Saying Goodbye, Again

By Mike Powers 

I’m sure all of you have seen those classic prison movies with that classic prison character - the old man who has been locked up for decades and has turned into a crochety old lone wolf that doesn’t want to form a friendship with anyone because he’s had to leave them all behind sooner or later. Well, folks, that ain’t me. I have been blessed all my life with the ability to make friends, and many of my friendships are of a quality that some people search a lifetime for and may still never find one. I didn’t “check that at the door”, either, as the prison lingo goes. I’m just not the loner type. Seems to me life is much sweeter with friends to share it. 

That said, there is a certain time that I sort of envy the lone wolf, and that is when it comes time to say goodbye. It’s an unfortunate part of prison life that it provides ample opportunity for meeting new people and building new friendships, but the cost of that is the certainty that most of the people around you will, sooner or later, disappear. 

I guess this time, just like last year when I left the Stevenson Unit, it will be me doing the disappearing. Any day now, I will be leaving for the Hightower Unit to take whatever program they want me to take, and all of the good people who have become my friends here will be left behind. 

Interestingly, one of the surest friends I’ve had on this unit was my cellie, Chris. We both came from the Stevenson Unit together, and when we arrived here, they put us in the same cell. Here we’ve been since August 1 of last year, and we’ve never had any problems. I wouldn’t call him my best friend here, but you’d certainly have to allow that since we lived in the same bathroom together this whole year, he was certainly one of my most important friends, and it has turned out wonderfully. Let me tell you, a cellie can make or break you in this environment. Spending a big chunk of the day trying to live with someone you’d like to throttle can make your life miserable. On the other hand, having a cellie like Chris made it easy. We’d always share the space, and if either of us needed any privacy, the other would give it. He was an artist and would draw greeting cards, while I was the dictionary and encyclopedia for him. (Not that you’d tell it from all of my typos!) When you’ve had a good run like that, it’s hard to hope that anyone better will be the “next guy”. 

Another good pal I’ve made on this farm is Shane. This brother is a card. Out in the world, he is an avidly-sought welder who pulls down a couple hundred thousand a year. Sadly, that kind of money can buy a lot of meth, but not enough, so my buddy learned to cook it, too. That, boys and girls, will land you in the Texas penitentiary. Make no mistake about it. Shane goes bald, like I do, but unlike me, he’s gone in for the mountain man beard. Hard as he tries, he’s always just one step behind me on the chess board, which is really sad, because I suck. That makes the emotional necessity of my playing him all the more valuable.

There’s some you know you’ll hang out with when you get out of this place, and if he can stay away from the ice, this guy will be one of them. 

Another buddy of mine here is Bobby. Bobby is a Roma-a gypsy, and the only one I’ve known, and a more friendly fellow you will never meet. If the world was caving in, I think Bobby could find the silver lining in the clouds and make you feel better about it. I’ve never seen him angry one time. In this environment, that’s saying something, believe you me. 

Then there’s Mr. Knoodle. No, that’s not Mr. “Noodle.” That’s Mr. “Kuh-noodle.” He’s another one of those fellows where you smack your head and go, “How did THIS guy get locked up?” He’s been a good friend, and he has many talents. Besides operating the digital soundboard at church, he has studied Biblical Greek now for several years and facilitates a class in the chapel to help others learn it, too. It’s nice to have someone whom you know sees eye to eye with you on many things, and I’ve enjoyed our conversations many times, even if he is totally misguided in his anti-Calvinism rantings. Nevertheless, he’s one that this “dictionary” goes to for quick spelling checks. That’s phantasmagoric. 

I’ve had to part ways with a couple of friends, too, even before leaving. There was Aaron, who made me feel so welcome when I first got here, “lacing me up” on the way things went on this paradise unit, even when I couldn’t believe what I was hearing or seeing. Over time, though, that temper that kept him in trouble out there would get to him in here, too, and especially after I saw him take his shirt off and go after a guy IN THE CHAPEL, I put some distance between us. Life’s hard enough without letting an anger monster get you in a wreck. And then there was Bill. Old Bill had a fantastic sense of humor, and, sadly, one of the most perverted minds I’ve ever encountered. As hilarious as he could be one moment, he could be gutter-disgusting the next in the blink of an eye, and there came a time I just couldn’t listen to it anymore. It’s been a lesson of prison life for me that I don’t have to be a sponge to every toxic spill I come across. 

I’m going to miss Adrain (not Adrian, A-D-R-A-I-N, and don’t think I didn’t give him the business about that) and his amazing gift of service to the people of God, and his sidekick, Lane who gave the best Toastmaster speeches. 

I don’t know what all this nine months or so at Hightower holds in store, but I bet there will be some new folks there that just might be some of my new, bestus friends.

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez