this is what freedom actually feels like. He realizes he has never before
in his life felt free.
He has trouble sleeping. Before, when insomnia struck, he’d either
pop an Ambien or read a few sentences by Salman Rushdie, which he
once did out loud while lying in a hammock in a yard on an island
off the coast of Massachusetts, and a chipmunk froze in its tracks and
waited for him to stop.
Since he’s unlikely to be prescribed any medication, he will ask the
guard for a book. A dose of late Rushdie would be ideal.
Alone in his cell, he discovers that he is not really alone. His mind is
a riot of memories that mingle with ever-wilder sexual fantasies. It is
increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two. Sometimes, for
long-seeming stretches, he loses himself in a world in which he is fucking a beautiful redhead he doesn’t recognize. Where did she come from?
It would be good to know so that once he’s out he can look her up and
say, Do you maybe want to fuck for real? Not that he would ever say that.
He’s never said anything remotely like it to any woman, living or dead.
But the thought crosses his mind.
Every day he is learning new things about the contents of his consciousness.
He reflects on his college days, not so long ago (time, again), how it
bothered him that everyone at the university was studying and thinking
the same things. In his day—he’s what, twenty-eight, damn numbers—it
was trauma studies. Because some insanely high percentage of women
are sexually abused at some point in their lives, he wonders if the mothers of the shooters were themselves victims of sexual violence. Odds are.
Does this in any way mitigate their crime?
Can the killing even be classified a crime if the law chooses to ignore
it? A poet once wrote, If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one
around to hear it, the poor owls have to do all the thinking.
Then comes the incident with the guard. He has no idea whether what
happens is an act of individual initiative or whether Slenderman, as he’s
dubbed the man (who manifestly does not count calories), is acting on
orders from above. It began with the lights. For the longest time, the
lights in his room have not gone off. The sun is shining twenty-four
hours a day. He tells himself he’s living in the land of the midnight sun,