An Inmate’s Prayer!
WARNING: The following is a fictitious scenario depicting what happens, when you combine crime with religious ideology. As with similar editorials, any resemblance to any person dead or alive, is purely coincidental.
Dear God, as I sit in this cell, surrounded by the sights and sounds of prison, my thoughts drift back to a different time and era. A time when people were more caring and less cynical. A time when you could compliment a woman without getting sued for sexual harassment. A time when I was 21, and didn’t know the meaning of freedom, until I found myself behind bars. Hey God, in no way am I blaming anyone for the crime I committed. I mean nobody put a gun to my head, and said ‘Boney Vee, you’ve got to show the world how tough you are’. No sir, I thought I had the balls to handle anybody, who got in my way, even the police.
So, I decided to go along with my “boys,” when they robbed the rich man, who lives in the house overlooking the lake. Man, we thought we were really doing something. Looking at all that money; $950.00, made us feel rich, like we had won the lottery. We felt invincible, which is why we told our friends, we were the men the cops were looking for. And you know what happened next, don’t you God? That’s right, my main skillet, a loud mouth hell-raiser I took a bullet for, sold me out to the popo.
Six months later we were sentenced to 32 years in prison. Thirty-two years! Man, I couldn’t believe it! To further deflate my ego, my grandfather had the nerve to taunt me with that worn-out phrase, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.” As if I hadn’t heard that all my life. But did I listen? Hell no. But God, I wish I had listened to somebody.
I wished I listened to my mom, when she told me to stop running around with those good for nothing ”Rainey boys,” and stop stealing the tag from my neighbor’s car. And why did I steal a car tag, even though I was too young to drive? Because I was a badass, and the neighbor was a douche bag, who hated wild, disruptive hellions, like myself. Poor Mr. Juggernaut, he probably thinks about me, whenever he pulls into a gas station. Now, that’s really jacked up!
Hey as strange as it sounds, I wish I had listened to my father, who my mom called whenever I got out of control, and threatened to hit her, which was nearly every day. Man, my daddy was like the Incredible Hulk. He was big, brash and the Everyday Man’s Nightmare.
When he talked, he got this weird look in his eyes, like he was envisioning himself as some solitary representative of decency. Usually, he threatened me with a beating, which was more funny than frightening. I mean, this man left my mom as soon as he found out she was pregnant. A man who provided no financial provisions for his children and referred to me as a “good-for-nothing bastard destined for prison”. Yep, there he stood; my father, my biological benefactor, and before he could say anything. I cautioned him with the warning, the next time he raised his hand, “blood will flow.” In reminiscing about my youth, I admit daddy had his faults; however, 90 percent of the things he said about me was true. Hear that dad?
Fast forward to 2017: After being in prison for 26 years, and trying desperately to maintain my sanity, I thought of a way I could help all the young cockroaches who’re thinking about committing a crime. It’s a little proposition I call An Inmate’s Prayer. And it goes like this:
Dear God, give me the wisdom to realize that we all have choices. That means if you commit a crime, you will get caught. Maybe not today, maybe not even ten years from now, but sooner or later, you will find yourself in handcuffs. And when you’re caught dont blame anyone else. Because when all is said, you are responsible for your actions. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow, but I know you can take it like the brainy specimens I know you are.
And speaking of wisdom. Help me to realize, that regardless of our inmate status, we must respect each other. That means no fighting, no bullying, no hating or any coercion, that may endanger someone’s life. Just because we’re behind bars, it doesn’t mean we have to violate each other. Let’s show the world, we can maintain civility, even in jail and/or prison. Are you with me?
Dear God while I’m here, give me the strength and perseverance to serve out the rest of my sentence. And no matter how bad I feel, let me realize that despite my circumstances, there is someone, somewhere, who is worse off than I am. For instance, to those serving a life sentence, you may think there is nothing worse. But you’re wrong! As dismal as it sounds, would you trade your life sentence with someone who’s been told, they have less than two months to live? I don’t know about you, but I would not.
Lastly, Dear God, when I return to the “real world,” don’t let society judge me, because I’ve been locked up for 32 years. Let everyone I come in contact with, realize, that I’ve paid for my mistakes, and therefore should be given the opportunity to live my life, without criticism or accusations, from those who feel they’re in a position to judge me. Let them realize that no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes.
Now God, after talking with you, I know everything will be fine. For as I walk through the Ravine of Doubt and Uncertainty, you embrace me with the rapture of your boundless love. Amen!
Staff Writer; Peggy S. Butler