Not all of the stories Gary tells me lately are depressing. Some are downright humorous.
I think I’ve mentioned that Gary is very tall, almost 7 feet, and he can strike an imposing figure if you don’t know what a softie he really is. In jail, this has mostly served him well. No one really wants to start anything with a man who looks like he could effortlessly step on you like squashing a bug.
One young man, however, had been offered the advice that if he ever finds himself in jail, to single out the biggest guy there and promptly beat him up to earn everyone’s respect.
Gary told me he felt something bounce off of him but didn’t think much of it, since guys rough-house and wrestle and aren’t terribly careful about who they bump into. It wasn’t until a chorus of “Gary, watch out!” rang out that he looked around…
…and didn’t see anything. He didn’t know what everyone was yelling about, or what he was supposed to be watching for. Then, from the crowd, he saw a little fellow plowing straight toward him, arms raised, intent on destruction, ready to rumble.
Gary outstretched one arm and stopped the guy by holding his shirt collar. The young man was suspended at the end of Gary’s arm but still swinging wildly, eyes closed tight, just whaling away…then cautiously, he peeked one eye open, then the other, and glowered up at Gary.
Gary asked him calmly, “Are you done now?”
The guy considered his position, straightened up, dropped his fists, and said, “Umm…yeah.”
“Ever since then,” Gary told me, “he’s been my shadow.”
When Gary is reading, this young man is reading. When Gary is drawing, he wants to draw too. Gary joked that he has to chase him off his bunk and make it clear that he absolutely, positively is NOT sleeping with him.