Harvey Job Matusow's
Cockyboo & the Stringless Yo Yo
an on-line autobiographical experiment
Bea and I continued being lovers - real, emotional, total kind of lovers. Through the entire time I was in prison, except for the last two or three months, when she didn't visit or write.
For three years, her visits -- the long vigils, riding the bus, the 200 miles from New York to Lewisburg, and then back again. Sitting in a motel in winter -- the dark, oppressive mountains of Pennsylvania.
At Christmas each year, the unlimited ten-day visits -- seven hours each day -- we'd sit, we'd talk, we'd love with our eyes -- smoke cigarettes and talk some more.
"Hey... hello darling..." How do you start a separate conversation in a Christmas visiting room?
It was easy the first Christmas, for all hell broke loose. Someone had stolen the Warden's Christmas tree from his house, outside the wall, broke up the branches and distributed a small piece to every man in the place. Christmas is the most depressing time of the year in prison -- but not with a piece of the Warden's Christmas tree. Great train robbers to home, this was the crime of the century.
That night one old con said to me, "Yeah, it's great -- we got his tree... but, you know, I wouldn't want to be him. He's the saddest cat I can think of -- his wife can't have kids, and we stole his Christmas tree -- what's he got left? Us!"
Visits with Bea -- planning and dreaming of tomorrows and more tomorrows, until the visits stopped and Bea said, "No more."
Why? I didn't know. The visits -- revealing all, reveling in each other -- essential love of friends. The moral fraud of prison, a menacing system founded on opposition to life -- a sacrament to fear -- the tone of life becomes parched like a wind-blown desert.
The visit -- happy assimilation. Then, prisons become houses fit for heroes to live in. Emotions bobbing up and down like a cork in the ocean. Life becomes a mirage, as if on strike against humanity.
Visit over -- depressed -- imminent departure brings blackness, staining life outside -- for survival it then all becomes grey, and takes on a comic look -- back in the Lenny world of the pay-me-no-mind list.
Prison over. Eighteen nun realities of trip home. Bea, an absentee landlord in my memories -- echo of a somewhere distant melody, flooding over my anxiety.
Sitting in the Bronx, sad, time-consuming, buzzing fears. Sally of a few moments gone -- where was Bea? Continuous pain where the heart would not be ignored. Damn it. What the hell, she must still be on 10th Street. Why should I be afraid to see her? Run along, hurry up, bang on the door, find her. Bubbling with excitement, back on the train, out of the Bronx, down to 10th Street, fly up the stairs -- damn it, she must be there, she must be there.
Bright red door on a fourth floor landing. Stop, wait, think -- do it. BANG! BANG! BANG!
Footsteps, "Who is it?"
Bea's voice -- the world came back and slip into me through the bottom of my feet, opened a flood gate and returned life to my senses. "Hello, Bea, it's me."
No longer a refugee from yesterday, we were married within a month, and time telescoped, chasing frightened devils off our mountain.
We danced a polka, danced a jig, and danced a hoop la, la, la. Danced a game, skipping rope, took ten giant steps and flung them around our world. We made a game out of life, ring-a-letio, one, two, three, one, two, three.