“Dear Children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” I John 3:18 New International version
I received a reply within two weeks of my initial invitation for a friendly correspondence;
“Joey” wrote in a surprisingly open manner. He told me that he wanted me to know all about his crime before I decided if I wanted to continue corresponding. I have always admired his desire to remain forthright and protect my well being. I found out later that his openness and transparency about his actual crime happened to be an unusual occurrence for inmates. In the community of the incarcerated it is considered taboo.
He told me of his early days growing up in the city and being abandoned by his father at an early age. How his introduction to drugs filled a void in his heart which lured him willingly into full blown drug addiction. Rumblings of bitterness and pain roiled under the surface of his soul far too long. The blockade of inhibition finally snapped.
On an inauspicious day in May of 1982, Joey partied heavily like most other days. LSD and marijuana during the day coupled with kegfuls of beer at a party late in the day led to a lifetime of horror.
Without too many graphics detailing what happened before the day ended, suffice it to say, Joey hacked a dear friend to death. A girl the same age as myself. He didn’t remember the ugly technicalities due to the drugs. What was reality, what was hallucination he could not tell. He did tell me in that first letter that he believed himself to be guilty, even though his family did not.
No time for entertaining any thoughts of hesitation, I scribbled down a missive in response. My heart trembled, excited indeed to continue on the road to forming a writing relationship. Simply by chance a month later I heard Joey’s sentencing on the radio. He received Life which in Pennsylvania literally means until death and no parole. I remember thinking to myself when I heard it, “What a shame.”
The following weeks in the autumn of 1983, Joey and I wrote regularly and began sharing Bible studies via the US postal system. I went out a time or two with Rob, the best man from my girlfriends wedding. Nothing substantial occurred in my heart. Sort of flat which I always felt bad about because Rob treated me with kindness and respect.
And then my second Mom who I lived with had a bright idea that opened a pandora’s box of emotion for me. Stay tuned for Part VI.
Shine on. . .