"Roll Up Melody Roker/Roker, Roker-Roll Up" by Melody Roker Sims
Bedford Hills has come for you, excited but scared and disoriented as I begin to focus I look to see what it is on the clock outside the bars on the walkway 4:30am. People I’ve gotten to know and became close with are waking up, as the guards begin to wake up another female on the opposite housing unit that will be my partner going upstate, I guess. Bedford Hills wants her too.
As I begin to file away my clothes and a pair of sneakers, with the exception of my outfit I put aside for this day, I pray silently: Dear Lord, thank you for waking me up, and Dear Lord please do not let no harm or danger come to me in this unknown place, what I’ll soon have to call my home, and please Lord protect me. Don’t let me get raped or beat up. Lord thank you for relieving me from myself. In Jesus name Amen…
Before starting on the ride to Betty’s house (Bedford Hills) in a sheriff’s car, a woman and male deputy are my escorts. While holding my mug shot the female deputy asks me my name, date of birth, home address and social security number. After giving the information she requested of me, her partner handcuffs me and then he puts the front shackle on my ankles, which makes it very hard for me to move, so he helps me into the back seat of their squad car, and while they do the same thing to my partner, while listening, I learn her name is Patricia. I wonder: Is she just as scared as me? Is she an addict like me? What’s her charges? She looks like a baby.
As the officer helps her in the car, I notice that the tears are pouring down her face, instantly my heart goes out too her and I don’t feel my fear.
I can’t help but to say to her, “It’s going to be okay, don’t cry.”
She says, “I’m trying not to.”
While sobbing she asks me have I been upstate before.
I tell her, “No but I hear its better up there than here— the air, the food... and although you’re locked up you’re allowed more freedom.”
She says, “Promise me that you won’t leave me.”
“Well I don’t know if I can make that promise, but I will promise to be with you for as long as I can. But since this is our first time upstate, maybe we will be sent to the same facility”.
She asks me, what am I in for? I tell her for selling drugs to an undercover cop and for possession. She asks me, how long do I got to be locked up for? I tell her three to six years, but my lawyer got the Judge to give me the Shock program.
I asked her how old was she? She replied 17. I asked her, was those her sisters and brothers in the picture she held in her hand? She said, “No, they are my three children.” I thought to myself 17 with three children. UNBELIEVABLE.
I asked her what she was in for. She said “Manslaughter.” I couldn’t believe what she just said. She then explained to me that her children’s father was 20 years her senior and used to beat her every day, started when she was four months pregnant with their first born and when he started beating her kids, which in the end she lost custody of them, she made a vow that the next time he raises his hands to beat her she would kill him and she did just that.
I wondered: Would or could I ever commit a crime like that? I asked her how much time did she get? She said 25 years to life. I almost fainted but instead I shed tears for the innocence lost and stolen from this child and for the childhood she never had.
I would learn later that she was one of thousands that I would meet on my journey to finding myself again, while at Betty’s house. Patricia and I sat there silent, lost in our own worlds as the deputies were talking and driving.
To break the silence I said, “Well Hi, I’m Melody.”
The first smile I see when she says, “Pleased to meet you. Hi, I’m Patricia.”
Somehow I knew I made of my first friend on this journey but I also knew life would never be the same again for either one of us.