Confessions…

•July 6, 2015 • Leave a Comment

My name is Ahmadu Garba. Think of me as the crypt keeper of this website…

We all play the role of minstrels performing for strangers we don’t like, yet we sell our souls to impress them anyway. But when all the judgemental eyes are gone, when all the make-up is washed off our faces, when we’re alone in that dark room…we still have to live with ourselves and the insecurities that haunt us as we grovel through this life.

I want to pull the Persian rug back to reveal the dirt and grime hidden underneath, the imperfections that we want to remain concealed.

The goal is to share stories of people who are grappling with the realities of their broken lives. This is a platform for them to express themselves anonymously. To strip down to their proverbial nakedness. To reveal the scourged back, the tortured emotions booked-marked by scars on a wrist, the prosthetic leg that’s a reflection of a false sacrifice.

This is their opportunity to share their beliefs, joy, laughter, fears and hurts; to release the ghosts of their past lurking within the darkest crevices of their poisoned humanity. This is the alter where they lay down their burden because frankly, their yoke is too heavy to bear.

Each person featured wrote a journal entry every day for one month. I’ll pick thirteen to fifteen of the most poignant entries from each person to present as a series which will be posted each week with nothing edited, not even typos or bad grammar. These are their unadulterated thoughts, giving us a glimpse of what’s beneath. Before each featured person’s series, I’ll write a quick intro about them presenting their current situation for contextual purposes.

I hope you come away with something from these entries. Some of what you read may at times be depressing, other times it might make you laugh but often it will force you to contemplate ideas. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not offering advice. I’m not a guru. I just thought maybe by reading these stories you’d see a reflection of yourself. What you do from that point is up to you.

Go to www.lowe-country.com

•December 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I know I’ve fallen off the past year updating this blog but all for good reasons which I won’t bore you with right now. 

But the Vernon confessions has spawned into something entirely different and I want to introduce you to Ehrich Lowe. Believe me you will not be disappointed. Follow Ehrich Lowe’s story at http://www.lowe-country.com

Subscribe and follow! 

Thanks for your support. 

Vernon – Ep. 3

•August 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Day 8: There’s something you should know. I’ve never told this to anyone. Well except Missy, she has seen my at my worst. The fact that she still wanted to marry me after what she saw makes her either a saint or horribly stupid and naive, I guess it might be a combination of both. Harsh to say that about the mother of my kids but that’s how I feel right now. She’s not a horrible person like I’m making her sound but… I don’t know I’m just disappointed on so many levels it’s hard to articulate all of it. I guess I’m wondering who gets the blame for the shattering my life into fragments, I know I’m a culprit but there are other forces that contributed.

My father was an alcoholic. I’m not saying that so you’d feel sorry for me. I don’t care about your empathy.  I’m not saying that to explain away the mess I’m in but it’s just a fact of my history. I didn’t choose the family I was born into, God just decided to curse me that way.

My dad would get violent towards my mom. You think of drunks and you imagine homeless people or drug addicts to be drunks but my father was neither. He was the city comptroller. People loved him so much that during Christmas our entire basement was full of gift baskets we got all kinds of important people– the police chief, mayor, state senators, I think he even got a gift basket once from a presidential candidate. What these people don’t know is that my dad was a tortured man. I never got to know him well and all my mom would say is that he had a hard life but made something of himself, whatever that means.

You can make yourself into batman or spider man but if you’re a piece of s*** inside, if you’re a despicable human being that beats on your wife and your kids you can just go to hell in my opinion. I know that doesn’t sound Christian of me… honestly I don’t know if I can call myself that anymore. I just don’t. I think God exists but I just don’t think he cares. I really don’t. He just doesn’t care, you create your own luck good or bad but I honestly think he delights in it when we suffer. It’s like Jesus Christ suffered so why won’t you. God cheers when our lives fall apart. I picture him eating popcorn when we lose a loved one or get sick are get hurt in  a crash. I picture him high-fiving his angels because our lives are being ruined and why… all he wants is for us to come grovelling back to him and beg for mercy… that to me is a narcissist not a God and I don’t think I want any part of that.

Anywyay one night when my dad got home he was already half past drunk. He was yelling at my mom and hit her and our dog Jake started barking. Jake was a rat terrier, white and brown dog and loved the water. He had a knack for catching water snakes and bringing them into the house. My mom would freak out and she wanted to get rid of the dog but we cried and she just couldn’t do it.  So we named him Jake the Snake, after the wrestler.

On this particular night I think Jake bit my dad and my dad and he grabbed Jake and put him in a trash bag and left the house. Dad didn’t come back home that night. That was the last time I saw Jake. We never talked about it and in that moment I realized the beast that lived right under the surface of my dad’s facade and that scared me. We walked on egg shells around him and if we said the wrong thing he would snap.

My mom was so scared to leave him. I can only imagine her reasoning why she stayed but she basically died of depression. They said she was heavily self medicating which doesn’t really surprise me. She was just a ghost moving through time. Human beings love being slave to things, addiction, misery, destructive life, money, women or whatever. We have no independence we want to be shackled by things that destroy us. When we get liberated we just trade one prison for another, that’s why religion exist, that’s why cults exist. They are a prisons that people willingly walk into. It’s possible that I’m the most free man, more than even you. I don’t owe anybody anything anymore. Doesn’t matter what I do, my death is around the corner… at this very moment that seems comforting– some nights it doesn’t but some days I just don’t care and I think death can’t be such a bad thing.

My childhood home was close to the woods. I loved that place, we thought it was enchanted and Robbie and I would go there and play for hours pretending to me princes or knights, actually we were always Knights. No boy wants to be a prince, we all want to be Knights because deep down within us we want to be heroes. I ponder that sometimes and I guess for me the Knights I pretended to be were the only heroes I saw in my life. They were my idea of what a real man is supposed to be. That trait is what kept drawing me closer to Tara. I needed to save her on some level.

When dad would beat on mom, Robbie and I would hide in the woods. We believed it would protect us from him. Until one night he came to find us in the woods. He made us strip and he beat us with tree bark. The woods lets us down just like everyone else and the magic was gone. So whenever I got angry I would go into the woods scream at the top of my lungs and slam my head against the tree. Most of the time I would black out and remain there because no one bothered to check on me.

Once in awhile Robbie would come looking for me but only because mom made him do it. Robbie hated the woods as much as I did but his way of dealing with it was to avoid it altogether and my way of dealing with it was unleashing my anger there. That’s the difference between Robbie and I. I don’t know which way was more destructive but I imagine the destruction was equal but manifested in different ways.

That’s my secret that only Missy knew. I have this dark anger living in me. It feels like I’m possessed when it’s unleashed and there’s not much I can do about it. I imagine that’s what it’s like for Bruce Banner when the Hulk emerges. Although at least for him people can see a physical manifestation and transformation but for me it all happens in the mind.

Missy found out about my anger one night cus we went to a high school football game. I honestly don’t remember much about that night but when we were leaving I saw this guy being really rough with his girlfriend and I tried to stop him. He called me a few names and Missy told me we should just leave and then the guy went in on Missy. I think he even grabbed her. I’m not sure, then I just snapped. I honestly don’t remember what happened but Missy said I bit him the man. I do remember the taste of blood in my mouth but I wasn’t sure if it’s because he punched me. He ended up in the hospital and needed plastic surgery. We left the scene… I kept up with the guy because of the newspaper. No one knew who attacked him but when I got home I just couldn’t calm myself down. I ended up smashing my head on the bathroom mirror and it wasn’t until I felt the warm feel of blood on my face did it calm me down.

… I’m not crazy. I need you to understand that. I’m not crazy. You’re probably just looking at me and judging me like everyone else now. You don’t understand me. You see things that maybe you wouldn’t do then you’re starting to think well maybe this man is violent. Maybe he’s the one that killed Christine and Karl. I know you’re thinking that but I swear to my God as he looks down upon me in judgement, I didn’t kill them.

Tara always hated her mom. She was a meth addict and Karl was her dealer and they lived together, which is just a messed up situation to be in on so many levels but that’s something we can talk about later. Karl was also Jason’s uncle even though they never really got along. I really believe Tara and Jason planned the whole thing, they are violent people and are unstable. I’m not violent but somehow all the evidence came pointing at me.

How could I deny? I was having an affair with Tara and Christine found out and blackmailed me. That gives me motive I guess but that’s not even the half of it. Police didn’t care. It was an easy case and they found a scapegoat. One day I was preaching the good news the next day I’m the devil incarnate. That’s how this world treats human beings, we set each other up for success then devour them. We’re a race of vampires, we have to destroy one another to feel alive. We don’t care about nuiance. We don’t care about history, we don’t care that our own views can he skewed– all we want is blood. That’s the way of the world. Blood.

Vernon – Ep. 2

•July 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Day 5: Robbie came by to see me today. I really look forward to his visits. I think he’s the only person on the outside that visits me and treats me like I’m normal, like I’m only away at a boarding school. It’s refreshing but then again he’s my brothers.

A few times I’ve had visitors that come here looking and acting miserable and you’d think they were the ones locked up. I just want people to act normal, joke around and make me laugh. I already know I’m a pariah and don’t need them to keep throwing it in my face.

Speaking of pariahs, that word came up in the first conversation I ever had with Tara. She was trying to work this old Lexmark copier we had in the office and I was just getting back from lunch and saw her struggling with it so I helped. She started talking and she described herself as a small town girl with big city sensibilities which is the sort of thing only a person from a small town would ever say.

According to Tara she was a pariah in her family. She was the wild child, the one that seeks trouble. She said she needed chaos to function. Looking back, those were all red flags that I failed to see. She said all her friends were guys because girls are too catty and don’t trust her because of her flirty nature. Another red flag I missed. Never trust a woman that’s not trusted by other women.

We started talking about friendships and who our closest friends were. That’s when I first heard about Jason– Jason… How did the police not look at him? How’s he still walking the streets and I’m the one in here. Why’s it the evil ones always get away? What kind of justice is that God? He’s scammed, killed and raped but YET HE GOES UNPUNISHED WHILE I LANGUISH IN HERE FOR SOMETHING I DIDN’T DO!!!!!!!!

…..my head

.H

headach

I’m suffer fr

Day 6: I spent last night in the infirmary. They changed my prescription and I’m not happy about that. These guys just switch up your medication for no reason. They don’t even consult you. They don’t care about your medical history or what you’re allergic to, they just give you whatever the state wants, which is usually some crappy knock-off they would never even give to an animal… I guess those of us in here are even less than that in their eyes. It pisses me off! You sit in the infirmary not knowing if you’ll live or die and no one can visit you there… No family, no friends…

… Our lives are shaped by the people we call friends and those we call enemies…

HUH…

…it just occurred to me that all my friendships have run their course with the exception of Robbie. The only people I can develop friendships with are the other inmates. The idea of my entire social network consisting of inmates is beyond surreal to me. Put yourself in my shoes for a moment. You have to create a full life out of your punishment, there’s a visceral cruelty to that.

It’s hard to make friends in here. Most of these people are not the kind of guys I grew up around, in fact most of them are the people that I was taught to be cautious of– gang members, violent men in general– some of them are vile human beings… If you can even call them that.

Then you have guys that are just addicts either from drugs smuggled in here or what they were given in the infirmary. To be honest, I’m more afraid of the infirmary than I am of death. I’ve seen some inmates walking around like zombies. They are given these drug concoctions of only God knows what and they walk around in a stupor. It’s like their minds have been locked away in some lab and their body is just an empty vessel awaiting death. I don’t ever want to become that. All I have are my thoughts and memory left. I can’t let anyone take that away from me.

Magnum is one of the few guys I talk to. To be honest I don’t even know why he’s in here. I mean I’ve never asked and he’s never told me. In the movies you see inmates sharing their lives with each other and talking about why they’ve been locked up but that doesn’t really happen in real life. Your personal life is currency in here. If you over share, someone’s going to use it against you down the line maybe to push your buttons or to blackmail you or worse. You protect your identity in the real world and in here you take on an entirely new one.

It’s a type of self defense mechanism. You have to keep both people separated, you leave your humanity in the real world the day that gavel comes down and you bring in only the survival instinct. Maybe I shouldn’t even describe life on the outside as the real world because prison life is more real than any form of existence maybe with the exception of being in a war zone. In these two situations all the crap we surround ourselves with, the fake smiles, the disingenuous Facebook page, the carefully crafted Instagram account to show how much of an excellent life you have– all that is gone in prison. All that’s left is the savagery of our true selves and I believe that who you are in prison is your true nature and who you are on the outside is the thick layer of makeup hiding your insecurities.

Magnum is funny.  Yesterday during breakfast we played a game,which guys do a lot to pass the time. The game is called f*** one, marry one, kill one. Every morning we play the game and you are given  three options. The choices yesterday were Madonna, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Wendy Williams. A lot of the guys got clowned on, as they say, about their answers. Mine was sleep with Wendy Williams, marry Madonna and kill Zsa Zsa. Magnum on the other hand would sleep with Madonna, marry Zsa Zsa and kill Wendy. He got clowned on but then he explained it, Zsa is old and was about to die so he figures the marriage will be short lived and he can’t deal with Wendy Williams busting his balls so he’d kill her and if he hooks up with Madonna she won’t go crazy on him because she’s been with so many other guys. I laughed, all of a sudden Magnum was a genius. That’s just the way he is, he really thinks things through with everything and comes up with these nuggets of brilliance.

I think back to when I was a pastor and if I heard kids play this game I would have judged them for being disrespectful or being crude but here I am now playing the game and laughing at these guys responses and I realize that we’re all just trying to pass time in the most sane way possible. I don’t think about my future, I try to take things one day at a time. Sounds corny but that’s really all I can do.

I got on the topic of friendships because I was talking about my encounter with Tara. After our run in by the copier I became her go to guy when she needed any thing, didn’t matter what it was. She’d even come to me to help her open a jar of pickles.

One night I was at the office late, I had Missy’s car and Missy had mine. I was in charge of car maintenance and any time Missy needed an oil change we’d switch cars and I would get an oil change during my lunch. Right as I was leaving the office I saw Tara and she seemed stressed. She told me left her lights on and her car battery died. I told her I had jumper cables in my car then I remembered I was driving Missy’s car– the cables were in my car, all the car tools were there.  Tara really had to get home because of some kind of emergency so I drove her.

She didn’t want me to drop her right in front of her house. I had to drop her two blocks away. The next day she showed up at work with bruises on her face and arms. She told everyone she was in a car wreck. I was the only one that knew she was lying because of course I dropped her home the night before. I should have called the police but I didn’t. I’m a fixer. My mom used to call me her little superman. I’m drawn to needy, broken people. I guess subconsciously there’s an inherent need to fix them…. But some people aren’t yours to fix. In fact now I don’t believe people should ever set out to ‘fix’ others. It’s not our place. A broken hammer can’t fix a broken chair.  I shouldn’t have said anything to Tara but I did, I injected myself into her world– THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I REGRET EVERY SINGLE DAY– Her world was a wretched and dark place that reminded me of my childhood. Her life was poisoned and it dredged up things I had buried deep down and all that slime was dredged up and contributed to me spinning out of control.

Vernon – Ep. 1

•July 13, 2015 • Leave a Comment

INTRODUCTION: Those who know me well know that I have a fascination with the prison system. So it’s only fitting that the first series features someone that is a product of that system.

VERNON is serving a death sentence for a double homicide. He’s been vehement about his innocence and has lost several appeals. When I met Vernon he was awaiting word of the judge’s ruling on his most recent appeal. Prior to his arrest, Vernon pastored a church of about 400 members. He attended seminary and has a B.A. in sociology.

Here’s Vernon in his own words…

VERNON

DAY 1: I’ve been staring at this blank piece of paper for a long time… or maybe it hasn’t been that long but it certainly feels like an eternity. I don’t have a watch and have no idea what time it is. It’s remarkable how serene life becomes when your life isn’t defined by the parameters of a 24hr clock. You realize the futility of being caught up in the hustle and bustle of a routine. There’s no rushing to the grocery store. There’s no hurrying to make an appointment. No scrambling to get to work on time. None of it matters… Anyway the point is I’m not sure what to write…

DAY 2:  I fell asleep last night trying to think of what to write.  Another day gone by, no different from the last one or the one before that. That’s my hamster wheel.

I thought about Tara… even the idea of her name makes me want to scream and choke something. I think about how much I hate her more than I even think about how much I love my kids. Is that twisted?

I can pinpoint the exact moment in time when my life fell apart then I start thinking what if I changed jobs like I planned, what if I didn’t have my jumper cables in my car that night, what if I turned down her dinner invitation. Everything could have been different, then my mind starts going down these tunnels of scenarios and the deeper I descend into this soul sucking quagmire the more I feel like I’m losing myself. Sometimes I don’t even recognize my own thoughts anymore. I’m twisted in knots and feel angst. The doubts in my head torture me…. What if, what if, what if, what if, what if, what if….. AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH…….

… I have to remind myself to take deeps breaths….. EXHALE…..

I remember reading a Reader’s Digest in high school… or maybe it was the New Yorker… it was one of those high-browed intellectual publications. Whatever it was, the writer said everyone in prison is either crazy or a philosopher because those are the only two directions the mind can go when given 23 hours of solitude. That always stuck with me.

I took a Philosophy class in college and we used to ponder all these concepts about what it means to live. My roommate, Riley, who was also in the class argued that life is the ability to express yourself freely while experiencing all the world has to offer. The professor countered with ‘what about slaves of the past or convicts today that can’t do either?’ Riley didn’t have a response. The concept of being a slave or locked up seemed so extraterrestrial to us. At that point I’d never met anyone that had ever had a run-in with the law. Now I ponder that question considering my circumstances and I’m pretty sure I’m not living, I’m just existing in this surreal space, not dissimilar to purgatory… assuming that even exists. If purgatory exists then it further convinces me that a cruel God created heaven and earth… but that’s a discussion for another time.

When I was thinking about Tara last night it took me back to the hearing, sitting at the defense table and thinking about how I ended up there. My mind would go into hyperdrive to the point where I’d get severe migraines.

The prison has these therapy programs you can sign up for. Most guys do it just so they can get more time out of their cell. I haven’t done it yet but my closest friend in here has. Chris, but everyone calls him Magnum. He said the therapist told him it’s good to retrace your steps because the mind needs closure and it shows growth because it’s a form of self awareness.

I should start from the beginning…

I was the singles ministry pastor at the local church that I attended. We did stuff like bowling night, putt-putt golf, movie night– By far my favorite night. I’m a big fan of movies. Comedies, dramas, westerns, even chick flicks believe it or not. I remember Jim Carrey’s Me, Myself & Irene came out and I convinced everyone we should go see it. So we did. I had no idea how filthy the movie was (at least for church folk)– I thought it was hilarious though. My sensibilities were different from the average Christian I guess. It just takes too much effort to be offended all the time and I think that’s part of why Christianity is becoming irrelevant today. Christians don’t know how to interact with the rest of society that’s leaving them behind.

Anyway if you haven’t seen the movie, Jim Carrey plays this guy that has a split personality. A timid hometown police officer on one side and this wild crazy womanizer with no filters on the other. They both had a crush on Rene Zelwegger’s character (not sure how to spell her name).

There’s this scene where bad Jim Carrey sees a woman breastfeeding her baby and bad Jim Carrey pushes the baby out of the way and gets some breast milk from the woman.  I just about fell out of my chair laughing so hard. Some of the girls in the group didn’t think it was funny and walked out. Oops. I had to do some explaining to our lead pastor after that. He made me apologize in front of the entire church and ask for forgiveness. That was the most humiliating thing to ever happen to me up to that point in my life. I really thought they would kick me out from being the singles pastor but they didn’t. After that, movie night never happened again.

That was a tangent. The point of the story is I met Missy through our singles ministry. Long story short we fell in love. We dated on and off for two years but everyone knew we were supposed to be together. It was just one of those things. We were the perfect combination. I don’t want to say she completed me because that’s the cliche to win the day but we really did complete each other if I’m going to be honest, at least at first. I was the first guy she’d ever dated and the only guy she’d ever been with… at the time anyway.

We got married, started a family right away. Missy used to joke that she was pregnant the first five years of our marriage. We have four kids. Three girls and a boy… Ruth, Lizzy, Sarah and Aaron (the youngest). I wanted to name Aaron after me. Vernon’s a family name that’s been in our family for generations but Missy refused. Apparently she wasn’t fond of my name. In hindsight I’m glad we didn’t name him Vernon. That’s a black mark he would have to carry the rest of his life.

I love my kids. I miss them. I have their baby pictures on my wall and I’ve been trying to get newer ones. I sent letters to Missy pestering her to send me updated pictures but she never did. Last letter I sent came back undelivered because she was no longer at that address.

If I saw my kids in the street I wouldn’t even recognize them. Robbie’s looking into trying to track them down. At this point I have no legal standing with her but I just want to see my kids. Talk to them on the phone. Hear their laugh. I’m trying to be positive but anytime I think of Missy disappearing it’s like this darkness grows inside me. It’s like the anger is this living organism and I can feel it moving around in my body and spreading. In science class you would put a drop of red food coloring in a glass of water and you’d watch the red swirl and completely change the water. That’s how I feel. This anger reaches through every part of my being to the point where I start to shake and sweat. I’m thinking of maybe doing one of the therapy programs they have here but I don’t know… What’s the point.

Missy and I both made mistakes in our marriage but now she acts like it was all my fault. To her, I’m the devil and I know that’s what she’s telling the kids. They’ll never know my side of the story. They’ll never believe me. They’ll only be told that their father is an adulterer and a murderer. I’m guilty of only one of those sins and I’ve lost everything because of it.

When you have a family there are complications, things that come up and if you’re not careful it will eat everything away. With four kids, busy work and life schedules Missy and I hardly saw each other and barely talked. The few discussions we had felt like business transactions. We stopped having sex, there was zero romance and even less effort. Looking back our relationship was at its lowest most fragile point and that’s when a woman came to work at our church as a secretary. Tara.

She was spunky, funny, just a ball of energy. Missy never liked her. Maybe she knew, maybe she felt it. But looking back meeting Tara was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. She’s the reason why I’ve been condemned to exist within these drab walls that judge me at every waking moment. I wish I never met her. She destroyed my life.