“I suspect that was more than a random dream you had last night, my son,” said Father Connolly — adding “and you will certainly have some time to analyze it before you are packing your bags to leave this place.” He smiled as he shook my hand and exited the room.
The room. Yeah. If you look at the back wall you might be fooled into thinking this was some cheap hotel room, maybe a youth hostel single, but the sun is at such an angle that you can’t help but make out the shadows of the bars on the one small window’s curtain. Toilet section, lamp, desk, chair and cot — cozy! But turn around and you see the wall of bars. They add the word farm after prison here at Buena Vista Correctional — and they’ve painted each cell a different bright color (I got robin’s egg blue) — but freedom, alas, will be limited to expanding my skills range with specialties such as making saddles or license tags, or working down at their fish hatchery.
I hadn’t asked for the priest, but I took the visit for sake of company when he passed by doing his rounds. He hadn’t looked at my record so he asked me what I was in for. “Like all the rest, I guess”, I replied, “. . . greed!” After that I digressed into telling him about the dream I had the night before.
I think it was a kind of train station.
You packed yet?
You know that feeling — a familiar place and yet you can’t quite pin it down?!
There was a suitcase open in front of me.
Check, I said. I had a pad and pen and a checklist: pride, kindness, lust, humility, and envy, yes. Gluttony, patience, anger, diligence, sloth; all here.
Good work said the warden, always put greed in last, because it’s surely going to be worn first.
Okay. I agreed, but not sure why.
It’s sort of the over-riding one. The others are really just variations on the theme. From what I understand, when you get there you will quickly get the sense that things are limited — fear of scarcity. You’ll want to hold on. You’ll know “gimme” way before you even have the words for it.
The whole gig is rigged with Pleasure. It’s a Mother Nature thing. Gets ’em coming and she takes care of the going. You’ll see when you get back here to the void.
But of course you won’t remember any more about this preparation when you get there than you will about what transpired there when you get back. But trust me, pleasure is the hook there. And you’ll be squirming on it so much you’ll often do anything for More.
Ethics if you recall is way down in your packed bag. And you’ll need sustenance pretty soon after you arrive. Sustenance. Food. And touch. And toys. And . . .
It seems I was looking down at that bag, zipping it shut, just as I woke up.
And toys. And things. Sure were lots of things I wanted and grabbed for since I cracked that bag open; eventually, over the years, spilling out all the assorted desires onto the table. Body pleasures were high on my list — flesh, delicious meals — but somehow always overridden by that more abstract item: money. From raiding my parents’ coin jar, to hustling 3-card Monte on the streets, to marrying wealth, to the job in the commodities market. There is even a number, in the thousands I’d say, that I spent on lottery tickets. And the art market game I ended up in was great, Lady Luck on my side; until it wasn’t. Playing above board I was invited to all the big auction house parties, but after a while that just wasn’t satisfying enough, not exciting enough, so I slid into selling forgeries.
It’s only 7 years, and less with early release on good behavior. I’ll still have some good connections when I get out, and there’s always a market of those who want more for less.
Published September 2016 as part of the “Two Stories Up!” Series (2016–2017).
Two Stories Up! was an ongoing project that had AleXander Hirka and Tammy Remington (The Anomalous Duo) each composing a new (extremely short) short story every two months which was then sent via postal mail to interested readers.