Visit

On the bus down I read a book of Pliny’s, and ate a couple of sandwiches for lunch. I was the only one got off at Standford Hill.

John was wearing a new top from his mother and reproached wryly I’d given him a £ for his birthday. I hadn’t. I’d been making up for the May holiday. “Two pounds then,” he alluded to a previous payment for days lost when I’d forgotten. “Isn’t it enough I send you money?” not to mention the unreimbursed £25 for the bus ticket to visit him. “Marks don’t sell satin boxers.” He’d wanted them from me for belated birthday present. He had other sources, he said, and had patched up a pair.

I’d brought money to buy him a snack. He took a ten pound note to pay for it, largely sweets. Seeing my little fan of three £10s, which retrospectively I think I must’ve fanned to incite him, he folded the note he had, the better to secrete it about or in his person, and said he could do with another, taking it, rationalising that the prison authorities had only given him a £ to spend on tea which cost at least £1.70 the last time he was let out to go to Gillingham hospital for a pre-op assessment of his hernia. I pointed out it was against the rules he be given money and I could go to prison for it. This objection was dismissed. He wanted another £10 for another snack which included a sausage roll as well as sweets. He made a point of giving me change back both times. “It’s as well I brought plenty money,” I said. He said he’d £7.50 saved toward the train fare up London to see his lawyer, about divorce, and me.

I stood anxiously in the rain for the bus back. The driver said I should’ve waited in the shelter farther along, to which I made no answer because there’d be no next time. I read another book of Pliny on the way back and ate a second lot of lamb sandwiches on the bus for tea.

A delayed response, resentment he should, on sight of how much money I had with me, entitle himself to more of it and be willing to risk my freedom, that of somebody he purported to love, for the sake of the self-gratification, in anticipation, of a cup of tea on his next day out rose in me. When a drunken alcoholic neighbour saw I had a glass of wine on the sill as I washed up in the kitchen and chapped on the window for a glass, I took my anger out on him.

Three days later John phoned, I made sure, from a hospital, therefore unbugged phone. He imputed my tone to something else. I told him I was angry with him and succinctly told him why, without remembering exactly what I said. “You’d rather I went shop-lifting to pay for a meal!” he charged. “You said for a tea,” I said but don’t think he waited upon my answer, which was in any case an obvious yes. He’d hung up.

He subsequently phoned, saying the guards turned a blind eye, and he’d never put me in any danger. That was the second time he had. I pointed out if he entitled himself to whatever he wanted in prison, with me there, what would he be like outside without me there, not that my being there had made any difference, and, I added, he wasn’t just any ordinarily corrupt person who could take a risk. If he did, he’d be whisked back into prison for the slightest thing as he well knew. He’d just have to deny himself then, he said. Oh, really? I said, because, he added, he was never going to go back to prison again.

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About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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