Short Story – Basildon Bond by Marc Nash (*Mature Content*)
I got your latest letter. As it always does, it helps galvanise time for me, by structuring the eternal hours of nothingness in here. Several days reading it over and over, thinking about every last word on the paper. Gauging the surety of the handwriting that can betray falsehoods like a polygraph can. A week or so maybe composing the response inside my head, taking me up to the time when I qualify for my writing paper or stamp allowance. To say nothing of the night time nourishment, the sustenance under the sheets.
You may well credit the sole thing we share are the words that we swap. That I have no sense of what you look like since you have never sent me a photo, let alone visited me in the flesh. Yet you have ceded me one physical impression of you. For your scent infuses the paper on which your letter is written. Transferred maybe by your fingers dancing across its tissue behind the pen. Or maybe when you fold it to slip into the envelope and bring the gummed strip to your lips and lick it to seal both your words and your essence inside. Until I set you free, inhaling both word and musk deep inside me.
I won’t lie to you. You’re like heroin to me. The smack of you wears off a little more each time I take to my bed with you. I develop a – I won’t say tolerance- well let me explain it like this; your scent reanimates me. I reclaim my own reek as I reinhabit my body gone numb in here. As my blood begins to course through me again, it pushes your fragrance to the periphery. I have to choke it all the harder towards the end of the fortnight when you have been almost wholly evicted from my nostrils, full of the stink of me. I have to beat my limp meat so far more fiercely because you are barely present to me.
Does that shock you? It shouldn’t really. How else did you imagine me using what you send me? What I want to know is whether I provoke the same response in you back there in your rinky-dinky house behind its trim white picket fence? Do you inhale me from my clumsily chiselled letters on this cheap paper that rips and tears beneath the furious notching of my nib? Is your brain filled with the spice of me? That prison stench of tobacco, fear, blood, shit, semen and sweat? Does the tang of me flow around your bloodstream? Do you run your tongue over the letter seal to taste my sputum where I originally licked it sealed? Do I, incarcerated here on the other side of the country, force you to grasp your own sex? I doubt it somehow.
Words and thinking see. I appreciate how your letters stimulate that at least. Something someone said in Group Therapy set me thinking. I probably completely misinterpreted what was being said, but that’s what the likes of us in here do. We take things for our own purposes, run with it, put our own stamp on it. Once the notion took hold of me, I zoned out the rest of that particular session. See I’m the one behind bars and yet you have erected your own little cage for yourself. Where you can lock up the dark parts of your psyche. Safely leaving you clean on the outside stood behind your picket fence. It’s through me, through this correspondence, that you can look on that pustulant, shrivelled soul in the cage. Poke it. Make it flinch and dance for you when you choose to set the cage swinging on its hook. All through your association with me.
But I won’t dance for you. You can’t prod me. You need to take your own suppurating heart out of the cage and let it breathe and respire. Allow it to confront the light and either embrace it or try to extinguish it. For that is what the darkness inside means. If something is outside me, it isn’t mine, so I just seize hold of it, take it into me and make it mine. Unless I simply am not interested in possessing it. I can help you break your heart free of its restraints. If you follow me. Do as I tell you to do.
Cos seems to me you want it both ways. The thrill of associating with me, hard up against the utter security of me being held at arms length confined in prison. What would it be like if I broke out? If I came to you and solidified the fantasy? Tearing you away from your rinky-dinky house as the getaway car smashed down the picket fence when we sought to outrun the cops. Would you happily join me on the lam? Always be you having to go out to buy us food because I’d have to lay out of sight. Never certain if the customer in the queue behind you was a plain clothes cop waiting to jump you? Would you happily reload my semi-automatic as we shot our way out of a police cordon? Cos I don’t believe you want any of that at all. Cos either I’m stuck here for life, kept apart from you, or that would constitute the only reality for us to be together.
So here’s the test. Here’s how we can be eternal cell-soul mates, even physically removed from one another. Here’s how you pledge me your undying love, that dark heart which I know beats within you. And which attracts you to me. I will kill a man in here, throttle him with my bare hands, or shank him with a knife. But only if you tell me to. You tell me which one out of a choice of men I’ll give you, the manner of despatch and what trophy you want me to take and mail you as proof. This will be our exchange of eternity rings. Do this for me, and our scents will be forever commingled in our nostrils. Then I won’t have to trust to receding perfume on writing paper. Whenever I have my own reek in my head, there you will be too.