hot that Joey didn’t want to “work” when I put his little blue coat on signaling it was time to get to work. He would lie with his legs stretched awkwardly pretending to be sick or injured. He would run to a shady spot and throw himself down. It was important for Joey to want to work, so I had a plan. I sang to him to lift his spirits. I tried all sort of song until I the right one.
I personalized Frosty the Snowman to Joey the Snowman. He liked the word snowman. It really perked him up. His tail would wag as I sang, then he would stand and off we’d go to “work.”
Walking up and down the prison compound, I sang Joey the snowman – poo pee doo pee doo pee doo, boo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo pee doo, over and over until we were finished.
The inmates and staff thought I was nuts but I didn’t care because Joey’s tail swayed to the song, with a pep in his step, his head held high. So I knew he liked it and that’s all that mattered to me.
One evening we all took the dogs out for a walk. That was the first time I say Joey smile. He looked right at me and smiled. The sides of his mouth curled up and he showed his pretty teeth. I couldn’t believe it. I yelled, “Joey smiled.” This dog was wonderful. He would smile and wag his tail. “What a good dog,” I would tell him and hug him.
Once a week Joey went with me to Yoga class. He did movements along with me. Since I was on the floor, he thought it was playtime. He’d slowly crawl and push himself closer and closer to me with just his back legs, keeping his front paws still, so that I wouldn’t notice until he would suddenly be face to face with me. Everyone was amused by Joey’s antics even though he did disrupt the class.
I remember one day when we were leaving yoga class and were walking towards the door, Joey stopped and looked at me and said, “ORRWEEGA!” Then he stretched into the downward dog position and back to stand. It seemed that he had just said, “I love you.” I picked him up and squeezed him and said, “I love you too.” The two yoga instructors said in unison, “Awwwww.”
Joey and the other IMPACT dogs graduated a year after arriving. They were going off to professional guide dog school in Florida.
We were sad but had anticipated this day and were prepared for it.
Even as of this writing ten years later, I think of Joey and smile. He didn’t make it as a guide dog and was adopted by a loving family. I still miss him and I’ll never stop loving him. I will always be thankful for the chance I had to know him. Joey was a great dog, and my only son.
“No, God, please not that; anything but that!”
My silent plea went unanswered as my date for the evening cradled the repulsive purse on her lap and folded her arms over it as if the door was going to be pried open any moment by a swarm of terrorists intent on snatching the hideous handbag from her grasp. We were traveling at a modest 45 miles per hour down her neighborhood street in order to outrun the skateboard crew who were making screaming-faces at us.
“I think you ran over one of their skateboards,” my date said, slyly lifting one arm to insert a hand into the strange black-and-silver bag on her lap.
If she pulls out a lipstick tube I’ll just ram us headfirst into that old oak tree ahead, I told myself.
She did pull out a lipstick tube, faded fake gold over what appeared to be industrial plastic last used in the Space Shuttle, but I had already paid for our concert tickets and really didn’t think I could sell them to a friend in less than 10 seconds. The oak tree roared past.
My date slowly – oh so slowly – rolled the tube so a good amount of the apple-red substance shone brightly at its tip, somewhat resembling the magic bullet that killed JFK. She applied the color to her lips so that her pasty white skin took on that beautiful corpse-like pallor that thrills undertakers after they embalm their client. My date had powdered her face with cement, I think, with a hint of gravel tossed in for that windblown effect. Her hair glowed in the street lights, most probably from the toxic formula she had recently used to give the old follicles the look of a royal Egyptian woman unearthed in the desert after three thousand years underground as a mummy.
She wore a stunning pants outfit that subtly revealed her upper neck, and nothing more. It was the old school look circa 1947. Therein lies the rub. If this woman were only a few decades older she would look almost exactly like my Aunt Jewel, who guarded her purse constantly, even at home, where she crammed it under her bed or plunked it behind the mayonnaise jar in the fridge. Aunt Jewel wore ridiculously red lipstick that she applied every five minutes as if the act of breathing would melt it from her lips. I don’t know why but these traits had distressed me as a kid. Now I was trapped with a woman who was obviously channeling Aunt Jewel.
Edna Merle may have been in the Big House but I was in the Nut House; the real world, in other words. The inmates here are insidious and highly dangerous, and that is just the suburban crowd. Before I met and married Edna Merle I was just another prisoner of modern American life.
Here is what I thought at the time: Dating at my age is composed of equal parts of fear and revulsion layered with sheer terror, at best. When I get lucky on a date now it means I’ve been able to get out of there without having to fake a kiss. Either women over 50 dress like they are 19, to highlight their wrinkles and age lines, I think, and end up looking like they are 75, or they dress as a cadaver, just in case they have to visit the funeral parlor before the night ends. It can’t end soon enough for me.
As we parked the car and approached the outdoor concert venue, my date of the evening was droning on about her prescription drugs, the tiny red ones for her heart, the big red ones for her liver, the green-and-white for her stomach, and the gold ones for her ass; No, really, her buttocks, rear end, tushy, bum. Seems these were the only pills doing their job. She was obviously trying to turn me on by detailing her night sweats and hot flashes and urination schedule, which was set to begin at that very moment, so she needed to take one of her white pills. She scurried off to the Porta-Johnny while I contemplated dashing back to the car and driving to Asia or maybe Antarctica. Any small country would do.
But no; I instead took my place in the half-block long line to get a $7 glass of wine poured into a plastic glass from a large cardboard box. I could have filled out my 1040 long form while waiting. Instead, I listened to the two women in front of me discuss their prescription drugs: the tiny red ones for their heart, the big red ones for their liver, the green-and-white for their stomach, and the blue ones for their husbands. “He still only gets it up half way. Thank God it is only once a month,” one said. “Oh, Lord, we only do it on special high holidays,” cackled the other.
I ordered three glasses of wine when I finally got to the counter, with my date still nowhere to be seen, and downed one of them before walking away. Standing next to the kiosk selling $35 t-shirts of the group we were about to see, I downed another glass of the watery wine. I felt the slightest buzz at that point so I figured, what the hell, I chugged the other.
Just then she appeared looking white as the swirling flashes I was experiencing. “My blood sugar seems to be running low. Could you get me a glass of wine,” she asked, holding tightly to that damned purse.
“You look tired. Let me show you to our seats then I’ll come back,” I said, plotting my getaway.
After crawling over several tables replete with enough food to feed a Third World country, we arrived at our seats only to find the two women from the line, still discussing their predilection for prescriptions, on the bench next to us. I left my date to join in the chat about incontinence.
Back at the wine stall, after waiting long enough for the opening group’s four-song act to come and go, I paid $28 for four glasses of the boxed wine and downed two of them before leaving. I contemplated drinking the others as I lumbered around a middle-aged couple with day-glo hair and matching outfits that had clearly last been worn during the Carter administration. But I resisted the temptation. I did, however, treat myself to someone’s chicken wings and pickled artichokes as I scaled the tables filled with grub.
As I slid into my seat I noted that one of the women was reading from a portablePhysician’s Desk Reference book about Astrointhricane or some other commonly used pill for GI troubles. My date sat enthralled and barely acknowledged my presence. She took her glass of wine and sipped at it for the rest of the night, her purse now snuggly ensconced between her unyielding thighs. I slurped mine down as the main act was being introduced by some old geezer who said he was once a DJ on the local AM radio station. He looked like my grandfather, if he were still alive at 109.
It was hard to believe the men who took the stage had once been young, vibrant musicians who could party all night and day and still play a concert to thrill 30,000 screaming teenagers high on pot and cocaine and whatever else they could throw down their throats. The drummer had to be helped up to his high rise by two roadies. The guitarist needed another assistant to find the plug to connect into his amp. The bass player sat on a stool, evidently drooling into a bucket strategically placed by what looked like a male nurse. Only the lead singer appeared to be capable enough to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. But he was dressed in one of those half-halter tops that allowed his beer belly the freedom to flow over black stretch pants that had enough fabric to cover the amphitheater.
The band’s tepid rendition of their minor hits from the mid-70’s had the crowd roaring in delight. But that didn’t stop the tête-à-tête regarding topical creams versus emulsified ointments from raging next to me. If I had not been blocked by a pile of hummus and a container of pita chips, I would have gone back for yet more wine.
Soon the group ran out of breath or had to be hooked back up to their IV bags. They locked arms for a final bow and were whisked away, still interlocked, I believe, so they could remain standing, by a brawny group of men dressed in white t-shirts that I swear had a geriatric hospital logo on them.
I had to tear my date away from her new found friends, but not before they all exchanged phone numbers for their primary physicians, optometrists, urologist, podiatrists, neurologists and chiropractors. The wine had long ago left my system so I drove at a modest 75 miles per hour back to my date’s home, where I briefly deliberated simply throwing her out without stopping. But my gentlemanly character prevented me from such a cowardly act. I bravely walked her to her door where, purse safely held against her non-existent chest, she gave me a peck on the cheek before closing her door and fastening her deadbolt securely behind her.
I smeared the red lipstick from my cheek. For the first time that evening I felt euphoria come over me, but then I realized it was just a full bladder.
Such was my life before Edna Merle. Thank goodness she has made me feel young again without the assistance of prescription medicines. And I constantly thank her for saving me from The Dating Life.
One Response to The Dating Life (15) By Jan Cordele
- Barbara says:
This should be a reality show. Super funny.
Heartbroken the world went on without me
Distraught I was left behind
Standing alone at the gate, slammed shut
Facing fate of laying on the ground
Yet appeared softer than my lover’s eye far removed from me
I walked on a vision in the past, a memory doomed to be
And on and on they went those memories
Like rain flowing down a winding creek
The sky was crying too
No green mossy banks for me nor clear sparkling water
Dry and dusty I remained while the storm raged on
My soul felt dead, and my tears fell unchecked
I prayed out of desperation while anguish remained my only friend
A public war for all to see they watched me on the news.
They watched me sleep in bed
One who would be seen no more
By any who had cared for me
All my dreams and desires absorbed by a concrete floor.
Tiptoeing in to my cell came hope and a belief
And it settled next to me
Then climbed inside my troubled mind
And eased my soul for free
It held me aloft in a sort of supernatural suspension
Safe while everything went on around me.
Surprised with this unexpected sense of hope I smiled.
God comes to us sometimes unexpectedly
In my most difficult trial He came
And He stayed and I became a better person
4 Responses to The World Went on Without Me (14) A Poem By Edna Merle
- Barbara says:
After the walk through hell, you met God who finally set you free.
- Michael says:
Not only a better person but one with a clear mind, sound body and open heart. I love the person you are.
- ednamerle says:
I love you too.
- ednamerle says:
He will do the same for all who ask.
Prison life was infused with characters. In prison I knew a lot of violent inmates but most of them functioned normally with the regular population. One inmate I knew who lived in the predator dorm told me that after she and some friends had seen the movie Natural Born Killers they decided it would be fun to duplicate it. So they went out and terrorized some people. Then they killed them. Now they all have life sentences without parole.
It was in this building where the world renowned TV reporter Diane Sawyer came to visit. Supposedly she was going to live with the inmates for a weekend so she could share her experiences on TV. She slept in the “honor dorm,” the safest place to be in prison. That night she was presented a cake in the shape of a penis three feet long and a foot wide. Later, we watched in amazement on TV as the Deputy Warden gracefully stuck her finger into the cake and tasted the frothy icing. She said it was good. Ms. Sawyer smiled. She evidently was impressed with the creative efforts of the inmate who had made the cake. I remember staring at the TV with my mouth open, shocked, thinking “something isn’t right about this” and then laughing my ass off.
Ms. Sawyer put on the prison khaki elastic waist pants with the button-up shirt, wore her hair back in a pony tail, and slipped on the black work boots. She was an inmate. But you knew she wasn’t one of us because she walked down the middle of the walkway. There is a designated yellow line where prisoners must walk to the right of in a very narrow space about two or three feet. Not only did she insist on walking down the very middle with her entourage of camera men but she was also drinking a Coke out of what appeared to be a glass bottle. Glass is forbidden! And prisoners were most definitely not allowed to eat or drink their store-bought items outside of their housing units. It’s not even legal to carry a bag of peanuts in your pocket outside. So immediately we all thought “she can’t even walk on the right side of the road, she’d never make it through diagnostics!” Diagnostics is the initial intake housing unit of prisoners before they are classified. It is extremely strict, military like. Being classified determines the level of security the inmate will need, level of education and medical issues. All those things and more determine where an inmate will be sent to live and what type of job they may be capable of doing. Diagnostics is the worst phase of prison, the most uncomfortable and the most harassing.
We learned later that her motive for this visit was not to show the real prisoners. She focused on the characters in the violent building that could show her how to fabricate sexual devices. They were actually allowed to show her step by step how to make a dildo. She discussed relationship issues with a woman who played the man role. She wanted to know about her love for her “wife.” And Ms. Sawyer wanted to know how to make fire without matches. Her inmate friends showed her how by sticking lead and foil into the electric wall receptacles. Sex and fire sells. The deputy warden and other staff stood by watching all this happen as if they were condoning these activities that would have normally have sent anyone else to lockdown for many days. But these inmates were doing it for TV so it was OK. If the Fire Marshal had been there he probably would have shut down the building.
When we saw the actual TV documentary the majority of woman in prison were portrayed as practicing lesbians or bisexuals who only cared about their relationships in prison. And it appeared as if Ms. Sawyer was extremely interested in how the inmates illegally lit their cigarettes inside the buildings. I thought it was interesting that the warden allowed that to be exposed because when I complained about the smoke in the dorms he said, “Our buildings are smoke free.” That was funny because the nicotine was so thick in the dorms that the once stark white walls were golden-yellow and moist from people smoking inside. The smoke had nowhere to go because the windows did not open and there was very little ventilation. The TV report showed us as a wild-looking gathering outside at night on the yard with what looked like a fire in the background. I guess that was supposed to look like a campfire. The truth is no one is allowed outside at night. There is no “yard call” at night nor ever a campfire. How they created the scene to look like that amazed us all. I was embarrassed that the people I knew outside of prison would have seen that documentary and thought, “Oh, that’s what Edna Merle’s doing in there.” When the report showed on TV many of us called home to tell our families that’s not how it is in here. We do not live like that.
Two days after Ms. Sawyer left one of the “studs” she interviewed went into the library, grabbed her “wife” by the back of the head by her hair, threw her to the ground, and stomped on her face, breaking her nose. And she kept on stomping her face with her black work boots. This was no “punch in the nose”. Everyone there ran out of the library. Some locked themselves in the inmate’s bathroom. But all ran, and hid and feared the wounded girl would be dead soon and they’d be the next target. The librarian (media specialist) locked herself in her own private bathroom. The CERT (Correctional Emergency Response Team) came with their shields and suits, but waited until the perpetrator was finished before they apprehended her.
Meanwhile, blood had traversed its way 30 feet from where the incident occurred. Blood was later found inside the pages of many books and under bookshelves. The carpet in the library that day looked like it had been a ritual site for a slaughter or an execution. One lady I know that was working there at the time was so traumatized by the violence and the blood she had to clean up that she was never the same afterward. She said the blood went everywhere “like it was a vicious animal.”
This lady had suffered from serious post traumatic stress disorder. Her crime: involuntary manslaughter and kidnapping. Here’s what happened. Her ex-husband lived in her basement. She was out at the store. When she came home her boyfriend was there and told her to get the ex-husband to come upstairs. So she yelled for her ex to come up. When he did the boyfriend killed him with a baseball bat: beat him over and over in the head until he was dead.
The ex-wife was convicted of “kidnapping” for telling him to come to another part of the house and convicted of involuntary manslaughter because it was involuntary on her part. The sight of all the blood coming from her ex-husband’s body and head with the smell made an indelible mark she will never likely forget. So when she saw and smelled the blood in the library, it brought those memories back again; memories which weren’t so very far off.
I always liked her and I remember her as a very good person. She was a mother figure to many. She was short, chubby and had rosy cheeks that exuded good health. She was friendly and would always help anyone in need. You could never imagine that she would have had anything to do with the murder of her ex-husband. When she told me her story, I was speechless.
It was a horrible incident. We sent letters to Ms. Sawyer letting her know what her star stud interviewed had done with the hope that she would amend her segment. She didn’t acknowledge our letters, which had to be sent home first for our families to mail for us. Prison officials told us we could not send her letters or try to talk to her about any other part of prison life. If we did, they said, we would go to lockdown.
Soon that excitement and disappointment changed back into the regular daily grind of prison life and was forgotten. We felt dejected Ms. Sawyer had moved on without the real stories and real issues. The angst of our lives perhaps wouldn’t make a good story.
When I found the actual story report (see link below) it reaffirmed my belief that some of the truth had been omitted. And some of the events were also reported incorrectly.
Before we moved in together, Edna Merle and I spent many a longing night talking on the telephone and exchanging e-mails. There were many miles separating us physically. We were never alone, however, as we had already become tied together emotionally and spiritually. The connection was as real as if we were holding hands. I told her to be careful because she was holding my heart.
She emerged from her years behind bars with a spirit that, to me, was unbelievable. She took every restriction heaped upon her and turned it into a positive. For example, her time in prison had given her the opportunity to read 1,000 books, most of them classics, and this had expanded her mind. She told me this like she was describing a visit to the library.
Yet I still could not understand how she had survived the confinement. So I wrote her this poem:
Shake the ashes from your eyes
Blow its remnants from your nostrils
and breathe the first breath of your new life
Feel the fresh blood in your lungs, in your heart,
in your limbs, in your mind
Unfold your wings
to let the dead embers fall away.
Stretch towards the light for its plentiful strength
There is a new dawn ahead
Kick the old memories and pain aside
Stomp the cold ashes into the earth
and look towards the sky
Let the wind fill your wings and cleanse your soul
Up from the cold ashes
Her new-found freedom inspired me. Any bitterness was lacking in her being. It was if she had simply gone into another room to get a book or a snack and emerged 14 years later without a trace of sorrow. She is always looking forward. Her incredible outlook on life inspired me to write another poem:
is something to see
Flexing her muscles
her smiley muscles
Opening her eyes
her eyes to the soul
Tearing into life
like it was a Varsity chili dog
is a miracle unfolding
at the speed of light
Soaring into the stars
on her wings of love
Reaching out for another soul
like it was a Varsity FO
In one late-night e-mail she told me how much she loved these poems. And then she wrote, “Beyond any words, love is larger and more exquisitely attuned to some intangible place inside of me. … How then are words at all appropriate? There are none on this side of Heaven.”
Edna Merle was right. Words can’t begin to describe the human emotion of love. How can we define it? Why would we want to define it? It is outside of our pathetic understanding of who and what we really are. Love is not something you can turn on or off at the flick of a switch. It just is. So I had no choice but to accept the fact that Edna Merle and I were somehow destined to be together. Since we had first met all those years ago, when she was a kid of 11 and I a mature, or so I thought at the time, 17, we had been hurtling towards each other at the speed of starlight. Was it God’s plan or simply the fate of two human beings?
These questions once again had me writing a poem:
You Are Who You Are Supposed To Be
You are who you are supposed to be
You have always been who you have become
a sunshine seeker
You will become who you are meant to be
You are who you are supposed to be
We are writers undertaking a fruitless task: to somehow portray ourselves and others in words, words that cannot identify what is truly profound about our existence on this planet. But we are so dumb that we simply have to keep on trying. Edna Merle taught me that this is the only way to live.
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The rain was coming down hard and fast. A torrential storm, the streets of Atlanta were turning into lakes, rivers and streams. It was two days after the first winter snow in 1995. I turned on the car radio and focused on driving. I was tired and nervous because the weather was so bad, and I had to drive on this frightening and dangerous mission; Frightening because of the horrid weather and dangerous because I was going to get drugs.
I was glad this would be the last time I would be picking up cocaine. I wanted desperately to quit. I hated being an addict. I had hated it for a long time. I was anxious to get back to the house. We were about to go to the airport and then to the ranch in Colorado where we were going to spend several days doing the rest of the drugs and then we would quit. We thought that since we’d be away from where we knew to get it, we’d give ourselves the time to quit. Finally, the destination to the end of insanity I had wanted so badly to believe was near.
I arrived at the dealers house, got the drug and left. Heading back to the house, I had only a twenty-minute drive back to my friend’s. No big deal, I thought. I turned onto the road and continued on. The last thing I remember seeing was the turn I was supposed to make. But it was eight months later in the county jail, when I remembered I’d missed that turn.
I didn’t drive my friend’s BMW into another vehicle on purpose. I didn’t decide to single out an Escort to trash. I never saw them at all. I must have fallen asleep. I became alert, though, upon hitting the rear quarter panel of a pickup truck when my car was whirling out of control. The driver of the truck was a DUI defensive driving coach, who admitted that night to the police that he and his girlfriend had been drinking. They had just left a bar. They passed the physical sobriety roadside test. But they were not administered a breath test for alcohol. They both declined hospital treatment, but later filed claims for carpel tunnel syndrome and a tumor in a neck, for which they were split $150,000. The truck driver was permitted to take pictures of the wreck which he later enlarged and used for his DUI classes. I’m told he claimed that I was drunk and on all kinds of drugs, and portrayed me as the scum of the earth.
After hitting the truck my dual airbags exploded and the car went into a spin that I thought would never end. I was sure I’d go off the side of the road and hit a tree. In the torrential downpour I was scared to hit my brakes because I was afraid that I’d cause an accident not knowing where I was on the road. I couldn’t see anything because of the airbags and dust. The car was out of control until I collided with the Ford Escort, which didn’t have airbags. Two people died and a baby in that car was injured. I wasn’t told about the deaths or the baby for two days after the wreck.
While I was in the hospital I was kept in ICU and incommunicado; not permitted TV or a telephone. I finally convinced a nurse I needed to call my sister to bring me some dry clothes and to retrieve my still wet clothes, laying on the floor in the corner of my hospital room
I was given a phone and I called the dealer so she could come and get the drugs that were still in my wet clothes. It was she who told me people had died. I dropped the phone and screamed out “why didn’t anybody tell me!” The dealer got the drugs and left, leaving me clean clothes and taking my wet, muddy, still rain-soaked ones with the drugs inside.
From ICU I was sent to a mental institution for observation because the doctor in the hospital thought I would try to kill myself upon learning that two people had died. I had said to the doctor, not knowing how bad I was injured, “Well, am I going to live or should we end it now.” I said it in a joking fashion but he must have believed me because I was soon sent to Georgia Regional Hospital. I remained there for two weeks while I went through several evaluations, one of which included a couple where I was diagnosed with mental illness. During this time I had not yet been charged with any crime.
My friend’s attorney told him not to contact me. It would be years before we talked again. Since the night of my accident I had become isolated. My Mother had come to see me, briefly, and immediately left. My Father didn’t come, nor did my sister or brother. No one wanted anything to do with me. I was totally alone and in trouble. I was the despised one now. All those people whom I had previously thought loved me now hated me.
After I was formally charged with vehicular murder, I was then transferred to the County jail. There I was emotionally and physically abused by some of the deputies while in the holding cells. In one incident I was taken to a holding cell before a hearing. That is normally where they remove the handcuffs before they put you in a cell. In my case, I was handcuffed behind my back, slammed face first into a brick wall, then thrown into the holding cell while ten other prisoners looked on. Then the officer threw a brown paper bag, supposedly containing my lunch, on the floor near the toilet. I thought I’d tell the judge what had just occurred in the holding cells, but I thought better of it. I knew that would make it even worse for me when I had to come back. It got so bad in the holding cells that I told myself I’d rather live in jail in the housing unit for the rest of my life then to have to go to court again and endure what awaited me in the holding cells. After a while, I was treated better. But I lived in terror of what awaited me on the other side of all the doors.
While in the county jail I was notified by someone from the Atlanta Journal that they had “first-hand knowledge” that my life was in danger if and when I got out. I was damned either behind bars or out in freedom. I guess it was lucky for me that I didn’t get out.
In that county jail there are only two-person rooms. My first roommate had already been in 10 months when I arrived. I was amazed. I said “I could never do even six months in here, much less 10.” I stayed in that jail for 18 months!
The County jail was a very clean and very quiet place. The housing units were very well maintained. They had very strict rules. If you slammed the door to your cell or if your room was dirty, you went to lockdown for three days.
My first lawyer turned out to be quite the drinker. He told anybody in the bars he frequented about my case. In the stupor of his alcoholic haze he would say, “She was on everything.” That was a lie. He was fired very soon after I heard how he was compromising my “high profile” case. My case was all over the news. Even people from Costa Rica had heard about my case while on a cruise, I was told. But to have any hope of winning this case I needed an unbiased jury. With it all over the news like that how could I expect a clean slated jury?
My next attorney wasn’t much better than the first. He had been indicted for tax evasion and obstruction of justice. Yet until the night before we were to pick the jury, he’d kept that information a secret from me. He said he decided to tell me before I heard it in the courtroom. Damn, he’d already been paid over $35,000.00 and had done nothing to help me. Mom did almost all of his research and leg work, another thing I wasn’t told about until later. Thus, when the time came to fight, I had nothing going for me. I had thought I had a lot going for me. I had never had a speeding ticket or a DUI. In fact, I had a good driver’s discount on my car insurance. I had an excellent credit rating, held down a job for years, and had never been sentenced to jail before. I hoped these factors would help them see that it was just a horrible accident.
I knew I’d been a drug addict for years but didn’t believe myself to be a criminal. I had lied to myself, as all drug addicts do, that I was using drugs for “medicinal reasons.” I believed that the drugs helped me become a better person, more able to cope with day-to-day life. Surely, I thought, anyone could understand that. Besides, as far as I knew, cocaine had never been the cause of an accident before; alcohol, and other downers, yes, but never cocaine. So I was shocked to learn that I was to be charged with first degree vehicular homicide. I was facing a potential prison term of up to 15 years per charge. And I had two, plus another charge of serious bodily injury. It became shockingly clear that had cocaine not been in my system, I probably would have had adequate sleep and never had the accident at all.
I knew there was no way to fight unless I’d had enormous wealth behind me. And no one wanted to publicly be my friend then.
I felt like I was spinning in a circle, like a gerbil on a wheel. Just going round and round to exhaustion trying to build my defense from behind a huge stone wall of which very little information could ever pass through completely. Truthfulness rarely reached me there.
What did pass through was heroin. I was sent some through the mail. After a few times of doing the drug I realized I didn’t want to be sick in jail awaiting my trial going through heroin withdrawals. I’d already done that three times. It was pure hell. I was already in so much trouble, I didn’t need any more. And I certainly didn’t need to get caught doing that junk.
At night when the lights went out, prisoners would start making different animal sounds. One would bark, another meow, someone would moo. Soon it sounded like a zoo. We were the animals.
After I first laughed about the way it all sounded, I thought about how close to the truth it was. Here we were pretending to be animals, and we were. So much of life is actually pretending to be one thing when reality says you are another. After the guards would shut us up, I listened to the mothers sobbing into the night for their babies they left behind. I had no idea how painful that could be. But I was very thankful I didn’t leave any children or a husband behind. Soon, night after night, I began to pray for God to kill me.
I prayed for death because I felt disgraced and wretched. My life was not valid. All I did was cause injury and pain. I was like an infected sore festering in the eyes of my family and in society. Finally, I told someone that God didn’t hear me. They said if you want God to listen to your prayers use the name Jesus. So I went to the jail church to learn how to use the name Jesus so I could then ask God to kill me. And that was the beginning of my transformation process. I was “born again.” A supernatural healing occurred in my emotional state. Suddenly, amazingly and unreasonably, I was no longer depressed. I began devouring the word of God by reading the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, cover to cover. I read it twice while I was in the jail.
As my transformation took hold I began to draw. I didn’t know I could do that. But I would sit down to draw what I saw. It was amazing to me to be able to do this. I discovered one day, after completing numerous drawings, that my cheeks were sore. I reached up to touch my face. I found I was touching a smile. I never smiled; I never laughed. I even hated comedy, I had thought. That sounds funny as hell now, but in jail I found myself smiling often.
People in jail and prison always commented on the fact that I had few, if any, lines around my eyes. It’s because I very rarely ever smiled or laughed in my former life. And I never went out into the sun. Too much light exposes all. I didn’t want anyone to really see the vacant me.
After 18 months in that county jail I eventually agreed to a plea bargain of 35 years to serve 17 in prison. Fifteen years per death and five years for the serious injury. My lawyer said that the judge told him to tell me “If she insists on a jury trial, I will sway the jury against her, find her guilty and sentence her to 50 years to the door and her life would be over.”
I was grateful that my friend’s insurance policy paid out the $1.7 million into a trust for the little baby’s injury and the loss of her parents. Though I realize nothing can make up for the loss she’ll have to endure for as long as she lives.
In all the NA and AA meetings I’ve ever attended I learned that “the unchanged addict ends in jails, institutions, then death” every time. My order was different: institutions, death, then jail and prison. But that wasn’t my end. It was my beginning.
8 Responses to A Hard Rain (11) By Edna Merle
And so, a different life began.
- John Doe says:
Seems like you can admit you were on hard drugs, but when ever someone said you were on hard drugs you seemed to get mad at them. I have a saying” “If you’re on drugs it does not matter if your right or wrong, YOU’RE ON DRUGS.”
- ednamerle says:
That sure is true. I got mad alright. Mad because I felt weak and being attacked made me feel even weaker. So, being weak made me mad because however much I tried to help myself, I couldn’t. But, God did. And I’m forever grateful to Him for that. It’s truly a paradox how when we are in our weakest state, God comes in and makes us strong. It seems that’s when we are malleable, like clay in His hands; we want to be formed, want to be different and we are better for it no matter how painful the process.
- Jacque Litner says:
This is a great post and may be one that needs to be followed up to see what happens
A comrade e-mailed this link the other day and I will be desperately looking for your next write. Proceed on the impressive work.
- ednamerle says:
Well, there’s 14 years of stuff to condense here. I’m trying to get it out. Thank you for your encouraging comment.
- Ambrose Hardway says:
Came across your web site via yahoo the other day and absolutely find it irresistible. Continue this fantastic work.
- ednamerle says:
Thank you for your gracious comment.
- Connie Campbell Bratcher says:
Thank you for your willingness to share your story with us…what a help it can be to others! May God continue to bless you and use you for His glory.
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He’d only gone up the road to get me some coffee and him a Sunday paper. He should have been back by now. When he was late I knew then that I had messed up. God had withdrawn from me because I had lust in my heart . Then the rains came. Flooding rain so bad that sink holes were eating vehicles and families. I was terrified that I’d caused this somehow by deciding to stay the night with him at his home far away from my mother’s house. I hadn’t stayed anywhere except with mom since I came home, and I needed permission from the parole people. Permission granted I went forth into what I thought was to become Noah’s flood for the second time.
When Jan Cordele was gone more than two hours I became very worried that he was hurt somewhere. Then I figured he’d call me. I’d learned by this time that everyone carried a phone with them. Even I had one now. I found mine and called Jan only to discover it ringing under his pillow! Now, I was frantic. I went all through his house looking out every window to see if I could see him coming. I didn’t know what else to do. My mom was over 45 minutes away and wouldn’t drive in a drizzle, much less a downpour. So she couldn’t help us. What to do, I didn’t know. So, I decided to see if there was anything to eat. Food seems to be the comforter when no one’s around. Though in truth, it should always be the Lord. It would be if we’d let Him. He’s always just standing by waiting on us. I ate and I prayed. Then I prayed some more.
Finally, Jan walked in looking literally liked he’d been drowned for a long time. There was not a dry part of him, I’m sure. He looked like an angel, though, bringing me coffee. He held it out for me and I took the soaked container and set it aside while he started drying off. He walked all that way home with a giant umbrella in one hand and a Starbucks coffee in the other. Looked like that coffee and umbrella were the most important things in the world as he handed them over. He was the most important thing to me now. Poor thing, his truck had broken down.
He knew I was distraught and asked me what was wrong. I looked around at the downpour and thought about the now broken down truck, and said “really, you don’t know?”. He was very perceptive and said, “Do you think you’ve let God down?” And I said, “Yes. I’ve stayed overnight with a man I’m not married to, will most assuredly have sex soon, too, and that will disappoint God even more because now I’ll have gone against everything I said I wouldn’t do because God has been so good to me over the last 14 years, that I owe God my allegiance, my heart. And I want to give that to Him always. And I’ve seem to have suddenly transferred my loyalties to you, who I love. But you’re not God and I must love God first.” Then I started crying because I knew then that I’d lost this man who I was very much in love with because I now sounded like a religious fanatic.
To my intense joy he held me and said that it was alright because since we love each other so much, we’re already married in the eyes of God. I knew that wasn’t quite right even though I’d never been married before, I had read the Bible and I knew what I believed. A little while later, as the rain let up some, we walked back to try to get the truck.
The truck still wouldn’t start so we had to get a wrecker. Jan saw that I was still distraught over our predicament, so he went around the truck and opened my door and pulled me out into the rain, which was now a slight drizzle. He professed his love for me under the open sky. These, he said, are our vows professed in love which are Holy in the sight of God. After I’d said something like “yeah, OK, you’re my husband and I’m your wife”, the sun came out for a moment and we saw a rainbow. It was as if God really was smiling on us. And truly, suddenly, I felt my repentance was accepted and that we were forgiven now to go in peace.
There aren’t hardly any public phone booths anymore nor can you find a phone book. So, we called my brother Lester who found us a number to call. The wrecker came and my God, it was the most beautiful truck I’d ever seen. It was a huge flatbed shiny thing that was fully automatic. That truck must cost as much as a house, I thought. I asked Jan how we were ever going to afford this truck and why couldn’t we just have gotten the regular kind, you know the kind that pulls your car. This thing was for race cars and other high profile vehicles, I thought. He just laughed and said they’re all pretty much like this now. I was amazed. We rode in that magnificent vehicle to the NTW where we left Jan’s truck. Then the tow truck driver drove us home in that beautiful chariot. It was incredible. And the sun was out.
One Response to Our Flooded Bliss (10) By Edna Merle
- LadyPoetica says:
I always think of a rainbow as a sign from God that the storm has passed, and that He’s smiling down at us saying now things are going to be ok. When that rainbow appeared that day it was just for you and Jan!! It was God’s way of saying He approved
Our first marriage took place in the parking lot of a Kroger grocery store in between the soaking rain of a thunderstorm that signaled the beginning of the greatest flooding of my memory. We stood outside my broken down truck and exchanged what we later termed our parking lot vows with no witnesses other than God and the tow truck driver.
It had been hardly three weeks since Edna Merle and I had connected in love when she came, reluctantly, to spend the night with me in my big house. I say reluctantly not because she didn’t want to spend the night with me but because she had made a pact with Heaven that she would never sleep with a man who was not her husband. So I immediately proposed. She laughed and said, of course, she would marry me, yet when I suggested we marry ourselves she just shook her head. I couldn’t tell if that was a yes or a no.
On the morning after we had slept together, without having sex, I arose and drove alone to get a cup of coffee for her and a Sunday paper for me. After I had driven to the Starbucks and paid $3.95 for a regular coffee, I directed my truck to the nearby convenience store. It started to protest. First the steering got tight and then the engine started chugging. Then it just died. Having left my cell phone at home, I had no choice but to walk the two miles back home, shoving the paper under my shirt and holding fast to Edna Merle’s now cool cup of coffee.
It had begun to rain, and rain hard, by this time. There were huge pools of water on the street as I trudged, head down, into some of the hardest rain I’ve ever encountered. When I walked onto my back porch, through a lake of rainwater that was choking my walkway; I noticed rolls of towels around my back door. The water hadn’t risen that far yet.
Her eyes were wild with fear as Edna Merle waited for me just inside the door. “My truck broke down, but here’s your coffee,” I said. She leaped to hug me. “I was so worried,” she said. The rain suddenly began to come down harder than ever before.
“It’s OK,” I said. “Did you think the water was going to get in?”
“Yes. I was about to start taking your stuff upstairs,” she replied.
We both laughed as the rain came down in sheets.
She drank her coffee as I dried myself off. I didn’t know what to do except wait until the rain slacked off, which took a couple of hours. When it finally stopped, the sun came out and the steam started rising from the street. I said I was going to go back and see about the truck. Edna Merle refused to stay at the house.
We started walking. The sun was so fierce that we had to open the umbrella for some shade as we made our way the two miles to where my truck sat outside the convenience store. After several attempts to get it started, and a failed effort to jump start it with my jumper cables and a stranger’s automobile, I had the brilliant idea of trying to get it to kick start by pushing it down the little hill leading to the Kroger parking lot. It didn’t work. We finally had to call Edna Merle’s brother, Lester, to find us a nearby wrecker service to come to our rescue. The dark clouds began to move in.
Sitting there in my dead truck I looked over to see the most beautiful angel who had ever been a passenger in my vehicle. Edna Merle looked so serene in the eerie light that I knew no harm would ever come to us. It was so hot; however, that I opened my door and went around to her side of the truck, where I opened the door, leaned in and kissed my angel. I pulled her out of her seat and asked her, again, “Will you marry me?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Then let’s do it now. I’ll begin” And I spoke right from the heart, telling her that she was the one I loved and would always love, and that I would always be her friend and she mine. I promised her that I would be loyal and respectful and take care of her the best I could. I pronounced myself to be her husband now and forever.
Edna Merle looked both pleased and stunned. The rain again began to fall at that moment. It came down slowly at first, and then began to come harder and harder. But I wouldn’t let her go until she spoke. Finally, looking straight into my soul, she said simply, “You are my husband and I am your wife.” I kissed her and then pushed her back into the truck. I got back in and we sat in silence for a few minutes, just staring into each other’s eyes like puppy-love teenagers do.
The wrecker truck finally came, and Edna Merle was amazed at the difference in the new towing technology. Rather than a wench pulling the truck up, the whole bed of the truck moved down and pulled the truck onto it before going back to its original position. We got in the wrecker and hauled my truck to the repair shop. The wrecker driver took us back to my house where I had just enough cash to pay for his services. I pretended I was paying a preacher for marrying us.
That night we made sweet love. Afterwards, I fell into an exhausted sleep while a storm of epic proportions raced across the city. My bed sat under a window and Edna Merle later told me she was so scared of the thunder and lightning and heavy rain. It was coming down like crazy when I finally awoke. She reached over and grabbed me and held me with such conviction that I asked her what the matter was? She replied, “Nothing, my husband.”
Parking Lot Vows
When we exchanged our parking lot vows
The sky opened up and drenched our souls
with cleansing rain
The wind sang our wedding song
as we were learning to breathe
The tow truck driver blessed us
then drove us to our honeymoon at the NTB
where the tires held a reception
We slept at the top of the mount
in a bed so large it was too small
When we exchanged our parking lot vows
and the angels giggled
People drove past with
The clouds roared by
bowing in approval
The traffic stopped
in respect for the newlyweds
and the birds sang our song
When we exchanged our parking lot vows
The world stopped for a millisecond
and we got off to live in our own universe
6 Responses to Our First Marriage (9) By Jan Cordele
And the universe , with you in it’s presence, is in awe of your happiness.
Happiness to some comes late in life . I knew hers would.
- LadyPoetica says:
This is one of the sweetest, most genuine stories I’ve read in awhile. It’s gives me hope and it makes me realize what I want love to feel like when it finally comes along
- John Doe says:
sounds like he found a way to get laid. please excuse me for being so blunt, hopefully you want all opinions and not just the pretty ones.
- ednamerle says:
yep, he sure did!
- John Doe says:
I like you ednamerle.
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I met slick after I’d been moved into a 4 person room across the hall from her two person room. I’d just been sent back from Washington prison in Davisboro, Georgia where I’d almost decided to have sex with an officer. I’m thankful to God for changing my mind. It turned out that the officer had already been doing that with some girls on mental health and some who were known to have HIV. He was discovered and fired. I was transferred back to Atlanta. But, I believed him when he told me I’d have been the first; a small preview of my gullibility. I was so new to prison, in shock and didn’t understand the legal lines between an officer/ free world person and the prisoner. I was learning to trust God.
Slick noticed I was kind of walking crooked and my shoulders were stressed, hunched upward into my neck. I was stressed and in pain. She came over and said she could give me an adjustment. My first thought was, “Oh no, she’s gay and wants me”. I quickly told her I would love an adjustment but I am not a homosexual. She laughed so hard, I was embarrassed. Then she told me not to worry she wasn’t either. “Lie down on your bed, arms to your side and try to relax”. I did. She fixed my crooked shoulders and gave me an adjustment once a week thereafter, for years.
Slick’s former roommate had been transferred to another prison and Slick needed a roommate. She requested me, even though she prayed to God for a nonsmoker. I smoked 4 cigarettes an hour on the streets. But in prison, the smokers were playthings for the officers. They’d take you to a smoke break, watch you light your cigarette and take a drag, but before you could take the next drag, they’d scream “Put it out, don’t take another drag or you’ll go to lockdown!” So, I started smoking at the vent, in our room, on Slick’s advice. There I wasn’t harassed for my “short”, or toyed with by the guards. I could enjoy my own smoke. Right.
First, I must tell a little about Slick’s former roommate. Probably the worst case I knew personally. You know, not just by reading it, but I knew the person. Anyway, this person was married. Her husband preferred the baby’s attention over the mother’s and the mother got jealous. So the mother cooked the baby and fed it to her husband, the child’s father. .. The father asked, “Where’s the baby?”, and the mother just smiled and nodded towards the emptied dinner plate. The father became extremely violently ill and threw up and called the police. Mother was taken in and sentenced to: Not life? What’s up with that? But that’s the story and it’s horrible beyond belief, I know. So let’s just move on.
There were also people there that I believe were not guilty of the crime(s) for which they’ve been sentenced. One of those people actually became a good friend of mine, for a while. Here’s her story:
The Dancer with Handcuffs
She was an exotic dancer and had handcuffs as part of her routine. Her husband and father of her children drank a lot. One day he drove the children home while drunk. He was found by my friend passed out in the front seat of the car. She was livid with rage and handcuffed him to the steering wheel, thinking to teach him a lesson upon waking. They had a man staying in the home. Basically a stranger the father had picked up hitchhiking. The stranger ended up living with them all. Well the stranger happened upon the car with the handcuffed passed out man in the front seat and proceeded to tape up his whole head with rock and roll tape. The father then suffocated to death, and the hitchhiker went inside to ask for the keys to the handcuffs. The hitchhiker needed her to come outside, “NOW!” She went with him and approached the car and saw to her horror what the hitchhiker had done. Now the hitchhiker said, “If you don’t help me get rid of him I’ll kill you and your family.” So, she did. Then she became a party to a crime, for which she was given Life. Out of fear she did nothing but what the hitchhiker told her to do. She said later, “If only I’d called the police as soon as I had the chance”. Her kids were little when she went to prison, now they’ve since graduated from college. The hitchhiker also went to prison, but got out shortly after. He didn’t get life…
Anyway, I lived with Slick for 8 years in a two person room. She was my spiritual mentor and really lived her Christian beliefs. She taught me how to handle confrontation without running away in fear. And she taught me about reflexology and how to stay healthy in prison. Our room was a sanctuary of peace. Others would come to our room just to step inside and feel the peace of God. Truly it was a place where the Holy Spirit lived too.
Slick killed a man in cold blood for money because the man was molesting his adopted young daughter. Slick had been molested by her own grandfather when she was very small. So when the girl’s mother asked Slick to do it, she didn’t have to think too hard to justify it. She went to a lake and drank some beer with the man, then said she was going to get more beer. She came back and shot him. She freaked out and saw her grandfather in her mind and she just kept on shooting. She froze and emptied the gun. She got away for 3 years. But when the mastermind wouldn’t pay up, Slick went to collect and the mastermind called the police and said Slick was trying to extort money from her. So, Slick said, “I have a story to tell you.” And she did. Slick got life and the mastermind got 3 years. Slick is now in her 18th year of prison and regrets every day the taking of a life. She tells anyone who asks about her crime, that she was wrong and deserves prison. That was why she had to tell the truth. Being free then, wasn’t freedom at all. It was torture. Slick was the best roommate I had during my whole incarceration.