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Prison Narratives: ‘Runaway’ by Vincent Young

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VOX Press‘ book, Prison Narratives, features personal stories written by prisoners at Parchman Farm. The book can be bought here.

Vincent Young was raised on a farm in New Albany, Mississippi. His father was an airplane mechanic and sometimes bare knuckles fighter. He is serving a life sentence for armed robbery and aggravated assault.

XII. Runaway

Vincent Young

For the next few days I did my job every morning, me and Legs fed the pigs and chickens. Feeding the other hogs was a task because they will run over you trying to get to the trough, but Legs seemed to always stand between me and them, and when they got too close she would grunt real loud. They would stop and back away from the trough.

Then we would go in the house and eat breakfast. Yes, Legs would eat what I ate—rice, biscuit, eggs and bacon. Then I’d take a bath and get ready for school.

Around 10:00 in the morning at school I would get so sleepy. That was because I was getting up every morning at 5 a.m. That way I’d have time to feed the chickens, gather the eggs, and feed the hogs. I am becoming the “little man” that I’ve always wanted to be for my Mommy. But I didn’t want it like this. I wanted my Daddy with me. Why did God have to take my Daddy away from me?

The idea hit me how I could be right beside my Daddy, fighting along with him and God, fighting the devil! There was only one way for me to do that, and I did.

At least three times a week, I got into a fight I had to show God that I’m a good fighter and pray He’ll come get me.

After a few months of this all, I got was in trouble. I got a whipping for fighting Larry, Charles, and Bobby because they are black like me. God didn’t call on me in those few months, and that only made me angrier.

My job of feeding the animals was taken over by Uncle John, but Legs and me still got up at the same time of 5 a.m. to go and get the eggs out of the hen house which was very easy.

I don’t know what was happening to me, but I knew something was wrong inside. The doctor I was seeing during my fourth-period class told me that I was doing all my fighting because I missed my Daddy. Maybe she was right, but she did not know why. The path I’d taken that day my Daddy died will lead me to a place I wish on no one. My violent ways were pushing me to the point of no return.

That was the day Mommy told me and my sister that we were moving to town and that she would sell all the hogs and chickens. I looked at Legs and knew then that we must run away.

That night I packed two pairs of pants and underwear. I grabbed two loaves of bread, one for me and one for Legs. I stopped by the hen house and got a few eggs, and headed to the barn to get Legs.

Me and Legs hit the woods and headed for the pond. I knew my way to my Grand Mommy’s house, but we had to stay out of sight in the woods. I’d also brought two quilts, one for me and one for Legs.

I didn’t remember the night ever being this dark, but it was darker than dark, and the noise in the woods were a little louder. I could hear something moving around me and Legs, like something was following us. We would stop walking and it would stop walking. We’d move a little faster and it would move faster, too. Once we made it to the open space by the pond I no longer heard it behind us.

Me and Legs put up a little camp by the pond. I ate two pieces of bread, and Legs ate two pieces, too.

I didn’t sleep at all that night. I covered Legs up with one quilt and I took the other. Early the next morning, we struck out again and headed for my Grand Mommy’s house. We had only fifteen miles to go before we got there. Me and Legs covered good ground on the second day, but it still seemed that we were miles away from her house. That night, every star in the sky was lit up. Me and Legs made camp and I was asleep as soon as I laid down.

Legs woke me up while it was still dark, but the sun would be up soon. It was day three and it would be our last night in the woods. I rode on Leg’s back most of the day, and all of the way, until we got to the rocky road. This was the road that will lead me to where I want to be.

We got to Grand Mommy’s house, and I could see Daddy’s truck in the yard. My sister was outside, and Legs started running to her. I knew then that Mommy was inside waiting on me. I heard my Granddaddy yell, “Boy, get your ass in the house! You done had you Mommy worried for three days about you, boy!”

My sister started playing with Legs while I headed into the house. When I walked in I got the biggest hug and kisses from Mommy who told me that she wasn’t going to whip me as long as I promised not to ever run away again.

Mommy said, “Baby, you could’ve been eaten by a panther or killed by stray dogs and wild hogs!”

“Why do we have to move?” I asked her.

“It hurts me too much to live in that house without Daddy,” she said.

“Can we take Legs with us to town?” I asked.

“Legs is staying here with Grand Mommy and we can come visit her every weekend,” she answered.

Mommy made me take a bath, fed me real good, and I slept like a baby. I had laid in the woods that first night looking at the dark, starless sky and wondered why all the angels were asleep. Why wasn’t one of them watching over me? Daddy had told me that the stars are angels watching over every kid in the world.

Granny woke me the next morning to eat breakfast, and she always made me flapjacks. I asked could I get some for Legs and she said yes, so after I finished eating I gave Legs five flapjacks.

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