Prisoner number 547812 presses his hand against the glass, spreading his fingers wide and as flat as he can make them. His voice is urgent as he speaks into the phone.
“Babe, I love ya. I know ah’ve been bad but ah’m gonna change. Ah’m gonna do ma time and when ah come out ah’ll be a good husband to ya and a good pop to li’l Nathan again. Ah’m gonna make it right, you see? ‘Cos ah loves ya. More than anythin’ in the whole wide world. An’ ah’d do anything to be with ya again.”
He pauses for a moment. He takes his hand away from the glass and wipes a tear away from his eye.
“Babe?” He is whispering now. “Babe? Y’all gonna wait for me, ain’t ya babe? Babe?” His voice is pleading now. “Please? Ya wait for me?”
The warder taps him gently on the shoulder and shows him his watch to indicate that time is up. He grabs the phone, and for a moment there is the slightest resistance. Then the prisoner’s hand goes limp, and the warder takes it from him and replaces it in the holder. The warder unlocks the man’s cuffed hand from the chair, and re-attaches it to his other hand. He helps the prisoner to his feet, and they begin the long shuffle back to his cell.
The visitor watches the scene with interest. He turns to his guide, with a perplexed look on his face.
“Tell me,” he says, “why do you permit this charade to continue?”
“Well,” says the other, “firstly, as far as we can tell, he still has visiting rights, even if the visitor is imaginary. Secondly, we’re kinda hoping that one day he’ll let slip what he did with her body.”
Jonathan Pinnock was born in Bedfordshire, England, and–despite having so far visited over forty other countries–has failed to relocate any further away than the next-door county of Hertfordshire. He is married with two children and a 1961 Ami Continental jukebox. His writing has won a number of prizes, short-listings and long-listings, and and he has been published in such diverse publications as Smokebox, Every Day Fiction and Necrotic Tissue. His website is www.jonathanpinnock.com.