Prisoner (short story)

A moaning is softly lost against a solid wall. Again, and again and again the sound of a broken animal tries to push its broken humanity through cracks that don’t exist. Has this happened for just moments or decades? The wall does not break, will never break. The man from who this pitiful wale bales from is broken, has been broken, will always be broken. He is suffering and has suffered; one would wish for a solution.

We look into his small cell to understand. To punish a man so severely would imply a monster, but instead all that we find is a small huddled shape with the aura of what a banker could ultimately devolve to if all humanity is stripped away. This is no dungeon from times past or third world hell hole but a modern cell. The prisoner is dressed in the infamous orange jump suit, balding head neatly cut, nails just trimmed and hygiene genuinely good. Clearly, keeping him within the auspices of physical normalcy is taken with dutiful regularity. Yet his eyes are dead. He has not seen outside of the closed walls of his cell for so long and one wonders if he likes to look into the crevices of what used to be his memory. Can there be pleasure in remembering what has been lost if it will never be found again?

Why is he here? We can take a look into his mind, but past all the rubble is given no indication of monstrosity. Here is a man who will never leave prison. He will have no chance of rehabilitation. As long as he lives he will have his parole denied. He is not in here for what he did or did not do, he is here for what he thinks. No, this man of ours is not some dread political foe, nor is he someone whose physical or mental contagion means he must be in permanent quarantine. Rather, his physical self is attracted to a taboo that it is better not to name.

In our man’s life from as long as he can remember he was deviant.  Where life built a construction that said a man was made of this, this and this he felt like there must be more than one blueprint for these specifications did not fit his own mind. How could it be that all those things other people said were important were not important to him? How could it be that that him just being natural in the recesses of his own mind would be the horror of those around him.

As we are in the prisoners mind a quick flash of something beautiful appears. A memory half remembered glimmers to the surface in the space between tediums. It is nothing special or indeed horrible, just an arbitrary trigger in our man’s mind: here he is as a child sitting in a chair that is too big for him snuggled up against a large stuffed animal. The memory is quick, just a few imperceptible moments of that long lost feel of protection, warmth and comfort and then it is gone. Does the man even know that this memory flashed through his mind? He shivers.

There is no place for this story to go. Words could be endlessly thrown at the problems seen here, but they will mean nothing. Our man is someone who if he was natural would be a curse to our society. The question is not of whether he can control his deviance or if he will one day slip and irrevocably  hurt another, rather, the question is do the members of society want the mirror of a different world reflecting their own image. Who is to say those monstrous things you do are evil if most of the world partakes in similar weaknesses.

With our man the idea was to give a simple answer to a complex question. Simply put, we have put that thing we don’t understand in a box and thrown away the key. We will continue to take these pockets of difference and keep putting them behind a wall, we will continue to destroy individuals like our man. We need to keep the evil at bay, and even more, we need to keep the idea of evil far away unless one day we see it come to light, and we realize that it was also in our heart, unrecognized but a part of us the entire time as well.

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