The Prison Writer – Chapter 03

By Joshua Ryan

Pictures from the next morning:  Dean’s smooth, heavy body filling my bed.  My head jerking up as memories hit me from the night before.  My feet stumbling over the clothes I’d strewn on the carpet.  Wine glasses lying dead in front of the couch.  My hands fumbling with the coffee maker, anxious to fix the obligatory brew and get this stranger out of my home.  Dean striding into the kitchen — white tank top, black boxers, bare feet, and the shadow of a beard.  “Make mine scrambled.”

Apparently he’d leave when he wanted to leave.

“I think,” he said, taking his final bite of the eggs, “you should use your own name.  No pen names this time.”

“Do you mind telling me what you’re talking about?”

“I’m talking about the name you’ll use in prison.  Steven Meres.  That’s good enough.”

“I’m glad.  But tell me some other time.  It’s morning.  I’m not drunk anymore.”

“You will be.  Of course, it would be interesting for you to invent a name.  But I think you should use your own.”

“OK, I’ll take the bait.  Why?”

“One reason, it’ll give you a break from all that work you do, inventing names for your stories.  And it’ll give you more cred when your book comes out.  ‘I did all this, and I wasn’t even in disguise.’”

“How do you know that ‘Steven Meres’ isn’t a disguise?”

“Remember, I traced his records.  But there’s another reason for using your real name.  It’s easier.  The system needs a lotta ID, and I don’t wanta get into the business of faking a driver’s license.  Besides, you might slip on the new name.  Probably would.  You talk too much, if somebody gives you a chance.”  He always grinned when he said things like that.  I wondered why.  What was the exact kind of pleasure he got out of this?

“Maybe,” I said.  “But I’m an author.  People know who I am.  They come to my signings.  They hunt for my books on Patagon.  If I got arrested, it would be all over the net.”

“Eventually it’ll get there — when you write that next book.   But I haven’t noticed anybody going online to find out what Thor Reardon is having for breakfast.  Or Paige Zebello.  They’re just writers.  If they stopped writing, their ‘fans’ wouldn’t notice.  They’d just pick another brand.  You’ve been doing about one book a year.  Legit books, I mean.  A year is a while to wait.  So how many people ever wrote in to find out what’s goin on with you?  Can’t remember?  I rest my case.”

If I wanted humiliation, this was it.  I had to remind myself that a good author writes for himself; he doesn’t expect to be followed by autograph hounds.  But I guess it was hotter to think about Steven Meres being sent to prison, instead of somebody with another name.  Yeah, it was definitely hotter.

“You seem pretty happy about that,” I said.

“Sure,” he shrugged.  “Always happy to help.  I know you want to do it.”

“Like hell.  But what do you get out of it?  You will — you WOULD — be going to a lot of trouble, just to assist a struggling artist.”

“Have to admit, it’s less trouble than you think.  I’ve already got your fingerprints.”


“There’s such a thing as the DMV.  In this state, you give up your prints if you want to drive.”

“OK.  But that kind of stuff won’t send me to prison.”

“Really?  And you claim to be a mystery writer.  Don’t worry — I’ll have enough to send you up.  I fool around with documents all the time.  Part of my job.  Easy enough to get creative and make some for you.”

“So OK, right — I guess you can send me to prison any time you want!”  I knew that should have been a scary thought, but tell me how you’d feel about a handsome hunk taking that kind of interest in you.  You and your fetish.  I don’t think you’d go running out of the house.  Even though you hadn’t intended for him to stick around for breakfast.  Even though you might be embarrassed about some of the things you possibly might have done last night.

“Yeah, I guess so.  But I wouldn’t do it without asking first.”  He was standing next to me while I put the dishes in the sink.  Somehow his arm had curled around my waist.  “Because I wouldn’t be doing it just to give you a thrill.”

“No?  You’ve got another motive?”

“Sure.  I want to get paid.  You know, I read an interview with you.”

“That’s quite a transition.”

“I read an interview, and you talked a lot about ‘irony.’   I think it would be damned ironic for you to be the first guy who ever paid to get himself INTO prison.”

His other hand had slipped into his shorts and was moving lazily up and down, rubbing his big dick.

“How would I pay you?  You want me to do some more hard labor?”

“Not a bad idea.  But I’m thinking about money.  I’ve got some projects I wanta invest in.”

“At least you’re honest.  Just out of curiosity — how much would you want?”

“Twenty thousand.”

“Twenty thousand dollars?!”

“By check.”

“You want me to write you a check for twenty thousand dollars!”

“Sure,” he said, still massaging his dick, not embarrassed at all.  “I know you’ve got it, and it isn’t that much.  Like I said, you won’t have any expenses in prison.  And besides, I want you to be implicated.”

“Implicated?”  When I heard myself saying that, I felt that I’d gotten into the wrong story.  A bad story.  In a good story, you never have somebody just repeating what somebody else said.

“Right.  When you get out, you’re gonna make up something about how your aid was requested by some whistleblowers in the DOC, and you won’t tell their names, they’re protected by law, and so on.  Nothin’s gonna happen, unless you decide to out me.  That’s where your check comes in.  You out me, and you’re outing yourself, for bribing a public official.  Besides, if you’re going to prison you should definitely do something criminal, right?  It’s only realistic.”

I didn’t say anything, so he said, “You’ve got time to decide.  You don’t need to be outta here till — when did you say?”

“June.  June 15.”

“June.  If we get started now, sometime around June 10 you’ll be on your way to Owosso.”


“That’s another thing you don’t know about.  The state correctional facility at Owosso — they send all the new males there.”

“I’ve been a male for 29 years.”

“You think so.”  There was that grin again.  The more I looked at it, the hotter it seemed.  He really did have this boyish, pushy, what the hell, shameless aggression about him.

“So I’d stay there for a year?”

“Huh?  At Owosso?  No.  Just for processing and orientation.  I know you’ll need some orientation, but I wonder how you’ll feel about being processed.”

When he said that, it was just like a bad novel — he swept me into his arms and I kissed him passionately.

“I guess you’ll like it,” he said.

“What happens after that?” I asked, hoping he’d say, “I’ll show you in the bedroom.”  Which he did.

I’d wanted to get rid of him, but afterwards he got rid of himself.  “OK, I gotta get my clothes back on.  Shift starts in 50 minutes.”

So I got to watch him climb into his big, daunting uniform, and strap on all the equipment that allowed him to trace, tase, club, and cuff any offender he came across.  The night before, I’d asked him to bring his gun in from the car, I wanted to look at it; but he said, “Not with a drunk person around.”  I never would have guessed how mammoth a short black club could seem when it was hanging from a hard man in uniform.  And I never would have guessed that while I was drunk and rushing out of my clothes and tossing them randomly onto the floor, he would be folding his uniform neatly over a chair.  But that’s what the evidence in the bedroom suggested.

“You won’t be in Owosso long,” he said, straightening the belt with all his instruments hanging from it.  “Then you’ll be shipped to your permanent institution.”  I must have looked blank at that, so he added, “I mean prison.”

“Which one?  What are my choices?”

“You’re always so funny.  You won’t have any choices.  The system will decide where to put you.  But think of the time and money you’ll save.  And all the trouble, looking for a place to live.  No hunting through the real estate listings.  No visits, no tours, no offers, no rejections, no realtor — not even Craig.”


“I know you have the greatest esteem and respect for him,” he grinned.

I wished he’d stop doing that!  I was way too turned on.

“You’re getting into the ironic mode,” I said.  “Much appreciated.”

He pulled me close and kissed me, and I had another chance to notice how much taller he was than me.  “But I gotta go.”  He was moving toward the front door.  “Think about it.  I already know you want to do this.  Don’t text me.  Give me a call.”  He paused.  Another ironic grin.  “Unless you’re too scared.”

“I’m not scared!”

“Maybe you’re not.  Do it soon.  You got a week.  See ya!”

A minute later I heard the big 1970s roar of his engine, and I had the rest of the day to write.

But I didn’t.  It suddenly occurred to me that, fuck!, I myself was now lacking a car.  It was back where I’d left it, after that drunken dinner.  By the time the Luft driver came to pick me up, I’d had a chance to feel what it was like to be lacking my own mode of transportation.  Was that like waiting — how had he put it? — to be “shipped” to a prison?  An interesting thought.  I spent the rest of the day (and the next day, and the day after that) thinking — I mean fantasizing — about Dean’s ridiculous idea.  Which he was getting me to believe was real.

Which it couldn’t be.  Because…?  Lots of reasons.  Obvious reason: this is a scam.  Or some weird kind of joke.  Big guy in a uniform offers to send you to prison, and you believe him?  You’re wondering whether you should give him twenty thousand dollars?  How real is that?

On the other hand, I thought, walking toward the liquor cabinet, how likely was it for him to be scamming me?  He’s a cop.  He’s Jerry’s old friend.  He slept with me!  Why?  So he could take my twenty thousand and … what?  Go to Brazil?  If it was a joke, why should he be kidding me like that?  He doesn’t care enough about me to want to make me look like a fool.  Sad but true — he wasn’t my boyfriend; he had no reason to hate me.

OK, fine.  But maybe the guy’s just crazy.  This prison idea — completely bizarre.  But is that what crazy people do — offer to send you to jail if you pay them money?  That was a little too crazy.  Just crazy enough to be real.  Again, what’s he going to do with the money, after I give it to him?  He couldn’t be crazy enough to think that I wouldn’t say, “Look, I gave it to you to ‘invest,’ now where’s my return on the investment?”  The only way I wouldn’t is if I was actually … in prison!  If he said, I took that money to make you a convict, he’d lose his job, at least.  So all right, maybe he’s just in it for the money.  But if that’s true, it means that it’s real!  He’s got a good job.  He’s not going to forfeit his retirement fund for $20,000.

So then — it’s real.  His proposal is real.  But so what?  That doesn’t mean I’m going take his offer.

Does it?

He was right about the prison fetish.  I’d been hard all the time I was trying to dismiss the idea.  This was my chance — my chance to stop looking at pictures and imagining I was in them, my chance to stop making up stories and actually live in one.  When would I have another chance?  Never.

But, for God’s sake — a year!  If it was a week, if it was even a month … It would just be like that first time I went to a bar.  The first time I went home with somebody.  The first and probably the last time I slept with Dean.  I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself.  But a year?  A whole year?  No, I couldn’t do that.  I had too many other things to do.

As soon as I heard myself saying that, I knew it was false.  I had no boyfriend.  No investments I actually had to manage.  No family except a brother I hadn’t seen in about five years.  Who sent me SEASONS GREETINGS every Christmas.  Whom I’d overheard calling me a fag.  All I had to do was write my stories.  And what was the result?  I knew exactly — 700 words a day.  On the days when I worked.  If “writing” were really writing, I could type that out in 30 minutes, easy.  I could turn out a novel every month.  But I spent almost all my time staring at the walls, walking in circles, surfing the net, edging — anything to help me think up plots, characters, motives, scenes.  And manage them.  Every page meant a hundred decisions I had to make.  Now someone was offering me a year of getting all of it handed to me for free, with a really great book coming out at the end.  Fiction or nonfiction, it would practically write itself.  Great advertising for my other books, too.

I was stuck for three days, visions of prison dancing in my head.  At night, I dreamed of gorgeous guys in orange stripes walking slowly toward me, with price tags attached to them.  I’M A BARGAIN!  ONLY $20,000!  When I looked closer, I saw they were me — I was them — I was a gorgeous prison guy!  It had been many years since I woke up with cum smeared on my sheets.  Now I did.

There was one objection left.  Yeah, Dean was right.  I was scared.  I wouldn’t do it because I was scared.

Well, I thought, why shouldn’t I be?  Take a person like me — intelligent, artistic, sensitive — I liked ballet! — and lock him up in a prison someplace … Who’d want to let that happen to him?

The answer, apparently, was me.  Just thinking about getting handcuffed was enough to make me hard.  I’d never done it.  Not even in what they call “role play.”  Too scared.  Or too embarrassed to find out if anyone was interested.  Then there was Dean, laughing at me while his big heavy arm pulled me into bed with him.  He was so sure I was a precious little butch-worshipper with a knack for serving up stories of men like him for queers to lose their cum over — queers like me.  Who knows whether he thought I was dumb enough to accept his crazy gamble to prove I was something more than that.  For him, it wasn’t even a gamble.  Either I’d show he was right about me, or he’d make twenty thousand dollars.  He was writing the story, and it was a comedy with me as the clown.

The last time I was scared … It was when I unlocked my mailbox and found that envelope from Sixteenth Avenue Press.  My heart dropped, as it always did … Another rejection!  How many more could I take?  How much longer could I keep myself going?  But when I tore the thing open, I saw a contract for publication, lying there quiet, waiting for my signature.  That was before any royalties, before even Jerry.  Since then, I’d never been really scared.  And I’d never been really excited, either.  Maybe things hadn’t been totally real for me, since I opened that envelope.  If it took being scared again…

I opened another bottle.  Then I made a call to Dean.

“Hey … This is Steven.  Yes, Steven Meres.  Listen, that … that suggestion you made … The one about … prison … Right, that one.  I’ve decided — I’m going to accept your offer.”

Was it just my imagination, or was he sounding a little bit vague, a little bit hazy, like he didn’t quite remember what had happened?  Maybe Craig was lurking in the background … or maybe it had been a joke after all!  But it didn’t take him long to get back in the groove.

“So, you sure?” he said.  “OK, that’s good.  I think you’ll like it.  So … Got the money?”

“I’ll get it.  Soon as I can move it into my checking account.”

“Also good.  Look … You going to that party at Jerry’s on Sunday?”

“I can do that.”

“Meet me there.  I’ll have everything ready.”

“OK, I … Thanks, Dean.”

“Don’t mention it.  I did say twenty thousand, right?”


“See you then.”

So I’d done it.  I was committed.  Then I was too exhausted to do anything but sleep it off.  No dreams this time.

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