About Prison Affection
Epistles to the State Pen:
Chapter One: The Single-Cell Organism
The singular note of prison bars locking into place rang out as Dr. Deke Connolly hopped to the creaky top bunk. He tried to ignore the smell of his cellmate’s body odor, but it was no use. He tried to block out the fact that his head was all of two feet from a stained, leaky roof. Maybe he’d try meditation. Maybe pushing the cold hard facts away was all wrong; perhaps acceptance and leaning in would provide a salve against the perpetual presence of cheap metal toilets and dirty men and ubiquitously noisome odors.
“They’re just sitting there. Can’t I just read one?”
“It’s all nonsense. You need to give it up, Claude. Obsession doesn’t work out well, whatever the intentions.”
“See that. That right there. Running away from who you are, you’re still giving out great advice.”
“You realize you’re not taking the advice. As we speak.”
As the exchange went on and went nowhere, a procession of guards walked by their cell. Though generally brutal, each man in uniform touched a bar with two fingers and moved on with faces so reverential, Michelangelo might’ve used them for ceilings. Claude sat watching with a skinny leg crossed tightly over his knee, writing down the names of each guard that performed the “ritual.” Deke could hear the pencil scribbling furiously and he snuck a look down; immediately he was spilling over with regret—it was like he won a lottery and the prize: Least Sexy Secretary In The World.
Dr. Deke sometimes wished a good old-fashioned psychopathic murderer was his bunkmate. A time-honored throat-slashing and the silence of death at times seemed preferable to the very vocal genuflections of Claude Windle. The kid was relentless in all the wrong ways; probably why Connolly hated and secretly liked him. It was like looking in the mirror, only the image had stringy black hair and a long beak that reminded you of gravity every time you glimpsed it. The thing literally overlapped his top lip. Connolly didn’t even know that was a thing.
“Are they almost done?” Deke asked. He was laying down facing the back of the cell, doing his best to ignore the lemmings as they passed.
“Unless there’s been new acolytes, should be five more.”
Holy balls, Connolly thought. Acolytes. He’s coming up with more nomenclature.
Five more taps and five more scribbles and it was finally done.