Sunday, May 17, 2015

First Time At Prison

The waiting area is painted a soft, soothing blue-gray, and the seats are not uncomfortable. But waiting to enter a prison is anything but restful. What the heck was I doing? How did I come to be in this place, at this time? Did I really want to go through those doors?

All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind. This was your decision. You knew what you were doing. You can’t run out now. You’ve got to see this through.

The guards were a surprise to me. I had expected surly, dispassionate, and a touch of mean. Instead, I got warm, open, and friendly. Really? They were exceptionally nice and polite, an attitude I found somewhat disconcerting. Weren’t they supposed to snarl and snap? A sense of disquiet settled in my soul as the minutes ticked by while I sat, waiting.

And then something completely unexpected happened. I had come to this place to meet Brian Gore, to speak with him for a bit, to let him know about the book I was writing. I had my questions planned. I had put together everything I was going to say.
I was ready for this moment.

Until the guard at the front desk motioned over to me while speaking to her replacement. “They’re waiting to see Gore.”
Wait—they? When I looked behind me, a quiet man sat, patient and serene.

Brian’s father.

The last thing I want to be is intrusive and pushy. Some writers are known for those qualities, but I am not comfortable with that approach.

When we were finally called in, Mr. Gore and I began the long walk down to the visiting area. It’s not really a long walk, but once that first door clangs shut and locks, first-timers like me feel closed in.

It’s a good thing Mr. Gore was with me, because he had to show me how to get through the next set of doors. He was gracious and kind, showing a touch of humor and a bit of emotion. As a parent, I cannot imagine what it is like to have a child in prison for such a crime.

Overall, I think my first visit went well. I accomplished what I wanted to, and I was able to quickly get out so that Mr. Gore could spend some time with his son.

Tomorrow morning the trial begins. Perhaps we will find answers. Or perhaps, as Mr. Gore intimated, we’ll never really understand, no matter how many questions we ask.

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