I remember walking into that pod in prison. My first day I was so scared and felt so alone. The faces, the smell, the ugly hard concrete columns and floors. But then I was approached by a man with a bright smile and in his hand he had a cup of coffee. He spoke and said, you thirsty? I felt like I could take a breath.
That was the beginning of what I thought would be a solid friendship. We played cards, ate together, laughed together. Time passed and we became like brothers.
One day, I was coming back from kitchen duty and my coffee buddy, my only friend in prison, approaches me. But he doesn’t look the same. He’s very upset and says he needs to talk to me right now in his cell room.
He pushed me up the stairs with his aggressive tone and crossed arms. I went up the cold hard stairs, even though my heart rate was feeling like it was going to bust out of my chest, my palms were sweating, and I felt like I was in a trance. The next thing I knew, I was ushered into his room by him.
Before I know it, he says, You know, we have been hanging out a lot and I’ve been helping you, so you’re either going to suck my dick or let me fuck you.
I could see the anger and seriousness in him. I wanted to run but I fell into fight mode and grabbed the closest thing to protect myself, which was his lamp plugged in the wall. As soon as I pulled it from the wall, I hear footsteps and keys jangling towards the cell. The next you know, the door is flung open, there are three guards yelling and screaming and putting us in handcuffs.
The shame I felt being handcuffed and escorted out of the pod was unbearable. I felt like such a fool but for some reason, I kept blaming myself.
I was taken to the captain’s office, where I thought I was going to give a statement. It turned into an interrogation session. I was blamed and told I had brought this on myself.
After 30 minutes of the blame game, a female officer walked in who believed me about the threats. The next thing I know, her and the captain are talking in the hallway. They come back in and he says, You’re being moved to a segregation pod, but we’re not filing charges on him. I felt so outraged that I was being moved and there were no consequences for his actions.
Close relationships are a dime a dozen in the real world, but in prison, predators are a dime a dozen. I was looking for just one close friend out of thousands of men in that dark place we call prison.
Painting by Gwynne Duncan