My Destiny - Chapter 1
by Raymond Rountree
To My Destiny,
To whom it may concern, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Raymond. I am currently incarcerated but soon to be released in or on 11/8/2015. I am currently at a pre-work program. I have been incarcerated since November 13, 1998 to the present. The State of Florida decide that they would enjoy my company for 17 years! Then my debt would be repaid.
Well, that's life in a nutshell basically for me. I'll spare you mi-nor in-between stuff, that's very personal. I love to read, I love to write, I love to cook. I've become very accomplished at the Culinary Arts. I love music and I love boxing, horror movies, drama, etc. I believe that I stay abreast of world events while in the stir. And what I don't know, I hope you're there to teach me.
I'm Black-Hispanic. Mom's from the Bahamas. Dad's Puerto Rican and he decided to bounce on the responsibilities and that's why I don't possess a Latin last name. I don't really understand the process but I'll wing it this time. Am I supposed to sound convincing on paper?
I wonder what woman will read this when I'm gone! Will she be inspired, will I awaken a hunger deep within her? Will she melt at the mere thought of me having written this? I wonder, I ponder, I contemplate, I hope, I wish that just maybe this letter will touch you in a place you hold in your heart!
I've been locked up almost my entire life. From 15 to 41 years of age. All except for October 24, 1997 to November 13, 1998, I spent free! That's not much of a resume to start with, but it's the truth! I imagine this might give you pause. But I'm pretty much acceptable to the belief, A man can change! I'm a gang member in the "Gangster Disciples" from the age of 9. I've since kind of distanced myself from that aspect of my life. Pride doesn't come into my summation of my life; it's a fact and I simply stated it!
In prison, I didn't have any concerns except protecting my manhood. If you would let yourself imagine a little kid, 15 in the world's eyes, society's…but in jail that 15 year old has only two choices – does he fight to remain a man or does he succumb to despair? I chose the first choice, the laws of the jungle applies behind the gates. It's simply – fuck or fight!
I learned real early on that being someone's fuck-boy wasn't for me because having the unwanted chance to witness a person (male) being raped left me with an animal rage! I lost a lot of sleep; I made myself tune out the cries of misery and pain. I almost created a tunnel-vision effect on myself. I stopped caring, I tapped into a reservoir of anger I never realized existed inside of me. I amazed myself at times, that the sight, smell, taste of blood only drove me to further violence rather than create the flinching effect. It almost attained a sense of honor to me that when I punched into your stomach with my shank that it was a pre-requisite that I look you in the eyes simultaneously. I wanted posters for my work, I was the advertisement of why it was smart to abstain from any carnal desire directed towards my young person. And somewhere that derived attitude made me face all my trials with a blade or piece of rebar. God knows, I never meant to kill anyone but maim them, slice them, puncture them. By God, I meant every inch of it.
I was basically a troubled youth! But I certainly tapped into some inner gene where I became callous towards the idea of peace, even respect, I wanted fear in my sight! Any look that was deemed challenging, I struck it down fast!
Snitching was taboo in jail and that one unspoken rule saved me from a life sentence, I'm sure. People in the late 80s still possessed a code of sorts. Shit, they might kill you, maim you, fuck you, but telling wasn't done!
As I grew up the way of the shank became less necessary. I experienced a desire to learn because, once in confinement, I had trouble reading a comic book. I knew I'd been through school from kindergarten to the 9th grade. My reading skills took a back seat to violence. I promised my mom I would get my G.E.D. I stated off reading cowboy books, then as my reading improved, I would have a dictionary for the hard words, words I didn't understand, to gain a better comprehension. And math, as long as it was adding and subtracting, I was cool. When it got down to the decimal system or fractions, Algebra, etc., I was lost.
I studied and in 1993, I received my G.E.D. The proudest moment of my life! Something I never dreamed I could achieve by myself. It added to my self-esteem. It gave me a strange sense of confidence, of personal accomplishment.
Somewhere along my journey from the abyss, I lost something important; I lost my life in this system. I lost the belief that happiness can exist, that there is a future in the distance. I had to relearn to give a damn about myself. I needed to attempt to get in touch with that inner child I had abandoned in order not to lose the true meaning of being a man. Can you understand what I am trying to say?
I sometimes feel as if the deck was stacked against me from the word – go! I miss being a child, I wish I could go back in time and restart over where my journey began. I know that somewhere along my journey I lost the sense of right or wrong, that I don't view the world the same as other people do. I became a realist. Nothing, no matter how shocking, how gross, I look upon as casual. I want to be able to feel some emotion to wake up out of this fuge state, lift the mist off my eyes. I want to experience joy!
Besides being a baby a birth, I don't know when I was able to laugh. And I do laugh at times, it seems forced or there is an asinine aspect or sarcastic humor. Nothing natural. Asking for help kind of began when I came to Bridges of America; it became a sanctuary of sorts. I certainly don't possess the feeling that something is lurking around the corner or that someone has an eye on me. I seek an inner decompression of my past. I still subconsciously feel my arm punching with an imaginary knife into flesh. I sometime in the shower feel the spray of water on my face and when I close my eyes, I imagine the blood on my skin. I want to scream!
I want forgiveness for the acts that I was forced to commit but can't rightly ask for it because the dudes that I assaulted would have done worse to me. I truly have to rely on the belief that my mom's values and beliefs kept me from crossing the threshold to becoming a murderer behind bars. At night the tears come, unexplainable to me; are they the repressed emotions I wasn't willing to show. I have more questions than answers.
I say I don't fear anything. But I fear I might die without experiencing true love. With a woman! True happiness, my wifey, my lady, I never truly had that in my life. I feel it's on the horizon but there's a strong chance it will escape me. Because of God's sick sense of karma. Or maybe that's not the plan for me. I don't wish my thoughts on anyone. My mind doesn't turn off at night. It remains on at all times.
If a man's sense of futile, pain-inflicted, depressing life can be summed up in one sentence – "Unbelievable." I couldn't dream this shit up. But the way my life turned out isn't so farfetched from other guys I know. Different crimes brought us all here, some of us lost the prize or let the ball drop. And here we remain. Even though my freedom is on the very near horizon, I don't dare let myself feel the joy. Because being a realist, I realize that at any given moment, life can go wrong. I stay optimistic at best. I don't want to turn weak at the end, fear is the best motivator in any situation.
I try to stay humble with my fear meaning that I won't let fear consume my being. But I will straddle it at times to keep me grounded, to keep me sane. I want to make it, I want a child and I want to instill in that child, a brighter future. But teach the child all the pitfalls in life. The knowledge I possess is his or hers. My child will be the exact opposite of me but with all the tools to survive any kind of situation. I hope for a chance to bring my hopes into reality.
I feel like out of all the misery I endured in my life, my passion for a loving, meaningful relationship has only gotten more urgent. What do they say? – "My clock is ticking." I'm not 20 anymore, not 30 anymore, I'm 41 years old and I need to make the most of my remaining years. And fortunate, I know I am. There are many men whose chance for a second try at life's game has passed, they will never get out. In hindsight, I'm fortunate for a whole lot of things, my health, my body, my will to succeed have gotten stronger.
I'm actually hungry for my next chance; I want to survive another 40 years! That's all I wish for – the second half, game winning, Hail Mary, buzzer beater! I want to experience 40 years of freedom and enjoy the view, the smells, the taste for life; to actually sit on a beach at night, watch the sunset until the following morning watching the sun rise. I don't want a fortune, shit, I don't require a fortune, I just want my freedom. I want to have choices and make my own decisions. And there will certainly be adversity, strife and a lot of bumps in the road. But I have my mom backing me and my brother and that's enough. Freedom makes all goals seem attainable and possible. To me it's like a kid who's been told that freedom tastes like shit, only for that kid to find out freedom is like ice cream with honey on top.
The realization that due to my many infractions, rule violations, assaults, etc., I might have prolonged my stay here in this ghetto of despair and depravity. It makes me seem as if I'm a glutton for punishment. I blocked out the outside world. I just stopped trying to keep contact with outside friends, no contact. I even stopped trying to write to family. At times it seemed I abandoned all hope of ever gaining a meaningful existence. It felt as I was created for all the despair of the world and that burden was heavily upon my shoulders.
And the only distraction from this despair was hurting people, letting them hurt me back. I had an almost love-hate relationship with myself. Then the inner hate manifested itself outwards towards family. You find yourself taking on a victim-stance in your moment of blind insight. Everybody else is to blame but me. You become exhausted down to your bones attempting to find someone to blame. It's just despair, the attempt to find a purpose in life. Man is not destined to reside inside a fence. The funny thing is my willpower of wanting to be free and I ask this question – Is the desire to be free an ingrained instinct? I certainly believe it is.
In my incarceration, the one instinct I was unable to suppress was my wanton lust for female companionship. No matter what time of day I found myself , no matter what mood I was in, dreaming over females. It's the reason I fought so hard in the first place. I want my girl to receive me 100% truthful, no lying to her. Because, if you claim to love your woman, you need to respect her and trust her to come to some needed decision based on what you tell her. I don't want something like a lie or secret to come in between me and my lady. I want her to be aware of what I think and feel. I can only imagine how a wife feels when she is surprised by her husband's lies. The shame in front of her family members she was defending him from; the hurt because she was the last to know some secret. I don't want to ever be that cruel.
I pondered a lot on the female species in my 20-plus years of incarceration. The thoughts I have are probably thought out by many men but not to the extreme where I have contemplated to go. You see, I promised myself that if I was blessed with a dream girl, that I would treat her like an exotic, rare species that only care, tenderness and love to the highest power can fulfill. That I would keep my promise not to lie to her. Because I wouldn't want to displease her. I would attempt to keep her in awe of me, to constantly keep her guessing. Keep her on her tippy-toes with a sense of anticipation towards my ideas or inklings on how to tease her, entice her. To make her feel half-full but somehow keeping her thinking that she isn't rising to her full potential. I want my lady to basically not want to leave the house but when events do require her to leave, I want her to feel that pull towards home to be so overwhelming that she will come speeding back!
That to me signifies a happy woman. There are people who don't communicate because their spouse will view them differently. How differently does the view seem once your spouse is found creeping? I ponder that on a lot of women metaphors and tales. News and the mind is better than any movie you've ever seen. I ponder on the woman and her desires, lust animalistic lust to the point where she would subscribe to the idea of double penetration and I wonder on things like this shit. That's all I ever did in poison, sitting in confinement, walking a 6 by 9 cell, pondering on what makes a woman tick. I don't know if I'm a pervert but at the time I started pondering on these aspects I was fucking 16 years old! What was I supposed to think about or reflect on behind a steel door? I was bored just doing pushups. I found a way to spiritually leave my body on a mental level. And you only think back on the past so much. How many times are you going to beat yourself up for the mistakes of your past? So I pondered on the sexual aspects of a woman. Because I just knew that once upon my release, I will be able to enact my thoughts into existence.
Because what is the purpose of being a man? To procreate, to mate with a woman. And that is my goal to have my dream woman...feisty, tempered-well, good mommy qualities, happy-go-lucky and optimistic. She will be able to have a calming effect to my abrasiveness. And that's not asking anything unreasonable. I feel, no I believe with my whole heart, that I deserve this aspect. I deserve happiness.
After living in hell, because hell is a lot of prisons across the world. Hell is hot, a hot mist in the air that disrupts your inner core. Hell is smelling shit, metal, blood, concrete, food that's half-cooked, sour. A sort of sour-tasting air with the metallic aroma of blood, despair, hopelessness, pitiful burned skin, antiseptic smell from alcohol pads. It's a combination of the world's worst mixed with the best -- some of the best athletes, some of the best artists, some real smart men studying math that would blow your mind, some of the best outspoken that captivate an audience. Man, some guys will amaze you! And I pondered on woman!