I call my sister from prison. I say, "Sis, I have something to tell you." I say, "Sis, I'm in prison." Then I laugh for a while and my sister laughs with me and we laugh together like we used to laugh when I wasn't in prison and my sister wasn't out of prison and working in a office in Topeka, Kansas. I say, "Sis, I am calling you from the prison-phone."
"I know," my sister says.
The next day I get out of prison. I'm reformed.
The first thing I do is go to Safeway. I walk into the produce section. I touch the apples and coconuts. I touch the lettuce. I lick the spinach. Everything's slightly damp.
I go to the fish counter. I say to the fish lady behind the fish counter, "Can I lick a salmon?"
The fish lady giggles.
I say, "I'm serious. I've been in prison for almost a year and a half and for that year and a half I've wanted to lick a salmon and feel the salmon scales on my tongue." I try to say this menacingly so that I can communicate my 'I was in prison' aura clearly and calmly, but in a way that will allow me to lick a salmon without argument.
"I don't think so," the fish lady says.
I take a candy-bar to the cash register and set the candy-bar in front of the cashier and look firmly into the cashier's eyes. I say, "I would like to purchase this confection."
The cashier says, "Sure." He has wide brown eyes and is very tall.
"Have you ever been in prison?" I say. "Can I lick your hand?"
"Maybe," the cashier says. "Dollar thirty-two," the cashier says. He places my candy-bar into a plastic sack.
I hand him the money. I give him exact change.
"Thank you," the cashier says.
"I love you," I say.
"Don't worry," I say. "I love everyone. I'm kind of like Jesus."
Outside there is a strong wind so I try to walk against the wind with my coat wrapped tightly around my shoulders and I also try to eat my candy-bar. I remove the wrapper. I take small bites. It's very sweet. The wind is very cold. My sister would disapprove of this candy-bar because she thinks I'm supposed to watch my figure. If my sister were here, I'd tell her that I lifted weights in prison. I'd say, "I lifted weights in prison so don't make me kick your ass." I kicked ass in prison.
I decide to go back to Safeway. I worry about taking my candy-bar inside, but I have the receipt and if there's trouble I can always show the receipt. I go up to my cashier. He isn't busy. I say, "Hi."
"You're back," my cashier says.
"I still want to lick your hand," I say. "I still love you."
"Because you're kind of like Jesus?" my cashier asks.
My cashier's hand is very thin and long, the fingers move strangely, in a slow way, and his joints are large round knobs, oversized and machine-like. My cashier hooks a thumb in his apron pocket and leans back. My cashier rests his right hand on the counter top and splays his long fingers on the countertop and stretches his fingers on the countertop until his knuckles crack.
I say, "I didn't like being in prison but I lifted weights a lot, so I could probably kick your ass."
"Oh," my cashier says. "Cool."
I dart down. I snatch my cashier's wrist. I lick along his fingers.
My cashier jerks. He says, "Stop that."
"But I love you."
"You're confused," my cashier says.
My right uppercut catches him on the chin. My strangely tall cashier crashes into the cash register. There are beeps and other sounds. The cash-drawer opens. I snatch the cash. I spit in the cashier's face. I say, "I just wanted to lick your hand."
I kick the cashier's stomach.
"I loved you like Jesus," I say. I don't know what I mean.