I hadn’t been entirely honest with Heather on Valentine’s Day. While I was not in a relationship let alone gone and married someone, I had established a friendship charged with the implication of potential, or rather, eventual sex. Before ever going to prison, I had been a college student, albeit a college student who rarely attended class and made grades that were reflective of that fact. More often of not when faced with the choice of a party or homework, smoking weed or going to class, chasing girls or studying, I would choose the former. I couldn’t be bothered, especially after I caught the charges that landed me in prison, school was always the furthest thing from my mind. Despite my aloof attitude and lackluster performance in the classroom, a couple of professors took note of my potential. Melissa Heath taught a 200 level creative writing course that I had finagled my way into through some manipulative flirtation in the bursar’s office that led to the clerical error that allowed for me to take the course. Melissa, as she insisted all her students call her, was in her late thirties, beautiful, with curly blond hair and eyes that were round like blue marbles. She was none too pleased when she found out I only managed a D+ in my English intro course, which should have excluded me from taking her class. She reluctantly let this slide, and I continued to disappoint from day one, but the work I bothered to submit must have made some sort of impression. I quit attending class altogether a few months before I left for prison (class time was cutting into my drinking time), and I hadn’t given Melissa or that class a single thought until almost a year and a half into my sentence, when I received a letter from her.
It took me some time to track you down. I always guessed you had your share of
problems, but I had no idea you were in this kind of trouble. Armed robbery?
What on earth were you thinking? Against my better judgement, I was nice
enough to give you an incomplete instead of an F when you quit coming to class
a few semesters ago. You won’t be gone forever. Take this time to better yourself,
read some good books, and finish my class! I’ve included a syllabus and have
highlighted what you need to do to complete the course. I expect good things, as
you have plenty of time around there to give me your best work. Let me know if
you have any thoughts, questions, or concerns. I’m here to help.
Bell well, write soon,
I was shocked that she even remembered who I was, let alone that she was being so generous as to give me a chance to complete her class. I wrote her back the same day, letting her know how much I appreciated the opportunity and that I would be happy to finish her class. I spent months completing a paper on the works of John Steinbeck, and in the process read nearly everything he ever published, plus portions of several biographies I had to source and reference the old-fashioned way; in the library with no computer. I edited and polished my work, all the while sending Melissa segments to get her opinion, along with letters that grew in length and increasingly strayed off-topic from my work to our personal lives. We got to know each other in a nuanced, distant sort of way that I’m certain will not even exist a generation or two from now. When I send my finished paper off, after a great deal of fretting over its quality and completeness, I included a letter telling her how much I had enjoyed writing back and forth and that I wanted to continue our correspondence. She gave me a B+ on a paper that I know deserved an A, and happily agreed that we should keep writing. I had, almost from the beginning, been playing a slow, methodical game of attempting to make this woman interested in me. I had time to kill, and she was attractive with the added bonus that she had been a professor of mine. With about 18 months of time left to serve, I sent her the necessary forms she needed to fill out in order to come visit me. Inside of a week she had them filled out, sent in, and scheduled a visit for the following weekend. I think we were both pretty nervous, not knowing what to expect of one another, but we wound up having a good time. Or as good of a time one can have in a visitation room in a correctional facility.
Over the course of many months I worked to tangle the web of dropped hints and innuendos in my letters and occasional phone calls that led from friendly hugs at the beginning of out visits to lingering embraces, then kissing, then whatever groping we could get away with in a visitation room. She would press her body into mine and whisper to me about how eager she was to be with me. She was fairly conservative by nature, and without trying to overanalyze the situation, I assumed I was just enough of a risk to be exciting for her without being in a position to do her much harm. On one hand, I was a felon doing time in prison for armed robbery, but on the other hand I wasn’t going anywhere, I couldn’t sneak around on her, and I was convincing enough in telling her that I was genuinely interested in a relationship that she felt comfortable in the assumption that she could have me all to herself when I came home. When she pressed into me I could feel the heat of her body, her small, firm breasts pressing into my chest. I whispered to her the sweetest of sweet nothings, I held her hands and made promises of time we would spend together that I had no intention of keeping. I spent a lot of time wondering why she would want anything to do with me, what it was I had to offer an attractive woman with a good job, no husband, and no kids. In one of the last visits, just weeks before I came home, she grabbed my hand, shoved it down her pants, and held it there until she came in a room crowded full of inmates and their visitors. I was both shocked and hoping to God that no one was watching the cameras. If we had been caught I could have had six months added to my sentence, no questions asked. She looked me in the eyes and told me that she was all the woman I would ever need while I sat there laughing and wondering, is this crazy bitch for real? A large part of me didn’t believe I would ever see her again once I left Pineville. That I would leave and find out later I had made the whole thing up. It seemed both too good to be true, and too dangerous to risk actually meeting up with her. In my experience, toying with a woman’s heart is far more dangerous than dabbling in drugs.
In the days following out job application roundup, I couldn’t get ahold of Ricky. I stayed up for several days filling out applications and turning them in, making follow up phone calls and even scheduling a couple of interviews. I was on a roll, feeling good despite being run a bit ragged and being wired for sound. Ricky hadn’t just left the paraphernalia, he’d left his drugs behind, too. It had me worried that he hadn’t returned for them, or at least called me to tell me to not to do them. Since he hadn’t, I felt obligated to consume. Crystal meth, in addition to being an extremely potent stimulant, is also quite the aphrodisiac. When I wasn’t filling out applications and turning them in, I was in my bedroom with the lights dimmed, naked in my bed with a bottle of lotion and my laptop. Every time I finished I would go outside for a cigarette, feeling like the worst kind of lowlife for watching as much porn as I had, but I couldn’t make myself stop. I had been up for three days and I still had some dope left when calling Melissa transitioned from a bad idea to a great one. I would have no need for all this self-mutilation if I had my horny former English teacher over for the weekend. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like I had earned it.