BY LES EARL RAYMOND

One of the best ways to insure that you can make a bad situation in here worse is to become a “rock kicker.”

A rock kicker is someone that does nothing all day except hang out on the yard

[outside recreation], seeing what trouble they can stir up for themselves and others. A rock kicker doesn’t want to participate in school or work programs and doesn’t really do anything constructive with their time. I have met many rock kickers in my time but one stands out above all of the rest. And he was one wild youngster.

He called himself “Rascal” and he was 23 years old. He was doing a six-year term for something stupid and this kid had one bad chip on his shoulder. When Rascal got to this yard, he claimed that he was from one gang or another until a dude that was really from that gang called him on it. That was Rascal’s first fight.

Rascal immediately reminded me of someone who desperately wanted to fit in but couldn’t find his place. He hated everyone until it was time for him to try and fit in with that group. He had a real attitude problem and a smart mouth, a very dangerous combination for someone like Rascal. You see, he was only about five feet five inches tall and couldn’t have weighed more than about a hundred and thirty five pounds. It was only a matter of time before he ran up against someone with a worse attitude than he had.

He began to hang out with “Sideways,” another youngster on the yard, and they got involved in one thing after another. One week they worked out together; the next week they were the handball “kings” and the next week they decided to form their own gang. Eventually, they even tried to fit in with the “gay boys” on the yard.

Finally, Rascal and Sideways joined the drug scene.

No one knows where they got the money for the dope anyway, because it was a well-known fact that Rascal had burned the bridges with his family being behind drug debts. He couldn’t even get a care package from home.

You see, in here, boredom can kill you… literally.

Over a long holiday weekend, I was on the yard in the evening and I came upon Rascal sitting by himself at a table. I asked him if he was waiting for Sideways and he told me that he was just “kicking it.” I asked him when he was going to get a job and start “programming.” He got upset and told me that I wasn’t his mother. I responded that this was a good thing as he obviously didn’t listen to her either.

Rascal told me his story. He told me about the foster homes, the abuse he suffered in the multiple group homes he lived in and, finally, his adoption when he and his sister were little. I felt bad for the kid but I have heard so many similar stories in here just like that – it’s no wonder that there are so many young people locked up in prison.

I had a pretty painful past myself so I can attest to the effects of a hard life. However, I can also say that at some point in life, one has to quit blaming the past and move on with the future. The past can only hold one back for so long before the excuse is gone. Rascal didn’t get that and didn’t want to get that. To him, it was still a valid excuse for his miserable life.

One day, Rascal and Sideways got hold of some really bad dope. After mainlining their treasure, Rascal was found unconscious in his cell. The guards called an emergency. We all got locked down while the ambulance came to take Rascal away.

The word around the compound the next day was that Rascal died on the way to the hospital. A massive heart attack at 23 years old. So much time on his hands and the self-proclaimed King of the Rock Kickers was gone.

He had all the answers if you took it from him, but he couldn’t save himself from the demons that haunted his life. The demons that were determined to kill him. And did.


Les Earl Raymond is serving 16 years in California for forgery and burglary. 


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