Billy Hayes

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Billy Hayes

Midnight Express

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About Him

Living… in Sağmalcilar Prison in Istanbul, Turkey, a long way from New York, where he’s from. He’s spent the last 3-plus years of his life in this prison and he thinks he’s paid for his error. The "error" was strapping two kilograms of hashish to his chest and trying to board a plane back home; or maybe his real mistake was getting caught. He doesn’t know how much longer he can last in this prison. He has to get home.

Profession… prisoner trying to get his sentence revoked. The details behind his prosecution aren't clear and neither are the details of his release. As he puts it, “What is the crime? And what is the punishment? The answer seems to vary from place to place, and from time to time. What's legal today is suddenly illegal tomorrow cause some society says it's so. And what's illegal yesterday all of a sudden gets legal today because everybody's doing it and you can't throw everybody in jail.”

Interests… smoking hashish, and whatever else can take his mind off things. As he describes his activities in prison, “The haze helps the time pass. Also I do soap carvings. Erich taught me. And I have been learning Turkish because it helps me to deal with the guards and the prisoners. I'm trying hard to maintain some sort of schedule to my life, but sometimes it seems like I'm just trying in order to try. In the daytimes we sometimes play volleyball against the big Turkish gangsters.”

Relationship Status… dating Susan, though she's back in the States. Her memory is the only thing that keeps him going. Strange as it seems, without having seen Susan in so long he feels closer to her than ever before. He senses her, touches her, knows her, and finds himself falling more and more in love with her, all without saying a word.

Challenge… getting out of prison and getting his life back on track. Billy really thought he knew what he was doing with his life. He’d hoped somehow to get out of this quickly so that Susan would never know about it. But that just isn't possible now. He doesn’t know what's going to happen.

Personality… reformed. Billy was going down the wrong path before he went to prison. Prison taught him to channel and direct his energy. If you don’t control your energy in prison, you can self-destruct. And energy can't be wasted either. You have to weigh every one of your actions – for and against. Prison taught Billy about feelings, and the need to express them. Prison has taught him the true value of freedom. Of course, if Billy ends up dying in this terrible place, all those lessons will be for naught.

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Billy Hayes
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