This is a story I wrote that's to be included in a book on conflict resolution that is scheduled to be out in 2012. It's a little unusual for this blog but I hope you enjoy it anyway. 

      Honey, a Baseball Bat and Marlene

 It was a day like any other. We were sitting on the well-used couches that faced and flanked Marlene’s desk, talking about staff scheduling issues and sipping coffee, some of the counselors were smoking cigarettes.

 There was a loud crash and angry voices coming from the group meeting room. I and the other counselors jumped up and ran to the group room. We arrived to find Big Hank swinging a baseball bat at Ronnie, a new arrival, fresh from Folsom prison. I held my hands up palms open and said “whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa” using a descending volume and slowing the cadence of my speech trying to calm the situation down, “what’s going on here?” “That motherfucker poured honey over all my stuff; my pictures are fucked, my letters are fucked, and I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch!”

 Hank started to go for Ronnie and as I was physically trying to hold him back Marlene walked in. She slammed a large book on the floor and it made a huge CRACK. All eyes’ we’re on her and the room was silent; everyone was stunned by the noise and the turn of events. She looked Hank in the eye’s, took her time and said in the calmest tone imaginable “Do you think you really need that thing with me?” Her head was slightly tilted and she had a wisp of a smile on her face with her hand outstretched and open, expecting him to hand her the bat.

 There were a tense few moments and I was ready to tackle him if he went for someone, but he looked down, handed her the bat and allowed us to lead him away.

 After processing Big Hank to a more secure facility we were back in the office and I asked Marlene “how in the hell did you do that? That was amazing!” She replied “I didn’t look at the part of Hank that was angry, I looked inside him, at the parts of him that are sweet and loving, and he actually has a lot of those”. Then she lit a cigarette and I noticed her hand was trembling. “But it wasn’t easy” she said “not by a long shot.”




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