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Adventures with Big Bill

Over the years, I've met some rather...interesting characters. And because I'm such a caring and sharing soul, I'm going to regale you with tales of them. No, no, don't thank me. It's quite alright. This is for your reading enjoyment.

During my time at Unit 32, I was housed around the guys on death row quite frequently. That's where I met Bill. If you were to see Bill, your first impression would be of a guy who looked like he'd been a part of the Hell's Angels. About 5'11", 320 lbs., dark brown hair cut in a mohawk, and a full beard. Undermining this first impression is the one-piece button-up jumpsuit that he's wearing. I got the feeling he had received it when he first came to the row, that it was about 5 times too large and he kinda grew into it, like a goldfish into its bowl. The jumpsuit was once red, but now it just looks pink. And then Bill opens his mouth and says something like "Hi!" sounding for all the world like Ned Flanders from The Simpsons.

I used to get moved on a weekly basis, and I remember the first time I had to spend a week across from Bill. A memorable week it was. The first thing I noticed is that Bill is lazy. He came shuffling up to his door, stuck his arms between the bars, waved and said "Hi!" in an eerily cheerful voice. I saw movement near his feet- in his shuffle to the door he'd disturbed the dust bunnies in his cell, which were the size of small tumbleweeds. As I said, Bill is lazy.

One time I saw him "washing" his laundry. He had put a shirt in his sink, jammed the button so the water kept running, and then shuffled back to his bed. Every 30 minutes or so he'd come shuffling back over to the sink and -with just his index finger- poke at the shirt he had in there. After about the fourth time he did this, I asked him what he was up to. He replied that washing machines have an "agitate" cycle, so he figured he'd do the same. I told him he'd probably have to agitate a bit more vigorously if he expected his shirt to get clean. He said, "If I did this to you, wouldn't you get agitated?" I had to admit that I most likely would. As an aside, when he finally took his shirt out of the sink, it was green. The water at Parchman isn't the best.

I imagine that in prison you're likely to hear a variety of tales moreso than in other places. I've heard my share, certainly. Bill's spiritual beliefs were a hodgepodge accumulation, and one of the tales he shared with me was from when he was attempting to become a monk. Via correspondence. I guess it's possible, but I'd never heard of anyone doing it that way. According to Bill, at some point he disagreed with some essential doctrine or questioned some practices within the Church. He wrote to the Vatican and received a response from Cardinal Ratzinger, the Dean of the College of Cardinals at the time (and current Pope), saying he was anathema, from thenceforth excommunicated from the Church, and that he was, "Damned, damned, damned to hell, hell, hell." Thrice damned. Sounds like some conversations I've had with my exes.

In the following years, Bill went through some changes. His best friend on the row was executed and that deeply affected him. He lost weight, became more subdued. His death sentence was commuted to life without parole and he was released to general prison population. I don't know where he is now, but if you're out there,'s your pancreas? =)

-in memory of "Bart"

Sad & light hearted at the same time. Love the agitated part! Keep writing Steven, its in you!

Thank you for your kind words. Steven really appreciates all feedback he receives. This is what motivates him to write. If there is anything specific you would like to read about, just let us know. He's open to suggestions. :-)

Steven your memory of the men on 32 is just heart warming. i see that they all made such a effect on your life. As I am certain you did on there's as well.

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About Me

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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