Lucy Allen Seabolt/ Martin and /Rita
Jerome Morris the director of vocational education for the Cleveland school system
Bobbi James the radio personality
Amos Hardee deputy sheriff
Lori Moore deputy sheriff
Marcus hostage taker
Sara Thomas newspaper writer
Bobbi James and I were sitting at a table in the local downtown diner. The waitress had just filled the old green trimmed restaurant coffee cups.
“You do know Marcus is going back inside?” Bobbi said.
“Of course, I never lied to him about that,” I answered. “I don’t think he ever had any intention of harming his ex or the kids. He was lost and didn’t know where to turn. I wish I had gotten to him before he felt so depressed and alone.”
“Would it have helped,” she asked.
“The important thing to ask is would it have hurt?” I asked.
Suddenly an older woman came through the door. She walked straight to our table. Since the restaurant was crowed it was obvious she had a destination in mind. Bobbi stood up and hugged the woman.
“John this is Sara Thomas, Sara John Allen,” she said to my surprised.
“I’ve been ambushed,” I said not all that happy about it.
“Sorry John, but I didn’t think you would come along, if you knew. Sara is a friend, she also works for the Bolivar Commercial the local newspaper,” Bobbi said.
“I’m familiar with the name, but I’m not a reader,” I said.
“That’s okay not many folks read the paper these days. I expect Bobbi has a bigger audience than I do,” Sara said. “Besides it’s more about quality than than quantity.”
“I doubt the business department agrees with you,” I replied.
“I do hear from them now and then,” she said sadly.
“I’ll just bet you do. So why are you so far outside your comfort zone,” I said. “Isn’t Rosedale a little too small for you to cover?”
“Not really, I go all over for a human interest story. You are an interesting character according to Bobbi,” Sara replied.
“I’m not sure that’s a compliment. Some very unlikable people are interesting,” I said.
“That is true. I’m still trying to decide on your likability,” Sara said.
“Well, Bobbi can tell you that I’m at least harmless,” I said.
“In thae case I want to run an article on FreeBird,” Sara said. “Of course any article on FreeBird is also going to be about you.”
“You need to include Jerome Morris into the article, or there won’t be one,” I replied.
“Okay, but I can’t give you approval of the article. You might not like what I have to say,” she suggested.
“As long as you don’t break the basic rules of the FreeBird movement, I can live with it. Our members stay anonymous,” I said.
“That I can manage,” she said. “So can I interview you right here?” she asked.
“If you agree to go see Jerome before you publish anything,” I said. “Let him make sure you don’t violate the organizations rules.”
“I’ll do that. If Bobbi can do it, so can I,” she said.
“The jury is still out on Bobbi,” I said.
“Bullshit, I help you with your research. You know you can trust me,” she demanded.
We spent over two hours sitting in the Downtown Diner. The women had arranged for the meeting after the lunch rush, and before the dinner rush. The time allowed us to sit and drink the crappy restaurant coffee while we talk about the FreeBird organization.
“Jerome arranged for some guys in Cleveland Mississippi to take over the group meetings. It was too far to ride the trike in the nasty weather. However I made as many of the meetings as I could. The Rosedale group was less formal. We held meetings once a week in the downtown diner. I usually got a table for four, and talked to anyone who came in. I was kind of a counselor and resource center for them. Bobbi, and people like her, answered questions for me. She also interviewed the guys about their problem without using their names. It was a symbiotic relationship. Everybody gained from it.
I didn’t tell anyone where I lived since it might put Lucy and the kids in danger as well as me. I freely admitted that some of the cons I spoke with had somethings loose in their heads. Still they all had a right to some help, but I knew that I would seldom be the best help available to them. I also knew they would need professionals in lots of different fields to get straight. Some would be in the mental health field, some in the legal system, and some in family counseling. Most would also need some serious vocational counseling and training. The trick was to come up with a preferred list of referrals. The right man or woman in the right fields was the key to any success in rehabilitating cons. Most cons had no idea where to go, or what to ask when they got there. That was where I hoped to make a difference. I planned to at least help them, so they had a chance to succeed.
What did I plan to get out of it you ask? I got a sense of importance. Yes I felt l finally have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. That sounded good to a man who spend twenty years without one. Also once in a while I got an Adrenalin rush. Yes it was in the very early stages of coming together, but I was beginning to have a vision. It was murky at that moment, but it was coming together.