Posts Tagged ‘prison’

September 2003

On a secluded area off an interstate in the mid-western United States, Milton’s family reminisces about a time they visited him at a New Jersey Prison.

“I remember that trip.” Milton’s mother Emily recalled. “We went into New York afterwards.”

“Yeah,” Clarice, Milton’s niece added, “remember I got lost in the Strand bookstore?”

“I remember you STOLE something from the Strand Bookstore!” Milton’s father and Clarice’s grandmother recalled with a laugh the misadventure they had in the world’s biggest second-hand book shop.

“Oh, those were good times.” Emily said. “We saw Cats on Broadway, and remember we went to see the Twin Towers?”

“Oh yeah, we did.” Clarice said, recalling the two landmark skyscrapers that were destroyed just a few years ago.

“I remember that day.” Milton said. “We didn’t have TV but we all listened to it on the radio.” Then, shaking his head he muttered. “God damn awful.” His family nodded in agreement. Every single person sitting around this campfire had blood on their hands, but even for monsters such as these, they all silently agreed that the evil that day was a step too far.

“Anyway, that was a nice little trip.” Emily said.

Before his niece continued her story leading up to her first kill, Milton thought about his time just after their visit. This was something he hadn’t thought about in a long time, in fact, it’s something he almost forgot himself.

Federal Correctional Institution: Fort Dix, New Jersey August 1993

Milton sat quietly after the religious service. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but he liked the Chaplin. Mr. Savanelli preached about the Flood and Noah’s Ark. Milton always like that story as a kid. Afterwards, he asked the Chaplin for a word in private.

Now alone in the room, the Chaplin asked, “Did you enjoy the service today?”

“Of course. I always liked that story where God drowns everybody.” Milton answered with a smile. “You know I drowned somebody once.” Milton shocked himself by how casually he revealed this. What followed was a sense of panic he hadn’t felt in years. Milton looked behind him to see if the guard was there, but luckily, he was standing outside.

Turning back, the Chaplin maintained his warm friendly smile, but it was evident he’d read the expression Milton wore on his face. “Don’t worry,” Savanalli said, “anything you say here is between us.” 

Milton trusted this God fearing man to be good on his word. “OK” Milton said, wiping his brow. “It wasn’t that fun anyway, almost went under myself.”

“Would you like to sit down?” Savenelli asked.


As they both sat down the Chaplin said “I don’t recall seeing you before. What brings you to us today?”

That was a good question. What had brought Milton here today? He thought about it before speaking, even though he already the answer. Finally, he said, “I got a visit from my niece recently.” 

“Oh, that was your niece that came? I thought maybe it was your daughter.”

“Wait, you saw her?”

“I saw you with who I assumed was your family when I was visiting with Dr. Pleasance.”

“Dr. Pleasance.” That name brought a smile to his face and wicked thoughts to his mind. “Yeah, we saw her talking to that guy that did the baby-sitter murders. Clarice, my niece that is, was asking about him.”

“I see, is she afraid of him?”

“No she idolizes him.” Milton answered immediately. Then with a chuckle he added, “She thinks he’s awesome.”

“Is that why you’re here?”

Milton answered the question with a question of his own. “Think there’s any hope for a guy like that?

“Well, Jesus preached to those who were far off and those who were near. Scripture says that in Christ we are no longer strangers and aliens, but that we are all fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”  

“Yeah, yeah, Ephesians 2:19.” Milton responded dismissively. “I mean, do you think they’ll ever let him out?”

“Milton, as I’ve told you,” the Chaplin now sounded more stern, “I won’t share anything you tell me here. I would ask you to understand that I won’t be discussing his case with you.”

Milton shook his head, amused how the Chaplin blocked this line of query. “Alright, well let’s discuss his soul then, if there is such a thing that is.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, your God,” Milton then snapped his fingers as he asked, “couldn’t he do some magic trick to make him good?”

“Milton, I think you know God’s not a parlor magician. He gave us free will.”

Of course Milton knew all about free will. He’d read “Summa Theologica” by Thomas Aquinus as well the writings of John Wesley. He could have easily formulated a counter argument against these classical theologians. Instead, he looked at the iron bars across the window and responded. “Free will to end up in here.”

“Or free will to accept his grace and walk into his light.”

Milton laughed at the response. It brought him back to that time when he was a teenager and a pair of Jehovah’s witnesses knocked on their door. Their flesh tasted tough and chewy, like the leather of their shoes that had walked too many miles. “So, even if a monster like me believes in God’s only son than I shall have eternal life?” he asked, mocking the much quoted verse, John 3:16.

“Even a sinner such as you,” Savenelli answered with his own smirk, “no matter how infamous they may be.”

“So, you know who I am?”

“You’re not the first prestigious inmate I’ve witnessed to.” The Chaplin said proudly. “In fact, many within these walls have come to Christ.”   

“That sounds great chaplin. Hey, do you think the people I butchered would want to be up there in heaven with me?” Milton knew just how to phrase this question. Milton felt proud of himself for stumping him. After a short moment of silence Milton added “Yeah, I didn’t think so,” wrapping a bow on the moment.

The Chaplin pivoted by asking “That elderly couple Clarice was with, were they your parents?”  

Still proud of stumping the Chaplin and understanding why he changed the subject, Milton answered coyly “You got it.”

“Your parents.” Savanelli then asked, “What about the girl’s parents?”

“Her dad, my brother,” Milton’s emotions now clouded as he explained, “he died when she was just a baby.”

“And the mother?”

With an uncanny gleam in his eye Milton answered “Well, it’s probably best we don’t talk about that.”

Savanelli appeared to accept that answer. Seemingly knowing not to push that subject further he then observed,  “Your parents must be getting up there in age. Raising a teenager must be a lot for them to take on.”

It was then Milton revealed what was truly on his mind. “It’s not my parents I’m worried about.” Milton took a deep breath after those words exited. He felt genuinely startled that this sentence had just come from his own lips. It was as though his words were prisoners escaping from his mouth before it occurred to his mind to close his jaw, keeping his thoughts trapped forever.

The Chaplin immediately pounced on this opening. “Why are you worried about your niece?”

Knowing he was exposed, Milton’s eyes wandered around the room. Looking at the prison walls he answered, “Well, she’s being raised by the same people that raised me.”

“And your concerned Clarice will follow in your footsteps?”

Now speaking freely Milton said “She’s a good kid, she’s so smart, likes to read, not ignorant like other brats her age. I just..I just want her to do good.”

“And there’s not much you can do for her behind these walls.”

The normally articulate Milton replied with one word. “Yeah.”

“Milton, I tell you what we can do. God asks us to pray for him in our times of need, we pray to God especially for things that our out of our hands.” He then extended his own hand and asked. Would you like to pray with me?”

Milton said nothing, he just sat there looking at the man’s hand. “You know Milton, maybe you’re right, maybe praying won’t help.” This was the first thing Milton heard that surprised him. “But it won’t hurt now, will it?”

He took the Chaplin’s hand and closed his eyes before hearing these words. “Father God, I thank you for Milton’s presence this day. He has come humbly before you to ask for your help. Together we lift up his niece Clarice in prayer. She is a wonderful young girl with a bright future ahead of her. We pray for her that she may walk the righteous path. We pray for Milton’s parents, who are raising her, that you may give them the strength to guide her during the trying teenage years. I also pray for Milton that he may be a good influence on his niece, even if from afar. I pray for the four of them that when they journey down the road of life, that all four of them may turn towards the light, the light of your son Jesus. It is in his name we pray, Amen.”

Milton opened his eyes and quickly wiped the tear from his cheek. He knew the Chaplin saw it, but he said nothing of it as he held up his Bible saying “We do have some of these in the library. I hear you’re a voracious reader.”


“Anyway, it was a nice little trip.” Emily said. “We thought on on the way back that would have been your first.”

“What do you mean.” Clarice had forgotten all about it, but as her grandmother started talking about it, she remembered.


Clarice’s hands shook as she held the blade up. All she had to do was swing, just swing it down in one swift motion and it will be all over; but she couldn’t stop looking at his eyes. Those eyes widened in horror, pleading to her for mercy. Her grandparents subdued the hitchhiker they picked up on the way home and tied him up for easy pickings; but as Clarice stood over him in the empty field just off the road, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.  

“Come on honey, make us proud. Make Uncle Milton proud.” Her grandmother prompted. Clarice wanted to, she wanted so desperately to please her family, but something was stopping her. Some invisible force she couldn’t comprehend seemed to lock her arms in place, almost as if she couldn’t move. “Come on,” her grandmother taunted, “kill this bastard!” Clarice closed her eyes tight, her hands gripped the handle of the knife as hard as they could while she took one last deep breath.

She jumped back and screamed as the blood splattered. There was not only blood, but bits of bone and flesh as grandpa’s sledgehammer bashed the skull of the hapless victim. Seeing the graphic site before her, Clarice dropped the knife and fell into the arms of her grandmother. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” she cried, feeling deep shame in not living up to the family name.

“It’s okay dear.” Clarice felt her grandmother’s gentle hand stroking her back. “It was hard for me the first time too.”

“It’s either you or them.” Grandfather said as he took out his bag of tools with which he intended to prepare the fresh carcass. “You gotta understand that.” Hearing her continued to sob he added, “Clarice, your grandmother and I love you, but this is the way of our family. One of these days, your going to have to bring home dinner.”


Milton remembered that day Clarice came to visit him in prison. Waiting for them in the visiting room, he saw Dr. Pleasance. She looked good with her red curly hair that fell down to her shoulders, and that British accent turned him on something fierce. She was here to see the inmate who did those Baby-Sitter Murders a few years back. He didn’t get why she bothered, that freak never said a word, but at least he had something to look at while waiting for his family.

Then she walked in. Milton couldn’t believe how tall she’d gotten. No longer that little tom-boyish rugrat who visited not that long ago, Clarice was becoming a woman. All the other inmates as well as some of the guards watched her figure approach the table he sat at. Milton knew full well what they were thinking, and he wanted to rip their spleens out for it.

Milton’s parents came in behind her. It was always a relief to see them. They both looked well, but Milton could see they were getting up there in age. After talking for a while about how everyone in the family was doing and the usual small talk, Clarice handed Milton a book. In a way, Milton was relieved to see at least one thing remained about Clarice. He was also excited to receive this book, being a longtime fan of Robert Bloch who was disappointed the library didn’t get his newest novel. After thanking her he asked, “How did you like it?” safely betting she’d already read it.

“Brett Eliss’s book was better.” was her answer.

“You just liked that one because of all the gore.” Walter chimed in. Milton laughed in agreement.

“Really,” Clarice replied to her family in all seriousness. “You think I’m that shallow. “Bloch’s character is just a lonely motel owner with mommy issues. American Psycho is an exploration of the dehumanizing effects of capitalism.” Continuing her dissertation on the novel, she described the main character, explaining, “Patrick’s descent into madness is caused by his view of everything and everyone around him to be seen as a commodity, to be bought, used, and disposed of.”

As Clarice rattled of her thesis, Milton beamed with pride. “Damn this girl was smart.” He thought to himself. He knew it ran in the family, as much as smarts could run in this family he supposed.

“You can see why she’s so popular with the boys.” Walter joked,

“Grandpa!” She objected.

Noticing how others in the room occasionally glancing at his niece’s legs, Milton asked “Speaking of which, any boys caught your eye.”

“Oh, yeah, tell him about Darryl.” Emily excitedly butted in.

Clarice’s face immediately turned red in embarrassment as Milton asked “Oh, who’s Darryl?”

Later, Milton would remember this moment as the only time he ever saw his niece being meek as she explained, “He’s just a boy from school. He’s really cool.”

“Yeah, she was all disappointed when she had to postpone because we were coming here first.” Walter said.

“No, I wasn’t, I couldn’t wake to see you Uncle Milton” she said, taking her Uncle’s hand. “When I get back, Darryl and I are going to see the new Friday the 13th movie.”

“Still watching that junk.“ Milton jested. Letting go of her hand, he leaned back and said “I suppose that was one good thing about being incarcerated, zero exposure to junk movies.” Milton laughed.

“Yeah, I know it’s not as good as Halloween.” Milton was surprised because he thought she didn’t like that movie. However, Milton then saw her obvious sarcasm as her eyes widened and she leaned forward to say “NOT!!!!”

Milton laughed and said “I’m sure you’ll give me a detailed thesis next time I see you.”

“Oh my god!” Clarice said in excitement. Milton turned around to see Dr. Pleasance walking away, he got a nice view of her tits as they bounced with each step. Milton noticed his father licking his lips as she passed, her hand partly covering her face. Clarice had her eye on something different, she watched the two guards escort the large prisoner away. Even they seemed a little scared of him. She caught a brief glimpse of his face before he turned around and was escorted back to the bloc. “Is that the guy from the Baby-Sitter Murders?” Some of the guards looked her way as she spoke loudly.

Milton put his finger over his lips indicating for her to hush before nodding his head to answer yes.

“Wow, he’s awesome!”

“Do you know what he did?” Milton asked in concern.

“Hell yeah, I know what he did! Killed five bitches in Bethlehem Pennsylvania in 1988.” she said excitedly. “I’m his number one fan.” “Hey,” she turned to her grandparents. “that’s not too far from here, could we stop there on the way back?”

“Honey, we got a long drive ahead of us. We don’t have time to make too many stops.” 

“Yeah,” Milton said, “besides, don’t you want to get back to your date?”

“Yeah, I guess.” she answered disappointed, but her face brightened again at her next thought. “Do you think next time I could visit him?” referring to the culprit of the infamous Bethlehem murders.

“Honey, they don’t let random people visit inmates here.”

“Well, couldn’t you do something to…”

“Look honey,” Milton was now getting impatient. “We don’t have a lot of time left. I really don’t want to argue about this.”

“Oh,” Milton’s mother Emily interrupted, “wasn’t there something else you wanted to ask him?”

“Great” Milton thought to himself, bracing for whatever she might ask of him next. She didn’t understand that his notoriety in fact did not do him any favors in the big house.

“Milton,” she asked, “do you remember when you were a kid and you saw Ed?”

At the sound of that name Milton’s mind was brought back to a time when he barely came up to his daddy’s waste. Back then he hoped to be big and strong like daddy. He remembered one day, when daddy was handing his “special business.” Daddy always took the sledgehammer for his “special business.” Milton was no dummy, he knew that meant daddy was hurting bad people. He just wished the bad people didn’t scream so much. It didn’t matter so much. Sometimes when it was time for daddy to grab the sledgehammer, Ed would come and play with him.

Milton imagined different friends in his mind. Space adventurer Flash Gordon, wrestling champion Lou Thez, the Lone Ranger, he pretended they would come to his house and take him off on adventures. Milton always knew this was in his own head, but Ed was different. Ed came to him. He was exciting and adventurous like the others. He wasn’t dashing either, he had this weird fleshy lump below his one eye and an odd lopsided grin, but he liked to play with Milton. They would go outside and play catch, or they’d watch football games and movies together. In his own way, Ed was fun.

Sometimes Ed even came to dinner, especially when Mom made that special meal to feed “the appetite” as his parents called it. Milton felt funny about the special meal, especially when Ed discouraged him from eating it. Milton loved his mommy and daddy, but they got mad when he wouldn’t eat the special food; and insisted that Ed was no more real than Flash Gordon of the Lone Ranger.

One day his parents outsmarted him. They wouldn’t let him have any food until he tried the special meal. Eventually his tummy was rumbling, and although Ed actually crying, Milton couldn’t resist anymore. He took a bite, and he loved it. He devoured it all like a rabid dog, and when he looked up from the dinner table, Ed was gone. He’d never see him again.

Milton didn’t say much when Clarice told him about seeing Ed again. He merely dismissed it as her imagination, just as he tried to convince himself. Soon the time was up, they said their goodbyes, and his family left.

Milton never told his family what happened after that visit. It was a few days later when Milton was working in the library that he noticed the sign-up sheet. It was probably here every week, and he just never took notice of it. However, on this day, he did see it. Milton put his name down for something he’d never been a part of before.

A few days later Milton was working in the library when the guard came for him. After being escorted back to his cell block, he was then taken to a part of the prison he’d never been to before. Finally, he realized he’d forgotten all about what he signed up for. As soon as he walked in the room, he thought this was a bad idea. Fred was there. He didn’t like Fred. Milton did bad things in his life, but he never did anything like what Fred did.  Fred laughed when he saw Milton walk in. A man whose frame filled the doorway wasn’t used to being laughed at. “What,” Fred asked mockingly, “are you a man of God now?”