Flight of the Angel by Ricky Patterson

[TRANSCRIPTION]

April 3, 2017

Dear Mr. Yasuoka,

Greetings, sir. I am glad you reached out to me a second time. Because the prison mail room confiscated the contents of the first letter & I was handed an empty envelope. However, I did not receive your second letter until March 31. – Yet this did not dampen my spirit. Please forgive any errors – as I was forced to rush.

I would like to thank you for bringing attention to death in prison; because behind these walls we die daily. Often with no solace, frequently at the hands of staff, mostly violent. This does not cover the death of those we love most who are free. That pain alone is unspeakable.

So I hope, pray that what I’m sending you, “Flight of the Angel,” will help your project and bring light to the cause. I don’t know if I missed the deadline or not but I have another piece I’m working on that I would like to send as well. Please let me know if you’re willing to excerpt & if possible let me know what you think about this short true story.

I look forward to working with you, on this project & anything you may have in the future.

Sincerely,

Ricky Patterson

“Buried-Alive”

“Flight of the Angel”

By Ricky Paterson

For millenniums man has looked to the skies blue depth & envied the soaring birds. Held as slaves by the earth’s gravitational pull we’ve dreamed of the freedom brought by flight…

♬♪ ONE – TWO – THREE—BREATHEASY! ONE-TWO-THREE—BREATH EASY! ♬♬ Flapping my arms – in unison to Jay-Zees rhymes I finished my five hundredth jumping jack in a sweaty forty five minute round robin of push-ups, sit-ups, & jumping jacks. When I took the earphones from my ears panting I glared past the bars toward the smeared filthy windows. Where the sun’s rays tinted all round to dream of freedom.

A thought for the bold – for the few rebellious souls at Stateville who have the audacity to believe their long term sentence won’t end in death. That they too – like dangerous will be called forth by the messiah – only this time he’ll wear a two thousand dollar suit & speak the language of the appellate court.

Yet as my lungs craved oxygen & my spirit lusted for liberty. Hoping – waiting… A soul that could be bound no more – kissed his loved ones in the visiting room. Hugged their warm bodies & left them filled with hope. After going through the mundane post-visit  strip search & verbal dance with officers Angel dressed in his best blues was handcuffed & escorted back toward C-house. Where I day dreamed of freedom’s touch…

When I close my eyes I can see him bopping down the walk – the warm bright sun embracing him – emboldening him. In spite of his hands being cuffed behind his back to lock down his head high – his pace swift with purpose.

With a quick bounce he bounded the three stairs & entered the cell house, with the key to his physical freedom. Stopped in the cage by officer Stevens a large potbelly officer. Angel nodded carelessly to Steven’s jovial antics; reported what gallery he was from & allowed the officer to remove the mechanical restraints. Once his hands were loosed I was told he took time to straighten out his blues like a bird fluffing up his feathers. Being sure to dust off any lint from his pants – straightening his shirt & tucking it neatly into his pants. After all they were his best; and his destination required such…

Moving quickly Angel made his way toward his gallery climbing flight after flight. His hands dragging against the pale yellow paint of the railing – his bright, white Air-Force Ones clunking on every other stair. Waiving to associates, taking time to dialogue with others. Angel with a smile on his face explained to one inmate his plight as he had to his family moments earlier. He had “copped out” or agreed to a virtual life sentence (30 years at 100%) – to evade those onerous four letters L-I-F-E to appease his loved ones. Now a few years into that lengthy sentence with a snowballs chance in hell on appeal he found himself with no purpose. Finding that it was better to be dead – than to have no purpose, he sought to free himself from the inevitable. Dying slowly piece by piece over the next thirty years.

With that said Angel leaped up the last flight of stairs in his bright white ones – climbed over the railing – closed his eyes briefly as if to speak to his God & with a smile, eyes wide open, he let go of the railing. Arms spread wide as if he were fastened to the cross & as he passed himself to Christ the Angel descended from on high – silently – backwards…

As my heart rate worked its way back to normal;  out of the corner of my eye I saw his plunge. Like a brave cliff diver off the shores of Acapulco, with his blues – his best blues rippling in midflight – his bright white Ones seemed like clouds about his feet. As if he had literally fallen from the sky & as I stood there watching, not believing what I saw; it seemed Angel & the entire universe slowed if only for that moment. By the time visual & audio – my eyes & ears agreed to what was going on, reality was shattered by a sound I will never forget. For it was the sound of a horrific crunching like a pack of hyenas cracking a thigh bone of a great elephant.

Combined with a flat thud so deep – so resonant it seemed to generate from the earths core—forever shaking—cracking the foundation of C-house. If not the physical building, then the very men who witnessed the aftermath of Angel’s descent. As the actual sound was nothing compared to the physical carnage caused by the gravitational pull from a five-story plunge. I was later told by an associate whose cell Angel’s twisted body lay in front of for close to an hour while staff tried to figure out how to save his lifeless corpse. That the horrible crunch came from Angel’s head hitting the metal railing of the cart they use to pass out supplies & the deep thud was sadly warm flesh being stopped by cold concrete. Gravitational force meeting mass…

The sound of death was replaced by the sounds of utter confusion as medtechs tried uselessly to bring Angel’s free spirit back into the prison of his mortally wounded body. On his corpse they practiced CPR Pounded on his chest – yelling for him to breathe – held his nose & forced air into his lungs. Frantically they worked to bring him back to life so he could do L-I-F-E. But it was already too late he had made parole in the afterlife…

Yet, while Angel was free – officer Stevens who should have never let him go unescorted on without restraint while on lock-down, Stood in a stooper splattered with blood. The blood of an Angel that not only pooled in a deep dark stain around the back of his head. But like the pieces of his cranium & particles from the back of his brain; the blood was splattered all over the nearby cells & even the inmates themselves. Some of whom were literally sitting at their desk when Angel fell from five stories up & landed tragically inches from them. His pants creased – his shirt tucked in…

Some of his blood & pieces of his skull had to be washed from their faces – wiped from their walls & clothing had to be thrown away due to blood stains. These men watched Angel’s life force leave his body. However, unlike staff they were not offered counseling for this trauma – they/we were left to deal with this tragedy amongst ourselves, individually. Ironically most of the men whose cells Angel’s body fell in front of have been sentenced to L-I-F-E… meaning they’ll die a slow death in prison, yet after twenty – twenty-five years some of these men still fight for their liberty…

I don’t know if these are naïve souls – who are afraid to soar into the here after or if he who commits suicide is the brave soul. The truth probably lies somewhere between here & eternity. All I know is that on a sunny day while dreaming about freedom in Staveville, I witnessed the last “Flight of the Angel”…