UNTITLED by Decory Franklin
Part 1: Born into the System of the Lost and Unloved
I was born in the days where
grandmas and granddads raised their
grandchildren. My mom never did drugs
but she didn’t do kids, so I was
left in the care of the elderly. Too young
to understand all of the drinking and
arguing and fighting, let along the thumps
and plucks upside my head, or the
constant pulling of my arm as I was
being tossed to and fro.
My grandparents died from cancer and
exhaustion. First was my grandma. I was
7, and it left me broken and scared because
she was the only one that actually loved
me and kept any and everyone from hitting
on me. Now with her gone who would
protect me and watch over me? Who
would love me now with actions and not
only words? As I came to find out, no one.
Two months after my grandmother died,
for no reason at all I was hit upside
the head with a cast iron skillet,
leaving me hospitalized for 2 ½ weeks.
I was approached by D.C.F.S. about
what took place, but I was 8 and
abused, so whatever my family told me to
tell anyone I did.
Because I didn’t want it to happen
again I did any and everything—
cleaning, getting good grades,
but it didn’t matter as along as there was
drugs and alcohol in my house. I
was the punching bag, which only made
me start to overeat and steal, amongst
The guys up under our building started
paying me to go to the store for
them. And letting me keep the change,
which could range from $10 to $14, which
helped me to fuel my obsession and main
desire, which was food. No matter how much
my family beat me, or the street kids teased
me, food always took away the pain.
Even a few days after my tenth birthday,
when my aunt’s boyfriend pressed a
scalding hot iron to my flesh, leaving me
scarred for life, it was cake and cookies and
all other types of snacks, which only
made the physical abuse turn into
mental torture. For now my name changed
from Cory to fatso, fat ass, fat fuck,
stupid fat motherfucker, fat ass pig,
cow, and other related words,
which forced me into a
corner and made me passive at times,
and even allowed people to take advantage of
The only thing I had going for myself
was that I wasn’t a shy kid, but
do to the constant plucks and hits to
the head I developed darker thoughts
about harming people and myself,
which I tried to suppress, not knowing
that later on in life it would cause me
a lot of grief and agony.
At the same time it would give
me great insight into life and
living and allow me to be
myself. Not hiding behind
food, I was finally able
to stand up for myself.
Part 2: Fighting Back Those Who Try to Oppress Me
I was in 5th grade and acting an
ass in class, and unbeknownst to me
the principal had called my mom, who
had 7 adopted kids to take care of
and instead of being at home with
them, she had to come to school for
And as soon as I saw her walk
in the classroom, I knew this
wasn’t gonna go well for me. And before
she could say a word or two I
was already planning my escape.
So while she and the teacher talked
I snuck out the door and never
looked back, even though I was only
in the building next to her, where the
guys allowed me to partake in
all their criminal activities.
I also began to fight any and everyone
who wanted to fight. I became
feared amongst those in my age group.
Any time my name was mentioned
it shook people to the core.
I had been fucked over so much in
my life, now I was calling the
shots. So I thought, and nobody
questioned it. I was in class, in fact
gym class, and the gym teacher had a
thing for hitting kids with paddles or
thick ass sticks with duct tape around
He asked me to do a tuck and roll
but I wasn’t in shape. I still
tried, but he didn’t like that I couldn’t
perform, so he called me into the office
and tried to discipline me. Usually I
would take it, but not that day, not the next
day, not ever again. So he struck me and
I snatched the stick and hit
him with it a few times more than I
This might have been my downfall,
but it turned out to be the highlight
of the neighborhood. Now everyone knew
I was not to be messed with,
and I still was living couch to couch,
and I paid them with the money I
made from illegal activity, such as drug sales
and purse snatching.
I was no longer a slob or a
fat piece of shit, I was now
big cheese. I was now somebody.
Who? I don’t know, but I was some
body who nobody poked or
prodded at. I was who I thought
I needed to be, no longer innocent
and though it felt good not to be hated,
it plagued me and made me feel
guilty and ashamed to be me.
This forced me to eat and drink
more. I developed a high tolerance
for any type of alcohol, and I smoked
as much weed as I possibly could.
I was no longer bullied or abused,
but my mindset was off, and the
voices were starting to haunt me, and
I was doing my best to ignore them.
But when you’ve been through so
much and don’t seek guidance
or help, you really don’t know
what to do, besides answer to
those demons that are seeking
you out, so I
answered the call of the wild.
Part 3: Nowhere to Run, No One to Call
You know me, saying the wrong thing
at the wrong time. Well it’s not always
true, but in this instance it couldn’t
be more true. The voices and
crimes pushed me out of the projects
into a quieter part of
the city, and I was back with my mom.
And as much as I didn’t want to
be, I needed to be. I was
having panic attacks, and I didn’t
know why. I was self-medicating daily
with alcohol and weed, which only
fueled the demons inside my head. I
began to hit the streets in the new
area. I also started back selling drugs.
But now I was carrying a weapon and
I was ready to use it. Although it
pains me to say so, my mind had me doing all types
of crazy shit.
From hurting people to hurting myself, one night
so fed up with the voices and weight gain and
the way I was living, I downed a gallon
of gin and popped over seventy pills and
waited to die. But I only got sick
and ended up in the hospital for 2 ½ weeks
with a touch of cirrhosis.
And when that didn’t work, I convinced
myself to take a box cutter and run it
across my throat. While I was
doing that, my mom walked in on me
and knocked it out of my hand, but not before
I had scarred myself.
I was admitted into Holy Cross Hospital
where they took me at my word, when I
told them I was trying to shave.
My brain was so warped. See I told
you about the mental and physical abuse,
but what really caused the
damage was the sexual molestation.
Yes, I was molested more times than I
care to count, and even now
it plagues me and fucks with me in
a way that makes me not want to
So I became toxic.
I jumped guys hoping they would
retaliate and kill me, and it almost
happened. I assaulted a guy and in
return he stabbed me in my side.
But it wasn’t enough to finish me
off. I just got a few stitches
on top of the ones I already had. Let
me back up a sec—after I was
released from the hospital I became
distant from my family and friends.
But I became more street organized,
as well as consistent in my drug sales,
to where I was making a lot of
money. But that didn’t stop my mind
from wandering off into dark places.
So one day while I was walking, an officer
from the area where I sold drugs
tried to question me. I refused to
talk to him, which pissed him off—
not only because I ignored him, but
because I knew my rights, so I
refused to speak with him.
So in a rage he jumped out
of the car and bum-rushed me
(tackled me and tried to throw me down).
But I was too big (in weight) for that.
So when I reversed his body toss his
partner opened up and fired upon me,
hitting me 6 times, leaving me paralyzed
for more than 2 ½ years and charged
with attempted first-degree murder.
Being told that I would never walk
again caused me to fall into a deep
depression and made me suicidal,
and I finally came to the conclusion
that I needed help, not today but
Part 4, Final Chapter: There Will Be Better Days
As I sat up in my hospital bed,
contemplating my revenge, a hospital minister
came to my room and gave me an orange and
a bible—a children’s bible, to be exact. I
started reading it, and I started to
question myself. What was I doing?
Why was I doing it? And what could I
do to make me better? And at that moment
a mental health provider, who I will
just call Nancy, came and talked to me
for at least 63 minutes, which seemed
like a lifetime. As if on cue I
began to tell her everything and
I mean everything, and I can
tell you, I felt so much relief that
I couldn’t hold back the tears. I
had so much bottled up that it was
driving me crazy. She then gave me
a full evaluation.
And we learned that I was bipolar,
schizophrenic, and I had a severe
case of depression. I was put on medication,
and I’ve been having one-on-one sessions
for 6 years now. I still have bad days,
but for the most part I stay busy,
for it’s those moments when I am
not active that the voices reach for me.
But because I’m in school Monday-
Friday 6AM to 9:30AM, then yard
or bible study or even another class,
such as further learning, creative
writing, and last but not least PNAP,
it helps me to be calm, and it keeps me
working. It keeps me hoping and thinking.
Not to mention my enrollment
in A.A. and my anger
management classes. Because of these
classes I’m a better me. I’m now
what you would call stable.
“A Lifetime of Watching”
For years I chased after my
tail as if I was a dog, and
now that I caught it I realize
I really never wanted it at all.
I finally see the big picture in
life. In order to live you must
fight. I once drank to survive
in the streets, now I drink just to
stay on beat.
I watched as night walkers and
stalkers became their own
bosses, and with my own two eyes
I seen more than enough losses.
A lifetime of pain covered up
with nothing more than meds
has left my heart broken
for the outcome of these
Heartache and bad choices
has left me still hearing
voices, but I know tomorrow
there’ll be better days.
We are sending love in remembrance of Decory Franklin, a wonderful PNAP student who passed away in late 2021. Decory was a passionate learner and was involved in numerous educational spaces during his incarceration, beginning as far back as Margaret Burroughs’s time at Stateville. He was an extraordinarily talented writer and will be deeply missed by those who had the joy to meet and learn with him.