A couple of friends from Ft. Polk were also in building B-6 with me. Devin who used to live in Jane’s trailer and Chris Holmes. We were all living in the same bay. Our relationship was different now, especially since I testified against Chris. It wasn’t the same as with Captain Tessler who gave me “I wish you were dead” smirks every time I ran into him. They were civil to me but it was pretty superficial. It seemed as if there were no hard feelings but it wasn’t the same as when we were all partying together. It was just down to small meaningless conversations, and a little reminiscing of the good old days. So, I made a new friend.
Wally was a pretty interesting guy. We interacted quite a bit at the NA meetings, where he was pretty active. I really got to know him well once I made it to Minimum custody. He not only came from a wealthy family but he also had a settlement from a motor cycle accident and another settlement from a childhood eyelid surgery. He had tons of money. Because of the eyelid procedure, he slept with his eyes open. It was pretty creepy. The only way you could tell he was asleep was when you tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t respond. Another thing I remember about Wally was his hair. He kept it pretty long on top but because he was black, it didn’t look as long as it actually was. Because of the length he had little mini dreads in the front. They were unauthorized but just like my long bangs, we were able to camouflage them. I had to use gel, his just blended in.
In the Army, Wally had been stationed in Holland. He lived on a house boat in the canals of Amsterdam which is where his wife and daughter still were. He was convicted of manufacturing LSD and was serving a sentence a little longer than me but I don’t remember how long. The coolest thing about Wally was that he liked the same music as me and he let me use his stereo to listen to his tapes and CD’s. Since I worked shift work, there were times that I could use it when he was at work. Back in the Castle we only had the choice to plug our headphones into the three wall jacks. I was always afraid of plugging into the wrong jack and getting brain damage from exposure to country music.
It was awesome to hear the exact bands I loved. Bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure, New Order, The Smiths, etc. Listening to them took me to places outside of the DB. If I closed my eyes, I could escape these walls. The music transported me to the places that I remember hearing these songs. It killed the maddening noise of prison, the talking, arguing, bravado, testosterone, it all went away. For a moment, I was free, even if it was an illusion.
Another taste of freedom came when I randomly received my W-2 from 1989. It stated that I only made $3200 for the entire year. This meant that if I filed, I should get most of my taxes back. So, I put in a request for a 1989 1040EZ. After filing, I received a refund of $340. It was deposited into my PDF account. Originally I was going to buy a stereo, but I decided to save most of the money for when I got out. If I didn’t make parole my release was scheduled for about two more years. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was better than nothing.
When I told my parents what I was planning to do with the money and that I decided not to buy the stereo, they decided to send me one. This was pretty awesome because I was no longer limited to just borrowing Wally’s when he was at work. I could listen to the radio which was fine, or I could raid Wally’s CD collection. The guards were a little more relaxed about personal property in Minimum Custody. In the castle, you couldn’t even have a magazine with someone else’s registration number on it or you would have a D&A Board. Maybe they thought that sharing music kept us pacified and I was cool with that.
Having enjoyed listening to Wally’s music, I really wanted to have my own music. I remembered that Dee used to record a radio broadcast from Club 6400 in Houston. Each Saturday night the night club would air all the most popular music for about two hours. She had tons of those shows on cassette tape. I called her and asked her if she could send me copies of them and that I would pay her for the tapes. Of course she said that it was no problem and that she would get right on it.
In that same phone call, Dee informed me that she had become a Christian. It sounded like Sid did as well. In a million years I would have never expected that from them. I professed to be a Christian, so I knew how important this decision was in the grand scheme of life. It was exciting and I was so glad for them.
However, my own spiritual walk with God was not strong. Trips to the Chapel did nothing for me. My recent attempt to read through the Bible from cover to cover, left me empty. A lot of it was boring and I didn’t really get much out of it. Mostly it seemed as if I still was distant from God and only called on Him when I needed something. The focus was on myself a majority of the time which made my relationship with God like playing with a yo-yo. Knowing that I was attached to His hand, made it easy for me to stay distant. When I was down, I would be drawn back up to Him. When I was up, I would immediately be pulled back down by the gravity of my own flesh. In my head I thought I understood what a relationship with God was and meant but it did not reflect in my heart.
Unfortunately I had nothing to do with my friends becoming Christians. As I reflect on that knowledge now, sometimes I struggle with the thought of knowing that the last interaction I have had with some people was selling them drugs. Their memory of me is always going to be of my former self. Some of the people I used to hang around have passed away and I will never know if they made the decision to walk with Jesus in their heart. This would bring more freedom than music, money or the opening of prison gates.
Although I may be burdened with regrets of the past, I still have hope for the future.