By Tony Casson
Senegal informed me he was giving me a bunk on the first floor “with a white guy. The blacks have more of a problem with my type of charge,” he said—a statement I would soon learn was absolutely not true.
He told me to get settled and go to the laundry first thing in the morning and get my clothes issued. I asked where the laundry was, and he pulled back the blinds in his office and pointed vaguely, “Over there, next to the dining hall.” Of course, I had just come from the “SHU” and didn’t know where that was, but I just nodded and said, “OK”.
When I went to the assigned cell, I discovered there was no mattress, so I returned to Senegal and he hollered someone’s name. A burly, tattooed white man with a gray ponytail about 6 inches past his shoulders responded and went off in search of one.
Once I had the mattress, I returned to my cell and made my bed and decided I wasn’t going to leave my cell—EVER!
This was the afternoon of Thursday, April 6, 2010—I was constipated, had entered 5 days before with my allergies flaring (the only negative aspect of an otherwise wonderful 10 days at my sister Kathy’s and brother-in-law’s, Larry, house amongst the blossoming dogwood’s, Bradford pears, and the ever-popular cherry trees in D.C.). The flare-up had since turned into a sinus infection; I also hadn’t had a cigarette since my entry day, I was alone, quite nervous, and wishing that I was Big John Coffey and that this whole thing was “The Green Mile” and I could somehow “take it all back.”
But my name is Tony, this is Oakdale, Louisiana, and I cannot take it back…
I prayed to God for continued calm, and silent strength; and I prayed for understanding and forgiveness from my mother, who passed away a few years ago.
Prior to coming here, I spent a lot of time assuring, and reassuring loved-ones and friends that I was up to this challenge.
The door opened, my new “roommate” (or “cellie) as they are called) walked in, and I knew the game had officially begun.