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Suavi is a new podcast series from Futuro Studios and PUREX that tells the story of David Suavi Gonzalez, a man sentenced to die in prison when he was just 17. Now, Suavi is one of thousands of juvenile lifers who, after decades in prison, are now getting a second chance at freedom. It's a story nearly 30 years in the making, chronicling suaveness friendship with journalist Maria Hinojosa and the ways the justice system fails. Young people subscribe to Suavi now wherever you listen to podcasts.


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Hey, East Coast math listeners join us on Monday, March 22nd for the ultimate storytelling showdown. Our East Coast Grand Slam eight tellers will face off with stories about tipping points. You won't want to miss it by tickets at the moth mortgage events. PUREX, this is the Moth Radio Hour. I'm Catherine Burns, artistic director of the Mom, and I'll be your host this time.


The Moth is about people telling true personal stories on stage in bars and theaters around the country.


We encourage people to turn off their cell phones, sit back and listen to the experiences of their friends and neighbors for a little bit. We record the stories and play the best of them for you here every week. We have three stories this hour.


A magazine journalist goes to extraordinary lengths to impress his friend Ernest Hemingway. A teenager growing up in Brooklyn in the 1980s pays an impossibly high price when a practical joke goes wrong.


And a young, recently divorced, lonely heart finds her soulmate behind prison bars. Our first story is from A.E. Hotchner. Mr. Hotchner was born in 1920, and for years people have been telling me that we just had to get him from the mosque, just get him on the phone and you'll see.


Well, I finally did get him on the phone.


I knew that he was a writer who got his start as a journalist in World War Two and that he founded the charity Newman's Own with his friend Paul Newman when we finally spoke.


I asked him what he might want to talk about and he said, well, I could do a story about the time my friend Ernest Hemingway talked me into dressing up like a matador and going into a bullring in Spain in the 1950s.


Yes, please. Here's a hotchner leg at the modern.


I'm going to take you back to Spain in the summer of 1959, when the big event was a mano a mano bull fight between the two great matadors of that epic, shall we?


Dominga and Antonio Ordoñez.


There hadn't been such a bull fight, a mano a mano. In 30 years, and there hasn't been one since then, so it was a great event and my longtime friend Ernest Hemingway called me.


And he said, I'm going to go there and cover it for Life magazine, I'm going to write about it. Why don't you come on down and we'll have another adventure? I had met Ernest when I edited his novel Across the River and Into the Trees, and afterwards I had adapted many of his short stories and novels for television and for the movies. And we had some great adventures together, Fishing for Marlin and Hunting Birds in Idaho and a lot of other things.


So I got to wait here where the first mano a mano was held and they were marvelous, both bullfighter's and the second. Mano a mano was in Malaga, where they were even better, and afterwards we all adjourned. To the Miramar Terrace, where we had a great deal of red wine and Topo's and had a good time, and during the course of it, Antonio, who was Ernest's favorite bullfighter of all time. So you know something, because I think you should be in the ring.


What do you think, Ernest? He called me Pécas. That was his nickname. Pécas means the freckled one, which I was at that time.


And he said, that's fine hutches.


You should be ready to get in the ring, be a matador and I'll be your manager. And we now drink a lot of red wine and we're having a great time. And I'm extrapolating over where I'll fight. And I know that's just red wine talking and not anything that's going to happen.


And before we leave, Antonio, so I tell you what, the next moment I was in Ciudad Real.


You can be this over 70 and I'll put you in one of my suits.


I didn't think more of this when we got to see it adversarial to see the mano a mano and we went up to the hotel room where Antonio was to wish him good luck.


There was on the bed a bullfight suit, and it was Antonios and he came over, he said, I thought you'd like the colors of their ivory and black and with a touch of red, he said, I think it goes with your complexion.


I said my complexion right now is white and getting whiter, so they proceeded to dress me and I want to tell you, a bullfighter's costume is no laughing matter.


The undergarment is pulled on you and it's like new skin. Then they give you your chocolate, which is your outer garments. They weigh approximately like an anvil being put on your back.


So I was dressed up in my suit. There was no way really to move in any direction. I was mummified.


You have to be suited like this because if you go in the ring and there's a breeze, a little wind and you're wearing anything that moves, the ball is going to go for you instead of the cloth that you're waving out here.


So therefore, I now put together and I thought, you know, this is one of those fibulas jokes.


They've got me dressed up and ha ha, they go to the ring and they leave me in the room in this ridiculous costume. I'm not going to be in a boring.


As the hour approaches for the fight, everybody leaves except Antonio and me, we're alone in the room and Antonio goes over to a table where he has some religious objects and he starts to pray over them.


I'm in my corner over there wishing to hell I have something to pray over.


The door opens It's for real. I am down now in the van and we're on our way to the bullfight. And I'm sitting next to my manager, Mr. Senor Ernest Hemingway.


And he said to me, you know, this is my first time as a model or manager and I'm rather move. He said, I'm rather nervous. How about you? And at that moment, the van is going by the bullring and outside the entrance of the bullring is a poster bigger than this room and at the top and says mano a mano, and it's a double game versus dungeons and underneath. So S.A. El Pécas.


Now, I want to I want to tell you what the Silver City is, it's a substitute sword. And this matador, who's the third matador? Only goes in the range of the other two have been blasted, blasted off the face of the sand, either by Goring or whatever. Obviously a joke. We go under the stands now. We're prepared for the puzzle you've all seen in the movies, the puzzle where everybody goes across the sand, the horses and the outdoors and everybody else.


I'm standing there with these two great matadors. They have fixed my ceremonial cape, so it's exactly right. And Antonio says to me, listen. Be careful about when we walk the Paseo over to the judge's stand where the president is. Follow me exactly, because literally he was a bullfighter, took a young count, Tiba in a silver Santa as a joke, but Teva was a little bit wobbly and the warden spotted him. They arrested him and he spent a week in jail.


And I thought, now's the time to run.


But off we went. The horses first, then the two matadors, then alpacas, and now the rest of the.


Walking from there over to the president's box was for miles.


I did everything I could to be just like Antonio, and I guess I pulled it off, I didn't wind up in jail. We daftari our hats to the president. I went into a home, which is the little alley between the wooden Barbara and the first row of seats. My manager is standing there.


He says, you know, there's something I forgot to tell you.


By the way, I'll tell you one thing. He told me that wagan that I glossed over, but you should know, I said to him, when I get to the ring. I'm not I'm not conversant with what amount of drugs would give me some advice from my manager. He says you only have to do three things, number one.


Look, tragic, he said the bullfight is a very serious business, so you should look like you're serious. I said, have you looked at me?


He says no to when you get to the ring, people are watching. You don't lean on anything. It's ugly for the suit.


And number three, if the photographers come toward you, put your right foot forward, it's sexier.


So there's my manager who now says to me that somebody forgot to tell you there's a fourth thing, and that is that you have to show yourself to this crowd that's over 70, always must make his presence known. Whatever blood was left on frozen froze at this point, domination had already had the first ball. Or does it just the second goal, he does a couple of Cape works with him and then he fixes them, fixes a standstill there, walks over to the barrier, motions to me.


I come out. I my have to the crowd. I'm ready to leave my cape is over my arm, the fixed bull decides not to be fixed. And if you can imagine yourself on a railroad track and there's a locomotive coming right at you, that was that bull.


Our Don, you said to me that kids don't move, don't move. I was frozen stiff as the ball approached us and got within striking distance.


Our journalist, who was to my right swiped escape, pulled him away and did a farmer and the service agent whose camp had slipped down, he pulled it up.


I guess the crowd thought I was making a pass. At any rate, I stepped out of there and that was my only experience in the room.


Antonio was terrific with the last bull, his third bull. It was a Vianna like nobody had ever seen. The crowd went crazy. They wear their handkerchiefs, white handkerchiefs to influence the judges and they judges gave him the penultimate both the ears of the ball, the tail and off, and they also demanded a tour. So now we do a tour of the ring and he comes out and brings me with him. So help us, the House Oversight Committee is now going to make a triumphal tour of the country with this great Parador.


The. Afficionados in Spain are very appreciative of a great performance, and they throw all manner of things to the Matador fans and cigars and bottles for wine, tiaras and TIAs shoes, hats, what, whatever. So this is sailing down on us. And I'm thinking, well, this is a great thing. Look at all this.


Georges and Antonio says Pécas, pick up the ladies shoes. Nothing else, my men. I'll get the rest.


So I'm following him and I'm picking up ladies shoes.


I don't really know if you've got a type jacket on and you can't really get your arms around and your pants are so tight, they feel like you're going to follow her every time you bend down.


Picking up ladies shoes is not easy and it's also it's not very fulfilling.


Not for a month or so, we circle the rings and my arms are full of ladies shoes, we finish and as is often customary, a group of men come out and they lift Antonio up on their shoulders and they parade him out to the street where they're going to parade him through the streets of the hotel. And the band comes the following and left alone in the center of the room is a sober Seante with his arms full of shoes.


I didn't know I could move as fast to get back to that van as it was pulling out.


I got back to the hotel and I went into his Antonio suite and Tony said, Hey, Pécas, you were wonderful. Just throw throw them on the bed. So I dumped the shoes on the bed. He said, come on, the wine is flowing and we've got Topo's. I went over, I had a glass of wine. Ernest was enjoying himself. Knock on the door.


He said, Perkasie, you get that? I open it up. And there is the most gorgeous senorina you've ever seen. She's in stocking feet. She's holding one shoe. She says, I come for my shoe.


So I shared a bed, I helped put the shoe on her Dedee foot, Antonio, an earnest Canmore inviter for wine, and we all have a glass of wine and there's a knock on the door and another knock on the door and another knock on the door. And when they came, they reclaimed their shoes, they join the party, it was wonderful, they stayed until the wee hours and the next day.


The photographer of Life magazine who's been with us and taking pictures of the day before he came with his prints of them and there was a big eight, eight by 10 of. El Pécas with the two great matadors of the world on his right and left, beaming and Earner's comes over and said, Oh, that's wonderful, hot. You found your true profession.


I said, Just a minute. It may be wonderful to you. Look at the front of their pants, those significant bumps, and look at the insignificant thing that I have.


He said, how many handkerchiefs did you use? I said, Hegedus, you're my manager. You didn't tell me to use handkerchiefs, he says, when you've been to a lot of bull fights with me, didn't you see that all these monitors have nice humps in the front of their pants?


I said the subject never interested me. I tell my. He says, all right, look, I can make it up. It's OK, we'll make amends. Antonio has his next fight.


And Rhonda, he wants you to be here with his sober 70 again.


And this time we'll make it a level playing field out of it. I said fine. And he said.


And I'll tell you what we're going to do, and then he paid me. One of the greatest compliments I ever got. He said while they're dressing, they'll be using two handkerchiefs. But Pécas, you only need one Alé. That was A.E. Hotchner, Mr. Hotchner passed away in February of 2012 at the age of 102. He was the author of many books and plays, including Papa Hemingway and his memoir King of the Hill, which was made into a movie by Steven Soderbergh.


Mr. Hotchner and I sat down and talked about putting your life on the line for a great story, so in this story, you know, he's pushing you to go along with something that at first you think is a joke. And so I was wondering, why did you go through with it? I mean, you literally risked your life. If you are a freelance writer, as long as I was you, you answer every challenge, you never walk away from it.


So if I am faced with the challenge of being a matador and having to go in the ring with the two most famous matadors, maybe of all time, you don't pass it up. How often do you get a chance like that? So faced with the possibility of being. Speared by the horn of a bull or getting through it all and having the experience, I chose the latter. As it turns out, Ernest Hemingway himself wrote about the events in Mr.


Hotchner story. No, you know, people are often skeptical and saying, oh, no, with that couldn't. But if you got Ernest Hemingway corroborating it, I guess they accept it. All right, now, this is an account of the event that I talked about. Quote from his book, The Dangerous Summer, when they came downstairs, Antonio had his same dark, reserved, concentrated before the bullfight face was the eyes hooded against all outsiders.


Hodge's freckled face and second baseman's profile was that of a seasoned, noble hero facing his first great chance. He nodded at me somberly.


No one could tell he was not a bullfighter, and Antonio's suit fitted him. After the bullfight, Ernest Hemingway bought the Matador costume for Mr. Hotchner as a gift. To see the Life magazine pictures of him in costume with Hemingway and to hear more of my interview with him, go to the moth dog. In a moment, we'll have a story about a middle aged man who is haunted by a childhood accident. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by Park's.


The moth is supported by Monday, dotcom here at the Moth are podcast team is working on a lot of new and exciting things. And Monday, Dotcom is helping us stay organized. Monday, dotcom work. Ossy is a customizable platform that makes it easy to plan projects, give feedback and decide next steps all in one place. Whether you're a small operation or a global organization, create the perfect workflow for your team. With Monday dotcom work ossy to start your free 14 day trial, go to Monday Dotcom.


This is the Moth Radio Hour from Prick's, I'm Catherine Burns. Our next story is from Kent Powers.


We first met Kemp when he started telling stories that are Los Angeles stories. Slams are open, mike storytelling contests that happen around the country.


He told it at an evening in New York that we called eyewitness stories from the front. We have to warn you, the story is very intense and may not be appropriate for children.


Here's Kent Powers live at the mark. The first time that I passed out on the Chicago L train, I just knew that I was dying from mad cow disease.


At least that's what I told my doctor when I was trying to self diagnosed in his office. And he was pretty impressed by the depths of my neurosis. Understand this is before WebMD when everyone could do it.


But he assured me that despite the fact that I had been to Europe and eaten several steaks, that I wasn't suffering from mad cow.


I had anxiety and he asked me if there was anything that had happened recently that have been causing stress. And I think about the question for a little while.


I said, you know, I haven't been adjusting well to my move to Chicago. And he nodded his head. He said, you know, a transition like that into a new city can cause a lot of stress. I said my father's dying of cancer and I can't convince him to take better care of himself. He nodded again. This is obviously a story he's heard a lot of times before.


Then I said, you know, my daughter almost died last year from febrile seizures and I'm pretty much terrified to be left alone with her. Now, this raised his eyebrows.


He wrote me a prescription for Xanax and gave me the name of a therapist he wanted me to see right away to delve into this further.


Now, I don't know what prompted me to say what I said, but as he handed me the prescription, I just blurted it out. I said, oh, one more thing.


When I was 14 years old, I shot my best friend in the face accidentally and I watched him die.


Henry was one of seven people to die that day in New York City.


Nineteen eighty eight. At 14, he wasn't even the youngest. A 12 year old kid from Queens had that dubious distinction, but his was the death that I saw with my own eyes, the one that I was responsible for my own hands and the one that I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my life.


Now, home back then was a two bedroom co-op in the Kensington section of Brooklyn. For those who know Brooklyn pretty well, it was a big source of pride for my mom, who had raised my three older sisters and I almost single handedly since splitting from my dad when I was four years old.


This was the first place that she owned after what seemed like an annual ritual of moving.


Now, for those who don't know, New York was really violent and dangerous back then, like Detroit, New Orleans and Gary, Indiana, rolled into one dangerous know, two thousand murders a year violent.


But I never let the violence swirling around in the world outside ever impact me. I was actually an honorable student all the way. And when Henry and I met in the seventh grade, we got along immediately.


The physical contrast couldn't have been more extreme.


He was unusually muscular and well-built for a 12 year old, and I was just as oddly tall and lanky for a kid the same age. But that's pretty much where our differences ended. We both were into all the same things we shared, all of the same fears.


We walk together every day after school to the Carroll Street subway station in south Brooklyn, and we both hated the older boys from John Jr high school nearby who'd show up every Halloween and rain, rotten eggs D cell batteries and of course, water balloons filled with Nare on our heads. Which gave you a nice surprise when you got home and tried to clean up.


He was my first and best friend now on the afternoon of April 14th.


Nineteen eighty eight, Henry and Chris, another friend of mine, came by my apartment like they had many times before they dropped their book bags and plopped down on my bed. My mother was a captain in the Army Reserves.


At this time we have three guns in the house. The 38 caliber revolver was my favorite, not just because it was the one we kept loaded. Also, it was just the most interesting. It looked like a gun from the movies and it was one I always show to my friends, even though my mom never knew about it and this day was no different. I started off by emptying the gun, made sure all the bullets were out. Then I demonstrated my index finger spin, the cowboy move that I've been working on.


Then I took a single bullet. I pretended to insert it into the cylinder and pointed the gun at my friends.


I can actually remember smiling as I pulled the trigger, ready to shoot. Gotcha when I made them jump. But instead of the dull click of a hammer followed by laughter, there was a muzzle flash, an explosion and shock.


Both of my friends, Chris and Henry had turned their backs to me, and I remember being overcome with confusion.


Had the fucking bullet get into the chamber. Chris turned and looked at me and my heart started racing and we both looked over at Henry. I guess we were waiting for him to turn around, say, oh shit, and then tell me how much trouble I was going to get into when my mother got home.


Now, whenever we're faced with something horrific, I think it's human instinct to want to run. And mentally, that's what I did. I just like fled into my own psyche. Like I went back years to being with my father in Coney Island on the pier, trying to catch a blue fish with my piece of shit, rotten, real. And then the next thing you know, I was back there in the hallway and it was full of people.


My mom was there now. Sobbing The paramedics were there. Of course the cops were there. And Chris and I were there. One of the paramedics came out of the apartment.


I remember begging him, please tell me he's OK. Please tell me he's OK. And even though I knew what he was going to say, I just wasn't prepared for the words.


He just said. He's gone. That night in the police station, I had to recount in detail everything that had happened for the police.


I didn't want to I wanted to crawl under that table and hide, but I did slowly, methodically, choking back tears as when I looked down and realized that my sweatshirt was covered in blood.


My dad was there. I almost never saw him at that time, but he was there with my mom with the same forlorn look on his face. The wake came about a week later, and I didn't think Henry's family would have any interest in me attending.


But my mom insisted we go. So when we got to the funeral home, there was a huge crowd gathered around the coffin. And I made my way over to Henry and he looked really nice. They had him in a really nice blue suit.


But I remember the coffin making him look so small and I just stood there and stared at him while everyone else around me wailed.


That's when I suddenly heard this woman's voice. She said, I just want to see him. And I remember it made me jump because I didn't know whether she was talking about Henry lying there in the coffin or me, his killer standing over him crying onto his jacket.


I know every eye on the funeral home was on me, and all I could do is just close my eyes and wish that I was someplace else.


Now, miraculously, Henry's family did not want to press charges. They embraced me and offered their forgiveness.


And when the Brooklyn D.A. hit me with a long list of charges ranging from manslaughter to assault with a deadly weapon, I think it was 17 charges total.


They were the ones who stood up and said they didn't want to destroy two young lives instead of one.


And they're the reason that instead of going to jail, I got one year of counseling. That was my sentence. I remember thinking them profusely outside of the courthouse that day for giving me a second chance when I didn't think I deserved one.


Now, in the years that followed, I thought it was odd that no one, none of my friends and my family ever said a single word about Henry.


Everyone went about their lives as though he had never existed. The entire incident was wiped from my record when I was sixteen, so it hadn't even existed in a legal sense. And if I never mentioned it again, it would never come up. But I thought about it, the shooting and Henry almost every fucking day. And oddly enough, it's what drove me for a number of years.


Ask any friend of mine in college. I was the most anal retentive dude they ever met. I wouldn't touch alcohol. I wouldn't smoke a cigaret.


Don't get me wrong, I made up for it years later, but I just felt like I had to do him proud and I had to be perfect. And for a long period of time I thought I was doing it.


Successful career.


I was a faithful husband and a doting father on my daughter, who I watched grow from infant into a toddler.


But then her sickness, that 18 months pretty much derailed all of it. When we got to the hospital, my daughter's body was convulsing.


And all of a sudden all of these emotions and feelings I hadn't felt since I was 14 came rushing back the feeling of panic, the feeling of helplessness.


And that's when it dawned on me, maybe this is it. Maybe this is going to be my sentence, that I'm going to have to see what it's like to lose a child.


And, you know, miraculously, she did survive. And the doctor, the medical staff assured me that some children just have a really low tolerance for fever. And it's something that she would probably grow out of, almost certainly grow out of. But the damage was done. And when we got back home, everything was just completely different. I was just terrified to be left alone with her. I felt like this marked man and that the second it was just me and her, something was going to go wrong.


And it didn't help that after she got sick, I suddenly started having this recurring dream about Henry and it was always the same dream in the dream. I'd be asleep, I'd wake up, set up in my bed, and he'd be sitting there on the edge of my bed, staring at me with the bullet hole still in his chin about the size of a nickel. I'd start talking to him. I'd say, Hey, how are you doing?


In his blank face face with just show no expression. And after a while I start getting desperate and pleading with him. I'd start asking him if he knew how sorry I was. I'd ask him if he knew that it was an accident. I'd ask him if he knew how much I missed him.


Then finally he would open his mouth and try to respond. But just like on that day, the bullet stopped him from speaking and he just gasp for air. I break down into tears and I wake up crying in bed. And this dream repeated itself for years. Henry always there, staring at me the same, and me just getting older and older and older. Fourteen. Eighteen. Twenty one. Twenty five. 30 and starting to grow. It took me passing out on the L that day to realize it, but I knew that I needed help now.


Henry is dead and I killed him. No one can absolve you of your sins if you don't believe it in your heart. And I honestly don't believe there's any amount of good I can do in my life that will absolve me of his death.


But my trying to live a life for two people, one of whom I can never bring back, was just a recipe for disaster that was going to do me and everyone who cared about me.


It took this chain of events that started with me passing out in public and ended with me having that first tentative conversation with my mother about the day to realize it. And it was an interesting conversation. If uncomfortable, I found out that my mom, of course, had been dealing with a lot of the same feelings of guilt, but more illuminating. She'd been battling anxiety since the day it happened.


I think we found some small amount of comfort in learning that little thing about each other.


You know, my marriage died, but I lived on my daughter's 13 years old now and healthy. I have an eight year old son and he's healthy as an ox. I hope both of my kids grow up to be wonderful people. The types of people who bring so much joy to everyone around them that their absence would be a tragedy because that's the type of person that Henry was. He died twenty four years ago and it's still fresh, but I'm no longer miserable.


In fact, I'm well on my way to becoming the happiest person I know. And I think that fact would have made him happy. He also doesn't visit me in my dreams anymore.


And I can finally admit that I'm comfortable with never seeing his face ever again in my dreams or otherwise, because at the end of the day, what will an old man like me have to say to a 14 year old friend that hasn't been said already?


That was Kemp Powers Kemp is a playwright, screenwriter, director and occasional bird watcher. He's a co-director and co-writer of the Disney and Pixar feature Soul and the writer of the Regina King directed film One Night in Miami, which is based on his award winning play of the same name.


Kip sat down with the most senior director, Meg Bowles, who directed his story.


Unfortunately, this kind of tragic accident isn't also uncommon. And I know when you and I were talking, you said that you have pretty strong reactions.


Whenever you hear about an accidental shooting in the news, you tell us a little bit about what goes through your head when you would.


You know, we are we're we live in a very unforgiving society. And I understood the the power of forgiveness at a very, very young age, because I was given a chance, a second chance, I, I don't think I deserved. And that spoke to the incredible power of forgiveness can have on another human being.


And in my experience and my observations, I think our society has become every year we become less and less forgiving. And when those types of stories come on, people's immediate reaction is. Rage, if that happened to me, I would fill in the blank, I would do that.


And ever since that tragic accident, I've always one of the most powerful things to come out of. That was the gift that my friends family gave me, which was the the gift of a second chance. To hear more of Meg's interview with Kempe, go to the morgue while you're there, pick up your own story. When we come back, we'll hear from a single mom who is horrified to discover why her new pen pals nickname is Grisly.


That's when the Moth Radio Hour continues.


The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by PUREX. This is the Moth Radio Hour from Pyrex. I'm Catherine Burns, artistic director of The Moth. Our last story is from the writer Joyce Maynard. Joyce, tell the story. Way back in 2000 when the moth was just getting off the ground, Joyce told us that she's someone whose life is shaped by the writing and receiving of letters.


She says, I've always regarded the writing of letters as a form of escape.


It's an escape for the writer of the letter. It's an escape for the recipient of the letter.


There's something singular about the form of a letter that allows a person to leave his life and recreate himself as he would like to be on paper, become this perfect person for as long as the letter lasts, drop in the mailbox and let it fly to wherever and enter into the imagination of the recipient.


Here is Joyce Maynard from an evening we called Babes in the Big House Stories of Daring Escapes. This is the story of an escape, an escape through letters, I have to add, it's not just me. I think many of us escape this way. Men in prison are a good example. A man in prison who cannot touch a woman any more often develops a particular kind of brilliance at letter writing. And this is the story of one such man who I will tell you wrote the best letters I ever received, and I've received some good letters.


It was a really bad time in my life.


My mother had just died of a brain tumor. I had discovered that my husband was having an affair with our babysitter. Our marriage had ended. Our marriage actually ended the week that my mother died. But my mother died first, which did allow my husband to take me to court for half of the small amount of money that my mother had left her in her me in her will.


So I was spending most of that money on a lawyer trying to defend myself also against the lawsuit for the custody of our three children. It was, as I said, a bad time in my life. And about the only person that I seemed to have to protect me, I had my friends, of course, was this one hundred and twenty five dollars an hour lawyer to whom I was rapidly becoming so deeply in debt that I couldn't imagine ever getting out and into this very dark moment in my life.


I was living, I should say, in a small town in New Hampshire and it was winter. Came a letter, as I say, I get lots of letters and I've come to recognize what a letter from prison looks like, the the address on the front of the envelope is usually written in pencil. That's one give away. And and the return address has a very long code number. And this letter came from Folsom. The recip, the man who wrote the letter said that most of the time when the mail came to the cell block, the the kind of reading matter that really got the men going was the monthly delivery of Playboy or Penthouse.


But what he really loved were my weekly columns in the newspaper about my children and my family that, you know, melted my heart. He knew all the little information about, you know, which of my children played the baritone horn and and which one wanted to be a pitcher and and which one was acting in in Annie that season. He followed us all very carefully. He he knew my recipe for apple pie. And he said that in the absence of any family of his own, he had come to regard me and my children as his special family.


It was a very sweet and touching letter signed Grizzly, and so, of course, I had to write back. And I said him first, a kind of businesslike four line note saying, you know, Dear Grizzly, it was really nice to hear from you and and I'm glad you like like my work. And here's one of my favorite cookie recipes.


So I sent him my four line note.


He sent me a 10 page letter written very tiny letters in pencil. I sent him a five sentence note. He sent me a 20 page letter. I sent him a one page letter, he sent me a 50 page letter back, that was the first week of my correspondence with Grizzling. Now, I would like to be able to tell you it would be the more mature and sophisticated thing if I could say that I put this all in its proper perspective.


But in fact, over the days and weeks that I began to hear from Grizzly with more and more frequency and sheer volume. I found myself being pulled into his story, the story that I'm telling you will, no question give you abundant evidence of my poor judgment in in life. But one thing I will attest to and I will and I will stand on this to my last breath, is that I know good writing and Grisly knew how to do it.


I have seldom read stories more powerful than the ones that he spun out in the growing stack of pages that were accumulating on my bedside table. I had started saving these letters till I went to bed, those long, cold New Hampshire winter nights when I felt so alone in the world and as if really my one friend and protector was this man 3000 miles away in prison, he told me he didn't talk about prison life. He talked about his life before prison.


He grew up on a citrus farm in the San Fernando Valley. His his parents had both died tragically when he was very young and he was raised by his grandmother. He wrote about women, the women that he loved and and he loved hard grizzly. That was one thing that I recognized about him. You know, I have to say at the point that in my own defense here, at the point that Grizzly came into my life, I had been single, single out in the world of dating a little bit.


And and I know there are women here tonight who will understand this, that if you have been a single woman out in the world of dating, the fact that somebody is seeing your partner in a law firm or they, you know, they work for Charles Schwab or they or they have tenure at NYU is absolutely no guarantee that the person won't be a true sociopath. So I actually came to believe that maybe I had found the one good man.


I really believed that I had found the one good heart, there was a kind of purity and honesty about about his writing, about his grandma or about his spelling.


When major holidays came around, he had a coloring book, pages that he'd coloring for me and put stickers on and and he wrote poems for my children. He knew when all their birthdays were, he would he would describe to me, you know, came to be Little League season and there was nobody to warm up my my pitcher son for the games but me. And he kind of threw the males give me advice on how to throw a knuckleball, you know, and he didn't think much of my hundred and twenty five dollars an hour lawyer.


He told me in in no uncertain terms, powerful language, what he would do to my husband if he was there, he would make him eat his underwear.


And I almost felt that he could just break through the bars to do it. He was a man of so much power. He was not really a particularly physically big person. He'd sent me his picture. And, you know, it wasn't that he was a particularly handsome person. In fact, I guess you'd have to say he was ugly. But I had married, in fact, a very handsome person. So I knew about the lie of that one.


Too Grisly sent me a picture post very carefully in front of the cinderblock cell wall behind him, wearing a bandage around his head.


I never found out why that was.


And a cowboy hat on top of that, a long beard and and his his best shirt. He said that it was buttoned and I remember that. Well, now it was worse than winter even. It was mud season in New Hampshire, which is a really hard time of year. And I just finished my winter car accidents and now I was into my spring getting stuck in the mud.


And he would send me advice about how to fix my car and and how to how to check the rotors on my brakes.


I don't even remember what all the parts were anymore, but he'd draw little diagrams and tell me what I should look for. And I guess I'd have to tell you that I was falling in love with her. There were a couple of moments when I recognized that this really didn't make sense and and I try to cut it off, and every time that I would send him a letter saying, you know what, really grisly. I don't see a future here, he would send back another story that would just break your heart.


When was the time that he told me about his first wife? That was the woman his first wife had died in childbirth with with their daughter. About two months later, I tried to break it off again. And that time he told me the story of his second wife. And she had been the most beautiful woman in the state of California. And they used to ride Harley's together and she got horribly disfigured in a motorcycle accident. He told me he was getting out.


He told me he was getting out of prison. And my friend said, you've got to find out what he was in for. I had thought that was a really rude thing to ask him. And it showed a kind of lack of trust. And I didn't have the kind of good heart that he did. But when I knew he was coming out and he was coming to play catch with my sons, I thought I better do it. So I called up the police.


I called up the prison. I asked for the social worker. The social worker told me to another social worker, another social worker. I got the social worker. I said, I've got to know what he's in for. She said, we don't do that. There are many procedures. I said she said, Why do you ask? I said, Well, I'm in a kind of a relationship with this person. She said, You know what, I'm going to break the rules.


Sit down, honey.


Do you know why they call him Grizzly?


He's in Folsom for the grisly murder of his parents. They were beheaded. He will not be getting out any time in the next 300 years. She added that please not to to break it off quick, because he could do violence to her and she was a little afraid of that, but I found it absolutely impossible to write back to him, although his letters began to pile up and up and up. And for over a year, the thick packets of letters continued to land in my mail slot.


I read them for about a week, but they were so truly toxic and poisonous and the same kind of power to create beauty now created the most ugly, vicious, bitter, scary writing that I have ever read. And I've read some of that to. I never throughout his letters, I keep them in a folder in my the back of my closet, and I must tell you that I am haunted by the knowledge that somewhere in a maximum security prison in Southern California, there is most assuredly the Christmas photograph of me and my three children taped to a cinder block wall.


That was Joyce Maynard. She's the author of numerous books and magazine articles, including a memoir, A Home in the World and the novel To Die For.


That's it for this episode of The Moth Radio Hour. We hope you'll join us next time. And that's the story from The Moth.


Your host this hour was Katherine Burns, Katherine directed the stories in the show along with Meg Bowles and Joey Zanders. The rest of the most directorial staff include Sara Habermann, Sara Austin Ginés and Jennifer Hickson, production support from Laura Hadden and Whitney Jones. Both events are recorded by Argo Studios in New York City, supervised by Paul West. Our theme music is by the drift of the music in this hour from Sydney Bouchet, Miles Davis and Lawlis Music.


The Moth is produced for radio by me Jay Allison with Viki Merrick at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


This hour was produced with funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Jundah and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation committed to building a more just verdant and peaceful World Moth Radio Hour, as presented by the Public Radio Exchange.


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