Excerpt from How to Kill a Father
by jmichaeledwards on April 22, 2012
In jail I’d never gotten anything stolen from me. And I never had to worry about it. In fact, the only time I was missing anything was when a friend was trying to teach me a lesson to watch my stuff better. But if my friends wouldn’t pretend to steal my stuff, I’d never be missing anything. Here in Baldwin, Showtime did it to me. Got into my box and stole all my writing supplies to teach me to lock my box. “Shit, Showtime, with friends like you …..”
“Shit, this the chain gang now. You need to be more careful.”
When we came in from evening yard call, I was missing my note pad which had a letter to Neiva and a few good stories including what happened to Brown. I asked Showtime, figuring he was either fucking with me or I didn’t get it back from him when I let him read one of the stories before we went to the yard. He said he didn’t have it.
I told Cox and he said, “Damn, Michael. You ain’t in jail anymore. This is the chain gang. You gotta start locking your shit.” He, Percer and I talked about who may have taken it then I went walking through the dorm for a few hours just hoping I’d see it. I checked the trash many times figuring they’d have thrown away the stories and just kept the paper. I asked more than one suspect if I could borrow a sheet of paper so I could see their note pad. I’d know only if my writing had pushed through – indented the clean page (if they threw away my stuff). No luck. I didn’t think it was Killer or the tall friend. Earlier that day in the yard he came and sat to talk with one of my buddies – he liked to invade my space any chance he could. We three got into a decent conversation though, and I found out he had 20 years with no chance of parole for 10 for armed robbery. “No wonder you were ready to tag me with a lock in a sock,” I said. It took him aback for a second that I had found out. He then said, “Yeah, I was just stressing. All this bullshit, you know.”  I said, “Hey, real talk. I don’t mean to offend y’all. I’m sorry you got 10 years, man. I’m tripping at the months I’ve got, begging my mommy to find some way to get me out of here today, you know what I’m saying? I was stressed, too, but I’ll triple my time if I get into some stupid shit. So, no disrespect. We cool?” He put a fist out for a pound, and I reciprocated. “We cool.” Cox thought we’d have to go rounds to settle this. Thank God!
So, now I’m missing my notepad and just hoping I don’t find him with it. They had threatened, with insinuation, to steal my store just a few hours before we squashed it.
Cox and Percer figured it was someone else. I figured they were right. Cox said, “You gotta make an announcement.” Yeah, I figured that but I told him I just didn’t want any more problems. “Yeah, but you got someone fucking with you, you can’t keep letting shit slide. If it is them, it’s time to let ‘em know. If it’s someone new, gotta end it, let everyone know not to fuck with you,” Percer said. Then Cox added, “And besides, ain’t no body gonna say shit, I’ll bet you. But let the whole dorm know someone, some fucking pussy, stole your shit, and maybe someone will be watching for you next time.”
Hmmm, good point. But is it worth it? Well, I’m not one to keep my mouth shut so “I’ll do it at lock down.”
“What pissed me off,” said Cox to Percer, “is that this man would give anybody the whole note paid if they had just asked. Damn, Edwards, you really would give someone the shirt off your back.” I smiled. Then we talked about what I should say for my announcement.
“Call ‘em out. Tell them to buck up. A real man would take it from you to your face.” This coming from a guy who bought drugs with funny money he made on his computer. Chain gang rules: It’s OK to steal, unless it’s your friend. Even then, under many circumstances, it’s OK if the gain is worth more than the friendship. But it’s never OK for someone who’s not your friend to steal from your friend – “nah, that’s just wrong.”
“You gotta do it or your shit’ll get stolen again.” Hmmm … advice from convicts. “Well, I haven’t gotten where I am today by thinking things through. I’ll do it.”
Immediately after the lights went out I stood up on the dividing wall – it’s about 4 feet high – and made my speech.
“Can I have your attention for a moment, please?”
“Don’t jump – don’t do it!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Listen. Someone stole something from me and I need it back.”
“What is it?”
“My note pad.” They laughed. “Yeah, but it means a lot to me. And I mean no one disrespect besides the one who did it. I’m calling you out. You’re a bitch made punk motherfucking pussy. Prove me wrong. Man the fuck up and take it from me face to face. You’ve got three choices: you can either keep it, be a pussy. Return it, or step into the shower with me and we’ll handle it. Show me you have my note paid, whoop my ass, and I’ll let you keep my notepad, the rest of my store, and I’ll be your store next week, too. Or am I right? You a pussy?
“Damn!” “Shit!” the crowd says.
“Uh, Mike? This your’s here? You left it on Showtime’s bed and I put it in his box for you. I told you Showtime had it.”’
Everyone’s dying laughing. I said, “I asked him 5 times!”
“He didn’t know I put it in there.”
“Yeah, I was embarrassed. “Um, yeah, if everyone could just ignore what I just said, and ah … pretend this never happened. Carry on, gentlemen!”
Everyone is rolling; they’re going nuts. Swole – this body builder character – jumps up on the wall and says, “I have an announcement to make. I wanna be a cowboy” and pretends to be riding a horse. Fat says, “I’ll fight you for store, buddy.” I said, “Nah, you’d have to show me my note pad.” “I’ve got one.” “Yeah, uh … that’s different.” We laughed.
I walked over to get some ice from the cooler, someone asked, “You know karate? You must know karate or something?” “Uhmmmm….something.” He laughed.
I started getting accolades. “You did the right thing.” “No one will fuck with you now.” “Hell, no, he’s got a little buck in him, don’t ‘e?” pats on the back. Percer said, “Man, your face was beet red, glowing in the dark!” Yeah, I’m sure it was.
I heard about this for quite a while. But with the teasing was respect. Killer and Blue, too. They never said anything but they looked at me differently.