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There is a cracked optimism among the men.
"This is what keeps me out of prison," Steve says. He's standing next to Al, smoking a cigarette from the old veteran's pack. "It's different with the vets around, the older guys. You get locked up with a bunch of young guys, and everyone gets riled up and wants to push on each other."
Knott walks into the cold with his overcoat buttoned, holding his hat to his brow. He doesn't say where he's going, but he has a lot of work to do. A fresh class will start here in less than two months. Same goes for YouthBuild. He also recently started talking with the Missouri Department of Corrections about a Man Class for convicts re-entering society.
Knott also has work to do with his own son. The boy he hasn't seen in 25 years recently contacted him through Facebook. They've yet to meet, and their e-mail exchanges have been cautious. But Knott is optimistic.
"He's a basketball coach," Knott says, beaming that they should have the sport in common. Then, wryly: "I follow his games and give him advice. I'm sure he appreciates that."
Knott turns to Al. "I'll see you next week!" he shouts and waves his hand over his head. "Do your affirmations!"
Al smiles and returns the wave. So does Steve, who immediately bums a smoke as Knott walks away.
"You know, this is teaching me what I have to learn," Steve says. "It's the stuff my dad's been trying to tell me for years, and I never listened to him. Life is boring, and I never listened to that. You get up, you go to a job, you come home, you watch television, you go to bed, you wake up, you do it again. Boring. But it's better than being in prison."