Matt’s Story (by Warrior)
Warrior - Serving fourteen years for kidnapping and aggravated assault. Half Hispanic and Scottish-Irish with family still in Mexico. Brought up by a family steeped in drug commerce. He writes some of the best prison-fight stories on the Internet.
This story is a continuation of Warrior’s previous blog that you can read by clicking here.
As Mike and I were caught up in chatter, the holding cell door echoed a piercing crack! There was a time when that noise used to startle me. The escorting officer had radioed for it to be unlocked. The steel door shrieked against being opened, then suddenly finding its tracks, it opened smoothly as though it remembered what it was meant for. Then in walked Matt.
I immediately recognized Matt before he noticed me. Though I hadn’t seen him in years, he was still pale, gaunt, with blond curly hair that hadn’t been cut and was close to an Afro. Matt was 52, but his years of drug use and rotten teeth made him look 72. His square shoulders and over-sized glasses were reminiscent of the 80’s.
“Gilbert?” Matt squinted, unsure if it was me or not.
“Matt! Damn it’s a small world,” I said with a welcoming smile.
“It is you, Gilbert!” he said with an enthusiastic roll of the head. He flailed his arms as if he couldn’t believe it was me. We shook hands.
I was happy to see Matt too, although the nature of our rapport couldn’t really be labelled as friendship. I used to sell drugs to him in our old neighborhood. In prison though, a familiar face alleviates the misery of the circumstances. It’s also perhaps comforting to know someone familiar is experiencing the same misery.
Matt was one of those people I met that I could never forget. He knew me as Gilbert, one of the many aliases I’d adopted over the years. You do that a lot in the drug game. Matt had a wife, kids and a home. He was what drug users like to call a functioning addict. Although he had a $100-a-day habit, his bills were paid, kids taken care of, and wife seemingly happy. Despite this, at that time I viewed Matt as I would any other addict: no sympathy, no remorse, a sucker feeding his addiction in order to fuel mine for easy money.
There came a day when I viewed Matt in a different light. His wife, Sherry, had phoned me to meet up with her on his behalf. Matt’s sickness was getting the better of him, and I had his medicine. Sherry was a short heavy-set woman with oily blond hair, both due in part to years of work in the fast-food industry. Her aquiline nose suggested a little French in her ancestry. She wore the pants in the family. I don’t know what compelled me to ask her about Matt. Perhaps I was puzzled by how a strong opinionated woman such as her could juggle work, kids and family duties in addition to being the wife of an addict, and for some odd reason support Matt’s habit instead of rallying him to quit.
I pulled up around the back of Sherry’s workplace. She was out back smoking her usual Salem cigarette. We made our exchange while chatting.
“Do you mind if I ask you something?”
“No, go right ahead, hun.” She always had a way of throwing in hun at the end of sentences. It sounded more maternal on the back of her age, kids, and having a hard life.
“I know it’s none of my business, and if you don’t feel comfortable answering, I’m cool with that, but why do you enable Matt’s habit? You guys are not the type of people I’m used to dealing with. You’re not bottom feeders.”
Sherry inhaled the last part of her cigarette while composing her reply. She then flicked the cigarette butt with that cool unexpected speed and nonchalance that influences people into smoking. “You know, Gilbert, if he didn’t get it from you, he’d get it elsewhere,” she said, casting her head down as if shamed by the reality. She then raised her head in complete honor, and replied, “I love that man, and I don’t think you know the story about us.”
She began to tell me their story. They’d been together twenty plus years, and were high-school sweethearts. They grew distant after high school. Sherry began college and Matt found himself mixed up with the wrong crowd. Despite this, they still kept in touch. Matt followed a friend to Arizona, to escape and start new. Sherry ended up pregnant, and dropped out of college. She began to live with the child’s father. Through all this they kept in touch, and it was obvious the love was still there. The father of Sherry’s child was abusive to her, and Matt tried to persuade her to leave him, come to Arizona with the baby and start over, even possibly finish school. Then suddenly Sherry called Matt crying, hysterical, wanting him to come get her.
Sherry told me how she found her husband raping their three-year-old daughter. She was raped so bad she had to be hospitalised for months. Matt was on the first flight back to Baltimore, where they were originally from. Sherry’s husband was arrested, but released on bail. Matt got Sherry an apartment, stayed by her through the criminal and divorce proceedings, in addition to the lengthy reconstructive surgeries her daughter had to endure.
Sentencing finally came for Sherry’s ex. He received only probation. Now Matt being the man that he was back then meant that the sentence wasn’t justice in his eyes. I seriously doubt anyone could view that sentence as just. So Matt went to the local hardware store, and purchased a framing hammer. He showed up at Sherry’s ex’s house and beat his head in. The ex didn’t die, but would be severely handicapped forever. Matt was arrested, and sentenced to 10 years. He was out in 6. Sherry stood by him the whole time, but unfortunately he became hooked on drugs while in prison.
My jaw hung open in awe as I listened to the story of her and Matt. The man I viewed previously, as another despicable addict, I could no longer view the same way. Nor could I sell to this man any longer either. I’d come to respect him given what I’d learned. That was the last time I saw Matt and Sherry, until I ran into Matt in the prison medical-holding cell.
Do you think Matt was justified in bashing the rapist's head in with a framing hammer?
Warrior’s blog, Rapist on the Yard, touches on the same issue of vigilante justice/violence against sex offenders, and sparked a lot of comments.
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Shaun P. Attwood