I want to thank LadyCibelle and Techsan for making my story a better read.
We all hear talk about life changing experiences. I have one I would like to tell you about. It happened somewhere around twenty-seven years ago. I was freshly out of college and on my way to be a successful accountant. I was in the top five percent of my class. I easily found employment in the local finance office. I figured I needed some experience before going on my own.
That's where I met my girlfriend Christine. Of course everyone called her Chrissy. She just graduated from high school and was working at the local K-Mart till the fall when she was going to go to nursing school. She was a sweet young thing and was definitely easy on the eyes. I was twenty-four and she was nineteen.
I had gotten my own little apartment and, when Chrissy and I started dating, we would go there to make love. God, she was wonderful, so soft and warm. We had been dating about three months when she told me she had missed her period. The following month she took a home pregnancy test and it showed positive. She was pregnant.
She told her parents and they hit the roof. I told them and Chrissy that we would get married right away. I think it eased their hatred of me a little. My parents weren't the happiest either.
They liked Chrissy well enough but as my dad would say, "You put the cart before the horse, Son." He wasn't happy about that part.
Chris told her parents that she was still going to go to nursing school but that she was going to wait till after she had the baby. We had it all worked out. Her mom said she would watch the baby during the day while Chrissy went to school. I, of course, would be the bread winner.
Chrissy decided to work until she was close to her delivery. She figured we could use the additional money and besides, she didn't have anything to do. She was about four months along when her store was having a Christmas party. I really didn't want to go but she insisted on it.
She was hardly showing and most people didn't even notice she was pregnant except for the people she told. Different guys wanted to dance with her and it was pissing me off a little. There were a few stockroom guys there about my age. Whenever they saw me they kind of smirked. At one point during the party I didn't see Chrissy when I came out of the restroom. One of her girlfriends told me they saw her go out on the patio.
I went out to find her and she was talking with these three jerks and one of them had his hand rubbing her belly and I saw his hand go lower.
"What the fuck's going on?" I said rather loudly.
"Nothing, Joey," replied Chrissy. "John wanted to feel if the baby was kicking."
Then, smart ass John repeated the statement to mock me. "Yeah, Joey, I wanted to feel the baby kick," he smirked.
I wanted to hit him but there was three of them and one of me. I wasn't really a fighter and knew the odds weren't on my side.
"Chrissy, go get your coat and purse and let's go home. I'll meet you in the car," I said.
Chrissy went inside to get her coat. She knew I was mad and wasn't going to argue with me. Meanwhile these three idiots baited me. I've always hated guys like this. Bullies as long as they weren't alone.
"Yeah," said John. "You go wait in the car till Chris comes out," he said sarcastically, his two buddies laughing with him.
As I sat in the car, probably thirty feet from these jerks, I could see them point at me and laugh. I was getting angrier by the minute. If there was only one of them I would take my chances. I watched as John lit another cigarette and his two buddies went back inside. I reached under my front seat and grabbed my tire iron. I always kept it under the drivers seat, just in case I ever needed a weapon to protect myself. I had learned that from my dad.
I was tired of waiting for Chrissy and got out of my car and headed toward the patio to get her. I took the tire iron with me; that was my fatal mistake. When I got to the porch John called me a big wuss and started laughing at me. I had had enough and before he could react I took the tire iron and hit him across the temple. Down he went. I was in a rage and must have hit him a good six times.
I heard screams and I was knocked to the ground and beat up. I woke up in the hospital with a policeman in my room. He told me I was under arrest for the murder of John Phillips. He read me my rights and the doctor gave me some pain killers that put me out.
I was released from the hospital two days later. I was taken to jail to await trial. I didn't have enough money to post bail and didn't own anything but my car and it was financed. My parents came to the jail to see me and told me that Chrissy's parents wouldn't let Chrissy near me. I did get a public defender who took my case. He told me I ought to plead guilty to manslaughter and would get twenty-five years and possible get out in twenty years; otherwise I could get life or even the death penalty.
I accepted the plea bargain for the twenty-five years. The lawyer told me that I intentionally went back to the building with the tire iron. If that wasn't enough, I hit John over and over again, so I couldn't use self defense as a factor. In fact John's two friends had to pull me away from John and had to beat me up because I wouldn't stop.
I knew that last part wasn't true. They broke my arm and kicked me in the ribs because of what I did to John. Chrissy's statement helped the prosecution saying that John was just feeling for the kicking of the baby. There really wasn't anything else she could say. She was just stating a fact. I had no witnesses on my side. I was a cooked goose. I saw Chrissy at my arraignment. She was with her parents. After my plea I could see Chrissy crying as I was led out to prison.
Prison and I didn't get along. As one of the prisoners said, "Here comes some new meat," meaning me.
I don't want to dwell too deeply on prison life but for the first six months I was sodomized quite often. I never went willingly but I couldn't fight off three prisoners at once. I was placed in the hospital three times for the beating I received.
I never squealed on my assailants. In prison I would be killed for that. I needed to belong to a group, prisoners who hung together and protected one another. I was scared; now I understood why so many prisoners took their own lives. I honestly couldn't picture myself in this situation for twenty years or more.
One day I was sitting in the yard and overheard three convicts talking. The one guy, the leader of the group, they called Mr. Big. He was some big Mafia guy who was in for murder also. He had plenty of ties to the outside. His life in prison was almost one of luxury compared to most of us.
I overheard him talking about all the money he was paying in taxes even though he was in prison. He couldn't understand it. The more he talked, the more I listened to the conversation. He was being taken to the cleaners if he was right in his statements.
He looked over at me. "What the fuck are you doing listening in on our conversation? You just might find yourself dead," he yelled at me.
"Mr. Big, before I was locked up, I was an accountant and I do believe that by what I accidently overheard, you are being scammed. Whoever is doing your taxes is skimming off the top." God, I was scared. This man could snap his fingers and I'd be dead.
"Get your fucking ass over here and tell me what you think. It might save your fucking life."
I went over and sat on the lower planks. I explained to him what I thought might be happening with the little information I overheard. I had to let him know that I would have to see the actual papers to know for sure. I was just going on the theory on what I overheard.
Two days later Mr. Big and one of his buddies were at my jail cell. They told my roomie to get lost. He sat down a stack of papers and told me to look through them. I was scared shitless. This wasn't a game; it was my life at stake. I went through page by page and listed inconsistencies. For the next hour no one said a word. I just looked at one page after another, writing down all the discrepancies I could find.
Finally Mr. Big spoke. "So, am I being cheated?"
"Well, Sir, here is what I found so far." I showed him thousands of dollars that were misappropriated. "There could be more but I would need more time," I explained.
He told his friend, "Snake, you stay here and keep an eye on my papers. I'll be back in a couple of hours."
Snake just sat back as I went page by page trying to find errors; he never said a word. It was over three hours later before I was finished going through them all. Mr. Big returned and I wrote down and explained all the differences for him. He gave me an odd look and he and Snake left my cell. If my calculations were correct he had lost tens of thousands of dollars this past year alone.
I wasn't bothered by anyone for the next four days. Out of the blue Mr. Big and Snake were at my cell. I have to say I was very scared.
Mr. Big spoke first. "We're changing your name from New Meat to Tax Man. I hired a new accounting firm and they said your suspicions were correct. For that I owe you. Would you like to work in the library?"
I was surprised. The library was one of the best jobs a con could have in this prison. The worst was in the laundry room where I worked now. It's the place where I usually got molested. To get out of the laundry room would almost be a Godsend.
"Yes, Mr. Big, I'd love to work in the library," I replied.
"I'll see what I can do but you will have to pay your dues," he said.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," I replied.
"You've been raped time and time again by the Chevez gang."
I hung my head in shame. Being raped is one thing but the whole prison knowing was hard to take.
"You have to get your revenge on Chevez. Snake will give you a shiv (homemade knife) tonight when he serves dinner. There will be a fight started away from you. You will have to go up to Chevez and stick him in the liver from behind," said Mr. Big.
Snake spoke, "The Chevez group has been getting away with too much. He has to be done away with. I'll show you how to do it." He got up and poked me in the side with his finger. "One stab right there and he will be a goner. Make sure you keep the napkin around the knife handle and take it with you after the stabbing.
The two of them walked out of my cell. I was shaking. In order to be part of the group, I had to kill the man who raped me more than once. If I didn't do it, I'd be thrown to the wolves. I sat in my cell trying to calm myself down till dinnertime.
I was in line with my tray. I saw Chevez sitting where he usually sat with a few members of his gang. He saw me in the line and kind of smirked at me. It made me angrier and would help me get the nerve to do what I had to do. Snake put some mashed potatoes on my plate and a shiv wrapped in a napkin.
I got the rest of my food and headed to the table behind Chevez. The second I put my plate down a fight started about three tables away. One con got up and yelled at another and threw his tray of food at him. At that time a lot of the cons stood up including Chevez to watch the fight. About a dozen cons started fighting and the guards rushed over to put a stop to it.
The cafeteria broke out in pandemonium. When Chevez stood up I grabbed the shiv and jabbed it into his side just like Snake told me. Fights were breaking out all over the place as more guards were sent down to break it up. When all was said and done we were all lead back to our cells. All but Chevez who was found dead after the melee.
We had total lock-down as the guards tried to figure out who killed Chevez. I was called into the warden's office and questioned.
"No, Sir, I have no idea who killed him. I was just getting ready to eat my dinner as a fight began. Everyone was standing and fights broke out everywhere. I'm not a fighter so I stood back out of the melee, Sir."
"Have you been molested by Chevez?" he asked.
I know you never admit to that sort of thing whether the man is alive or dead. "No, Sir, I have not," I replied.
"I know you're lying. Chevez is the one who named you New Meat, isn't he?"
"My name is Joe, my number 847623, Sir," I answered.
"Get the hell out of my office. If I find out you were part of this I'll see you get life in my prison."
The next day I was headed toward the laundry room. I was scared shitless; Chevez's buddies still worked there and I think one of them might have seen me near Chevez just before the stabbing. I couldn't be sure. When I got to the laundry room I saw about five of Chevez's friends staring at me. Right then a guard approached me and told me to report to the library. My heart almost stopped beating. I could have literally kissed the guard as I headed up to the library.
Mr. Big was in charge of the library; I guess you could say he was the head librarian. He grinned when I entered the room. After the guard was a distance away he told me I did good. He also told me that he was going to have me look at the last few years of his returns.
I did his reviews and found more skimming in past returns. It was the last I heard about his taxes until the following year. I was now known as the Tax Man and did taxes for a number of the spouses of fellow cons. I never received money but I did receive a lot of special benefits. I even did the taxes for some of the nicer guards. At least now, life was bearable.
A goodly number of years later a movie came out about a bookkeeper in prison that did kind of what I did. The cons were asking me if the movie was about me.
"I wish it was," I would say. "The bookkeeper in the movie escapes to an island at the end. I'm still here," I laughed.
When I reached twenty years, I was up for a parole. I went to the parole board and answered all their questions. I can't tell you how excited I was that I might be getting out. My hopes were dashed when my parole was denied. It was like my life had ended. It happened again on my twenty-first year, again the twenty-second year.
The twenty-third year I asked why I kept getting turned down? The board told me that I had no plans. No place to live or no job plans. They figured I would be back inside within six months. After the twenty-fourth year I didn't even try. I mouthed off to the board that they had to let me go the following year.
"No, Joseph, your sentence was twenty-five years to life. You won't get out till we till you that you can." I saw the smirks, and it really pissed me off. I was under the understanding that I would have to do twenty-five years at the most.
A week after I was turned down for the sixth time I was told I had a visitor. It kind of surprised me. I very rarely received any visitors. I told my mom and dad not to come back after the first couple of times. I knew it upset them terribly and I couldn't see putting them through that the rest of their lives.
I just told mom to write me regularly and she did. I got letters once a month and a card for the different holidays. She would write about all the little things in life. I would get pictures of the family. She never wrote about things that might upset me.
I don't think I mentioned that I do have a sister who is a year older than me. She does come and visit twice a year. I know it's hard on her too but she is my only connection to the family. She has three grown kids and is happily married.
The only other visitors I have had was a lawyer representing Chrissy. Her parents wanted our marriage annulled but it wasn't possible because of the baby. I ended up getting divorce papers. Every few years a new lawyer doing pro-bono work will come in and want to re-look at my case. After about a month, they tell me that there is nothing they can do.
It is funny that I have gotten letters from strange women whom I don't even know. I became pen pals with a number of them. It's hard to believe that women would be so desperate that they would write a convict whom they've never met, especially one that was convicted of murder. I figured it was a safety net for most of them. They could write and talk dirty knowing they would never meet me. The few that have asked about visiting me I said no to. I didn't want to see good looking women while I was behind bars.
I forgot to mention that I was in prison a few months when I got a letter from Chrissy. It wasn't really a letter but a picture of a baby. On the back was written. "This is your daughter, Marcella Hamilton. 6 lbs, 11 oz. 21 inches long. I'm so sorry, love, Chrissy."
It was the only letter I received from her. She didn't even give the baby my last name. I guess it made sense seeing I wasn't supporting her and she went back to her maiden name.
I asked Joan, my sister, about Chrissy and the baby on her visit after receiving the letter. She told me that Chrissy and her parents had moved out of state. They never talked to my parents or Joan. My parents never even saw the baby or even got a forwarding address. It was as though they wanted to put as much distance as possible between my family and the baby. I really had to wonder if the baby was mine in the first place after the deal with Chrissy on that patio. Maybe that John guy was the father? Hell, who knows? Who cares now?
Joan did tell me that at the beginning it did hurt my parents. They were good people and would have been great grandparents to the baby. I do have to say that it really hurt me. My parents deserved better than they got for a son.
Back to my visitor. I went to the cubicle with the laminated window. It had a number of small holes drilled through it. You could talk and hear your visitor but you couldn't touch them in any way.
I sat down and saw this beautiful young woman.
"Are you Joseph McVay?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm Joe. Who are you?"
Tears started down her cheeks. "I'm your daughter, Marci," she cried.
I knew right then who it was. It's been a long time but she looked like her mother although a little older. I know that sounds strange but the last time I saw Chrissy she was nineteen.
"I'm sorry, young lady, but I don't have any kids. You must be mistaking me for someone else..." Why ruin this young woman's life? It would be best to let her think she made a mistake.
"Will you take a DNA test so I can know for sure?" she asked.
"What is it you want, young lady, a father in a prison? Just go home and call this a mistake."
"Joe, that's your name, isn't it? My father's name was Joe McVay and he went to prison over twenty-five years ago. I want to find him," said the young woman.
"I have a question for you. If what you say is true then why would you wait twenty-five years to see him?" I asked.
"I was told he was dead and I just found out differently this year. I want to meet him and learn about his past growing up. I have a son who's one and daughter who's almost three. I want to be able to tell them the background of their grandfather, where he came from and maybe even find out about health problems that might run in the family. Please help me."
"Look, I can't deal with this now. Write down this address and contact this woman. Maybe she can help you out."
"Who is she?" asked Marci.
"Her name is Joan Howard. She's my sister. Maybe she will be willing to help you out."
I looked at this young lady and had to leave. I had tears in my eyes that I didn't want her to see. After all these years, "God why are you punishing me?" I had no one and now this young girl comes to see me and I could even be a grandfather. Life in prison is hard enough. I didn't need this; just another thing to miss.
A month had passed and I had another visitor. I had to wonder if it was Marci again. She had been on my mind ever since she had visited me. I went to the cubicle and there sat my sister, Joan.
"You know why I'm here, don't you? I had a visitor last week who said she had come to see you," said Joan.
"I'm sorry, Joan. I just couldn't deal with it. Not after all these years. She wanted answers and I just couldn't help her. Hell, how do I know she is even my kid?" I asked.
"That's what she wanted, Joe. A DNA sample to find out if you are her dad. Why couldn't you do that for her? I talked to her for hours and believe me when I say this. She is a wonderful lady. When we were through talking she told me she hoped you were her dad and that she would love to have a relationship with me as her aunt and to meet her grandparents."
"She hasn't seen Mom and Dad, has she? I don't even know if she's mine?"
"Joe, she has that same hardheadedness that you have. I asked her if she would let me talk to you first and if you are her dad I would take her to see mom and dad. She thought it would be best too. She also asked about her cousins, my kids. She just wants to connect with that side of her life she never knew. I think you owe her that much, Joe. At least take the DNA test and we'll know for sure."
"Okay, I guess I can do that much but don't introduce her to mom and dad until you know for sure. I don't know what I getting myself into."
"Joe, I hope she is your daughter. It's like a lost part of our past is found. She told me all she knew about you and what happened with Chrissy and her grandparents. She honestly thought you were dead until a few months ago. Do you want to hear her story?"
"No, I'll wait till I know she's my daughter before hearing about the past. It's all moot if she isn't mine."
"Fair enough, Joe," said Joan.
I made arrangements to have a sample of my DNA sent to Joan. I didn't hear from anyone for three months. I received my monthly letter from my mom and it never mentioned meeting anyone new. I figured the results were negative and I wasn't the girl's father. I had to admit to myself that it did hurt a little. I guess everyone wants family.
Another month had gone by and I had another visitor. I figured it was Joan coming back to tell me the sad news. Instead it was a smiling Marci.
She greeted me with a "Hi, Dad."
I broke down and cried. I honestly couldn't help it; it just happened. After all these years I've been alone and now I had a daughter. She was gently crying with me. I recovered and we talked a little. She told me that the day before she had stopped in my old home town and saw Joan and showed her the results of our DNA. Joan had taken her over to meet my parents and she told me how much she loved them.
She said mom cried as she hugged her, and dad would hardly let her go. She promised them that she would bring her kids and husband with her the next time. My parents were eager to meet their great-grandchildren. I know I had tears in my eyes during all this talk. I finally asked Marci about her mother and how she came about finding me.
"I live in a small town in Kentucky, just south of Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm an accountant for a law firm there. About four times a year I have to travel to Cleveland to help balance the books. We have a subsidiary office there. I just stay the one night and then head back home. Sometimes my husband Ray comes with me. He's a lawyer in the firm.
"We met in college. We were a few years apart but when I graduated he offered me a job. His dad is the owner of the firm. We got married and our daughter Krista was born and just over a year after that Ray Jr. came along. It works great for us because I can do a lot of my work from home.
"Anyway, one day Ray was looking up the criminal records of a client and I asked him if he could do that for anyone who was in prison? He told me he could; I asked him even if the prisoner was deceased, and he told me yes.
Tear Jerker /