Friday, November 8, 2013

The Best Man who Became the Next Husband. A California State Prison Love Story

The Best Man who Became the Next Husband. A California State Prison Love Story

 My title sure does say a mouthful, don't it ?!? 
Some of you know the first part of this story if you have read the Lucky 7 Tattoo blog, For those of you who haven't read that tale, let us all step back in time, shall we..and refresh our memories as to who is what in my life. I will keep it brief, promise.....

Back in the late 90's I was poking needles in co-eds for cash in Davis, Ca.There I met a cool, funny talented tattooer named Corey who became my husband. Shortly after the marriage we opened our own tattoo and piercing shop, Lucky 7 in North Lake Tahoe. Not quite two years after our nuptials Corey and I decided the friendship and business partnership were working out great, but the marriage was not.  We had a civil split, and both moved on to new partners, as mentioned in the previous Lucky 7 Tattoo blog post. Here is where it gets interesting...

Corey started his costly dating stint with a huffy teenager who needed a bowl of soup and some morals. Me, I went a whole different route. I met a man in prison. Yep, you read it right. California State Property. No kids, I didn't see him on Americas Most Wanted or find him on a pen pal / lonely hearts type of thing. I met him through another tattooer named Vinnie that Corey and I had worked with. Vinnie was doing time for robbing people. And me being the "Patron Saint of Felons" I would go and visit Vinnie once a month.

Well Vinnie was quite the ladies man. So much so he got thrown in the hole of the prison for having an ongoing sexual relationship with a pretty, young and blonde - brand  new corrections officer! Nice huh? Got caught dragging a pillow and blanket from his cell on his way to go make "sweet sweet love" to his special lady in her prison office...HAHAHAHAHAH....ok, sorry, still makes me laugh that his balls were THAT BIG.

As Vinnie was being dragged to his new accommodations in the bowels of the prison, his cell mate decided to call me and let me know what had happened to Vinnie. Lets call the cell mate "Dick." So Dick calls collect and lets me in on all the dirt about Vinnie getting caught bedding down his blonde guard. Dick is very worried about Vinnie. Afraid that other corrections officers may beat the holy hell out of Vinnie for defiling the young miss. ( Due to the rules of the institution, Dick and Vinnie had no way to communicate.)  Dick asks me to go visit Vinnie in the hole, then to come to the regular visiting room and have a visit with Dick to let him know how Vinnie is.

Up until the collect phone call,  I had never met Dick. In reality I owed Dick nothing. However I could tell he was very worried about Vinnie, so I said "sure I will do as asked."  

 I drove the 5 hours to Soledad Prison, visiting Vinnie. Spending a few hours looking at the poor convict Romeo behind glass, all greasy and sad looking, bemoaning the fact that he was so crazy as to bang a guard. After our visit was over,  I made the short trip over to the regular visiting room where I would meet Dick face to face. 

SIDE NOTE: Have you ever visited anyone in prison? Let me tell you, it is one hell of an ordeal just to get in! Clothing can only be certain colors. No cell phones, purses, gum, sunglasses, bluejeans - the rules are endless and the whole process takes hours. Staff of the prison treats you rudely, disdainfully, as if you are an irritation or inconvenience to their day. Seems like the prison system wants to make it miserable for loved ones to visit, but thats another whole topic...

Any how I made my way into the ugly, grade school smelling visiting room and found a small vinyl covered table with two orange plastic chairs near the guards stand. Having never even seen a picture of Dick I had no idea what I may be in imagination was churning out all kinds of madness as to what kind of scary monster may come out and want my attention. A few moments later I got my surprising answer.

Through the inmate entrance, in walked a good looking, shaved head, blue eyed - 30 year old bad boy. I was instantly taken with his looks. His sense of humor, and his manly gift of gab soon sucked me in totally. Dick had it all! Well, exept for being locked up for assalt that is....yeah, good thinking on my part huh?

The visit was over far too fast, Our mutual concern, Vinnie, that had brought us together in these strange surrounds, was now long forgotten. Pledging to write and keep in contact, I drove the five hours home in a new crush daze, all giddy with gooey, girlie feelings.

Fast forward through the next 2 years. Falling head over heels, sick with it, crazy kind of love. Driving 500 miles every single weekend to visit. Paying phone bills in the hundreds of dollars for collect calls, sending money in for his use, whatever I could do to bring him a bit of happiness I was all too willing to do. Frankly I just couldn't do enough for Dick. You ladies know that feeling. Nothing else like it in the world. Curious thing about dating a man in prison. It's almost old fashioned, really wholesome. Kissing is only allowed at the start and end of the visit. All you can do is hold hands. Unless you want to play a beat up old board game or read a bible, all you can do is talk, eat and entertain each other. Therefore you must really dig that persons company or you wouldn't bother to endure these limitations week in week out.

After 2 years of my crazy devotion my Dick was getting close to release and parole. In order for him to be allowed to live in my home we would have to get married. Gee wiz, he wasn't going to have to twist my arm! I was all for it. Shit, half the time we sat in that visiting room we would talk about what we would do when he was released. Getting married, with him paroling straight home with me was a dream come true! The wedding date was set, just 2 months before his release, the race was on.

Picture taken on Dick and I's wedding day. During our divorce  Dick Crossed out his own face and our nameless guest too. He left me and the "best man", my future forth husband, Russell unscathed by his vicious Sharpie.
Wedding day arrived, my third time, Dicks' second. Joining us as our guests for our ceremony were a friend of Dicks' (whose name I cannot remember) and his cell mate , Russell, who was Dicks' best man. All went as well as you can hope for a prison wedding. Dick was laughing in a snickering type of way during the actual ceremony, which I found disconcerting. I figured it was nerves and carried on.

We finished the formalities of vows, my new husband kissed his bride, and the four of us in the wedding party sat down to a vending machine wedding banquet. As I set frozen burritos and grab bags of chips in front of the guys I realized that the best man, Russell had not uttered a word to me nor had he even made direct eye contact . Puzzled by his manor, I started to make an effort to include him in the conversation the rest of us were carrying on. My best jokes and kidding went by him with barely a nod of recognition. Hour after hour he picked at his food and just listened with an intent gaze. Finally, after 5 hours had past, with just a couple hours of visiting time left, Russell started talking and didn't stop. Like a dam broke, just spilling non stop paragraphs of his thoughts on every topic of conversation that had previously been discussed. Young Russell had quite the brain in him too. Well read, a good conversationalist on many topics. Unlike many convicts, his launguage was not peppered with "fuck, "shit" and "asshole" in every sentence.

Sitting back in my hard plastic chair, I took this man in. Boy he would make a nice catch for some young lady in a few years. 25, reddish blonde hair, well over 6 feet tall, smoking hot body. A blue eyed devil with a brain. I know, how scandalous am I for taking his "mating inventory" while just marring his home boy earlier that day! For some damn reason I couldn't help myself....strange....

Let's jump in our time machine again, fast forward about ten days after Dick was released from prison. To put it mildly, the bloom was off the rose. Shriveled and dropped in record time, and with my heart crushed as it had never been before. Dick didn't waste any time before he threw me down 2 flights of stairs (for not having sour cream for his dinner), broke my front tooth, strangled me to unconscious, crashed up my new truck, cheated on me, (giving me a nasty infection that required expensive and painful medical treatment - the fun just didn't stop!

Time to cash in my chips real early. I can take a lot of things, but physical violence, cheating and lying can never be tolerated.  I disentangled myself as quickly as I could get rid of him. All the while getting fingers wagged in my face by so called friends who had advised against marrying a man in prison. Each day my heart seemed to be smashing all over the dirty ground over and over. How could a smart and savvy chick like me get sucked down by a vortex of human garbage like Dick? Devastated doesn't cover what I was feeling. Never did this types of pain strike me before. Gut wrenching emotional agony of being used - treated like a mens room urinal. 

Russell and I having our first visit after kicking Dick to the curb.

Now on to the good part, Russell and I figure "us" out.

I wanted the divorce from Dick yesterday, if you know what I mean. Lucky I still had my Nevada proof of residence AND Mr Dick got himself locked up again for clocking his new girlfriend in her chops, so he wasn't around to fight me on the legal stuff. Two weeks after filing, and giving Dick a car, some money, etc I was free! I love Nevada' s quick divorce. Relief was instant, some hurt still breaking my heart - mourning the relationship I thought I had. Never one to just stay single I said to myself "fuck it though, time to get back on the horse, or at least take a look at what was in the stable."

Shortly after the ink was dry on the divorce decree I started dating a good guy. For over a year I had a nice, easygoing relationship with this MUCH younger man, I snatched him up at 19, celebrating his 21st birthday in Las Vegas with Corey and his new girlfriend Amber joining us. Alas, the age difference plus not having much in common brought the match to an expected conclusion. Both of us did get good things from each other. I received much needed kind and sweet attention in an honest manner. He got a a cool, older girlfriend who taught him all kinds of "skills" he had not possessed. 

Before the divorce from Dick was happening I had written to Russell, best man in Dick and I's wedding ceremony. Dick himself had suggested I might even go visit Russell. You see, Russell had been locked up since age 18, and was 25 at the time of the wedding. Most of his friends had drifted away over the years,  the only visitors he still received was his family.  Being that I had liked Russell, and thought him attractive on all levels I happily agreed. Through our "Dick Sanctioned"  correspondence we had become friends, and he was kept up to date with the awful bullshit that Dick was subjecting me to. Although, at that point in time, Russell was not sure if I was really being mistreated by Dick, or if I was putting way too much mustard on the dog. He had lived with and been close to Dick for 2 years and was still getting to know me.

After a couple of visits Russell was having more faith in my version of the terrible tales I was telling him. Some of Dick and Russell's mutual friends had backed up my version of events. Russell was disgusted with the sickening behavior in Dick, including the violence I was put through. I could tell I was starting to have cautious feeling for Russell, the same brand of twinges I had for Dick were coming around, even more intense. The last thing I wanted was another boyfriend in prison. Holy Hell, WTF am I thinking!!??!! What am I thinking WITH??!! Am I damaged goods,  suffering from some wacky disorder that makes me attracted to males in state issued periwinkle blues !?! Alas, it all comes down to rolling the dice or playing it safe, walking away. I decided to throw them bones and see what may come of my feelings for Russell.

Mr. Russell seemed like he wanted to bite my bait, yet misguided moral loyalty was holding him back. You see, even though Dick had done horrble things to me, Russell still felt some loyalty to Dick. They had been cellies for over 2 years, and had each others backs through the crazy prison life.  At that point, in Russells' mind I was still viewed as Dicks' Wife. He thought maybe there was the slight chance I may work it out with Dick. To add to Russells' concern, Dick wrote Russell a scathing letter, accusing Russell and I of having an emotional affair behind Dicks' back. This sealed the deal for Russell, that now was not good timing to snatch me up as his "Old Lady." So what does this Alpha Male, tough guy do to say goodbye - to make me kick rocks??? He has his mom call me and say "Russell doesn't want you to visit or write for the time being."

To say I was gobsmacked is a understatement! I could have sworn we were both "feeling it", that I had proven to Russell my stories about Dick were all true AND I was divorced and staying clear of Dick and his drama. But in Russell's mind I wasn't what he wanted, needed, or felt ok about being in his life. Sheesh, talk about making my self esteem take a dump on my pride! That was a big slap in the face.

Jump ahead one year. Kathleen is still thinking about Russell, but dating and getting serious with a plummer named K.C. Super attractive, good natured and easy going - a local who I met as a client in Lucky 7. After 5 or 6 months, The plummer and I start to talk about maybe getting married, building a life together. Sounded ok, and SAFE. Yet my feelings for the plummer were not what they should've be. Close friends had concern about my choice of lover, saying " Don't get serious, you will eat him alive. He is too passive for you in the long haul of life." And darn it all to hell, my safe bet of a life partner was a bit of a pushover, and not quite as "alpha"as I am. The Gods know that me hen pecking K.C. for a lifetime was not healthy for either of us. Yet I still hung in there, enjoying being around him.

Well who decided to pop back into my orbit with a well timed greating card? Russell, my uber alpha male. Locked away in California State Prison at Soledad. He let me know he would be paroling in 6 months time, and upon release, moving to Montana to live with his maternal grandfather. He wanted to have some visits, letters, and catch up before release. Me being the "Patron Saint of Prisoners' and digging his scene I jumped right on board to being in his life again.

Again, the swirl of emotions came forth right away and hit me hard. This man was everything I had asked my gods and godesses for, just in prison doing time. Darn it! Why hadn't I included 'not locked up" in those prayers and spells? Sheesh....
Russell was letting it be known he was falling for me too, free and clear of stepping on Dicks' toes. (Dick had been out being A DICK, and caught himself a new 2 years term in prison.) We made plans for me to pick Russell up on the morning of his release. The game plan was to hit a hotel for a little beer and nooky, then for us to drive to San Bernardino to visit his family before flying to Montana to begin his new life. Once again I rushed about buying him a few changes of clothing, a cell phone, and booking hotels and an airline ticket.

The morning of his release came, July 18th 2006. Driving into the prison I was a nervous wreck. Absessing over the fact we would have just 7 days together before his departure for Montana. As Russell came out of the prisons gatehouse we both were beaming. So use to asking guards for permission to go anywhere, he turned to the guard letting all paroled inmates out and said " Can I just go?" The guard let out a small laugh and said, 'Yes son, you are free to go."

We said our goodbyes to some of the prison wives who waited at my truck then took off for the hotel, both of us speachless with excitment, anxiety and thinking about the naked goodness to come. At the hotel everything went excellent, not awkward as it had been with Dick. I really enjoyed watching Russell drink his first Bud Light in 11 years. I have never seen anyone else ever enjoy their first swallow of beer as much as at that moment. Very cool to share those first minutes of freedom.

Once we arrived at his parents home everything was as expected. The usual type of reunion of family. The next morning we dragged ourselves from the feather bed at Hampton Inn and went to meet the California Parole officer to finalize Russells' transfore. To our happy surprise we got some very cool news. Because of some Montana Parole red tape Russell was not due there for 2 weeks! He was free to travel with me back to Lake Tahoe! WOW was all I can think!  K.C. was already not too pleased with the situation, now I was bringing "the situation" back with me for a few weeks! Oh well, fuck it. Russell was all I was caring about, and I wanted him to see the tattoo shop and my home before he took off to Montana to swing a hammer and mate with a cowgirl.

For the next 2 weeks life was perfect. We were a wonderful fit, to the point even my ex-husband said under his breathe " You two are fucking perfect together." I sure did feel that we were too. Yet I knew he was due to leave, and my heart was smashing around my chest each time I thought about it. Russell was starting to drop hints that he too was digging us being together, seeing the life we would have. The big "BUT" was hanging in the air. He had already made all the legal arrangments, plus promising his Grandfather he was going out to try the life of a Montana Mountain Man.

Departure day arrived, I was so upset I couldn't drive him to the airport. We said our goodbyes and Amber, Coreys' girlfriend took off with the other half of me. I called K.C. and made plans to see him later that day, then off to work and mourning the loss of my alpha partner, Russell.

7 hours later my phone rang, Russell calling right after his plane had landed. Delighted, I picked up and asked "Well, how do you like Montana?" A long pause, dead air for 5 seconds, then he said  " I gave "us' a lot of thought on the plane, and I hate Montana already because it is keeping us apart. I know this is over the phone, but will you marry me?" WOW. So I said "hell yes". Then we started cooking up plans to cancel his transfer to Montana and bring him home to California.

Two weeks later we were standing with his family in the San Bernardino County courthouse saying our vows. For the first time out of four trips to the alter I meant every word I recited with all my being. My heart was bursting with happiness and well being of knowing I had a partner who was as down for me as I am for him.

So that is the story of my happiness coming along after being beat to smithereens by another. Finding  a man that It seems I custom ordered from Elysium. We have now been married and worked together for 5 years, longer that any other marriage or relationship I have ever had. Take in my lesson learned kids. Never lose faith, even after some piece of shit boy or male drags you through hell and back. If I can find him so can you.

Back seats of cars with boys...the teen years coming next week, so stay tuned please, and PLEASE click an ad so this blog keeps going in an upward motion. I welcome e mail comments from all. !  TA TA Kathleen