Visiting John, A Life Without Parole

You wait outside the prison in your car; after 7:30 you’re given a numbered form and allowed into the parking lot; after 8:30 you’re allowed into the waiting room to wait for your name to be called (sometimes in numerical order); you take off your belt, shoes, turn out your pockets; you carry nothing inside but a Ziploc bag with dollar bills for the vending machines, your ID, and half the form; an outside area between the two fences and the guard tower; then inside and a walk to the cell block to wait, have another guard take down all the information, surrender your ID, and make ultraviolet sure that your wrist has been stamped with the stamp of the day. Then the key turns, the visiting room door is opened, and you and everyone else visiting that day are passed through, then locked inside.

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Ant Chalk

Ruby and I met outside the Prado in Madrid two Octobers ago. It was late afternoon; I had a bad case of Museum Feet (a happy case, let me add: the Prado had been stunningly wonderful) and wanted to sit with a soda and read about home. There was a newsstand. A blond, American-looking woman was buying a Herald Tribune. I said something like "I hope your stocks are doing better than mine…" No plan on my part, just innocuous stranger-to-stranger-in-a-strange-land chat. Could have gone either way. The Uh-Huh Me Too Nod Turn and Leave; The Yeah Me Too How're You Doing Smile and Stay. It was, of course, the latter.

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