Last Time Inside The Walls
Before I could leave the Fort Leavenworth, I had to attend an out-processing briefing. A trip back inside the walled fortress was necessary for this to happen. Since it was a prerequisite for my upcoming release, I left the LPU and headed back to the Disciplinary Barracks.
There was a protocol for walking to the DB. As soon as I left, an LPU guard would call the South Gate tower and notify them that a Trustee was headed their way. I had to make it there within an allotted time period. If I didn’t, a literal Army of soldiers would be dispatched to search and detain. This always kept a sense of urgency in my steps.
The briefing was being held in the education center. Ironically these were the same classrooms in which I had to take day classes upon first arriving. There were quite a few inmates in the room, most were wearing the brown uniform of Medium and Minimum custody. I might have been the only one wearing the LPU blue. An Army NCO was giving the briefing, telling us everything we needed to know.
We would receive a small sum of money totaling twenty-five dollars, which was probably for a couple of meals. We would also receive some money to travel home in the cheapest mode of transportation. Most of the guys here would be receiving a bus ticket home. Fortunately, my family would be coming to pick me up and so they were going to give me seventy-two dollars for gas. Being careful not to spend all of my tax return from 1989, I still had about three hundred dollars saved in my Prisoner Deposit Fund. So, I was leaving with enough to get me started.
The Sergeant gave us a lot of information but most of it we knew already. Some inmates were being released at the end of their sentence and others like myself were leaving on parole. Knowing that some of these guys were going to be completely free made me wonder if I had made a mistake. My desire to get the heck out of here was stronger though. He also talked about the fact that sometimes he saw some parolees right back in the DB after they violated their parole conditions. This would not be me.
There was nothing that was worth risking ever coming back inside these walls. At the end of the briefing, we were all handed a copy of our military service and prison records as well as our medical records. Inside the packet was also a set of military orders to be transported to my parents’ house. Because my discharge had not been finalized yet, I was still considered to be in the Army.
After the briefing, I headed out of the Education Center and walked slowly through the courtyard. This would be the last time I would ever step foot inside this place. Straight across from the building was Building B-6, where I spent about a third of my confinement. I just kept on walking.
Turning to the right and heading back toward South Gate, I faced the massive structure of the Castle. My time inside this place was not pleasant and I never wanted to go inside of there again. Thank God I wouldn’t have to. I’ve said this before, but the darkness that emanated from this building could be felt from the outside. More than a hundred years of inmates’ sorrow, pain and loss of life as they knew it, were locked up inside that building.
The sooner I could get outside of the walls that enclosed all of these places the better. With a quick step, I passed through the courtyard and made it to South Gate. They notified the LPU that I was headed back, as a soldier opened the door at the bottom of the guard tower. Stepping through that door one final time, I felt lighter as the weight of the DB was locked up in the walls behind me.