The Prison Writer – Chapter 17

By Joshua Ryan

I realize that writers need to predict the questions that their readers will ask, so I’ll answer the question that’s on your mind: Did I think about what would happen if I found out I wouldn’t actually get celled up with Steven?  Or if I found out that I hated him or something?

So the answer is, yeah!  I thought about it.  It got more interesting during the months between my passing the first check to Donald and my appointment with the arresting officer. At first I hadn’t wanted to give it much thought.  I was so fascinated by the idea of getting close to this man whose story I was putting myself into … It would be a tragedy if anything went wrong about him.

But gradually I was getting a feel for writing my own story.  I don’t mean writing, like, on a keyboard.  I mean, I’d got this idea about going to prison, and I’d written the whole script, and now it was getting produced, and it was exactly the kind of story I wanted to be in!  And if Steven got cut out of the script somehow, I would still be in it.  It was my own story.

One thing about Steven’s stories — You never really got the idea that prison was all that rough.  For the hero, anyway.  Which I guess it couldn’t be.  Danny was always the suave guy who was able to handle anything.  But that’s not how I was!  I wasn’t suave.  I was just Collylocks, the rich young dude that everybody sorta thinks he likes.  I didn’t want to be that person anymore.  But Collylocks couldn’t change himself; he could just lock himself into a different story, where he’d go from having the maximum of everything to having the minimum, from writing the thing to having to live in it.  Quite a plot twist, eh?  The same one that Steven must have come up with, or he wouldn’t have been on that boat to Maskawa.  Granted, he didn’t look very happy when I saw him on deck with the other human cargo.  Too bad about that!  Maybe, for once, he miscalculated!  But if you’re in a real story, hey!  Shit happens.  (Sorry about the cliché!  I almost said, “it is what it is,” which is even worse, LOL!)  I figured there would be lots of punishment and humiliation — the whole thing was punishment and humiliation!  And I planned to enjoy the hell out of it!  My money — I paid for it!  Livin my passion, dude.

So, now we’re at the place in this story where I’ve done all kinds of boring shit to get ready for that cop to come and get me.  I’ve finished my thesis (might as well!), graduated from college (thought it would be a nice contrast to the Awful Things that were about to happen to me if I showed up in cap and gown, with my brother there to pretend to congratulate me), talked to the lawyer about what to do with the condo … Then I was just waiting.  I never waited so hard for anything.  Once I read a story about a guy who’s about to be sent to prison, so he goes out and does all the things he’ll never get to do again.  Whenever I started thinking like that, I got so excited and nervous that I just went back in my bedroom and did what you’d expect me to do, jerk off about prison.  On the big morning of June 21, I fixed my usual coffee and croissant (pretty gay, huh?), showered and shaved, put on my basic tee, jeans, and sneaks, and lay around on the couch pulling up pictures on the internet.  I may have pulled something else up, too!

Then it happened — somebody POUNDING on my door!  “Law enforcement!  Open up!  This is law enforcement!”  I heard that three or four times before I managed to put myself together and get to the door.  It was a guy in a gray cop suit.  I didn’t have a chance to notice much, but a second or two was enough to give me the essentials: brushcut, 30-ish, much taller than me, definitely a lot more buff!, belt loaded with strange-looking cop stuff.  One of those things must have been handcuffs, because the first thing he did was yell, “Stick your hands out!” and a pair of cuffs closed on my wrists.

“What’s this about?” I said, because that’s what everybody says in stories.

“Turn around!  Face to the wall!  Hands above your head!”

As soon as I faced the wall, I felt his hands pulling up my jeans and locking cold steel onto my ankles.  Then I felt a big pair of hands moving over my body.

“You got anything in your pants that’s gonna hurt me?”

Without waiting for an answer he grabbed my crotch, dented my ass crack, and pulled my wallet out of my back pocket.

“Turn around.  Face me.”

He had my driver’s license out and was comparing it to my face.

“Carl Owen Abbott, I have an order for your arrest for failure to report for imprisonment.  I am Department of Corrections Lieutenant Brannigan and I will now transport you to a state correctional facility where you will begin serving your sentence.  Cmon.”

Exactly what I wanted — only better!  That bite of steel on my wrists and ankles — priceless!  He grabbed my arm and dragged me through the door.  By then my neighbors were congregating in the hallway.  It was a luxury complex, built for students who had some serious money.  They were either muscleheads or fashionboys, with a few fairies thrown in as condiments. Some of the mob waiting around my door were wearing their old warm-ups, running shoes, and unshaved faces; some were in brand-new Chucks, designer shorts, and three-hundred-dollar hoodies; and some were in cute little slippers, shiny pants, and pink tank tops.  These people despised each other, and they’d had no use for me, except for an occasional cruise from the fairies, but they were drawn together as witnesses to my tragedy.  “What’s happening?”  “Dude’s gettin busted!”  “For not paying his FEES, I suppose.  He always looked like a bum!”

It took me a while to shuffle through the crowd.  Those shackles really slow you down!  Pretty soon all the phones were out of their pants and rearing up, directly in my face.  Which was fine with me — I wanted to enjoy every moment.  Even my trip down the stairs, which were hard to navigate, now that my hands were no longer my own — I loved listening to my feet falling on the steps, plap plap plap, and my shackles jingling, and my hands automatically grasping for the railing they couldn’t reach, and my body basically out of control except for the officer’s grip on my arm.  While the buzz and the oooh! continued at the head of the stairs.

Not many spectators on the sidewalk, although there was an old professor type who was out walking his dog and jumped back, pretending to be scared.  The cop car was everything I could have wished for.  Enormous!  It had a front bumper that a tugboat could have used.  If I’d had any doubts about the realism of the experience, they vanished when I saw what was painted on the side of the car:


Danger: Prisoner on Board

So Collylocks was now a danger!  Yes!

The car was obviously designed to eliminate my risk to the public.  In the back seat, where I was put, there were bars on the windows and between me and the driver, and there weren’t any handles on the doors!  My egress was no longer under my control.  And the vehicle was not designed for my comfort.  My seat was hard plastic, and before slamming the door to lock me in, the officer made sure to lock a seatbelt on me.  I was like some barrel of something you see in the back of a van, all trussed up to make sure it doesn’t spill onto the highway.

I knew from Donald where he’d be taking me, but it was my role to say, “Where am I going, Officer?”  I loved putting in that little homage at the end!  It really showed me my place, having to ADDRESS him in PROPER FASHION.

“You’re goin to Owosso.  To the OPC.”

“OPC, Officer?”  Of course, I’d looked that acronym up a long time before.

He gave me a glance in the rearview mirror.  “Orientation and Processing Center,” he said.  Then paused, like why should I waste my breath on this piece a shit? “After that, you’ll ship out to wherever they wanta ship you.”

I kept quiet for a while, enjoying the fact that FUCK!  I’d DONE it!  I’d done something in my life!  From now on, I wouldn’t have to do any more.  I was in a cage, on my way to be PROCESSED, and nothing on earth could keep me from being shipped off to my permanent home.

“You really fucked up, boy,” he added.

I was already so deep in the experience, at first I wondered where that noise was coming from.  But I could see his eyes, looking at me in the mirror again.


“Why didn’t you turn yourself in like you were told?  They already added another five years to your minimum.”

“You mean, now I’m doing 25 to life?”

“It’s automatic.”

“That’s good,” I said.  “Now I know where I stand.  Sir.”  Hard to remember that “Sir.”  But I’d get used to it.

“You don’t know nothin, boy.  But you’ll find out.”

He gave me a contemptuous look in the mirror, then turned back to look at the road.  From then on, all I could see of this bull was his big head and his big neck and his thick right arm riding the steering wheel.  Was this man in the know?  Was this “the guy” who’d taken my money to do this to me?  It was fun not to know.  But like, does it make a difference, whether you’re payin some guy for sex, or he’s doin it for free, or maybe it’s for free but the deal is, you’ve gotta pay him back with love or something?  I don’t know, but it was OK with me, whether he was doing this because the state was paying him or because I was paying him.  He was a dick, either way.

I don’t know how long it took to get to Owosso — time goes fast when you’re having fun.  I was still relishing the ride when we pulled through the gate of this thing that looked like the last fort on the Factory Outlet Front.  I mean, concrete blocks and razor wire!  Bales of it!  Miles of it!  This place was tough!  They might as well hang out a sign saying Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here.  Dante would have wanted a more decorative façade, but he wasn’t the one that was going to hell.  That was me, Colly, and it looked good enough to me.

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