Touched by an Angel
By Anthony Lucero

    At the age of 49 I made my first snow angel. Once again I found myself in prison. For the first decade or so, I heeded the advice I'd received during a previous stretch: "Mind your own business." Like a kaleidoscope roughly shaken, the days spun into weeks, the weeks spun into months, and the months spun into years ad nauseam. During that time I witnessed a lot of men turning into stone, i.e. their hearts were hardening, as if they had gazed into Medusa's fiery eyes, or like water wearing down a mountain, time was wearing them down.

I couldn't allow that to happen to me. The recollection of a conversation with a part-time girlfriend of mine was fortuitous, she told me about making snow angels as a child. Christmas was a week away. I decided to do something I had never observed in prison. I was going to create an angel. I carefully planned the deed for that night; I was thrilled.

While walking back from the chow hall, a huge smile appeared upon my face as Ruben, Reyes, and I approached Unit 2. The sun was setting and you could see a fresh blanket of pristine sparkling snow in front of the building. I suddenly laid down in it, instantly feeling its chill on the nape of my neck and hands, as I vigorously flapped my arms and legs. It was exhilarating; for a moment I was free. Leaping to my feet I asked Ruben and Reyes to dust the snow off me.

We knew the inside tower would radio Unit 2 to report the snow incident. As we ambled in the Unit, Sgt. O'Brien was waiting in the vestibule with a frown on his haggard face - a face worn down by booze. He barked at us, "Which one of you asses made the snow angel?" We acted like we didn't hear him, so he ordered us against the wall to frisk us. During the frisk he found traces of snow that crept into my jacket pocket.

Busted cold-handed I confessed to being the culprit that caused him to leave the warmth of his office. He radioed security requesting an escort for one prisoner, "one-nine-seven" — code for inmate going to segregation. Incredulously with eyebrows arched I retorted, "How is it going to look sending me to the hole for making a snow angel? Everyone’s going to think you are some type of Grinch." In a voice with the gruffness of a fifth generation guard, he said, "Get the hell out of here."

In the morning my perfect snow angel greeted everyone. It ruled the yard that day and changed the mood of those seeing it. Most of us were grateful to be touched by an angel.

 

I know I was.

 

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