THE DEADLIEST DAY OF MY LIFE… Final Part !!!
We met up in person. When I had been out of my shop I had often stayed over at Woody’s apartment for the whole weekend. Parties, swimming, cooking out – hanging out, etc.
What I hadn’t realized was that the Feds were also tapping his phone and I had often forwarded my phone right into his apartment phone.
On a totally separate case, some of Woody’s wild friends were fairly big time dope dealers.
I didn’t do dope so I didn’t really care what other people did. I figured Woody was dabbling
in it because people used to call him up asking if he had any golf balls.
I asked him, “How come you sell
so many people golf balls?” One time he told me ‘go figure Hendrixson… a golf ball is white and weighs one ounce’. Either that or since we both moved here from Arkansas – his other name for his golf ball business was mom’s homemade apple pies. Yeah right, he was selling apple pies.
Well his pie and golfball business had also landed him in the same slammer four days after I had toured it.
His happened on my Father’s birthday. That was the worse thing for me.
It killed me, in fact. It was almost like a sign that my beloved Father was standing there in front of us with his very military arms crossed and shaking his head in disgust.
After I got arrested, Woody came and got me every day and would always pat me on the shoulder in the car and tell me ‘its gonna be alright Hendrixson’ we’ll get you through this – we always do.
He was my security blanket after my Dad died. I believed him. Now he was also arrested and facing Federal prison! When he was released from the Federal building on his own case where there was a sting of 35 people arrested on these drug dealing charges I was there to comfort him.
Now it was the two of us as always in a mess together.
Since he was number 35 on the case he had, his chances did seem more hopeful than me being the only one they would be looking at.
Soon I had to begin making the appearances in the Federal courtroom. I forget the judge’s name, I was in such shock the whole time in there.
Needless to say, with each time I entered the Federal building thereafter I felt worse and worse.
There was a snake of a guy who did something called a ‘pre sentencing investigation’ on me.
I had never been arrested in my life. I was a good person with depression problems and I obviously
had made some very bad choices. Now this! I remember the day when leaned over across the corner of his
desk and he said to me…. ‘YOU my friend, are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
Wow! I thought, he is so wrong. I’m really a nice person and this isn’t really that big of a deal for
him to think I was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I was still very innocent.
I began attending the hearings with these so called buddy lawyers of mine.
Supposedly they knew so and so somebody in high places and that person was going to do something
about all of this to make it go away. At first they said I had like four charges of counterfeiting citizenship
documents or something like that. My lawyers said they were going to throw it in the prosecutor’s
face and let them know that the word counterfeit only referred to money not to documents.
I was so proud of them that they had caught that very important loophole. But when we went back to prison after them asking for a dismissal the Feds came back with another story.
This time I was charged with creating 120 fraudulent birth certificates and 555 possess with intent to sell illegal social security cards. And everything carried a potential sentence of 5 years each.
Suddenly I no longer had any faith in my lawyers. I was calling Woody from the pay phone in the
Federal Building freaking out because he wasn’t there with me.
He wasn’t worried about it, he said, ‘just keep telling them you’re innocent, innocent, innocent’ was his advice.
He never went to court with me. I was scared to death.
So as I sat there each time I had another hearing, I began to notice a pattern of the other people who were further advanced in the process than I was.
Every single one of them was found guilty by pleading guilty.
Not one had a jury trial because they like me were told if they wasted the government’s money they
could be stuck with their entire charges and multiple sentences. And I then noticed that every single one of
them was sentenced to prison. Not one received probation. Seemed that probation was a thing for the
state charges but not for Federal.
So sure enough, my lawyers brought me into a room with pre-sentence investigation guy and another guy – I’ll never forget – Mr. Shaw. Mr. Shaw was a big guy who had this little meeting with me and asked me about where I would like to try to be sent ‘if’ I was sentenced to prison.
Of course I just knew I would never be sentenced to prison for something this non violent, just a few bad choices which they surely knew I was sorry for by now and would never do again – ever. This was a huge enough wide awake wakeup call for me.
The day of my sentencing Woody did make it down there. So did miraculously enough my mother and the family I lived with before and after prison.
I realized that with all that potential for hundreds of years in prison they gave me no choice but to say ‘nobody had anything to do with my pleading guilty but I plead guilty anyway’ – the deal they finally offered me to stop the mountainous charges from getting huger was for me to shut up and admit I did it.
Hell they did catch me red handed so there was no need to tell them ‘I’m innocent’ till they gave me a thousand years in prison. I just wanted it to be over and get on with it. They told me if I pleaded (like all the other fools before me) It would only be for one charge of up to 5 years maximum.
It sounded a whole lot better than centuries behind bars.
I stood up with my lawyers and said the fateful words. I plead guilty blah blah blah.
The judge said whatever he said and hit the gavel down. All I heard was something about three years.
Out of a possible five – it sounded okay. My mother jumped up and screamed out ‘three years probation!’ –
my lawyers turned around and told her. He didn’t say anything about probation.
He said prison time to be served. Whoa! That was a whole new scenario…. Now it made sense to me – why Mr. Snake in the grass pre sentence investigator and Mr. Shaw had taken me into the little room asking me about where I would ‘like to go’ if found guilty.
It was because the whole thing was a pre-arranged set up deal. I was doomed from the start. I just didn’t realize it. Now I was ushered off to Mr. Shaw’s office again – this time feeling like I had just been shot with some deadly disease and had it to bear all alone.
Now Woody and my mother and my girlfriend just stood there looking at me with a blank look on their faces. I had really done it this time I felt like saying. And where were all the guys who assured me if I got caught they were going to save my butt.
I was sentenced to serve three years in prison out of a possible five year sentence.
My best friend and sidekick Woody Yates took me over there. I remembered them leaving me in the intake lobby area long enough I thought about leaving back out to the world.
They had trusted me on my own recognizance to turn myself in. I was nervous of course but had no idea of what would lay ahead – not even one second of it. Soon a guard came out.
She was a small Hispanic woman and she motioned for me to come through the heavy steel door
she had another guard buzz open. It rolled open clanking as it went and as fast as it slammed open it
began to close. I hugged Woody and I walked into the ‘box between the two doors’.
I turned to see a very sad looking Woody just standing there looking at me. I was so taken by the whole experience I didn’t really have any feelings about it.
I was just trying to get on with whatever would be the first step towards my release someday not really
realizing when that may ever be. I realized I knew nothing about this experience because only someone
who was going through it could ever know how it feels.
It was like dying or something very lonely and alone in a unique experience that others around
me could see me going through it but I was the one who had to go through with it –
by myself and no turning back.
Shortly after my arrival onto the unit I remembered the single Christmas ornaments every fifty feet or so hanging from the bleak ceiling. I thought to myself ‘I guess they even have a sort of Christmas in prison.’
The elevator I came up on let me out close to a center area with a table and chairs around it.
Women were welcoming back others who had been gone on a Christmas holiday furlough.
I thought to myself as I saw them, ‘welcoming someone back to prison is sick.’ It was December 27, 1982, while sitting in the guard’s office waiting to be processed I heard a guitar playing and a beautiful voice singing.
I asked her, who is that? The guard, Becky said, ‘its Sister Marie, the nun.” I thought damn, if they’re
sending nuns to prison, no wonder I’m here.
I learned to play games, lie, cheat, fight and to fight back, and most importantly I learned how to become respected and left alone….through fear and emulating psychotic behavior.
It was a whole lot better than what they had been putting me through.
But once I mastered it – that violence and striking fear into the hearts of those who may prey on you…
I could not change back to my old innocent self. I learned what we call now how to ‘rock and roll’ prison style. Prison became the place no one feared being sent to by society because we were already there –
we were out of society’s sight and mind. We were the forgotten ones – the ones who society thinks will never return.
In one aspect – we were free of society – not free in society. The guards were actually jealous of us – we did nothing but waste day after day doing nothing constructive or rehabilitative.
But they also did nothing to protect us – we were on our own day and night. Screams of rape and beatings rang out night after night striking fear into our own hearts wondering when it would happen to us.
No one stood up for anyone. I learned what real racism really was. It wasn’t just about black or Hispanic it was white and others as well. No matter what you were it wasn’t good in that place.
Plus since it was a co-ed prison there were also men inmates who caused many of the fights and made my life even more of a living hell.
I was told day after day to allow myself to become ‘programmed by prison’. It made me crazy and I began to have images like movies in vivid color coming into my head of how I would sort of reach out of my own mind
with my hands and grab whoever was telling me something I hated to hear, no matter what it was,
and I would slowly begin to kill them until I had done so in a bloody fit of rage –
I could see it happen so clear and became so good at it those violent ‘movies’ soon became my source of entertainment. I began to worry, was I merely becoming programmed or was I losing my mind in this place?
I would go back to my cell and at night I would have nervous breakdowns of weakness and hopelessness,
but in the day or around other prisoners I put on a facade of toughness, numbness.