No Prison For Love
I didn’t break up with my fiancée Mandy.
She didn’t break up with me.
The judge broke us up when he sentenced me to five years in the Garden Rose Correctional Institution.
I told Mandy to move on with her life when I got locked up. Told her that I didn’t want her life put on hold just because mine was. I reminded her that I got myself into this mess by being part of a prescription drug ring to help finance the rest of my art school education. That she would be better off just finding someone more deserving of her time, love, and trust.
But Mandy wouldn’t listen. That gorgeous blue-eyed brunette insisted on standing by my side through it all, even though I deceived her, too, by pretending to only work a regular job. In fact, she has been writing me nonstop over the last three years, comes to visit me every Sunday, and even sends me money.
And to think, I almost didn’t date Mandy. I was too stuck on girls from my own culture back then. Didn’t want to be bothered with the whole interracial thing. I had enough problems in my life even then and didn’t need any more. Now I’m so glad that I opened my heart and mind to receive love in any package.
Don’t get me wrong now. Although I welcome Mandy’s letters, get excited every time mail call and Sundays come around, I return all the money she sends. Every brown cent.
I didn’t let her take care of me on the outside. I’m not about to let her take care of me in prison.
Plus, I knew that if I ever took a dime from Mandy, I was only going to be proving her snooty parents right about me. That I was a no-good leech on society. That I was only interested in their daughter for her money…their money. They outright refused to believe that their wealth was yet another reason I almost didn’t date Mandy. That my love for her and interest in her was as pure as a field of snow. Had been from the moment we first kissed.
Anyway, resourceful as always after growing up in the ghettos of Enfield, Georgia, I used my art talent to generate funds behind bars. Now I’m the go-to guy for premium prison tats. That’s short for tattoos for those who don’t know.
Besides giving me income, being a master tattoo artist has also kept me out of many fights and produced a slue of respect from my peers. First of all, nobody wants to anger a guy with a needle. Nor do they want to mess up the hands of the next Picasso, though I personally think of myself as the next Julian Beever since our 3-D artistry is so similar. Either way, because inmates put such a high value on quality tattoos, they are not about to mess with the man with the magic hands.
Even the guards respect my talent. The warden, too, on account of the lifelike murals I’ve painted in the prison cafeteria, at his family restaurant and even one at his house. I can’t tell you how good it felt being outside of the prison walls on those last two jobs. You can understand why I took my precious time with them. Why I wasn’t in any hurry to finish them.
Yet the mural that I’m about to paint next week is the one I’m most excited about. Not because it’s another job outside of the prison walls, but because that job is at an inner-city recreation center.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Mandy works at that rec center. I can’t wait to ‘accidentally’ run into her there.
* * *
When I got the news that Karl was going to be painting the new mural at the rec center, I was overjoyed. I dared not tell any of my family and friends though.
My family deemed my continual interest in him a complete waste of time. My friends felt the same way. Both don’t mind telling me that on a regular basis.
And they wonder why I don’t come around them as much. Why I avoid their phone calls. Why I quietly look at them through my condo’s peephole and then refuse to open the door.
Karl’s family and friends wrote him off a long time ago, though he’d taken care of many of them with his legal and illegal earnings. Some of them still owe him money. But have they sent him any in repayment yet?
That is yet another reason I haven’t given up on Karl. Who else does he have left besides me? Matter of fact, if it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t even have this upcoming gig at the rec center.
I’m the one that hyped up his talent to Alexis Newman, the director of the rec center where I teach art classes to inner-city kids. I showed her pictures of Karl’s artwork from around town. Encouraged her to check into his criminal history and see that he wasn’t a violent criminal, a pedophile, or a troublemaker in prison, which meant he could be trusted to behave on the outside and especially around children.
I did everything but tell Alexis that Karl was the man I was slated to marry a few years ago. The man that I am still in love with today. The man that I am going to get pregnant by the first chance I get. Not even Karl knows that little tidbit.
I can’t wait to see how pretty our babies are going to be. All that hot chocolate combined with this creamy vanilla is sure to make lots of mocha masterpieces.
Why am I deliberately going to get pregnant by a man in prison?
Because I’m desperate to hold on to that man any way that I can. Because without a child to bind us, Karl might start talking about how guilty he feels about me putting my life on hold again. Or worse, he might start sending my letters back and refusing my visits until he eventually called the whole relationship off.
I can’t have any of that. I just can’t.
* * *
A week later
When I saw Mandy in that hip-hugging black dress on my first day at the rec center, all I could do was think, ‘Hot cross buns’. I couldn’t wait to squeeze the center of those pastries just to see if they were ready for me to take out the oven.
For a white girl, Mandy could hang with the best of them in the rump section. My friends used to call her Megan Six because her face reminded them of Megan Fox the actress, but her body reminded them of Jenna von Oy’s character Six from the TV show Blossom. I agreed with them completely.
I don’t agree with my friends much now or even call them friends anymore for that matter. These so-called friends let me take most of the rap for that case, although all I did in the operation was look the other way when they took the actual shipments off the delivery truck I drove. Shipments that had been ordered from legitimate online drug companies with fake prescriptions to be delivered to fake people at fake addresses.
Nor have any of these so-called friends visited or even wrote me once, though I haven’t snitched on any of them yet. I don’t plan to. I know snitches get stitches. I also know when to let stuff go.
Bringing the law down on those punks is just not worth the time or energy I’d have to put towards watching my back in and outside of prison. Worse, I’m not in a position to watch Mandy’s back if some fool tries to harm her to get back at me.
I love that girl. I can’t let anything happen to her. I also can’t let on to how much I love Mandy right now as the formal introductions were being made.
When Mandy’s hand touched mine in greeting, I almost lost it. The feeling was just that sublime.
Keep in mind that I haven’t touched Mandy since the day I was sentenced. The authorities wouldn’t let me near her and vice versa after that. All of her visits to the prison included a big thick glass separating us, so there’s no chance of touching her there.
Now Mandy was within touching and smelling distance of me. I inhaled deeply of her scent, loving the fact that she still used the same perfume. The one that reminded me of honey and a dash of cinnamon.
I can’t wait to taste Mandy again, too. That full bottom lip of hers is just so soft. I bit my bottom lip to stifle a moan as I reluctantly released her equally soft hand.
“Mandy told me that you two were classmates once upon a time,” Alexis said after I moved to shake her hand in greeting.
“Yes. She was always better at watercolors as I recall,” I said, pretending that that was all I remembered about Mandy in order to throw off Alexis and the officer that escorted me here today.
I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the system uses a different set of officers to accompany me on outings than they do inside the prison walls. The ones inside are more fit and burly. The ones outside were either very slim or grossly overweight. Unfortunately, that caused them to depend on their guns a little bit too much at times.
Plus, the ones on the outside didn’t know Mandy from Eve. This particular guard was overweight, walked and talked with a lazy drawl and was likely to fall asleep on the job. The fact that I’m not a violent offender and no flight risk probably took away his incentive to be as diligent as he should. All to my favor.
“And he was always better at everything else, which is why I recommended him for this job.” Mandy chuckled, keeping her face pleasant and her tone lighthearted just like we rehearsed over the phone this past month.
Man, that girl is an excellent actress. Give her an Oscar. Quick!
“Thanks for the recommendation, Mandy. It really means a lot to me. I won’t let you down.” I smiled at her.
“I believe you,” Mandy replied a bit huskier this time.
My ears instantly perked up at her change in tone. My body, too, since that tone was too close to her sexy bedroom voice.
I hope no one notices how turned on I am right now. If they did, I’m sure they won’t let me get within ten feet of Mandy again. If they did, it would blow the chance of us ever ‘accidentally’ finding ourselves in the same secluded place long enough for a quickie. A quickie that I have dreamed about for months ever since Mandy concocted this plan.
* * *
Don’t blow it, Karl, I pleaded on the inside when I saw desire flash in his eyes for all to see.
Thankfully Karl quickly hooded his eyes, allowing those long black lashes of his to hide what was behind them. Thankfully that jumpsuit he wore was very loose and baggy. Now he really looked like Michael Vick, except his prison uniform wasn’t black and white striped, but rather loud orange.
When that tense moment was past, we all went to our separate corners of the rec center to work. I had a class to teach. Karl had a mural to start on. Alexis had a meeting in her office. As for the guard, he had to watch Karl.
At half past three, I concluded my first class. Then I waited for the perfect chance to make my way to the storage room down the hall. Karl was supposed to meet me there. I gave him the layout of the whole building within my last letter. The authorities thought I’d sent him just another pretty drawing.
That drawing of a labyrinth was a well disguised map.
Taking my time gathering more art supplies from the storage room, I watched my wristwatch like a hawk. Will Karl come before my next class begins at 4pm?
Hurry, Karl, hurry!
Finally he opened the door and slipped inside with a triumphant grin on his face. “I told him I had the bubblies and was going to the bathroom,” he whispered, locking the door behind him.
“Did he believe you?” I whispered back, pulling up my dress quick and in a hurry. I had worn no underwear today, just garters and thigh-highs.
“Yep.” Karl grinned, unbuttoning his jumpsuit in all the right places. “Plus after that big steak you bought him for lunch, he’s too full and drowsy to move from the chair he’s sitting in.”
I grinned. At his words, yes. But also at the clear evidence of his desire. It was time to work on our baby.
* * *
The moment I slid into Mandy’s hot body up against that wall, that knowing feeling came over me again. That innate feeling that confirmed that this person was supposed to be my mate. It was like that the first time we made love. It’s still like that now.
Mandy moaned against my mouth, as if she was feeling the same thing. Her arms tightened about my neck, her legs about my waist. Now this was the kind of prison a brother didn’t mind.
Mandy still didn’t weigh over 135lbs, so holding her up like this was no problem for me. The fact that I continued to lift weights in prison helped to make this position possible for any length of time.
Deciding to use my strength to our full advantage, I squeezed her bottom closer and proceeded to lift and lower her upon me in perfect timing to my hips. We both moaned this time. Oh yes, it was just that good.
The next few minutes were filled with a flurry of power kisses, power lifts, and power drives as Mandy and I made up for three years of celibacy in three minutes. We had to move fast and oh so quietly, lest we be discovered. Neither of us could afford that.
When we went over the edge together, I withdrew from Mandy’s lips, looked down into her eyes and saw enough love to hold me for the next two years. Even to eternity.
* * *
With art supplies in my right hand, I slipped out the storage room first just to make sure the coast was clear. It was.
Knocking twice on the door behind me with my free left hand, I signaled for Karl to exit the room now. Then I walked towards the gym area to distract the guard in case he started missing his prisoner and suddenly felt the need to investigate why it was taking him so long in the bathroom.
Sure enough, the guard was looking down at his watch and watching the entryway. I immediately went into flirty mode as his eyes lit upon me. I smiled, flipped my long locks with my free hand, and walked towards the officer with a sexy strut.
He smiled, licked his lips, and soon forgot all about his watch and his prisoner. My plan was working like a charm.
When Karl reentered the room, his face was neutral, but his hands were balling into fists at his sides. I immediately stopped flirting and gave my man a look that said, ‘Please don’t blow a gasket. I’m doing this for us’.
Karl instantly got my subtle message, averted his gaze, and went back to work on the mural. I quickly tried to conclude my dealings with the guard now that my mission had been accomplished.
“Well, since it’s almost time for my next class, I guess I’ll have to talk to you later,” I told the overweight man.
“You do that,” the officer drawled out in that lazy tone of his. “And thanks again for that lunch. I’ll have to return the favor sometime.”
“You’re welcome.” I smiled over my shoulder as I walked away, doing my best to lead him on just enough to help Karl in the future and yet not enough to make the guard think that I was an easy lay.
The only man I’d ever given myself to on the first date was Karl. And that was only because I fell in love with him at first sight, spent six months in hot pursuit of him, and needed that night of passion as some type of reward for all my hard work. It was a celebration of sorts for finally getting the man I loved.
* * *
A month later
I just received Mandy’s latest letter. I almost can’t believe my eyes as I read the first paragraph. She’s pregnant.
All those quickies over the three weeks that it took me to finish the rec center’s mural had produced a baby. Our baby.
I feel so many things right now. Joy that Mandy was carrying my child. Anger that she’s carrying my child while I’m locked up. Disappointment that I won’t be there when that child was born or be able to help raise it for another two years.
I want to kick myself for not telling Mandy to bring along condoms during our quickies. For wanting to take her raw even for the shortest time. For just depending on her birth control pills.
Stupid, stupid, stuuuu-pid!
“Yo’, Karl, you still doing that tat for me today?” Bruiser Brown asked me, yanking my focus away from Mandy’s letter.
“Yeah, man, I got you,” I told Bruiser, anxious to make him go away. I needed time to think. Time alone. “Come back in another half hour and I’ll hook you up with that lion you wanted.”
Bruiser nodded and smiled that buck-toothed grin of his. “Remember, I want that lion sinking his teeth into the neck of an innocent lamb. I want blood dripping down his chin and everything,” he said with almost glee in his eyes.
“All right,” I replied, not even cringing at his words or wicked expression as he walked his wide frame away. By now I’m used to all kinds of hardened criminals and their twisted little minds.
Bruiser was a cold-blooded murderer. He once killed a man for cutting off the electrical power to his house for nonpayment of the bill. That was wickedness in and of itself since the man had simply been doing his job at the time.
Yet Bruiser’s revenge wasn’t sated until after he drove the man’s work truck to the address on his driver’s license, raped and then killed the man’s wife in front of his young daughter. Now the little girl was orphaned twice over and traumatized to boot.
Crazy. Just crazy.
Anyway, no sooner had Bruiser left than my thoughts returned to Mandy and her letter. I read it again. Slowly this time.
Did it really say what I thought it said?
Yep. Mandy was pregnant all right.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Wow. I’m really going to be a daddy.
No need to worry if the baby was mine, though she didn’t specifically say that I was the father. Mandy was loyal through and through. Some of my ex-friends and even her family might hope differently but that doesn’t change the fact that she was among the faithful.
I wish I could forget about them altogether, but I can’t. Especially in light of this pregnancy news.
Mandy’s family was going to give her a lot of flack for being unwed and pregnant. They might even disown her once they found out the baby was mine.
Wait a minute. Nobody can find out that I fathered this baby. Not yet. Not while I’m still behind bars.
If Mandy’s father found out that I had somehow gained physical access to his daughter, he was going to do everything in his power to make sure I rotted in this place. On top of that, the warden would deem me untrustworthy and never let me do an outside job again. He might even extend my stay.
Now I really feel stupid for letting my desires get the best of me. I can only imagine how Mandy must feel.
To see how she felt, I returned to her letter and read past the pregnancy announcement. My eyes buck when just another paragraph down, I see the words, ‘Alexis liked your work so much that she recommended you to a guy named Millsap Monroe who runs a prison outreach. His outreach is different in the fact that it helps ex-cons get reestablished in society when they get out. Some of them he is even able to help get out early.’
Get out early?!
I squeezed my eyes shut, took a deep breath and blew it out. I knew all about Millsap Monroe. What urban black man in Enfield hasn’t?
Millsap used to be one of the biggest drug dealers in Enfield before he became a born-again Christian and turned his life around five years ago. Now he was helping folks turn their lives around left and right.
Opening my eyes, I read that last paragraph again. Tears gathered from places that I thought had long since dried out. I looked heavenward and wondered if maybe God loved me after all. Was He really about to give a brother, this brother a break?
* * *
I was nervous as all get out as I walked towards Alexis’ office on that Thursday afternoon. She called me into her office to personally meet Millsap Monroe. I’ve heard great things about his prison outreach. Heard how he wanted to use that outreach to help Karl. What I hadn’t heard was why he wanted to meet me.
“Come in and have a seat,” Alexis told me when I appeared in her open doorway. “Close the door behind you.”
I obeyed, forcing my hands not to shake too much by balling them into fists. I took a seat in the empty chair in front of Alexis’ desk, beside who had to be Millsap Monroe. He simply nodded at me in greeting.
I nodded back, blinking rapidly to make sure I was seeing correctly.
Nobody told me the man was so fine. Millsap was mahogany-skinned and muscular like Karl, yet with gorgeous green eyes and shoulder-length dreads.
Yet despite my admiration of Millsap’s good looks, nobody was finer than Karl to me. Though smaller in bulk, Karl was taller than Millsap, bald like I like them, and had a way with his hands both on and off the canvas.
“I know you’re probably wondering what this meeting is about, so I’ll cut to the chase and tell you,” Alexis said, getting right to the point. “We know that Karl is your boyfriend, or rather your fiancé.”
I gasped out my shock. I just knew my face was blood red. I could feel the heat in my cheeks even now.
“What we don’t know is why you didn’t tell me of your connection before you recommended his work to me,” Alexis continued with a look of disapproval.
“I didn’t want my connection to Karl to ruin his chances of doing the rec center’s mural,” I replied, telling a half-truth as I lowered my gaze to my hands. They were shaking so badly that I clasped them tightly in my lap. “I didn’t want his talent to be locked up with him in jail.”
“Not to mention the fact that you just wanted to see your man outside the prison walls,” Millsap inserted, speaking for the first time. “Maybe sneak in a kiss or two?”
My gaze snapped to his knowing eyes. I nodded in the face of that potent truth.
“Surely you knew the truth would come out eventually,” Millsap continued. “Especially when Alexis recommended Karl’s case to me. For the record, I don’t help any ex-con without first digging deep, and I mean deep, into their backgrounds. I like to know what kind of person I’m dealing with before I make any commitments of assistance.”
“So…” I paused, swallowed the lump in my throat and then continued. “So does this mean that you’re not going to help Karl after all?”
Millsap shook his head. “Actually no. Karl is still a brother that I would help regardless of his connection to you. After all, my past isn’t perfect either and if the truth be really known, I might have had certain connections with Karl myself if I hadn’t changed my ways five years ago.”
I gasped in shock again as the man in the expensive blue designer suit across from me all but admitted to having an illegal past in the drug game. Yet subtly, very subtly so as not to outright incriminate himself.
Smooth. Real smooth. I find myself liking Millsap a little bit more for his candor and discretion.
As a result of such candor, I decided to be equally truthful. “Since you all are being so straightforward with me, I guess I should tell you that I’m pregnant…by Karl.”
“What?!” Alexis exclaimed, looking shocked this time. “When?”
Millsap didn’t even blink an eye or move a muscle. It was as if nothing surprised him in life.
“It happened while he was painting the mural,” I confessed.
“Doggone it, Mandy!” Alexis seethed. “Didn’t you stop to think about how all this would affect the center and those connected to it? Imagine what kind of field day the press will have if/when it comes out that a prisoner impregnated one of my workers. People will likely petition to have this place shut down, despite all the good we’ve done for the youth and the fact that hundreds of kids will suddenly have no constructive place to go in the afternoons and on weekends. Other people will lose their jobs. Although you and I don’t have to work because our families are well-off, the rest of the center’s employees do, which means some of them could also lose their cars and homes.”
“I’m…so sorry, Alexis,” I squeezed out from a tight throat as my guilt-ridden eyes met hers.
How could I have been so selfish? How could I only think about what I wanted, considering no one else, not even how this pregnancy could negatively affect Karl?
“Don’t be too hard on her, Alexis,” Millsap soothed. “People in love sometimes do foolish things. I’ve done more than a few myself when it came to my wife.” He chuckled before getting serious again. “Now the way I see it, this pregnancy news just gives me more incentive to get Karl out sooner.” He turned to me and added, “What I need you to do is keep your mouth closed about the baby until your man gets out. Do a little camouflaging with your clothes when you start to show. Have you told anyone else about the baby?”
“Only Karl,” I replied, inwardly amazed by how quickly this man took charge of the situation. Even Alexis was decidedly calmer, though she still looked at me with disappointment.
“Via letter or phone?” Millsap asked me.
“Letter,” I replied.
“Did you say who the father was in that letter?” Millsap asked.
“There was no need to. Karl knows he’s the father. I simply told him I was pregnant and that I hoped he got out before the baby was born.”
“Did you write ‘before our baby is born’ or ‘before the baby is born’?” Millsap inquired, being meticulous in his questions.
I paused for a moment to think. “I specifically wrote ‘before the baby is born’.”
Millsap exhaled with relief. “Good, that means that the baby could be anybody’s in the eyes of the authorities in case they’ve been making copies of Karl’s letters.”
Alexis and I exhaled as well. I felt somewhat better knowing that I had at least done something right in all this.
After several more minutes of discussion, Millsap left to go tackle the issue of Karl’s early release. Although I barely knew the dreadlock-wearing man, I had all the confidence in the world that he was going to get my man out of jail. I just knew it.
If only I was that confident about keeping my job. The way Alexis was still looking at me, the way she asked me to remain in her office after Millsap was gone indicated that I might be unemployed by the end of the day.
“In light of everything you just told me, I think it’s only fair that you know that my trust in you has faded tremendously,” Alexis told me, speaking up after a long ten seconds of just frowning her displeasure at me.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied, feeling so small, as if I was eight years old again instead of twenty-five.
“However, since the kids here seem to love you so much and since your class is one of the most popular ones at the center, which means even less kids running around buck wild on the streets, I’m going to keep you on.”
“Thank you.” I exhaled loudly.
“Don’t thank me too soon,” Alexis replied. “I’m keeping you on as a volunteer, not a paid employee…at least for the next six months. Consider it community service, a way to pay your debt to the rec center for putting it in such jeopardy.”
I nodded in agreement. “I’ll gladly pay this debt, Alexis. And trust me; you won’t have anymore trouble out of me.”
“I hope not. Otherwise I might have to fire you next time,” Alexis said sternly.
“Yes, ma’am. And thanks again for…for everything,” I replied as tears rolled down my cheeks.
Alexis smiled, her first to me since I entered her office today. “You’re welcome.”
* * *
Three months later
I was released from prison on a Friday morning. Mandy was there to pick me up. She looked so good standing by the car with a big smile on her face. Her face look slightly rounder and certainly radiant, but her stomach still looked relatively flat.
Weren’t women supposed to show at four months? Now I wondered if she was really pregnant at all.
Was it a false alarm? I didn’t even want to think that Mandy had lied to me…to everyone. Especially after all that Alexis and Millsap did to help get me out.
Yet even with rising doubts, I still kissed Mandy with hunger. My body just couldn’t seem to help but want hers.
“Is there something you want to tell me?” I asked Mandy as soon as I settled into the passenger seat of her gray Lexus. I stared pointedly at her belly. “Something like why your stomach is still so flat?”
Mandy smiled. “I can show you better than I can tell you.” Then she pulled up her black sweater and unzipped the pink, corset looking girdle she had on. She exhaled loudly as she tossed the restrictive garment over her right shoulder into the back seat. “That answer your questions?” she asked, readjusting her seatbelt.
“Yes!” I smiled, seeing that undeniable baby bump. I reached for it immediately and just rubbed across it in a tender manner. “I just hope our baby doesn’t come out with a flick-ded head because of that pink thing,” I teased.
Mandy burst out laughing at my urban vernacular and started the car up. “If he does, we’re going to have to make sure his hair never gets cut.”
“He?” Tears welled up in my eyes before I could stop them.
Mandy’s eyes watered as well. “Yes.” She nodded. “We’re having a boy. I was going to tell you after we eloped tonight.”
“Praise Jesus,” I said, looking upwards in gratitude.
I had a lot to tell Mandy, as well. Particularly about how through Millsap’s prison outreach, I now had a good job to go to on Monday, keys to a furnished apartment so that we won’t have to live on her parent’s dime, and a personal relationship with Christ.
“Amen to that,” Mandy replied, finally putting the car in drive.
At her unexpected spiritual-sounding reply, I started to wonder if Millsap had preached Christ to her, too. If maybe she, too, had a recent encounter with the risen Savior.
I found out later that Alexis was responsible for Mandy’s newfound spirituality. That she not only extended the invitation to accept Christ, but invited her to church. Thankfully, my new wife did not refuse either.
As I now lay in bed with my arms around a dozing Mandy, I think back on all the things I learned about life recently. The most important thing I learned was that pure love had no bounds. That not even the thickest prison walls could hold it back or restrain it. That if you ever had such a love in your life, you were already free, despite your physical surroundings.
© 2009 by Suprina Frazier