Speaking from the Grave

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Well, we meet again, Mr. Webb, but this time it’s under different circumstances. I’m speaking to you from the grave and you’re in the penitentiary.

It all started on Jan. 10, 1989, at approximately 9:45 p.m. I was driving home from work. You, Mr. Webb, ran out in the middle of the intersection and pointed a gun directly at me. I stopped my truck and you opened up the driver side door, ordering me out of my truck. I was so terrified because the look you had in your eyes were dark and scary. I was hoping and praying that you wouldn’t shoot and kill me. But as I began to drive away, my worse fear came true. You, Mr. Webb, fired one bullet from your gun and that bullet struck me in the left side and I bled to death.

The saddest and painful thing about it, Mr. Webb, was that I died alone in the streets and my family not knowing what happened to me. Mr. Webb, not only did I lose my life, but you lost your life to state prison and both of our families will be forever connected by a single bullet. Mr. Webb.

I have a question I’d like to ask you and I hope and pray that you answer the question truthful and honestly. Why did you shoot me as I drove away?

Mr. J, for many years I blame murdering you on my father because he abandoned our family when I was 5 years old. Then at the age of 10, my grandpa was brutally murdered. So I began to shut down all my emotions and feelings and I became desensitized to violence as well as I detached myself from humanity. Furthermore, I was in so much pain, Mr. J., early that morning of Jan. 10, 1989, I felt a dark cloud came over me and I told myself today is the day I’m going to die and I’m OK with dying. Mr. J., I’m not making any excuses for my actions, but at the time I didn’t have the tools to handle life issues so I acted out with violence. I’m so sorry, Mr. J., for causing your untimely death.

Mr. Webb, I can’t tell you face to face because I’m speaking to you from the grave. But I want you to know that I forgive you and I have no ill feeling toward you for murdering me and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. The most important thing, Mr. Webb, is even though I’ve forgiven you, you must forgive yourself. Once you come to that place of forgiving yourself and accept full responsibility for your actions then you’ll be able to release all the excess baggage of guilt and shame that you’ve been carrying around with you for so many years.

Once again, Mr. Webb, I forgive you and now I can Rest In Peace.


Mr. J.

Michael Webb is serving 25 years to life in San Quentin for first-degree murder, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He was 17 when he committed the crime and started serving his time at 19.

This column appeared in The Beat Within, a publication of writing and art from incarcerated youth. David Inocencio founded The Beat Within in San Francisco in 1996. Weekly writing and conversation workshops are held in California, six other states and Washington, D.C. Submissions and new partners are welcomed. Write to him at dinocencio@thebeatwithin.org.

2 thoughts on “Speaking from the Grave

  1. What a truly remarkable piece of prose. It reveals a once young man who has rethought his life and is searching for redemption. Thank you and the Beat Within for providing a venue that allows him to find his voice!