Sunday, January 23, 2022

Prison Narratives: ‘Drifting into Darkness’ by Earnest Herring

Book Cover

VOX Press‘ book, Prison Narratives, features personal stories written by prisoners at Parchman Farm. Here is a story from the book by Earnest Herring. The book can be bought here.

Earnest Herring was raised in a poverty-stricken home with four sisters and five brothers in Edwards, Mississippi near Vicksburg. He dropped out of school in the eighth grade, and is currently serving forty mandatory years for sexual assault.


She would hum a spiritual hymn, and the foreboding evil spirit would leave.

It was the year 1962; I was born black and poverty-stricken in the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The most memorable account of my life begin around 1974. I was twelve years old and had five (5) brothers and four (4) sisters. We lived in a country town named Edwards. Edwards is 18 miles east of Vicksburg, near the Big Black River. Big Black River connects to the Mississippi River, which is commonly known as Big Muddy.

We were a large family, but not dysfunctional. My father’s name is, Willie, born in mid-1920s, he had only a fourth grade education. I don’t know why he didn’t complete school, and I didn’t ask I was a little bit fearful of him. Not that he abused me, or anything like that; it was a reverential fear. He earned our respect because he stood about 6ft 8in, weighing 210lbs, with big strong hands.

Moreover, we reverenced him for being a man of determination: good hustler, protector, and great provider. He worked at a saw-mill named Anderson Tully Lumber Company in Vicksburg, Mississippi, located on the banks of the Big Muddy. His job as a saw-man didn’t pay more than minimum wage. Thus, to supplement his income he would exercise his hustling skills, like going out to the Old Barn and firing up the whiskey still. Sometimes he would even allow me to tag along, just to keep him company. He would also buy a truck load of dry wood that’s too short for lumber, but can be used for firewood. He would buy an oversized load for three dollars employee’s discount, bring the top half home, and sell a regular pickup truck load to several neighbors, regular customers.

Furthermore, when Mama would complain about the money being short, in late fall he would go out to the shed and get his Homelite C-72 chainsaw, gather my three older brothers and me into the Chevy pickup, and we’d go to work in the forest to cut and haul firewood all day. I’ve always had a fascination about anything mechanical. One day my father cut the chainsaw off to do some wood splitting. I decided that when he gets ready to start the chainsaw, I was going to assist him by starting it up for him. He let me… but to my surprise, when I pulled the string, the compression was so strong it snatched the string out of my hand! From that time onward, I didn’t mess with daddy’s chainsaw.

Sometimes doing wood cutting season, it would rain four or five days straight. The ground would get too soft for the pickup to go down in the low area without getting stuck. So daddy would send one of us to the stable to fetch the mule, the mule name was Jeannie. She was young, intelligent and hyper; and she’d never been ridden by anyone. So I would put the gear on her and walk her out to the forest to meet Daddy.

After Daddy had thrown a tree, he would holler and wave his hand, signaling me to bring Jeannie. I would back Jeannie up to a log about 25ft. long. Daddy would tie a chain around the log. Then he would tell Jeannie, “Get up, girl!” She’d jump and snatch the log! And I would take off running leading her through the woods to high ground. My other brothers Willie Jr., Charles, and Donald would be on high ground cutting the log down to about two feet long, firewood size. Once the pickup was loaded, Willie Jr. would haul the wood to Daddy’s customers.


The Primitive Life

Our living conditions were somewhat primitive. The house was shot-gun style with no running water, nor indoor restroom. When my sisters had to use the facility, they had a night jar in
their room. When my brothers or I had to go to the toilet, we went out back to the outhouse.

When was time to bathe, my brother or I would go outside and get water from the faucet outdoors in the yard, build a fire around a big black 15 or 20 gallon cooking pot, and heat the water in the yard. Once the water gets hot, I would dip a five gallon bucket into the pot and carry my bath water indoors. Then I would pour a mixture of hot and cold water in a number three tub and take my bath. When it was cold and rainy outdoors, I would bring the water in and heat it in a tea kettle on an iron wood heater or the fireplace.

My sisters would do the same before bedtime. And also again when morning came. Mama was more strict on the girl’s bathing than us boys. My mother is a God-fearing woman. What I mean by God-fearing is, her Christian roots run deep, and she has a high regard and respect for God’s word—The Bible. Although Daddy believed in God, Mama was a Giant Prayer Warrior!

Mother’s name is Ella Mae. She is a homemaker, commonly known as a housewife. She’s an early bird—early to bed, early to rise. She would rise around 4:00 A.M. and start breakfast and fix Daddy’s lunch. We had a woodstove…Therefore she had to go outside and get kindling to jumpstart the fire. She usually had breakfast ready around 5:00 A.M. every weekday. The family usually ate around the table. Then daddy heads off to work at 6:15 A.M. every morning. After breakfast, Mama would prepare us for school, and afterwards, watch us as we stood at the fork of the road waiting on the bus. She begin cleaning the house and laundry, while at the same time humming spiritual hymns. One day, I had a bad cold and was home from school. I said to her, “Why you not sing instead of humming, because your voice sounds wonderful?” “She hums when her spirit is troubled, and Satan’s angels cannot understand what she’s saying or thinking,” she said.


Killing Season

It is late fall, the family is preparing for the holidays. Daddy would take my brothers and me turkey and geese hunting. Since we didn’t have but one gun, he would let each of us take turns bringing down two geese or turkeys. After returning home, we would clean our kill and put it in the freezer until Thanksgiving Eve.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Daddy would go out to the hog pin and cut a hog’s throat, afterwards that hog would get up and run around the pin with blood running from its throat until it fell dead. Daddy would build a big fire around a 25 or 30 gallon black cooking pot and boil water there in the back yard. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, he would place the dead hog into a 55 gallon barrel with a 45 degree angle and pour hot water in and take his butcher knife and scrape all the hair off. Next he would take the hog and cut into the muscle/tendon behind each lower back leg, then take a hickory stick about two feet long with a sharp point on each end, and push through the muscle/tendon. He then placed a rope around the hickory stick and through the chain horse, then hoist the hog upside down. Once the hog is hanging, he then takes the butcher knife, and cuts it open from the throat to the tail—exposing all internal organs.

Mama and my four sisters: Princess, Sharon, Dorothy, and Bertha gathered around a table there in the back yard, with sharp butcher knives. They would cut the outside layer of the carcass into small square or cube shapes, behind that they would dip the water out of the black pot Daddy used, and put the square shape meat in and cook until it turn into lard. When all the lard is cooked from the meat, what is left is called pork skins. Nothing is thrown away. The intestines are separate, cleansed and washed thoroughly before cooking and eating.


The Holiday Season

Mama and my sisters would take the turkey, geese, and hen out of the freezer. Then Mama would start with laying the turkey flat on its back, legs in the air. She would cut the turkey in half, debone it, and place a special kind of homemade stuffing all over it. Additionally, she’d take a geese and lay it flat on its back on top of the turkey, cut it in half, debone it, and place stuffing all over it. Finally, she took the hen, placed it on its back on top of the geese, cut it in half, debone it, and placed stuffing all over it. Furthermore, she’d take the turkey and close it, enclosing both geese and hen. My sister would then place a cooking pot on top of the turkey, while Mama flipped the birds and pot off its back to its front. They would pour chicken stock, and all kind of spices in the pot, and place the birds in the oven for 6 ½ hours, and the birds was cook through.

After the turkey has cooked long enough (which was a very long time!) it is removed. Therefore, Mama and my sisters could proceed to cooking cakes and pies, and sharing recipes. On Thanksgiving Day we came together in praise, prayer and feast. Mama would start by singing a hymn or two, and my sisters would join her. Daddy would give the Thanksgiving prayer and benediction. Then we would feast serving ourselves as we pass the food dish around the dinner table.

Christmas is also a time we came together in praise, prayer, and feast. However, Mama added plenty of fruits, nuts, candy and homemade ice cream. Moreover, Daddy and Mama would take us shopping in the city of Vicksburg. Daddy took me over to Western Auto Hardware Store, and bought me a new, red, 3-speed, Western Flyer bicycle. That bike was the most memorable thing I’ve ever own at twelve years old.


Broken Heart

It was now early spring, the beginning of the end of the school year. The school’s faculty organized a field trip just before summer break. We all boarded three Continental Trailway buses, and went to an amusement park across Lake Pontchartrain Bridge close to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Upon arriving at the park resort, we exited the buses. The teachers implemented a plan to keep everyone together; we were placed in groups and pairs. My partner’s name was Rosia Ducker… she is the daughter of a faculty member. Her personality was attractive, reserved and modest.

I was excited, yet afraid of her. Because I’ve never been that close to a girl. She and I did everything together from the carousel to the gyro wheel. We were inseparable and I was filled with glee.

Although Rosia was unaware, and I tried to maintain my composure…I was beginning to have a crush on her, and the feelings I was having for her is something I couldn’t explain. The irony is, I wanted my feelings to stop; but, on the other hand, I want them to continue in spite of the risk of me being rejected by her.

Well, the field trip finally ended and everyone returned to their classes doing their usual thing. However, I wasn’t the same. The time Rosia and I shared together actually had an emotional affect on me I just couldn’t shake. In fact, my thoughts of her persisted daily. So I begin to reason with myself, and decided to tell her my feelings.

It was around lunch time, the other students and I were walking to the cafeteria, and I noticed students stopping to read a poster sign on the bulletin board. It read, “There will be a student dance contest in the school’s gymnasium Friday 8:00 P.M.—10:00 P.M.; All Contestants must Apply at the Principal’s office.” I could dance, but not good enough to compete. Thus, I didn’t apply. Of course, I thought this would be a great opportunity to express my feelings to Rosia. There were still a few days before the dance. So I was on the lookout for Rosia to ask her, was she going?

It was evening and school was ended for the day. I was headed home riding my bicycle, as I was leaving the school yard I saw Rosia walking towards the school bus, and immediately…My heart skipped a beat, and started racing! Then I thought, I need to holler at her to ask, is she going to the dance? Suddenly…I was struck with timidity, again! It seems every time I’d get close to her, my emotions would go crazy—yet and still, I had to battle with them, encouraging myself saying, ”It’s now or never”!

I took off on my bike across the school yard, as I approached her, I hollered her name exuberantly—attracting attention. She looked towards me enthusiastically anticipating any words I had to say. I said to her…“Did you not hear about the school’s dance contest?” She said, “Yes.” I say, “…Are you going?” She said, “Yes…Are you?” I said, “Yes…But, only because you’ll be there.” She gazed at me with a smirk on her face— seemingly excited by my comment. I wanted to say more but her bus was about to leave. She boarded the bus and I continued my journey home. It seemed from the expression on her face, and the few words she uttered, that I’d won her heart.

Friday night just couldn’t come fast enough, and it was now only Thursday. I looked for her all day at school, but to no avail. I couldn’t call her by phone—my parents couldn’t afford that
luxury…Besides, I didn’t know her number anyway. I considered riding over to her house on my bicycle; but the journey was too far for me to make it back home before dark. Mama and Daddy were very strict about me coming home on my bike after dark. To ease my anxiety, I went down to the ball court and played a few games of ball on the dirt court. After that, that was able to relax and get some sleep.

When Friday night finally arrived…I pressed my pants with the iron, while the water outside in the pot was getting hot for my bath. My hair was nappy, so I ran my mother’s hot comb over it, until I had an afro style. I hitched a ride to the dance with my older brother, Willie Jr. His old car was beat-up and not very solid, but we made it there just the same.

When I arrived at the dance, I saw Rosia sitting with her mother at the front doors. Her mother was a faculty member who was in charge of collecting money for the school’s programs. The moment Rosia saw me, her eyes lit-up like a lightning bug! I didn’t want her mother to notice our attraction to each other. So I just smile at her and eased on back to the bleachers section. After about 45 minutes or so, I decided to find my way to the concession stand hoping to see Rosia, and I did see her.

When she saw me, she came over where I was standing. I offered to buy her a soda, she accepted. I begin to compliment her attire…She seemed please I paid such close attention. As our night continued, I begin telling her of the strong feelings of intense interest and affection I felt towards her, and I wanted us to always be friends…She agreed, and said her feelings were mutual. But the expression on her face seemed sad. I looked into her eyes and said to her, “What’s wrong…Is it something I said?” She said, “Her mother got a better job in a higher position, and they were in the process of moving to another state.” My heart was broken; which was my fear from the beginning. I gave her my address, and we said our goodbyes.


Planting Season

We had over 40 acres of land, but Daddy only farmed about ten. He’d say, “Ten acres is all we need and all he have time to care for.” So he would send my brothers and me out to the pastureland to fetch Jennie, where she would be grazing. Daddy had already paid a tractor owner to come by and till the section of land. So we hitched Jennie up to the harrow and took turns dragging debris to the end of the field where Daddy was burning it. We’d work there in the field all day.

The following weekend we would fetch Jennie again, hitch her to a plow and row up the field. Finally…if the weather was good enough, Daddy, Mama, all my sisters, my brothers and me would go out to the field, and start planting—we each had our own row. We worked the field all day.


Back to School and Revival

Daddy and Mama would take us all to the city of Vicksburg to buy our back-to-school clothes. We would spend half a day walking from store to store in search of the best deals and sales.

When headed home after shopping, Daddy would stop by a restaurant and give us five dollars each. We would purchase our order and eat ourselves full riding in the front and back of the pickup truck traveling on the interstate.

Not long after I turn twelve, Mama told Daddy it was time for me and two of my other brothers to join the church. We climbed into the pickup truck and went to church every night for a whole week—they called it Revival. At the end of the week, the pastor gave an extra-long service…He extended an invitation to come to Jesus, if we desired. Both my brothers and I accepted the invitation, and we seated up front on the mourner’s bench—it was a Friday night. That Sunday, we all gathered outside the church and walked across a pastureland to a pond and there we were baptized.

Although I was sincere when I accepted the pastor’s invitation, I know in my heart I still had some dubious issues concerning religion.


Darkness Looms

Because about a year before, I had started going outback behind the house to smoke cigarettes. My sinister behavior was getting the best of me. I also noticed I wasn’t the only one in the family having problems. While I was at school, someone called the school saying there was a bomb in one of the classes. The principal closed school early.

After the police and faculty investigation, it was determine my brother, Donald, was the culprit. He was detained and placed in a detention center for about three weeks.

Subsequently, my nefarious behavior continued spiraling downward. One day one of Daddy’s whiskey customers came by to sample some whiskey before purchase. Daddy inadvertently left a pint mayonnaise jar half-full of whiskey on the living room coffee table. I proceeded with caution to take a little sip…Initially, it was too strong and I couldn’t handle it. But, about five minutes later I was feeling euphoric. I went back and drank the remainder. I became wasted—staggering drunk, talking crazy out of my head. Daddy was going to whip me, until my sister, Sharon, told him I’d drank the whiskey on the coffee table. Fortunately I got by without a whipping.

Nevertheless I still persisted in my vices…As a vagabond, I became even more irresponsible. While at school, one day I decided to cut class and take a smoke. After about a half hour or so, I heard my name broadcast over the intercom— instructing me to report to the principal’s office. Upon arriving at the principal’s office, he proceeded to tell me I was seen smoking around side of the building by a faculty member. He therefor presented me an option: I could be suspended for a week, or stand up, turn around, place my hands up against the wall, while he administer five lashes on my behind with his leather strap. I thought for a few seconds, then agreed to his terms and accepted the whipping.

Consequently, I decided that smoking had to stop. I was busted…And that was it! When I arrived home, Mama told me: “Mr. Armstrong (an elderly neighborly white man) stopped by in need of someone to do some work around his house, and he would pay medium wage.” Thus, I volunteer—working evenings after school and weekends. I kept the job for several years; things remained the same for about three years.


Arrested at Age Sixteen

It was August 1977; it was hot, and I was angry; I don’t remember why I was angry, but I was on my last nerve. Anyway, I was sitting on the living room sofa running my finger through a pair of brass knuckle. (The brass knuckle belonged to my brother, Wilie Jr. Why they were laying around? I don’t know.) My sister Dorothy came out from the kitchen with her dinner and sat next to me on the sofa to eat. She start smacking down her food like a dog eating slop. I asked her to stop smacking. She ignored me. I asked her again. She look at me and said something in a smart aleck tone. I became fierce and snatched the glass of tea she was about to drink from her hand and broke it with the brass knuckle. I broke the glass to intimidate her; however, the glass shattered in mid-air inadvertently falling on her leg, cutting a gash just above her knee. She saw blood and started screaming for Mama.

When Mama heard Dorothy screaming she ran out from the kitchen to see what was the matter. When she too saw the blood, she panic; saying she was going tell Daddy and I was getting a whipping. I recalled the last whipping with a two foot water hose and said to myself: “No way.” I ran and grabbed the shotgun from the wall-case and headed to the hills. I hid behind a dirt embankment about forty yards away. Daddy made it home about two hours after the incident. Mama did just as she said…I was waiting with gun in hand. I wasn’t going to shoot my Daddy. In fact, I didn’t even have any shells—I just wanted to intimidate him. He made an attempt to come get me, but when Mama told him I had the shotgun he backed down and told my sister to call the police. When the police arrived, I surrendered and was escorted to the patrol vehicle and detained for about three weeks; I went before a judge and was sentenced to serve three months in a youth crisis center.


Whispers of Darkness

Showing up at the youth crisis center, I didn’t know what to expect. The facility was a five bedroom house run by a middle age white couple. However, the set-up was inviting and hospitable. My fellow inmates were three white girls: Cindy, Nancy, and Cathy. Also, there were two other black guys, Darrel and Wayne; we had separate bunks. The girls slept across the hall. Darrel was asthmatic; however, Cathy and I believed Darrel faked an asthma attack at times to get attention. He loved being the center of attention. Oh—by the way, I forgot to mention that a few days after arriving at the youth detention center, I met a redhead white girl name, April—who was interested in being my friend. I was interested in her too. I especially liked her athletic ability on the volleyball court. I wasn’t interested in establishing anything solid with either of the girls at the crisis center. I had a crush on April.

Upon my release my brother, Willie Jr., came to pick me up from the crisis center and escorted me home. When I returned home I apologize to my sister, Dorothy. Daddy didn’t say anything; I guess he felt the time I spent in the crisis center was punishment enough. After a week or two of being around the house, I became bored with the same old humdrum. One night I was in bed, and couldn’t fall to sleep; an evil foreboding spirit entered my mind and whispered silently, saying: “Get up and break April out of jail.” I got up and sat on side of the bed– it’s like I was in a trance. It was around 10:30 or 11:00 P.M. I got dressed, eased out of the house, hopped on my bicycle and rode to Mrs. Armstrong house. Oh, incidentally, Mr. Armstrong had been dead about a year prior. Anyway, I eased up to her bedroom window. I heard her snoring like a bear in hibernation. I went to the garage to steal the vehicle, because I knew the driver-side door would be unlocked, and the keys were under the floor mat. After stealing the vehicle, I drove back to my family’s house, parked about 60 or 70 yards down the street; and walked stealthily in our house to borrow the shotgun. When I got back to the vehicle with gun-in-hand, I headed to the detention center and cased the place for about an hour—trying to build up the nerve to enter with the shotgun. But, I couldn’t muster enough nerve.

So, I got back into the vehicle, took the gun back home, and eased Mrs. Armstrong vehicle back into her garage.


Lost my Virginity at Seventeen

Several weeks had passed since I returned from the crisis center. Mama and Daddy asked me, “Was I not going back to school?” I said, “No…I’ve lost interest.”

Daddy said, “If you don’t go back to school, then you need to find a job.” So I decided to apply for a job at Anderson Tully’s sawmill in Vicksburg—I was only sixteen years old; but I lied on the application, saying I was eighteen.

Following the interview, I was hired on the spot. I rode on the back of my Daddy’s pickup, cause my other two brothers, Willie Jr. and Donald rode in the cab; except when it rain, Daddy would squeeze me in next to him. Well, I finally had a real job making steady income. Daddy said to me if I saved enough money to make a down payment on a vehicle he would purchase it for me in his name.

It took me about three months to save six hundred dollars for a down payment. Daddy kept his word…And we went to the dealership. I picked a nice clean 1977 Pontiac Grandprix, LJ edition. Sometimes after work I would get in my car and cruise through town and a few alleys checking out the honeys (girls). There was this fine, shapely young woman with a swag I couldn’t resist walking next to the pavement. I cruised up beside her and said, “Hey baby!” She said, “Hey baby!” I said, “What’s your name?” “Arletha,” she said. I said, “Can I be your baby for real?” “Sure can!” she said. Thus, I got her number, called her, and we dated steady.

It’s now November 1979, I was seventeen years old. Arletha was twenty-three years old, black woman—light brown complexion, with three kids, ages: three, five, and seven. Not long after we hooked up, I lost my virginity.


Whispers of Darkness Continue

One day while in the yard washing my vehicle, an evil foreboding spirit whispered silently in my mind: “Go rob Queen Hills Store.” (Queen Hill’s Store is a country store located on Hwy 22; five miles north of our house). At that moment I recalled Mama saying she would hum a spiritual hymn, and the foreboding evil spirit would leave. I did what I recalled Mama saying, and the evil spirit departed.


Accident

On September 4, 1980, 4:30 or 5:00 P.M., I was out in the yard cleaning up my car. My friend Kenny Singleton—who also worked at Anderson Tully’s sawmill, walked up to me and said, “What’s up?” I said, “Not much…I got a little weed, let’s cruise a while.” I concurred. But, before we entered my car, one of my weed customers drove up to buy sixty dollar worth of weed. I had the weed, but didn’t have change for the hundred dollar bill which he had. Therefore my customer suggested, “Give me five minutes to run by my house and get change, and I’ll meet you on the highway”. I agreed. In about the space of three or four minutes, my brother Donald came across the yard walking toward the highway going to the store. I said, “I’m going your way, you want a ride?” “Yeah,” he said.

We got into the car and headed up Highway 22. After traveling about two miles, I met my customer with the money change— $60.00. We made the exchange; I then made a U-turn at a fork in the road and headed back toward town. As I was cruising the speed limit around 50 or 55 miles per hour; I had past my family’s house about 75 yards when I was meeting a vehicle driven by my neighbor who lives across the street putting on her right hang signal…Suddenly a car come out to pass, we hit head on—collision! There we all were, Donald, Kenny, the other driver and me…They were all dead. My brother Willie Jr. ran up the highway to the scene and pulled us out of the vehicle before it caught fire. I was laying on the ground with my right lung collapsed, eight broken ribs, and passing in and out of consciousness from a concussion.

When the highway patrolman arrived on the scene, he was bias toward me because the driver in the other vehicle was a white man and dead. The patrolman was about to write me a traffic citation for passing on a (double-line) no passing zone. However, my neighbor who saw the whole incident came to my defense—citation avoided. I was carried to the university hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, treated, and released after two weeks.

Being released from the hospital was the beginning of a turning point in my life. The accident caused a big shift in my emotions and behavior. I just couldn’t get past losing my brother, Donald and friend Kenney. I fell into a dark hole of deep depression. And went to visit my brother’s grave site regularly, crying, angry and miserable. My pride was much too high to seek help. Nonetheless, I went back to church often hoping to hear a word of inspiration or something. But it was to no avail. In fact, the more I attended church, the depression and spirit of darkness
prevailed to an even greater extent. About six months after the accident I bought another car with the insurance settlement.


Whispers of Darkness Climax

Not being able to pull myself together, I quit working at Anderson Tully’s sawmill and laid-up on Mama and Daddy. Arletha took the initiative and moved out her mother’s house into her own shotgun-style apartment house. I saw the move she made and decided to shack up with her. She didn’t work, but lived off welfare and food stamps. As time went by, my depression eased up enough for me to go and find a job. It didn’t take long, I went to a construction site in Clinton, Mississippi; the supervisor interviewed me and hired me on site.

Construction work never was steady work, because if the weather was bad I couldn’t work. It was a Wednesday morning, and it had rained all day the day (Tuesday) before. I asked Arletha to fix me lunch for work; even though it had rained and the construction site was wet, I still needed to go out and find work.

As I cruised around looking for work, I couldn’t find anything— it was just too wet. So, I pulled up to Mount Moriah Store—a country store south of Edwards. I went into the store to buy gas, but when I saw a young lady there alone, immediately the evil spirit raised up within me saying, “Rob her!” I went to purchase a pack of chewing gum, and when the saleswoman opened the cash register, I reach behind the counter forcefully took her money and ran out of the store. While running towards the car, I heard something like fireworks. I looked back and saw the sales woman with a gun shooting at me; I kept running down the highway leaving the vehicle. When I ran about 60 yards—realizing I had nowhere to go; I turned around and surrendered—hands in the air. She then said, “Put the damn money on the ground and get the hell out of here.” Doing as she instructed, I got into my car a drove to my brother’s (Willie Jr.) house to lay-low a few hours. Willie Jr. wasn’t home from work. Nevertheless I needed to hide out just in case the saleswoman called the police. I left my car parked in Willie Jr.’s driveway with the key in the ignition, and walked through a pathway in the woods to Daddy’s house.

Daddy made it home about 45 minutes later, and started unloading firewood from his pickup truck. I went to him for the first time with a problem telling him,”I had just robbed Mt. Moriah Store.” But, before he could say anything my brother Charles drove up to tell me, “He was driving pass Stuckey’s Restaurant and the police flagged him over, questioning him of my whereabouts.” He suggested we go down to Stuckey’s to resolve the matter. I said, “Okay.”

The police started asking me questions of my whereabouts around the time Mount Moriah Store was robbed, and where was my car? I perceived the police wasn’t sure I was the culprit because the saleswoman gave them the wrong description of the vehicle. So I lied and said, “Arletha has my car in Jackson shopping.” They believed me, and were about to let me go. However, it was about that same time my brother Willie Jr. drove up in my car; perhaps thinking I needed a ride home. The officer that knew me knew my car too. He asked to have a look in my trunk. I opened the truck. He spotted the striped overall I was wearing doing the robbery according to the saleswoman’s description. I was busted!


Arrested (Strong-armed Robbery)

On November 5, 1981 I was arrested and charged with strong-armed robbery of Mount Moriah Store in Edwards. I was nineteen years old, facing a fifteen year sentence. It was after the finger printing and mug-shot that I really began to feel the seriousness of my crime. After booking (finger printing and mug-shots) I was placed in a holding cell awaiting bond. While awaiting release—about five days; I really tried to make sense of this ordeal, but I just couldn’t understand the evil darkness in my heart. Nevertheless. I made bond and was escorted home by Mama and Arletha.

Although I was home, I was still facing a fifteen year prison sentence. Being fresh out of jail, seems I should have learned my lesson—but no, I was still depressed from the accident and angry for not having answers to the evil darkness within. I kept going back to church every Sunday and I would do well until around Wednesday. The more I sat my mind to do good, evil would intensify…Additionally, I was now beginning the worry about the robbery charge. It had gotten to the point I was hurting and miserable every single day…I just wanted to end it all.


Sexual Assault

It was the month of February 1982; I was living with Arletha. I became fed-up with the evil darkness within and decided to no longer fight with my emotions; instead I would give in to them. I told Arletha I was going out for a while and have a few drinks. I got into my car and drove to the liquor store and purchase a fifth of whiskey. As soon as I returned to the car, I broke the seal and turn the bottle upside down in my mouth drinking about one half pint straight—nonstop.

After guzzling the straight whisky, I was ready for anything the Spirit of Darkness would bring. Thus, I started up the car and began cruising down highway 22; it was about 10:30 P.M. I was passing by Pattie Bradley’s house when I saw her half-dressed before turning off the light to her bedroom. The evil spirit of darkness raised-up within me immediately! Parking my car on a gravel road nearby—about 50 yards away from Pattie’s house; I walked up and knocked on the door. Upon seeing me, and knowing who I was, she opened the door. I then forced myself upon her sexually.


Serving Hard Time

On February 1982, I was twenty years old, and also arrested for Sexual Battery of Pattie D. Bradley. This was my second felony; I knew that I would be gone a long time. However, Arletha came to my defense and talked with Pattie Bradley…She dropped the charges. Notwithstanding, the District Attorney picked up the case and offered a deal of two years concurrent with the 10 year sentence for the strong-armed robbery; I accepted the deal, and remained there in the county jail nine months.

As of November 1982, I was transferred to the Mississippi State Penitentiary to serve the remainder of my ten year sentence.

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