This young Haitian guy Stevie, but calling himself Hyena, came back to the unit after spending 40 days in the hole.
He’s 21 years old but when I tell you he looks like he’s 12, I mean it. He’s shorter than my 13 year old daughter and weighs about 100 pound soaking wet. If we were free in the world together, I’d take him right to my Princesses middle school to beat up all the little boys that want to be her boyfriend.
Hold up, that was the over protective father, triggering my past gangster mentality taking over.
Anyway, Hyena lost his mother in the earthquake that devastated Haiti and came to live with his uncle in Brooklyn. It didn’t take long for the lure of the streets to take hold and he’s since found himself as a member of the Cripps.
Charged with armed robbery, the Feds offered him 10 years on a plea deal.
He came to my cell, asking me for advice.
“Eddie, ten years is like life,” he said with his strong Haitian creo accent.
“That’s how it seems now, but your young, you’ll be all right. Take that!”
“You say that like it’s nothing because you have over 13 years in already.”
“No” I corrected, “I say it like it’s a good deal and if you think about going to trial, they’ll knock your head off with twenty years or more.”
“Well, I’ll go to trial and they’ll have to give me that!” He said.
I’ve heard this argument many times before and I recognize it as the fear talking.
I also understand that he’s looking towards me for advice because he’s scared for his life.
“Hyena, your running around on gang time. You just got out the hole and your chasing the next high smoking all that K-2.”
“I been a Crip before I came to the Feds and I’m Cripping until that day I die. I get high all day cause there’s nothing else to do.”
“There’s plenty to do. Your not making the choices to do it.” I said continuing, “You have to want better for yourself and that means you’ll have to do change.”
“Change for what? They want to give me 10 years!!” He said leaning forward in the chair, running his hands through his mini-afro.
“First of all, if you start changing now, you won’t loose your good time and you’ll be home in like eight years.”
“Listen, this is what comes with the lifestyle your choosing, so get used to it. You want to be a gangster, bust your gun, wave your flag while throwing your little hand signs, then be prepare to do more time after that because you’ll either be killed or come back to prison, those are the consequences.”
“I want like two or three years,” he said like he didn’t hear what I just told him.
“That’s easy to say but the way your thinking and the actions your taking in here are attracting a different result. Take that little bitty 10 years, hopefully it will be enough time for you to wake up and live your true potential.”
Standing up, offering his hand, shaking his head he said, “Man, you say take 10 years like it’s nothing. I can’t hear that right now.”
“You don’t want to hear it, but I speak the truth to the youth!” I said as he turned and walked out my cell.
As much as I would like to grab Hyena, sit him back in the chair and talk to him until he’s ready to change, I know that he has to want better for himself first.
He has no idea that the patterns of thoughts he’s entertaining are setting the laws of attraction in motion to draw his experiences.
He’s convinced himself that he’s a Crip in his mind and speaks without understanding that our words have the power to become the results of what’s spoken. Hyena can’t see the logical conclusions of the path he’s currently on and when I was his age, neither could I.
I try to discourage those headed on that path, but in the mist of doing time, it’s a difficult barrier to conquer.
Instead of focusing on how much time I’ve done or have to do, I pay attention to what I’ve accomplished and my future goals.
Right before we locked in that night, I passed Hyena my “Day in the life with coffee and Paradise” book.
He gave it back this morning, having finished it since it’s only 30 pages.
“Does life really work like that?” he asked.
“That’s a question you should be able to answer if your honest with yourself. Think back to how you were thinking in the past and what lead to where you are now.”
“I like the way you break all that down with the laws and principals. Do you have something else to read?”
And so it begins.