“Sweetie, you’re not getting this. I could be like Hannibal Lector and bite a nose off a face. I could have my guys kill for me, but I liked it to be up close and personal. I killed pimps, cho mo’s [Child molesters], dealers…the cops would actually thank me, give me back my weapons, and say have a nice day, sir.”
This is from an actual conversation I had recently! I sat on the floor with Viking. * He’s three times my size, and he just laughed when I asked how he killed in prison without weapons. He had made a journey few ever will—from the most violent death-row convict to a free, (mostly) peaceful man.
Allow me to fill you in on the twenty-four hours before this conversation. I had gone to an invitation-only Byron Katie/ Inside Circle Foundation (ICF) event in California wine country. This was to be the first time ever ex-convicts (and we’re talking former lifers) would share with “free people” the transformational work they’d done in prison. I had come because Byron Katie’s daughter, Roxann, invited me and I trusted her implicitly, but I had been told nothing about what would occur.
In the training room, I saw the roughest-looking men I’d ever seen. I thought we were there to serve them but they were clearly intending to serve us. Big Andrew* whooped a Native American invocation as sage burned. Rob, a biker with a long white ponytail, read stunning inmate poetry. Then they presented the ground rules. We didn’t make it past the first one—no violence.