The Truth Comes Out
I noticed right away that the third letter from my death row penpal was different. The envelope was in a different handwriting. My first thought was something had happened to him. Like I was that important already!
I ripped open the envelope and began reading.
The letter began with an explanation of who the writer was and that he was writing on behalf of my penpal. My penpal was illiterate! The writer explained that my penpal was excited when I began writing to him. He had nobody to care about him. Nobody wrote to him. Nobody visited him.
My penpal was so proud of the birthday card and letters that I wrote to him that he carried them in his pocket, telling anyone that would listen. My last letter to him made him angry. He was upset with the inmate that wrote to me, asking for money and clothing. He had no idea twhat was written in those letters. He hoped I would not quit writing.
The writer said he was my penpal's "next door neighbor" and promised my penpal that he would read and write the letters for us. The writer warned me that since my address was out there, someone else might write to me.
I felt sorry for the man. He came from a poor family. He had nothing and nobody.
I wrote to him and also included a note for the writer, thanking him for his honesty and thoughtfulness. I also included my phone number for my penpal to call me. He called me the same day he got my letter. I could tell he was mentally slow. It was hard for me to understand his speech. And what I did understand was hard to comprehend. Nonetheless, I could tell he was happy to have someone to turn to.
That same day, the write called me. He said he wanted to explain what his letter was all about. He said he heard the other inmates talking about me They called called me "vanilla shake", meaning they were planning on shaking me for whatever they could get in my penpal's name. He said he would watch out for both myself and my penpal. If he heard anymore he was planning on going to the authorities.
I thanked him for his kindness and told him if he ever needed anything, well, he had my address and phone number. He said he was alright at the time.
That was my first contact with the "badman".