The Heroic Stranger

Early November in 1988, on a Friday night around 8:30 pm, Travis Lane was enjoying the company of a few friends on his front porch. It was a normal night in the neighborhood–hanging out, drinking, and exchanging the latest gossip.

Out of no where a gunman began shooting. Unaware where the shots were coming from, everyone ran for safety. The crowd that surrounded Travis had dispersed – they scattered like roaches when they’re being hunted by humans. Instinctively Travis dived to the ground. While laying on the grass, a bullet pierced his head. Because the unseen gunman had cleared the area, there was no one there to help me.

When a Father Loses His Son

When everything calmed down, I felt relaxed and settled. In the middle of October, 2014, I lost my youngest son.

“C. Logan, report to the slot,” The corrections officer announced on the pod’s intercom. I was in prison serving a 10-year sentence. It was very early in the morning. I walked to the control booth, “What’s up?” Then placed my ear close to the slot. “The captain wants to see you in his office,” the officer said. “Ok!” I replied and then went to my cell to get ready.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tips #3

Watch Your Mouth!

A few days ago, an associate and I had a conversation about how children utilize Google search to learn about unfamiliar words they hear people say. My associate, Astro (that’s his nickname), shared with me how his 6-year old nephew, Micah, had used Google Voice to learn what the word murder meant. It was no surprise that images of homicide scenes, fatal bullet and knife wounds, and dead bodies laying in puddles of blood appeared. Scared out of his mind, Micah ran to show his mother the horrifying pictures.

“How did you get this?” Micah’s mother asked. Micah explained to his concerned mother how he had Googled murder. When his mother asked him why did he Google murder, Micah looked his mother in her eyes and said, “I heard you say it, mom.”

The bottom line is that children – especially ages 3 to 8 – are sponges; they soak up everything. Because of their high level of curiosity, they want to know everything about everything. Therefore, we (adults) have to be conscious of what we say in the presence of a child.

Until next tip, stay focused stay free!

From A Lost Boy To A Found Father

“Christina’s here!” were the best words Kevin Parker had ever heard. It was the happiest day of his life. On October 29, 1983, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kevin had just come in from outside when his cousin told him that he was a father.

After his cousin Shae broke the news to him, Kevin felt like he was about to have a heart attack. He began pacing the floor back-and-forth. Several thoughts raced through his 14-year old brain. “You have a daughter. You’re a father now, Kevin.” was what he repeated aloud. He was overwhelmed.

At first Shae didn’t know what to say or do. “Are you going to the hospital or what?” she abruptly asked. Kevin quickly regained his composure and focused on the matter at hand – he needed to go see his daughter.

Stay Focused, Stay Free Tips #2

Bad Vibes

Hope Village is a public housing complex in Central Virginia. Mostly tenants of minority backgrounds. The apartments’ population changes quite a bit – which means kids are always looking for friends. Markas is a smart, 11-year old boy who lives with his single mother.

One day Markas and his best friend, Jeremy, welcomed a new kid on the block. “Y’all can just call me Flame,” the new boy said. Flame, 12, use of his nickname instead of his real name seemed odd to Markas. As the trio walked and talked, Flame expressed his strong interest in guns. “A 12-year old with a gun is illegal. Why is he infatuated with breaking the law? I think Flame is a troublemaker.” Markas thought privately.

Halloween Feud

A game idea for teachers.

With Covid-19 cases on the rise, this year’s trick-or-treat may be more of a trick than a treat. Likewise last year, our children may not be able to put on their favorite customs and knock on doors for candy. So I have an idea. In efforts to ensure our kids have a Halloween, I’ve created “Halloween Fued.” It’s a fun, no lose, everyone wins game. The end goal is that every child gets a bag of candy for Halloween. If possible, it would very much please me if every teacher and/or adult adopt this game. And do have a lot of fun!

“HALLOWEEN FUED”

A children’s trivial game.

How to play:

Players are placed into groups of 3, 4, or 5 – depending on total number of players; for example, if there’s 18 students in a class, then it should be 6 groups of 3 players.

Grandma’s Cheesecake

Born and raised in the South, my grandmother, Mary, used to make one of the best strawberry cheesecakes. I have never tasted a better pastry than my grandmother’s cheesecake. Every taste was sensational. Every bite was delicate. And every swallow was soothing. What a pleasant experience!

Junk food has always topped my daily food chart. Candy satisfies a sweet tooth. All chocolate cookies, pastries, and ice cream are delicious. None of which is greater than my favorite strawberry cheesecake. If given a choice to eat what I want for the rest of my life, I’ll have a deep freezer stuffed with my grandmother’s cheesecakes.

When I was a little boy, my mother would send me to my grandmother’s house for dinner. While eating my food, all I could think of was the desert. “Cheesecake covered with sliced strawberries.” I thought as I rushed my dinner. Once I finished my plate, my grandmother would serve me her mouthwatering cheesecake. Like a fat kid loves cake, I demolished it – left no crumbs behind for rodents.

Wrongful Death

It was a beautiful, summer day in the middle of September. Alone in the cloudless, crystal blue sky, the sun reserved its 2 o’clock spot. Meanwhile, usual everyday activities assumed at State Correctional Center: Inmates stood anxiously at canteen windows with their orange net bags; bored inmates loitered the boulevard (walkways) to say “what’s up?” to their fellow convicts or female staff; workout junkies crowded the weight pits; and men walked around the rec yard tracks, or talked to their friends through the 12-foot fences.

“Four on four. It’s me, you, Jason, and Gran.” I said to one of my soccer buddies. Although the odds weren’t in our favor, our confidence motivated us to win. Minutes after the game’s first touch, I was distracted by loud radios and jiggling keys. I saw correction officers and nurses – like the entire medical department – running on the boulevard with a stretcher heading to N unit (a housing unit). “Someone passed out from smoking that darn spice” was my initial thought. Once the nurses disappeared into the building, I got back into the game.

With mesmerizing footwork, I dribbled the ball down the left side of the field. As always, I looked in the goalkeeper’s box for an open teammate. No one was there to attack. Using my lightening speed, I overstepped the ball twice, drifted right, and passed a defender. Within 15-yards of striking distance, I cocked back my right leg to fire, but instead, I back-heeled passed the ball to Jason, who was behind me. I cleared out and created space for him to shoot. With no mercy at all, Jason aimed and discharged a missile. Unfortunately, the ball whistled over the crossbar.

Once Upon a Time…And Now

Written by Killian Yeatts

Edited by Latif Torres-Robinson

Once upon a time in the final hours of July 24, 1900, in New Orleans, Louisiana, three officers accosted two Black males for no reason other than the color of their skin. In a wrongful attempt to arrest the two men, one of the officers held his gun to the face of one of the Black men, while another officer bashed Mr Charles (the other Black man) in the head.

Unknown to the police, however, Mr. Charles had a gun in his possession. Out of self-defense, Mr. Charles pulled out his revolver, and began shooting at the assaultive cop, hitting the officer in the hip. The gunman then fled. By doing this, Mr. Charles knew he had sealed his fate; his life was forfeited.

Mr. Charles didn’t foresee how his actions would later impact his fellow African-Americans. Taking matters into their own hands, an ire of White citizens marched the streets to find the perpetrator. They beat every Black male in sight until they found Mr. Charles.

Identity Crisis

People’s perception of me meant more to me than how I percieved myself. Needless to say, I was oblivious as to who I was; it wasn’t important.

For almost two decades, I lived up to family, friends, even strangers’ expectations rather than my own. Like a lovable character in a fiction novel or screenplay, my actions satisfied the appetites of hungry spectators. “Are you not entertained?” was a subconscious, matured way of me asking “how high do you want me to jump?”

As pathetic as it sounds, I was a slave of mankind’s thoughts, under its command and trapped inside its narrow mind.