So, gradually, we became friends. He appreciated that. In every correspondence, he would end with, “Your Friend, Jerry.” My deal with him was simple: I would not knowingly ever lie to him and I expected the same treatment. I kept my end of the bargain and I trust he kept his, as well. This friendship and trust allowed us to discuss many things that will never go into the book, but gave me a much better perspective of the story.
He didn’t have a lot of real friends on the outside. He had family, of course, but not much else. A few who would visit from time to time, but I sensed loneliness. Now, he had friends in prison because they respected a man who had spent so much time behind bars. But on the outside---not a lot.
After so many hours of dialogue, I knew a lot about Jerry, more than he realized, I imagine. He was a man who made snap judgments, often based on much too little information. It was something that could cause him problems when he got out. On the other hand, once he knew the facts, he wasn’t hesitant to say he was wrong.
He was a smart man, reasonably well-read, and especially knowledgeable of geography. He loved to read John Grisham and always kept a current almanac handy. He liked country ballads, those with a message, and would often get me to listen to get my opinion. He enjoyed discussing politics and liked President Obama. He kept abreast of University of Tennessee sports and liked Peyton Manning.
He had nice handwriting but preferred to print his letters. Like most inmates, he had an excellent grasp of the law, obviously spending a lot of time researching cases. He was a potter and had made several beautiful vases in prison, even teaching a class at one juncture. He considered doing this when he got out.
But of course, he died.