There’s Don. His entrance appears theatrical, like an off-Broadway play. He enters stage right and quick-paced, walking from a door near the guard station. He spots me sitting in the Blue Section, smiles, and advances.
I’ll be damned if he doesn’t look good, better than thirteen years ago. Hair neatly combed back, still wearing those thick eyeglasses. He’s put on weight, the face is fuller, no longer gaunt. My first thought is one of callous humor that prison life is treating him too good.
For a moment Donald just stands there as though posing for a passport photo, dressed in those god-awful orange prison clothes, the tee shirt yellowed and sneakers worn. I could hardly read the faded D O C on his back.
He walks over to me. There’s a moment of awkward silence. I stand. We hug, breaking the no-touching rule. We sit.
“You have more hair than I do.”
“This place keeps me young, Dave.”
“Not for nuthin’ my friend, you’ve gone from a welterweight to a light heavyweight.”
“Yes I have, but I could never go ten rounds.” We laugh. “That’s what three squares a day will do for you.”
“By the way, I baked you a pineapple upside-down cake, brought a box of cannoles, and a Swiss knife. The S.O.B.s wouldn’t let me take any of it through shakedown.”
“Believe me, they keep a close eye on incoming goodies.”
The conversation paused. We looked at each other in disbelief, as if to say, “What the hell are we doing in this place?”
“Are you OK, Don?”
“I am.” His look was insincerely sober. “Making the best of a crap situation.”
We continue to small talk, reminiscing the old days, people and places. Don is still very talkative and lucid. Thank God.
“So, my friend, what the hell happened?” I held my breath.
“That’s a loaded question.”
“I want to hear it all.”
He lowered his head. “Too much has happened, David. I relive the night of Sunday, February 20, 1994 on a daily basis. If I could just tweak a few frames. Then the trial. What my family has gone through. Sandra. And this damned place.” He raised his eyebrows. “I’ve gone through hell and back.”
“I know you are and I’m grateful for that.” He frowned and opened his folded hands. “So, where do you want me to begin?”
Excerpt from page 6 of Deacon's Crossbow