Where kitchen workers put a razor blade in his coffee cup.
Occasionally he awakes in terror that he’s back in prison, where guards allowed other inmates into his cell to beat him while he slept.
Greg, his mind and body fuzzy from the night before, felt reinvigorated by the water. Then Luke announced he needed to go to the bathroom. Brenda had downed several beers by that point, and John offered to walk the boy to Donna’s apartment. Inside the small one-bedroom, he raided Donna’s refrigerator while she got on the phone. But three months later, he found himself in the same courtroom with Brenda as she described the party to Judge Thomas Thorpe, a 67-year-old devout Catholic: how she’d seen her son come back to the pool with a scared look on his face, how he’d told her what Greg had done with the hot dog, how she’d flown into a rage. An old-fashioned disciplinarian who wasn’t afraid to use the belt, he whipped his son often and hard. “You can’t hurt me,” he’d taunt back, finding strength in defiance.In between the pranks and the chivalry, he began acting deranged, picking fights with grown men, jumping from the hood of a speeding car onto an eighteen-wheeler, riding his bike off the roof of a two-story apartment building into a pool. After that, Greg told his mom, he didn’t trust anyone, didn’t care if he lived or died. He was sent, in May 1994, to an alternative incarceration program, the Roach Boot Camp Unit, near Childress.His high school buddies could be unruly too—they all broke curfews, drank, fought—but Greg seemed to harbor a death wish. The days were brutal and militaristic—early-morning drills, long marches—but five months later he was released, still on probation. He and Joellene started dating, they soon became parents, and he landed his gig at Mack Trucks, making good money and attending the company’s on-site training school. And then came a hot June afternoon, when all he’d wanted to do was relax in the pool and play a little volleyball with some friends.“Be strong,” Granny had said that day in the courtroom, right before they took him away in handcuffs.He hated his dad—for being so hard on him, for working all the time, for never coming to his football games. Did a thousand push-ups a day, shadowboxed until he dropped. “I’ve never touched a fucking kid, and I never will,” he announced, looking around.He escaped to Papaw and Granny’s house, staying for weeks at a time. Greg, feeling nine years old all over again, telling his mother what he should have told her half a lifetime ago, back when she could have protected him, when someone should have protected him, explained how the man had raped him right there in the car. But someone at the Middleton Unit stole a look at his paperwork, and one morning in the dayroom, an inmate asked if it was true that he was a child molester. “If anybody don’t fucking believe me or has a problem with me, you know where I am.” They knew, all right, and came for him day and night, pummeling him, insulting him.