Business Behind Bars

Before I even got the chance to send my response letter back to Garry, he sent me ANOTHER letter. At first I was like, this guy’s needy, but really–what else does he have to do besides write letters? I don’t know what I would do if I were stuck in a cell 24 hours a day. I’d like to read, but he said the selection of books he gets is slim to none.

thIn this letter he told me about how he was in a different prison before San Quentin. While he was there (and I still don’t know why) he started tattooing other inmates. There was another guy, he said, who was tattooing before him, but once Garry started and word got out at how good he was, the other guy started giving him shit, tried talking him down, said he was nothing and his tattoos were bad. It’s interesting to see how similar prison society and real life society is. No matter how successful you get just by working hard at your skill, someone will always be there to bring you down and try and make you feel less about yourself.

That was the point of his story, I guess. He did say something that really touched me. He said “An educated woman with entrepreneurial skills with a spontaneous out fun personality is all you are my dear friend.” I don’t know if anyone, ever, has said something so sweet to me before, and it came from a murderer on death row.


He also talked about how touch is his favorite sense. I didn’t know people had a favorite sense; I’ve never thought about it before. It’s sad though, to know his favorite it touch since he will probably never be able to touch another person again, and never be touched by anyone but the C.O.s and his executioners. I don’t even think he meant it sexually. I think he honestly is missing being able to touch someone, feel close and intimate with someone, be held or hold a loved one. I never asked if he had kids. I’ll try and remember to next time. Imagine having someone you love more than anything, and not being able to feel them ever again. Not be able to be consoled with a hug or sleep next to a warm body on a cold night. It’s chilling in more ways than one.

He also told me his favorite color is blue. I didn’t know if that was telling or not, but, as an English major, I read into everything, so I took it was not him being a guy liking blue (rather than pink) but as a depressed guy relating to blue, depressing, coldness, all those kinds of things reminiscent of Picasso’s blue period more than just him liking a color. I feel like grown men don’t have favorite colors. But, maybe he does. Maybe he was just trying to fill the page with facts about him. Kind of an elementary thing to do, but as I’ve said before, I often get the feeling he is very childish and immature–not because of his personality, but because maybe he just doesn’t know better. Maybe he grew up behind bars or with no kind of guidance or role model to model himself by.


2 thoughts on “Business Behind Bars

  1. Everything is just beautiful in this story, though sad for the situation in which prisoners are located.I have a friend at Deat Row too and in it his every letter, I realize how much different is he from free men, how sensitive and kind he was and how I would miss one day very much.

    • Thank you Tsvetelina, sorry for the delayed response. It’s true. It’s heartbreaking to hear how “normal” life in prison is, and how different it is to free men and women. That’s one of the hardest things of writing to a prisoner on Death Row. I’m glad you also write letters to your friend. I know it makes a difference to them.

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