Everyone knows of him. He’s the guy with the white beard. He’s in his late 50’s and still manages a pony tail that he can braid. Some guys are envious of his hair. He carries a comb in his back pocket like a kid from last century. He talks about his mom like she’s his best friend. She comes and visits almost every week you know, just ask him. The truth is, she’s his only friend. Life has escaped him, forgotten him. He tells himself its OK, he still has his mom. But from time to time he stresses about her health. He knows she won’t live forever. Then what? Who will care, then? His appeal to the court should come through any day now. Then he can help take care of mom. Lord knows she could use the help at her age. Those sharp attorneys just about have his re sentencing argument ready. Then he’s getting some time back. It’ll be over with for this separation from momma real soon. Mom really needs his help.

He’s been in prison almost 40 years for a rape that happened after a hard night of drinking. Up until then, he had a long criminal record for a tough life and all that drinking. He can’t begin to remember who she was or what even happened. All he knows of her young face are those awful photos the police took. All he knows of how it happened was that they knew a few of the same people at the same party and he came on to her. He has no idea how or why things escalated to such an event. Not really. He was too trashed that night. His memories don’t exist.

All his information of what happened came from police reports he couldn’t read until months later before his trial. What he does know is she’s a success. She has been for a long time now. His momma told him that at some point. She graduated college, married a banker and has four kids that make it home for the holidays. She works hard to live with hurt. He’s glad she turned out OK. He’s glad he didn’t go so far that he ended her life. But he just doesn’t know why he hurt her or how he got to where he went with it. What he does know is he did something awful to that young lady. He does know somewhere in her something hurts today because of him.

Its that time of day again. He has to get in line for the phone. He has his notebook ready in case the paralegal has any new information for him. The laws about sentencing change all the time and people get some time back for those court rule changes. Its his turn, now. He dials the phone and waits. No answer today. Man, he was hoping he could talk to the paralegal today. He knows how busy his lawyer is, too. Momma needs him to have good news, though.

The fact is, the paralegal doesn’t answer because the lawyer working on his appeal hasn’t been in practice in over ten years now. All of his appeals had been exhausted decades ago. His 53 year sentence still stands. He stays hopeful for that appeal because he’s broken. He’s certain that he’ll help his mom soon because he’s broken. His life has escaped him because he’s broken.

The truth is, momma has been gone for a few years now. It was heartbreaking for us to watch him fall apart when the prison chaplain told him. He’s paid quite a price for being this broken. He committed a crime he never could remember and remembers things that stopped happening long ago. His mind has disengaged from reality years back for the sake of his own salvation. If he lives long enough, he might see freedom. But probably not. No one would care anyway. All because he’s broken…

by Rory Andes