Featured Fiction
// Scott Moraes

Ya gotta accept the facts: in the land of opportunities, ya gotta be pretty damn stupid to end up in the can. Now, I ain't saying that I'm stupid, but I've done some silly things. I don't blame society, the system, or anyone in particular. The inclination is in my blood. You see, my old man came from down south. A tough old Texan, a scary puritan who feared only Jesus, and feared Him too much, at that. He set out on his own crusade against abortionists and homosexuals. Only, he picked the wrong place to do it. Killed a few in the name of the Lord and got put away. Down south he might've been given a medal, but up here he got what he deserved. I knew he was funny in the head, and I blocked his Jesus-freak blood thirst from corrupting my soul. When he found out I wasn't going to church and had given up on religion, he disowned me. I was glad to have the link severed. But part of him, the part that did the thinking after the act, stayed in me and ended up bringing me here, despite all my tolerance and self control. Here, where you're supposed to reflect and repent; I ended up doing the reflecting, but instead of repenting, I've gotten more proud. This is the place where instead of repressing my talents, I was free to let them blossom, which gave me something I never had: respect.

I got in here and saw a bunch of sad little creatures, not the bulky seven-foot rapists you see in the movies. Guess I looked pretty damn mean, someone they would fear and follow and … never get behind of. I told them all sorts of stories. That I killed a fella by bashing his head with a bag of frozen peas, or killed another by piercing his brain with a chopstick through the eye, the thought of which disgusted me so I almost blew my visage. I'm still debating in my head whether or not I should disclose the true nature of my crimes; it would hurt my reputation real bad, but my imagination has its limit, and I fear I may have just reached it.

Just recently, a young cousin of mine, a journalist wannabe of some sort, wanted to write a piece on the conditions of Canadian prisons. Only he didn't wanna visit one. Wrote me a letter out of the blue, saying shit like, “I heard it's more like a hotel with bars. Is it true?” Never showed any sympathy for my situation. When a little pussy like that straps on a pair of balls to ask me to describe the conditions of my “hotel”, well, that just shakes me off my nest. I wrote him back a masterpiece of descriptive bullshit, just to piss him off. Told him we had ourselves a sports court, a swimming pool, bathtubs, a bilingual library, a movie theatre, and beef bourguignon for dinner. All of us loved to be here, under the care of our over-zealous government; it was easier, after all, to be a parasite on the federal budget than actually being out there working our asses off for so little. He wrote me back a thank you note and attached his piece. He had swallowed my crap, every little bit of it, and some shit-faced editor went ahead and published it. Makes you wonder if you got the right people in jail.

In my lifetime I stole food and umbrellas, evaded taxes, parked in front of hydrants, drove into an old lady, changed names, cheated on women, and abandoned a baby. But none of that ever got me in trouble. What got me here were the crimes of another man, whose name I was unlucky to pick, and whose features I was unlucky to have, and whose luck was running high when I decided to confess to his misdemeanors. I did it because freedom was too much responsibility and I was tired of the struggle. I'd also heard prisons were more like “hotels”. Turns out they're not, but the laws of the can are easier on you than the laws of the jungle – that's a fact, and ya gotta accept the facts.

//Scott Moraes, writer

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