I know you recently got released from prison, and while I can’t begin to understand what being in there is like, I’m very happy for you about getting out. You see, I have a vague memory of a regular back-and-forth with a Peruvian kid when I was younger. However, when I got older, my pen palate still relatively unrefined, I sought a new writing companion, and found one with whom I’ve been corresponding for several years through this website.
There’s a code that must be followed as a participant in this project, and I ain’t no snitch, but there are some details my nameless inmate has permitted me to share. He is a man from a small town outside Winnipeg, Manitoba who was incarcerated for a violent crime that he did commit, drunkenly and yet with intent, around fifteen years ago. He agreed with the guilty verdict but was and still is astonished by his life sentence. He doesn’t remember the night in question, having either repressed the crime or blacked it out, likely the latter, but according to him, when he was told the circumstances of what occurred, he definitely believed he might have been the perpetrator. I don’t want to harp on that night, because it was so long ago, and I know I’d have a hard time explaining decisions I made when I was twenty.
In one of his emails, unprompted and without real context, he wrote the following line that he wanted me to include in this.
(sic) “Anyone whoever committed a sin of regret, and really thinks about it, knows how futile it is to try to go back and change the way it went down. Who you were when you decided that, it isn’t you, not present you. The way it should be is every past version of you is stupider than the one from now. That’s what its like with me.”
My pen pal doesn’t get into any trouble in prison, and he has a few close friends in there that he confides in. His family doesn’t visit or even speak to him, but they never really did before he got locked up either. He writes poetry and some fiction, and he wants to start a publishing company, although he acknowledges it won’t be easy to set that up from his current living quarters. There are times when he hints that he wants me to help him with this, and I intend to some day, but it would be nice of me to actually get on that.
He has liberal access to the internet and is amazed that so many people choose to spend so much of their lives on it even when they have the freedom to leave their houses and meet people in real life. His favourite show is the old HBO prison drama Oz, and his favourite film is Reservoir Dogs. He loves Tim Roth and was legitimately offended when I once confused the actor with Tim Curry.
He’s very funny, but not when he’s trying to be. His favourite food is a well-done steak, loaded with barbecue sauce, and he thinks it should be illegal to serve the garbage he gets in there on the bi-weekly “Steak Day”. He says the eggs they give him every day are actually pretty good though. He runs the weight room they have there, as his inside job, mostly cleaning up the room and putting the weights back where they belong, but also helping the newer inmates learn how to use the machines without hurting themselves.
He’s bored most of the time but says it’s manageable. I say the same thing.