You’d grown up with a healthy curiosity about sex. Once, at five or six, hearing noises downstairs, and worried, you’d wandered into the TV room, seen your parents in grunting, doggy-style embrace, oblivious to your curiosity, and frightening you with their bestial, coital labors. Fred and Oliva had a healthy, if not a little kinky appreciation of sex. Even after she’d calved out five healthy kids, she still loved to fuck, before boredom and the bottle stole her heart away. It was your stern, patrician father’s only real escape from his slavish obedience to obsessive discipline. They both needed it. Once you discovered them outside, on a stifling Fitchburg summer’s night, in the moonlit backyard, fucking away like brainless porn stars, of all places, in the shallow, cool respite of your kiddy pool. The very next morning, you took action. Even before eating breakfast, you’d marched out into the bright sun, deflated that gaily colored, rubbery doughnut, then dragged its soggy, wilted carcass into the garage, announcing to your shocked family, I don’t want anyone using my pool!

And then the grown-up Pippin did an odd thing. In the middle of the interrogation she told Sgt. Klaus, with a sudden compulsion that is so much about the little girl pulling the plug on her kiddy pool. Unprompted, you blurted out the sordid tale of Moe. I was puzzled, and agitated, at first, when you told me, surprised why you would volunteer this fact to this man whose job it is to find out facts that can and will be used against you. I worried, for days, and I guess you know this already, worried that such a revelation, even though perfectly true, would have, in prison, just the opposite effect that telling the truth is supposed to have. A ‘D’ report, another stay in the hole, more trouble heaped upon trouble you already don’t deserve. I worried, and then I dug deeper, analyzed past your needs, and deeds, to my own preconceptions and biases. There is this enormous, shaggy, hibernating bear that lives inside the dark cave of my psyche. Let’s call him the Bullshit Man, who still believes that lying, when the truth will do, is an acceptable survival technique.

Sgt. Klaus is good at his job. It was a thorough interrogation; all the clinical details were divulged, and you answered with a shockingly brave candor that only someone who has sworn off consorting with the Bullshit Man can offer. Which hand had Moe used? Was it oral? Was there penetration? I can only guess at all the questions. Forever wonder about your answers. Somewhere there is a report, in Sgt. Klaus’s hard drive, in a file cabinet; the story, written in sturdy, unrelenting official-ese, of your sadly disconnected and loveless tryst with Nurse Moe. Perhaps someday, perhaps in the near distant future, you will be summoned, or subpoenaed, to testify against him. Perhaps not. Cannibals rarely eat one another, and the far greater likelihood is that Moe will simply recede into the ethereal mythos of MCI-Framingham, along with the suicides and the dusty abortion tables still hidden away in the Old Admin catacombs. The truth of the matter is far simpler. People forced into common isolation; men and men, women and women, inmates and their jailers, will find ways to exercise their humanity, even in the most soul-deadening of habitats. What you and Moe did was the most natural thing on earth. He was lonely, you were lonely. Sexual tension finds its low gravity point, and there you have it. Forget which hand he used, Sgt. Klaus, or how you responded. Look instead to the greater question, the reasons people find to justify, and you will discover what’s truly broken in this world. It’s love, Sgt. Klaus. Or lack of it. Love fills us up. Absence not only makes the heart grow weaker, but crazier, and blinder, and willing to do just about anything to refill that empty space. Before there was a me in your life, a daily telephone call, a weekly letter in the mail, a picture over your bed of a real man who really loves you, there was only the outstretched horizon of empty days and lonely nights. Before me, the occasional touch, anyone’s touch, Moe’s fingers on your clit, a friend’s gentle hug, the unabashed fantasy appraisal of a guard’s well endowed crotch, these were gifts to pass the time, and steal you away from the time bandits.

And then, you told me, Sgt. Klaus sent you to Medical Services, or whatever they call the infirmary, to endure the absurd, and much, much belated physical examination. For signs of what? Moe’s fingerprints on your pussy? His lips burned into your breast where he kissed your biopsy stitches? Where were these gentle guardians for you at seventeen, after being forcibly cleaved, at knifepoint, by a stranger’s cock? Or the four animals who gang-raped you that dark day in Florida, pried you open like a split melon, all the time whispering into your tendon-taut neck, with fetid breath and pornographic Latino swagger, that if you didn’t kill the story they’d kill your son. Simple choices. Where were they when you lay on the tarmac, afterwards, in that dusky airplane hanger, your asshole burning and blooded as a sacrificial lamb, and listened to the shrill emptiness outside, afraid to move one limb, afraid they’d return and pop a cap into your Gringo bitch-cunt reporter’s smug face. Or later, as the years rolled bleakly by, where was all this administrative concern as you sublimated and denied, buried the hurt deeper and deeper under layers and layers of alcoholic comfort quilts, racked up DUIs, ran out on relationships, sabotaged jobs, frightened and alienated the one person who would always believe in your beautiful, innate truth: your son.

And Sgt. Klaus, the Superintendent’s literalist investigator, dutifully wrote everything down; everything you told him. But he’ll never know, or be capable of understanding, the true story. He’s a bored man who must fabricate intrigue and adventure, and, like the muzzled dog, or the shadowed rapist, capable of great and terrible mischief. Later, he summoned two of your friends, two women you’d shared the Moe story with, confiscated their writing notebooks, coerced and threatened them with God knows what if they didn’t cooperate with his sanctimonious, ponderous and holy quest for the bottom of things. Then he sent you to the hospital, for a vaginal swipe, a rape and AIDs test a year too late, another series of pointless questions, and thank God for small mercies, because he could have just as easily sent to back to the hole, while Moe, walked off the job when a woman he’d hit on ratted him out, enjoys his abrupt, but fully compensated retirement.

Therein, as so many things behind the razor wire, like the man behind the curtain, like the guards who snap on latex gloves to pat you down how many times a day, like their almighty offices burning brightly with so many paradoxical and shameless lies, therein, O, my brave, bemused, and utterly belittled darling, lies the rub.