Saturday. I am driving up to Framingham, for the first time in over a month, and in the pouring rain, also a first. Lynn Bissonette, the mythic Superintendent I’ve never even talked to, like some omniscient Jabba the Hut, has capitulated to my splendidly articulate appeal and okayed the, I thought quite sensible, suggestion, relayed through the inimitable Sergeant Klaus, that a thirty day ban is just as good as a six month ban in the behavior mod department. I have promised to be a good boy and she has agreed to let me back in. It happens this way: On Thursday I called the prison to check on Warden Lynn’s decision; amazed when an office minion tells me I’m good to go, that the ban is lifted, effective on the 15th, this Saturday. Then a caveat: but not until I’ve received The Official Letter. She doesn’t know, or choose to tell me, when it was mailed. A classic good-news, bad-news situation. When you call, I tell you both, in opposite shades of jubilee and jaundice. My plan is to visit you this weekend, after a month apart, but I don’t know. I DON”T KNOW if I can! Shit. I can feel myself morph into a frightened newt stuck in the Newline monkeyhouse, Framingham’s entry level lockdown where they parked you after your hole debacle, not having a clue whose toes I need to be careful of, missing my own bed, my boyfriend, even my mother’s hard, cold stare going all up in my shit. But you head immediately for the good news. We won! You say. The Polar Bear-(your name for Warden Lynn)-the controlling bitch had to back down. The appeal letter even went to the Boston Globe! Okay, I agree, we won, as we giggle and lay our plans to resume what vaguely resembles normalcy in our shiny new love affair. But I’m sniffing out the end game here. How much longer, how many days, for you, the only living journalist in captivity, (such a rare species), like those Chinese pandas too shy to fuck for the cameras. I am woozy with vertigo. An asteroid is heading towards earth and we only have a day to live. God, I want to die in your arms. God, grant us peace, holy fire and wild phosphorous to bless our voyage. God damn all prisons and the harm they do.

***

But nothing arrives on Friday. The Framingham snail mail, erratic on its best days, has an odd habit of never showing up until after you’ve assumed the worst and given up. So we theorize our version of the worst, that the IPS goons have made a bonfire of our correspondence, gone full-frenzy Dervish, joined hands and danced around the pyre. Later, at eight-thirty that night, a few minutes after I tell you the bad news; a stray shard of good news appears. As we talk on the phone, you are handed a letter, a copy of the one that hasn’t yet made it to Nantucket. It’s also CC’d to Visitor Services, an ironic misnomer for the disrespectful permeation of prison’s chronically nasty attitude and actions towards the only genuine support system the inmates have. You read it aloud, and I can hear the angels chortling along with us. Lynn has included a litany of prison regs concerning visiting room behavior; the subtext being okay you won the appeal, but fuck up once and you’re ass is mine. So come tomorrow, you say. I will, but I don’t have The Letter yet. Your voice slides low, down, down to that throaty Marlene Dietrich growl I love so much. Just come tomorrow, you say again, a forceful touch of Bogart this time. Come anyway. It’s fine. Amazingly, or naturally, I believe you, and make my plans.

***

On the road. Soaking wet, Brown dog looks and smells like dead horse fetus, a rank and odoriferous science experiment gone horribly wrong. But he gamely shakes off, hops in the back, gives me his this better be good glare and falls immediately to sleep. The new Ani Difranco, bought from the glitzy Barnes and Noble music bin at the mall, provides the perfect soundtrack for the sixty-nine mile slog to Framingham. Two weeks after Labor Day, the Cape exodus is light, and the chirping of the radar detector adds an occasional shrieking counterpoint to Ani’s voice. What can I say-ay-ay, I’m hard-wired this way? Boom, boom, bada boom. Chirupp, chirupp, CHI RRUUUPPP, RUP RUP, CHIRUPP! We fly. No smokies in the rear view, although I pass a couple of bikers, bedraggled, human versions of Brown Dog, their big Harley devil-rockets shocked into kickstand paralysis, a chrome dogleg of nasty-looking tail pipes cooling like dragon’s breath in the breakdown lane. The bikers are all leather chaps and Arian Nation-shaved-skull-and-body-art ‘tude; they stand at slovenly attention while three, count em, three of Massachusetts’ finest are piled up behind them, their cop doomsday strobes pulsing madly in the September cloudburst. As we pass, the radar detector bleats out an urgent cacophony of chirps and whistles, and I think of that old Jerry Garcia chestnut, Friend of the Devil, singing about lighting out from Reno with twenty hellhounds on his trail, spending the night in Utah in a cave up in the hills and dreaming of that sweet jailbait, Ann Marie. But I can’t slow down, even with the sheriff on my tail. Trigger certainly can’t stop; he’s got a good, hard whiff of Framingham, that scrap of your running bra you once smuggled to me, shoved deep in his six cylinder nostrils as he passes the poky waves of obedient commuters like Buzz Lightyear’s Jailhouse Express. I think of you, waiting, probably in a little while taking a long, hot shower, rubbing state-issue lather into your pussy, not the sexy powder and potions you so miss, but doing your best at primping your girlie wiles, even though there’s only so far you can do high fashion in your scuffed bobos, torn tee and faded jeans. But you know that’s not why I come, my gorgeous inmate intimate. Time will be gentle to us, and besides, like you say; pretty clothes only end up on the floor. When we first met, it was all play-acting, bottle rockets, and the loneliness of two souls caught in the tender traps of our own making. Now we gather up those bundles of lost time, kiss the sweet airs above our distant and lonesome bunks, and pray to the calendar gods to get a move on.

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