Tim Tucker

To this day I still don't know why I did the things I've done. People ask me about it but my lips are sealed. Except here in the confines of my prison cell. Here I am not silent. Here I spend my waking hours crying.

There were times when I felt dread, shame, impossible longing. Now all I feel is an aching hollowness, a cruel sense of respite for the outside world. I used to lie awake at night, drenched in sweat from the stifling heat and wish there was still a death penalty in this state. A short walk down a dim corridor, a gurney fitted with restraints, a slip of the syringe into the vein and it's goodbye world. Those dark impulses gradually changed to a begrudging acceptance and from then on I spent my nights in the dreamless sleep of the condemned.

I remember my first day here like it was yesterday. It was a mild Autumn day when the Blue Bird prison bus arrived at my new home. Shackled in chains, we were led from the bus by CO's wielding shotguns and apathetic glares. In our white prison uniforms we looked like lambs being led to the slaughterhouse.

Back then if you would've asked me I would've said that I was the toughest motherfucker to walk through those gates. By the age of twenty I had a RAP sheet a mile wide: robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy, breaking a dudes jaw and breaking his woman's fingers.

Back then couldn't no one tell me a motherfucking thing.

When I walked through those gates though, ready to serve my life sentence, I quickly realized that I was a small fish in an ocean of hard nosed and low life niggas who was doing this shit before I was even born. My celly was one of those low lifes, a stocky, bearded nigga named Dre who was serving time for murdering his girlfriend and her lover. Before prison he was a warehouse laborer, offering nothing but the sweat off of his back in exchange for providing for the woman he loved. One night he came home early from work and caught her in bed with another man. In a fit of rage he ended up shooting both of them in the head and lighting their bodies on fire.

All in the name of love.

Dre kept me safe from the prowling eyes of some of the more hardened convicts. In prison shit was different, it was anything goes. When you packed a bunch of miserable motherfuckers in one place who haven't seen a woman in years the next best thing was the fresh, young prisoners. Tender meat just ripe for the taking. I used to think that Dre was different, that he was just looking out for a young nigga. I should've known that everything had a price.

At first he didn't ask for much in return; give up half of my meal during lunch, make sure his half of the cell was nice and clean. But when you give someone an inch they will always take a mile and soon I found myself washing his drawers and socks and sucking his dick whenever his dick got hard. I didn't mind it. How could I when the alternative was getting gang raped in the shower?

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

Before I knew it I had become Dre's 'kid.' He would parade me around the cell block, my hand firmly attached to the back of his shirt. The other inmates kept their distance but some tried to barter with contraband. The totality of my being, reduced to a pack of cigarettes and jug of hooch.

Dre wouldn't trade though. Not ever. I was too valuable to him, and he was always gentle though I hated every second we were together.

There were times when I thought about taking the easy way out but there was no solace in that, just a toe tag and grave plot behind the prison. They wouldn't even put your name on the wooden cross, just your number, because that's all you are in here. I would have to just grit my teeth and survive.

Time was a plodding yet unstoppable juggernaut and in its wake was change. Dre had been killed during a scuffle with another inmate, stabbed right through the neck with a shank. I was moved to Protective Custody, or "Punk City," as they called it to live out the rest of my days with the other cowards. The cell here is smaller, no window to the outside world and I'm on lockdown twenty three out of twenty four hours of the day.

But I don't mind.

I've been in this motherfucker over ten years and I know I'm never hitting the streets again. My fate is sealed but I'm gucci. People used to ask me why I did the things I've done, and my only regret is not telling them the truth.

I'm a piece of shit.