We have been writing to each other for about two-and-a-half years now, and inevitably, have become close. He says I am is best friend (probablyy his only friend). We share views and books, and ideas about life and death, and I think we know each other (as much as you can know someone you've never met). I admire his intellect, his writing, his mind; a mind that is condemned, like the rest of him, to be of no further use to anyone, and to be denied the smallest chance of redemption. I have no idea whether or not he's guilty of the crime for which he was committed; he says he's never killed anyone. We can't disccuss his case as all our correspondence is read by the authorities.
As I've said before, he has no access to a library any more (I send him books, which he reads and re-reads), and has nothing to do. Nothing. He exercises to keep fit (fit for what?), writes poems when he feels he can, and waits. And waits. He has been on hunger strike, but something went wrong. What? I've no idea. He plans to start another one. What do I say? Don't do it? Far better to wait to be put down like a sick dog, in two, five, ten, twenty years' time? Again, I don't know.
In his last letter, he describes what it was to be young (although his childhood was awful, and he tried to hang himself when he was just eleven):
"There were bonfires and skinny dipping in the ocean. It was sumer, and all the kisses tasted of lip gloss and suntan lotion, and all the girls were ours, and none of us were even old enough to buy cigarettes.....it was the best afternoon ever. Until the next best afternoon ever.
And how he feels now:
"31 and never been in love. Never knew what that felt like. I'll never write my best poem or song. I've never painted my best picture....Alone enough to be alone but not enough to matter...No family. Just a pauper's grave in a potter's field. They don't even put our names on the grave markers. They put your prison number. My suffering is a number. My existence boils down to that.
When I read it (and it was a long letter), I cried.