PC Ch 7.

Out of the Perimeter.
     Ray and I were beyond the perimeter.  It was night.  The lights were closing in on us fast.  I didn’t know what to do.  I had had enough and snapped.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I left a note at the Logoff Complex.
     I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.  The sky turns grey.  I’m up in the clouds.  I can’t come down.  You’re laughing alone.
     Looking back, I can see how it made no sense.  The lights came towards us.  First the reds.  Then the ones we could see.  We put on our night vision spectacles.  Ray didn’t need them, but he liked the way the silver frame brought out the purplish tinge to his snout. 
     There will be no more lies.  I will eat you alive.
     My thoughts were no longer of my control.  That is why I had to leave the perimeter and face the consequences.  The consequences of staying were much worse.
     In those days, people rarely talked in the traditional method.  All communication was over the network.  Miranda had been recently extended.  The U.S. Supreme Court – which as part of the Capitol Hill Complex was given a special perimeter designation – ruled recently that since the network had become a public good, that the Miranda warnings now covered any and all unsuitable thoughts published within420 seconds of generation.  Basically, if between thought and expression, there were more than 420 seconds – or 6 minutes – those thoughts could be used in a criminal proceeding by the Authority.  The practical effect was stifling.  Emails stopped.  Letters emerged as the dominant form of communication.  The U.S. Postal Service was thriving.  A position as a Chief Postal Packet Router was the most coveted within the Perimeter.  Harvard and Columbia law schools were replaced with Schools of Information.  The new uniforms were so nice, as well.  People couldn’t get the hang of writing an email, saving a draft and sending it after 6 minutes.  They would open it to send it, find a mistake, change it, and then be within the 420 second rule.  People were being hauled off to the re-education camps in droves.
     I was terrified.
     I thought about attacking the server, but it was a cloud, with bits of information making each packet spread across thousands of servers across the world.  One word in an email message could be stored in 3 different places.  Each 1 or 0 was stored in couplets.  No more than 4 could be stored consecutively.  The technology behind the web crawlers and search engines that spurred development of the network initially was transformed to do the opposite, to distribute information in a massive web, with millions of nodes accessible only through the execution of proprietary algorithms.  My thought about attack and retrieval was futile.  Mostly.
     What I had to do was gain control of a crawler.  Even a rudimentary replica that I could tweak would work.  But first, I had to get out of the Perimeter.
No possibility of reentry.
     I was fucking scared.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t have to monitor my thoughts.  Finally.  Cherry pick my words.  Sit down by the surf and eat tins of fish with a plastic fork.  Comb my hair after a rifling wind.  Sing with the carolers.  Give candy to the beseechers.  Drain the vein only in Spain, where Spain was the equivalent of a last century white porcelain example of perfection that graced small public rooms throughout Venue, where privacy was at a premium.  Not even in the most solitary of activities was there the ability to lock out the public.  No john lock.  The crisis of complacency when the chance lingered greatly that someone would walk in, unseen to you and you to him, during the quietest of moments, all mental functions focused on a few muscles.
     No.  Venue fucking sucked and I wanted to leave.  I couldn’t take a poop without being monitored.  There, I’ve said it.  Bring it, all ye thought police, for saying what is done, for describing without decorum.  Our thoughts are words.  Language has been so ingrained in us.  But our words may not be our thoughts.  That is where artifice lies and where the monitoring must take on strict scrutiny to prevent people from realizing that their public utterances may have nothing to do with what belies behind the eyes.
     Fuck Venue.
     I had no idea what to do.  How to survive.  I had nothing with me but the clothes on my back.  A lighter for Ray and a small stone apparatus with a series of interconnected passageways.  It was a modern take on a traditional device.  The small silicon chips embedded in the lip around a small bowl would transport the user into a realm of his own choosing, a New Century take on the old virtual reality tool of the nineties. 
     I activated the apparatus.
     I sat down and thought.  No one could see me hear.  I was really up in the clouds.  I had hiked down the Treadwell Ditch Trail and took a side trail that went up into the mountains.  The mists were dancing around.  Ray floated and didn’t say anything.  There was really nothing.  I had to resolve everything myself.  He couldn’t enter my brain and program it with happy, pleasant thoughts that would allow me to lead a life complacency with a healthy realization of its impermanent nature.  Nobody could do that.
     There would be no more lies.  I would reach you now.
     The mist swirled around.  Some raindrops landed on my face.  I felt refreshed.  The sun was out behind the mist and a few rainbows made arcs around Ray.  He scooted in and out of them, making them into some sort of goal posts in a game only he understood.  The sky turned grey over Venue.  The blue above me was striking.  It was as if the Perimeter extended up into the atmosphere, affecting the movement of suborbital gases and temporal cloud-shifting patterns.  That could have unintended effects on Venue and the Perimeter’s chances for survival.  Food production would be affected, animals and fish would not thrive – the delicate cycle that had been conceived and established within the Perimeter to provide fresh food and water without going Outside appeared to be threatened.
     Too many lives would be affected.  Someone had to do something.  But I couldn’t go back.  Not after what I had done.  The ramifications of leaving the perimeter would follow me the rest of my life.  I would be kicked off the network.  I could re-establish myself.  Create a new profile of myself.  Another identity.  Rebuild.  Reconnect.  It would be like a rebirth.  I didn’t think I could handle it. 
     If I went back, I would be blocked from all of my nodes.  It would be as if I had disappeared.  But, if I continued, left the Perimeter, I would definitely be kicked off the network, with no possibility of re-admittance. 
     I needed to think more.
Call me Uncle Ho-Bag.
     I put away the apparatus.  Ray was dancing to an invisible tune.  “All tunes are invisible, dipshit!” Ray said.
     “Fuck you!”  I responded.
     Sure, some sound waves were visible.  But he knew what I meant.  “Trying to be all poetic for the ladies.  That shit don’t fly up off the Treadwell Ditch Trail with a purple porpoise.  You need to focus.  What the hell are we going to do?  We’re in serious pickle.  And no giggling.”
     Ray the taskmaster had emerged.  At least we could figure out what to do.
     “We gotta go back.”  I had no doubt.  I had made a mistake.  I wasn’t prepared.  I was going to breach the Perimeter and spread the Word on the Outside on what was going on here, but I need some things.  I was embarrassed to even mention one of them.
     “Don’t tell me.”  Ray’s saucy side was coming out.  “The ring.”
     I hesitated.  Prepared for the onslaught of castigation.
     “Yes.  The ring.”
     “NO.  Gold.”
     “Yuck.”  Ray hated gold.  It clashed with his purple-tinged snout, he always complained.
     “Not yellow.  White.”
     Ray’s eyes sparkled like the sapphires that encircled the ring.  “White gold.  And sapphires?”  Ray’s head shimmered and flowed along to a beautiful melody and a lilting rhythm.  “We must go back.  Where is it?  Oh, don’t tell me.  You don’t know.  The government seized it along with the rest of your possessions after they discovered you were gone.  We must go on an epic quest.  Please.”
     I let Ray ruminate.  Saucy old porpoise. 
     “It’s in the glass house.”  I paused.  “Papa’s house.”
     Ray looked delighted.  “Lovely!”
     “And, papa can help us make an insanity claim for our breach.  We can get readmitted with full network privileges and even preferences in certain network applications.”
     “Well, call me Uncle Ho-Bag and pass the calumet!”
     We relaxed.
Let us make peace.
     Ray and I were stunned.  We sat in silence as we contemplated what had just happened.  Things may never be the same.  No one was to blame.
     “You moron!”  Ray was angry.  “How can you be so clumsy?  Clumsy Clyde, are you.”  The cowboy.  Thanks. 
     “It was an accident.”
     “Now we really do have to go on a quest.  You know that apparatus was the last of its kind?  You’re the one that bragged about it.  You’re the one that told me the history over and over.  The only one left is probably in the same box in the basement of the state office building, along with all your other sorry possessions.  Why didn’t you bring it along?  Didn’t you ever hear of a backup?  You have to be the stupidest person I’ve ever met.  Stupid, clumsy Clyde.” 
     Ray was finished.  He sat back on the ledge where we had perched.  We were looking down a ravine that was at least 1500 feet deep.  As Ray had handed me the apparatus, my attention focused on an immature eagle that was headed our way, its yellow feet grabbed onto the other end of the log where I was sitting, ruffled its feathers to get warm and settled back to watch what we were watching.  The sky and the clouds, the trees and the sun in the mist.  He blinked his eyelids over his eyes and squawked a couple of times and looked at me.
     Ray floated back a bit.  He was scared of eagles.  They had attacked him several times when he was small, thinking him a suitable meal.  They had grabbed him by the dorsal fin and lifted him a few feet out of the water.  He was just learning how to race the tourist boats in Tracy Arm.  He was the size of a really big salmon.  But he was much more agile when it came to attacking with his snout, his bite and his tail.  As soon as he realized he wasn’t floating on his own volition, he reached around and snapped off the leg of the eagle.  With a squawk of pain that was heard across the fjord, the eagle dropped Ray and glided down to Sandy Beach, on the southern part of the island.  Ray landed with a painful belly-flop and floated near the surface in a trance-like daze.  He didn’t want to move.  He rolled around a bit and started swimming south, letting the outgoing tide take him.  He surfed the waves until the pain subsided and he felt like he could move again.  He eyed the sky for eagles.  When he saw one, he dove down 50 feet as fast as he could.  The sharp burst of muscle movement was like a massage.  The pressure felt good on his belly.  The pressure got to be too much, so he rocketed up as fast as he could, eyeing an eagle all the while, exploded out of the surface and rammed his snout into the hovering eagle, knocking it off of its floating balance.  The eagle crashed to the surface.  Ray grabbed him in his mouth and dove down 50 feet.  He stayed until the eagle stopped moving.  He let go.  He followed as the dead eagle floated to the surface.  Other eagles were circling around, watching in disbelief.  Such a thing had never happened before.
     Ray bowed his head, with as much respect as he could muster.  “I am sorry.  You hunted me.  You would have killed and eaten me.  Please do not do that again.  Let us make peace.”
     The eagles agreed and honored his wishes.
     Despite that, Ray still shivered with fear anytime an eagle came near.
     Ray just hovered.  He looked deflated.  Dejected.  Forlorn.  As if something was missing.  Everything he had built up over the years - his personality, his quirks, his eccentricities - had all vanished.  I grew concerned.  The playful smile that always graced his snout had vanished.  I knew something was happening.  It was almost instantaneous.  He was a shell of his former self.  I could see it in the way his torso just kind of sagged.  The visible elation, the spring in his movement, was gone.  It alarmed me.
     The immature eagle looked at Ray.  With curiosity.
     Ray was looking off into the mist, across the ravine.  He wasn’t scolding me for losing the calumet.  He wasn’t engaged.  He was barely there. 
     “What.”  So meek and far away.  I hoped he was okay.  I could only imagine what was going through him at that moment.  The crippling depression.  The seemingly insurmountable stress.  The reliving of an event that he thought defined him, that he felt guilty for, that he thought made him no longer worthy of living in the Perimeter, or existing anywhere in the mind of God because of what he had been forced to do.  He had no choice.
     “Ray.  It’s okay.”  There wasn’t anything I could say.  Within the apparatus was a compartment that held the key that unlocked Ray from his despair.  It was gone.  Somewhere down the ravine.  Maybe the spare was still in its hiding place.  I had to remember where that was.  We needed to get back.  I began to see horrifying images of Ray, splayed out at the bottom of the ravine, blood and guts strewn over rocks, final beats barely pulsing out of his slowly spinning cells, attracting the ravens and eagles from all over the mountainside.  I knew he was picturing over and over the scene that day from near Tracy Arm.  His mind could not get out of this destructive, grinding gear.
     I really didn’t know what to do.  There was nothing to do.  It just had to resolve itself of its own volition.  The thoughts, the fears, the memories.  What could I do?  What could I say?  I did not know.  I just sat on the log with the immature eagle.
     He had to be getting hungry.  And thirsty.  I had some food in my satchel and jasmine tea in my silver stainless steel thermos.  I poured him a cup and handed it to him.
      He drank it, wordlessly and thoughtfully.  There were macadamia nuts, Wassail crackers, some crumbled blue cheese, a tin of sardines, and some dark chocolate.  And clementines.  I started with a clementine.  I peeled one and separated the life-giving orb into four sections.  Ray took a section and ate it.  Then another.  I ate a section.  I gave the last to Ray.  Then I peeled another and Ray took two and I took two.  Then I peeled our last clementine.  Ray ate one section and I ate three.  He made sure things were in balance.
     I hoped he was.  He liked poetry.  I had a book in my satchel.  One of my favorites, I started reading to him, hoping he would chill out and relax.  An Indian poet, Zamindar Dakhsinacharan Baboo.  I hated poetry.  But the bitches liked it.  And it always helped in that department.  This one worked like a charm on a young Norwegian girl I met at the bookstore.  Thirty minutes later and you know what, the waiting was over.  I figured a purple porpoise would have a similar reaction.
I wait for the morning,
for the hot cup of tea,
the news of the world,
and the burst of colors, bathing the sky.
The sky above and around,
the canopy of hope, desire and despair,
in orange, purple and blue and endless others,
changes and plays moment by moment,
disarraying, disengaging and scattering the colors,
and the thoughts that were arranged carefully for permanency.
The cup of tea loses the warmth,
the news is not what was yesterday.
I am treading, stepping to uncertainty,
to an unknown inevitability.
But there the curtain falls, a wall built,
and within I rejoice the dawn and the splattering of colors,
changing to noon, to afternoon and to the final sunset.

We needed a Warrior Lawyer.

     I think it worked.  Ray cracked a smile.  The immature eagle took off.  Ray waved, making a salute sign with his fin.  He seemed ok.  Poetry sometimes has a profound effect on certain types of people.  Me, it just made me want to put on my headphones and listen to something else.  Anything else.  Buddhist monks talking about impermanence and the present moment would be preferable.  And that was as dorky and gay as you could get.  The only thing worse would be Buddhist poetry.  Please.  Shoot me before I kill again.  I only have but one life to take.  My own.  And yours.  That’s two.  Unless you stop.  The poetry.  Now.

     Ray was feeling the rhythms and he was ready to go.  The ravine trail led down to the Treadwell Ditch trail.  It was about an hour or so down.  It was pretty slippery.  Big roots crossed the trail every 10 yards or so.  We had to climb over or under them.  Well, I did.  Ray just cruised over them, enjoying the primordial soup that is the universe, able to find waves wherever he went.  Sure beats walking.  Floating and cruising through life.  What a way to go.

     But my envy would get me nowhere.  We reached the intersection with the ditch trail and headed towards the southern end of the island.  There was a trailhead on Sandy Beach.  From there, we could cross the fjord and head north across the Gastineau Channel and into Venue, pretty much undetected.  The Perimeter patrol didn’t really cover this part of the border.  No one ever used it.  Anyone coming up the channel on a watercraft, even as small as a one-person kayak, would be checked in by the Watering Patrols.  All materials that were not of natural origin, or had been modified into a non-natural texture or shape were identified by the sonar scans that pulsed through all bodies of water every 42 seconds.  It detected any type of boat.  Then, all of the data from the boats bar-encoded registration was scanned and the identity and owner of the boat was sent to the local patrol.  The patrol then checked all the documents of the passengers and either let them proceed, detained them or sent them back to the Outside.  Most boaters were from Venue, out for fishing or just for fun.

     The patrols had no provisions in place for detecting people walking on land south of Venue, near Zhane.  Even though it was just 2 miles from downtown Venue, this land was really no man’s land.  Because no man ever came down here.  People didn’t want to walk 2 miles where there was no trail and thick brush.  One mile would take about 3 hours to cover.  Sometimes the vegetation was so thick you couldn’t move in any direction and the frustration brought you to desperation and even tears.  The probabilities of a breach were so remote that the plan in place was almost foolproof.  Almost.  And Ray and I knew this.  Knew the work involved.  Hedged our bets on the arbitrage that existed between foolproof and almost foolproof.  Then, we could walk into Venue as if nothing had happened, as if we had never left.

     Of course, soon enough, we’d be part of the scan that occurs every 4 minutes.  An officer would question us.  They’d have all kinds of documents and evidence showing where we left the perimeter.  We wouldn’t be able to deny what we had donedid.  But, we would be able to walk around town and shift the burden of proof.  That was the key.  They couldn’t keep us locked up when the burden was theirs.  If it was ours, we would have been detained trying to get back through the normal points of entry.  What we were planning to do would take advantage of an enormous loophole in the system.  We probably wouldn’t get away with our leaving the perimeter, but we could keep appealing and stay free for years while the litigation proceeded.  We needed a warrior lawyer.

     Maybe we could get away with leaving the Perimeter, by making some sort of constitutional challenge to the law and the entire rubric of Perimeter law.  The constitution had been amended so much in the last 100 years that it barely secured the rights that Madison and his slave-owning buddies had tried to protect for all of his benefactors.  A national imprimatur on slavery was all the constitution was.  Ray, not a citizen because he was a porpoise, could never get over Article 4, the passage that allowed a person to catch his runaway slave, no matter what the laws were where the slave was when he was caught.  He would just shake his head and wonder what kind of country it was, if that was part of its foundation, the right to take away another’s freedom based on the laws of private property.  It was abhorrent, he would say.  I could never win an argument with him on this topic.  I still had that schoolboy respect and wonder for Madison and the founding fathers, as ignorant and unfounded an opinion that it was.

No one got away.

     When we got to town, the Pelican was holding court in front of the courthouse.  Ray and I remarked upon its irony, and proceeded up the short bit of incline to where the Pelican was holding his sign.  “No taxation without representation.”  A fair enough proposition.  Ray and I were contemplating the latest round of characters, and all of the Pelican’s kids were away on Regional Perimeter Challenges, leading me to reason that it was a one-sided campaign.

     Ray had no time for these types of people.  He headed straight for my apartment.  It was probably too late.  My smart phone made a strange sound, a combination vibrating and ringing, sound as the network pinged onto my operating system.  It registered the absence while we were Outside and sent Task Force members immediately to detain me.  The screen flashed fuchsia.  Red letters proclaimed, “STOP.  Someone will be with you in a moment.  If no one is there within 420 seconds, you may proceed and we will find you.”

     At least they weren’t totally unreasonable.  I had enough time to get rid of any contraband.  But of course, they were tracking my movements and would probably search my immediate vicinity.  I could give anything I was holding to Ray.  He could float away.  And save it for another day.

     But I had nothing on me, nothing to make me a target, anymore so than I already was.  I told Ray he should leave.  He didn’t want the Task Force harassing him.  He didn’t seem to mind.  He just wanted to keep me company.  Make sure I didn’t send any emails through my smart phone within those 420 seconds that could be used as evidence.  But after 420 seconds, I’d be in detention.  The Task Force was efficient in Venue.  No one got away.  Once you got the pink flash on the phone, you would be detained within less than 90 seconds usually.  They were quite capable that way, I had to admit.

     The waiting seemed to take forever.  I kind of had to pee, but if I did it in front of the courthouse I would be arrested.  There were cameras all over.  We were being monitored.  But what did it matter?  I was already going to be the subject of a detention.  It was just a matter of time.  420 seconds and off I go.  No one knew quite where they took the detainees.  There was a lot of talk of the waterboarding to get people to talk.  I had no problem talking.  I would tell them anything they wanted to know.  The problem was, I didn’t have any useful information.  And they would think I had some.  So they would waterboard me until I told them something.  That’s where the illogical cycle develops.  How to break it would take some finesse on someone’s part.  I doubted if the Task Force members were up to it.

     Ray looked at some purple flowers as the Pelican began a rant about jobs.  “We need jobs for the people of Venue!”  He sing-songy chanted to no one in particular.  A few courthouse employees were on their way to lunch and said hello as they passed by.

     “Hi Pelican!”

     “Hey P. Saint!  How are you doing?”

     “Off to Song’s to get some unagi!”

     “Mammy.  Pelican like some unagi.  Eeeeeel.”

     “I can bring you back some.”

     “Oh no.  I couldn’t let you do that.”

     “No sweat.  On me.”

      “Why thank you, P. Saint!”

     I waited.  Unagi sounded good right now.  I haven’t had any since I was in Alabama.  They had good unagi in Alabama.  It made me believe in miracles.

I wanted an Escort.

     The next day I woke in a white-tiled and white-cinder-blocked cell.  There were no bars.  Just unwelcoming furniture and nothing to occupy the brain.  Nourishment arrived regularly.  I had a supply of fruits, nuts and crackers at my disposal.  There was a stainless steel toilet that had a bit of privacy.  There was a sink and shower facilities.  The towels were white.  The toilet paper was acceptable.  There was even a window, with a bit of a view.  I could see the cruise ships coming into town in the mornings.  I saw ravens and eagles and mist and sundogs.  I had a transparent relation with my surroundings.

     The afternoon before was uneventful.  Officer Howell arrived about 90 seconds after my smart phone pinged in a fuchsia blaze.  He asked me my name and if I had any identification.  He verified that I was the one wanted by scanning my identification on his glowing computer pad.  The pad turned green.  Green for go.

     “We’ve got some time until the lunch service.  Is there anything you need from your apartment?”

     I was taken aback.  Ray had told me that everything would have already been seized and stored in the State Office Building for evaluation and processing.  I was speechless.  I was without speech.  So I said nothing.  I shook my head.  What would be there?  Curtains?  The carpet?  Furniture?  Nothing that I needed.  I would like my woodspice deodorant.  But they would have deodorant at the holding areas. 

      Getting processed was much quicker than I thought.  They didn’t inform me of what I was being charged with.  I would be sure to tell my lawyer, once he was appointed.  Ray decided it best if he headed down the channel while I was in the facility.  There were things they could do to him.  He wanted to avoid live evisceration.  Most people did.  I was trying to ready myself for the coming waterboarding and interrogation. 

      The fruit they provided was top notch.  The grapefruit and  clementines were delicious.  The tangerines more appealing than a Starburst.  The other inmates were friendly.  They took my shoes and didn’t let me have my eyeglasses.  They said the lenses fell out and they were looking for some screws.  One of the guards had gone to the drugstore to get one of those eyeglass screwdrivers that had a bunch of little screws.  It figures they would deprive me of my basic right to eyeglass screws and thus vision.  I would need to remember that one for my lawyer.  I needed pen and paper to write all this down.  They had not provided me with this.  That was another thing I would write down.
     One of the other inmates said he was headed for a career playing professional football.  I didn’t even know they still allowed that in the Perimeter.  Apparently, certain Perimeter areas had pretty large audiences for the sport, and you could still make decent money carrying the ball.  He was tall and agile.  He said he had no idea why he was there. 

     “Fancy man, I am.  A man of consequence.”

     “Indeed,” I said, as we tried to put together a puzzle.

     I really wanted to get out and go for a hike, ride my bike, log on to my Hotmail node at my suite of offices at the Logoff Complex.  I was getting really impatient.  I may be in here for years.  It was not unheard of. 

     There was no music.  There was a tv.  There were the usual fare of talk shows and cops chasing bad guys.  I wasn’t interested.  I began to withdraw into myself and feel myself falling into a hole.

     Maybe I wouldn’t be able to cope.  I went to lie down in my cell.  The doors were not locked during lunch hour.  The guards laughed when they answered my questions about the locks, saying it’s just easier to have everyone come and go themselves during the meal services.  They could manage the cell block with less man power.  I said I was worried about my safety and wanted an escort.  They said they would look into it.  Another piece of my lawsuit.

The Gist of It.

     The next morning I woke up around 6 in the morning.  I was surprised to find the door of my cell ajar.  I could easily walk into the canteen and reach into the biscuit tin.  I didn’t see any guards around.  There were no cameras.  I should just do it.  But then, they’d probably put me into some kind of solitary confinement.  A fate worse than death, everyone says.

     The sky was a brilliant azure, like the waters off a Caribbean beach.  Shallow for miles.  The sun was shining, up early in the morning.  I didn’t feel any kind of danger or fear from being in prison.  It was a very strange prison.  Maybe that was scaring me.  It was nothing like the usual prison.

     I put on some clothes and wandered into the common area.  It was a nice lounge with couches and a wide selection of reading material.  The morning papers were already there.  The Venue Empire was there.  I was surprised to see the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and a few other of the national daily papers.  Next to the papers were computer tablets, with access to hundreds of newspapers from around the world.  There were also small portable satellite radio receivers and headphones, to access nearly 800 radio stations.  The choices were mind-boggling.  Maybe this was how they broke new prisoners.  Present them with the possibility of a deluge of information and no conceivable way to keep up.  I picked up a copy of the Washington Post, the paper I had grown up reading, forced to do so and write summaries for my martinet of a father.  I wandered over to a comfortable window seat in a plush velvety chair and began to think about all the information.  There wasn’t really any more extensive or in-depth reporting going on.  You could just access all of it.  I separated the A section from the rest of the Post and unfolded it, looking at the weather, the headlines and the color picture in the front center.  If only there was coffee.

     As soon as I thought that, what I took to be an orderly pushed a wheeled cart with big thermoses of coffee into the lounge.  Probably laced with some sort of medication that would make me talk.  Another damage claim for my lawsuit.  Where was that confounded pen and paper I had demanded earlier? 

     Oh well.  I put down the paper on the plush, velvety sapphire-colored chair and went to the coffee station.  There was even heavy cream, in addition to whole milk, half-and-half, 2 percent milk, skim milk and soy milk. 

     I prepared a cup for myself.  It didn’t smell like instant.  And the cups were ceramic.  Beautiful blues melting into white.  There was nothing worse than a Styrofoam cup for coffee.  And then a bird pooped on my shoulder.  A gentleman told me it was good luck.  I remember Pinky had written to me when she was living in New York City.  It would take me forever to find the letter and the actual quote.  But that was the gist of it. 

     I sipped my honeyed, eye-colored coffee and reclaimed my sapphire window perch.  Daunted by the difficulty of holding my coffee cup while simultaneously manipulating the broad sheet, I looked for somewhere for my cup to alight.  I found a small, square wooden table with an old copy of BusinessWeek on it.  I placed the cup on it after taking a satisfying draw and snapped my paper to life, like a horse early in the morning.  Let’s roll.

     This is the life, I thought.  Then remembered that I was in prison.  My friend Ray was far away.  That made me worry.  Stress began to course through me.  When would I see him again?  When would I be able to let the circadian rhythms take my mind?  When could I talk freely again?

     I had to repress all memories of Ray.  My association with him did not exist.  In the eyes of the law.  The ultimate decider of my fate.  The twister of my shaky existence.

His Gay Poetry Mode.

     The next few days I didn’t know what was happening.  I didn’t know what to do.  The sun rose and set, and afternoon glowing and fading, and I remained curled in a ball, in my bed in my cell, the door still ajar.  I couldn’t have been for breakfast anymore.  I surmised it was some sort of torture technique to break me and get me to talk.  The break me part was working.  I hadn’t spoken in days.  My mind kept spinning around a single point, a single thought that I could not see or understand.   I thought I was losing my mind.

     At least I hadn’t been questioned about Ray.  That was a relief.  I burden I no longer had to bear.  In a lavender-tinged dream, a daunting cliff climb in front of us, Ray started to recite another poem by Zamindar Dakhisinacharan Baboo.  He knew I hated poetry.

     “This is NOT the time.”  I said unequivocally as I locked in my carbineer and edged up another few feet towards the summit.

     That didn’t stop him.  Nothing could stop him.  I dangled silently and waited while he prepared.  He took a small bow and regally swooshed his fin across the expanse that lay below us.  “Behold, the imagery of the blessed.”  I never knew what he was talking about when he got in his gay poetry mode.  Happy as a clam, was he.  He began.  The Path Ahead.  Oh jeez.  How appropriate, I thought, as I looked up the 300 or so feet left in the climb.

                        The path has bounded us with an unseen knot.
                        We are the wayfarer with the wayward wind.

                        The myriad rainbows for a moment stay,
                        Drenched our hearts with endless rays,

                        The clouds across the boundless sky,
                        Dance with their veils, the dance of life.

                        The sudden flash of an aura sublime,
                        Glimmered our souls with joys divine.

                        No groves of flowers or the fragranced path,
                        Wait to greet us on our travel far.

                        But in a gush, when the dusk arrives,
                        The no name flowers fragranced the hearts.

                        The daybreak dazzles with flora rhododendron,
                        The sway in their pride, and the sunrays pale.

                        We have not the wealth, we have not the home,
                        But we see the bird dancing with glee.

                        We have not the cage, and let it be free.

                        We are the two souls with the extended wings,
                        Appeased in our love and our journey so free.

     Thank god it was in a dream.  If I had to listen to all that during an actual climb, I’d be at the bottom of the ravine in no time.  I would sure travel far.

     Mr. Baboo, indeed.