Written for and Dedicated to Ex-Offender Re-Entry
By Eddie Griffin
Thursday, September 16, 2010
When a man is not prepared to meet the morning, he has a tendency to oversleep. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands together to take a nap, so shall a man’s poverty come upon him like an armed robbery.
Lazy people are generally poor. But poor people are not generally lazy. Most poor people do not have the luxury of rest and sweet dreams. They cannot afford to slumber, lest they sleep the sleep of death. But the slothful is always looking for a spot to rest, fold his hand, nod off into slumber land, and sleep the sweet sleep of ease. His wake-up is a surprise, as sudden and as shocking as an “armed robber”.
Speaking from experience, nobody likes to be roused out of their sleep by an armed robber or murderer.
One morning in my prison cell, I was paid a visit by Casper, the Unfriendly Ghost. They called him Casper, because he had killed 10 men in Atlanta Federal Prison. Nobody ever saw him. He left no evidence, other than the slit throat of his victims. Over a period of years, during the 1970s, the FBI never caught him. That is how he got the nickname Casper, the Unfriendly Ghost.
Doing time in a super-maximum security prison can be draining. There was always tension in the air and threats of violence all around. And every night, when I returned to my cell, I was totally fatigue and exhausted. My only reprieve was sleep, an escape for the mind, into a painless abyss. But even in the twilight world, there is the dragon.
Out of another world, I was called out of my sleep at the touch of a sharp object at my throat, and immediately I tumbled out of bed clutching the arm of a hand with eagle claws. It was the hand of a man who had sharpened his fingernails into hardened talons like that of an eagle or a falcon.
The dawn had not yet broken. It was chow time. All the cell doors were open. And, I had overslept. Now I was wrestling for my life against a man with a claw for a hand, a convicted murderer.
To make a long story short, we wrestled to an exhausted standoff. He warned me to never oversleep again. And, that was when he told me the story of Casper. He was the infamous killer of 10 inmates who all overslept, and was attacked early in the morning before men emerged from their cells for breakfast.
Strange that we would become friends and he would become one of my trainers. Every morning thereafter, before day, he appeared at my cell door, checking to see if I was awake and alert. From there, we would drink honey, run 10 miles around the track, barefooted on jagged rocks, lift weights, and punch the punching bag until our knuckles bled. And, after all this, he would come at me in fury, and say, “Stop me from killing you.”
He had a killer’s instinct and he thirst for it. And, there was little doubt in my mind that he would kill me, if I slacked off one bit, if I slumbered just a little, got too comfortable, or folded my arms to get some rest. He would kill me at the drop of a hat pin.
So, this is how I learned not to oversleep.
A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep, so shall poverty come upon you like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:33)