Written by: Mr. Ernest R. Morris
1 Kelley Drive
Coal Township, PA 17866
Dec. 6, 2016
RE: William Bendolph
It is with a heavy heart that I write you, reporting the tragic loss of a man named: William Bendolph.
For those who don't know William, Willy, Bill, Bendolph, Ol'Head, or the brotha with the wicked jump-shot. Let me explain.
Bendolph was a very, very humble soul. You never heard him yell or raise his voice. If we were on the Green Mile, Bendolph would be a shoe in for John Coffee.
Bendolph was tall in statue, about 6 5' or so and wore a size 14 or 15. If I had to guess, I would say he was about 55-60. He was a brown skinned brotha with a bold head and would greet you with a smile, if you had the courage to speak to him.
When I began my bit at SCI Coal Township, I was able to secure a job working in the kitchen and it was there that me and Bendolph's paths crossed.
When I got to work, I would often start by trying to find an apron, then I would go on the hunt for some food to cook which would bring about the nostalgic feelings of when I was once free. It was there, during those pursuits of fresh eggs, fruits and pancakes, that I would occasionally bump into Bendolph, who was, in turn, on a hunt of his own, although, I believe that his motivation was just to get full.
In even though Bendolph was what most would call a mature adults portrayed a demeanor which was innocent and childlike.
Other than his faithful work in the kitchen, Bendolph developed one of the purest set-shots this institution has even seen. He would quietly go to the yard on an off day, or after work, whenever he thought that he could get a court to himself and he would shoot jump-shots from yard out to yard in. I once heard a couple of guys say that they watched Bendolph shoot foul shots from yard out to yard in and he missed no more than one shot.
Bendolph rarely, if ever, let anyone shoot around with him, yet, I was able to manage about 20 min. Worth of practice time with him til I had to go in for half time.
Bendolph would occasionally be coaxed into playing in a couple ol’head B-ball games and even a few one-on-ones. Every one of his opponents would dread seeing him line up to launch a shot because the knew it would most likely be CASH!
I was once recruitd by Bendolph to play in a two-on-two game, in which, we would play some brothas for a small wager. I was never able to play in that game, (which Bendlph and his fill-in ultimately loss) because I was shipped to the other side of the prison. However, when I was able to journey back over to the Westside of the jail, he assured me that a rematch was possible.
Although we wound up playing together and even against one another, in a payback one-on-one game, Bendolph was never able to reschedule the game against my homies, before he fell ill with heart trouble.
After being rushed to medical and then the hospital, I once asked Bendolph upon his return, what’s up with his condition. He told me that “they” wanted to give him a pacemaker. The “they” being the doctors, or medical staff. He told me he would not get it because he may be slated to die at 60 and the pacemaker may cause him to live until he is 63. He said when it was his time to go he wanted to go. I thought that was dee-, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether his feelings stemmed from the conditions we are in.
With that in mind, I can say that on December 4, 2016, when Bendolph refused to stand for what turned out to be his last afternoon count, he silently drifted away from this facility just as quietly as he moved about it.
“They” had just moved Bendolph into a single cell and knowing his condition, my first thought was that “they” had been allowing Bendolph the opportunity to pass away in peace. Which he ultimately did just a few days later.
As me and Miz watched the c/o's and medical staff (through the windows of the door) panic to revive Bendolph's lifeless body, to no avail. It was in horror, we wondered if Bendolph would pull through. We yelled and screamed at the staff to save him and even shouted words of encouragement like: "Keep fighting Bendolph and Bendolph we love you!"
The entire housing unit watched as "they' propped Bendolph's stiff body on a gurney and hauled him off as though he was still alive.
The reality was, that Bendolph was already dead, no one knows for how long, could have been anywhere from minutes to hours.
I remember Miz thinking that "they' may have saved him because we observed "them" being jovial and jolly before "they' removed Bendolph's body from its tomb. I immediately stated: "they could be bluffing, like the scene in American Gangster, where Russell Crow had to save his companion by bluffing the angry mob in the projects." Miz agreed, then made his way to the back window, where he saw Bendolph's lifeless body being wisked away in the cold air of winter by two unforgiving freeworld paramedics and other staff, never to be seen again.
As the reality began to set in, I thought about my last encounter with Bendolph's functioning body, in which, he told me and my comrades (as we walked back from afternoon chow) that: "it's nice to see ya'll brothas' and called us 'three the hard way,' a nod to the blaxportation film Jim Brown played in. He even called my homie "Big Bra", "Big Ticket". That was his way of paying respect to Big Bra, by referring to the good ol' days when my homie use to remind his compitition of Kevin Garnett.
The constant reality facing us, here in the joint is: None of us know when our number will be called, we can only pray that when it is, we are surrounded by those who love us most and not by a klan of white folks, lacking the compassion deserving of any human being. And if we must go under these conditions, let us pray that it be in silence, peacefully, in our beds, like good ol' Bendolph, who has finally gotten forgotten.