Let’s say you’ve never been in prison, unlike some of us who have, granted, my time there was considered special in that I could come and go daily and not have to stay over night. Make no mistake, a prison, is different than a jail.
The sounds of all those doors locking and unlocking as I would meander the halls, lights in the hallways blinking, and almost like a private catholic high school of years ago, everybody had the same outfit on, nobody really stood out, well except for me.
So during one of my special visits, many years ago, I got to chatting with one of the over night guests who was never gonna be able to leave. He was there for the duration of his life, and he didn’t seem to have a problem with that, but he sure missed his fishing. So I told him a thing or two about some recent fishing adventures and he told me about an observation of his, that over the years, his incarceration brought to life.
He said that the warden and the guards ran the prison, but the prisoners, ran the prisoners. He made it very clear that this secondary authority of the prisoners deciding the pecking order of the inmates, was more to be feared than the guards or wardens. He explained that if you screwed up in the big house, you would just get more time in the big house, so it was like no big deal, with fifty years to go, what’s another five years tacked on, but if you mess with say a hall boss or block boss, things could get real dicey.
He said making a mistake wouldn’t change where he lived, if he offended the guards, but making an in house mistake, could change, HOW, he lived, for a very long time. He also said in the very same sentence, he missed just starring at the moonlight. Then he said to me, make sure you never get stuck in a place like this, and warn your friends. Well I think I told some of them his story over the years.
Well this past Saturday night driving home in the moonlight, he came roaring out of the dark, in my brain, and it was just before midnight. I got to thinking about him as I filleted some walleyes in my kitchen, I could hear his old speech playing in my noggin, and having that guys memory running around in my head was like cold water down my back. He may not have been the best person I’ve ever met, but he gave me one heck of a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten and I thought then, as I do now, maybe I’m supposed to share his words, with all of you. The trout whisperer