“Get the mail please,” I urged my son.
“But I’m in the middle of a game!”
“It’s your chore! It’s on the list, and if you don’t do it, I’m taking your phone!”
I watched as Franklin slammed his cell onto the sofa, picked up the keys and stormed towards the front door.
“Put on some shoes!” I added.
A few moments later he was back with a stack of letters. He threw them at me and they scattered around my lap.
I was currently in the middle of reading a crazy comment thread from one of my stupid Facebook posts. Some douche bag I didn’t know was on there calling me a “thot” after I refused to send him “tit pics,” and several friends had come to my rescue before I even had a chance to defend myself.
Half paying attention, I began opening the mail. The first envelope was a letter from the ASPCA asking for another donation. I like them and all, but seriously, if you donate one time they’ll never stop hastling you for more. Annoyed, I tossed it to the other side of the sofa.
I went back to my comment thread as I reached for another letter. I didn’t pay much attention to the envelope, so when I glanced to the piece of paper it contained and started reading it, I grew alarmed.
“Your account is being closed for non-payment. Please pay $1903.36 by July 29th or your account will be terminated.”
“What the fuck?” I said out loud, as I dropped my phone and began inspecting the letter more throughly. Even with all this Covid bullshit going on, I’ve never missed a credit card payment.
That’s when I realized it. It wasn’t my mail after all. It was for The Prince.
The irony made me laugh (I’ll tell you why at the end)! Then seeing his name made my heart ache. It had already been 5 months since he moved out of my apartment. I thought about texting him a picture of the letter. But I knew it wouldn’t be worth making contact with him for it.
My mind started trailing back to last December. The Prince had been in jail for three months and he still had almost three more to go.
Although I was broke as a joke, working several jobs and raising kids on my own, I still accepted his daily phone calls. As embarrassing as it is to say this, it was the only thing I had in my life to look forward to. I could barely pay my bills, but still I spent over $100 a week talking to him. At that rate, I would have been better off with a drug habit!
That night in December, I had rushed home from work, made my son a quick dinner and hopped in the shower. I still had about 10 minutes until my love’s regular call time. After just wetting my hair and lathering it with shampoo, the phone began to ring.
GOD DAMN IT!
“Franklin! Franklin!” I screamed from inside the bathroom. “Can you answer that! I have shampoo in my hair, it’s The Prince!”
My child came to my aid and answered the phone. “This is a collect call from an inmate at the Theo Lacy Detention Center,” it began, the automated system then offered a series of numeric selections.
“I don’t know what to push!” Franklin frantically shouted.
“Just push ‘1’.”
“Push the number ‘1’!”
“I don’t know how!” he said.
“Goodbye!” The system spoke as it rejected the call.
“I’m sorry, mom.”
“It’s okay, it’s not your fault. You did a good job.” I lied as best I could. “He’ll call back.”
I rushed out of the shower and before I could even get my pajamas on, the phone rang again.
As it did anytime I was about to speak to The Prince, a huge adrenaline rush pulsated through my body. I don’t know what it was with this guy, but his presence (and even the thought of his voice) was magnetic and made my heart flutter.
I put the phone on speaker mode as I slid into my PJs and hit the correct numbers on the automated system. Then I ran into my bedroom, closed the door, and plopped onto my bed.
“Hey Babe!” he greeted me with forced enthusiasm.
“Hey sexy! How are you?”
“Why do you ask that?” his tone quickly changed.
“I’m sorry.” I apologized.
“What do you think I will say?”
“I know, it was dumb. I wasn’t thinking. Just a habit.”
“You think it’s nice in here? Like summer camp? Yeah babe! I’m having a great time! It’s wonderful! The food is amazing!”
“Did you eat today?” I asked, concerned.
“No. I did not eat. They still did not put money in my commissary. The food in here is so bad. No commissary, then I do not eat.”
“I put $80 in there two days ago,” I reminded him.
“You put it on Thursday. I told you to put it on Wednesday or I would not get it in time. It takes three days to be applied to my account, so now I will not eat.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that, and I had to wait until I was paid.”
“You ha… … fg… hhyi… shhh… phhh,” he was mumbling something in his thick accent I couldn’t make out.
“What? I can’t understand you.”
“Nothing! Never mind. Forget it.”
“No… I just didn’t hear what you said.”
“I told you three times, the money has to be placed on the books by Wednesday before midnight!”
“I’m sorry, I don’t remember you saying that, I was working late Wednesday and I was waiting to be paid.”
“You don’t remember?” he asked.
There were several seconds of silence between us.
“Hello?” he continued. “I asked you a question. Did you not hear me?”
“I heard you,” I responded.
“You did not answer. What did I say?”
“I don’t remember you telling me that it had to be on Wednesday,” I admitted.
“You know what? That’s bullshit! You are a liar. You are a liar and I shouldn’t trust you! I told you many times it had to be on Wednesday. You told me you understood! Why would you lie to me?”
“Honestly, I didn’t know, you know my memory is shit.”
The Prince began laughing. “You’re funny! You play games with me.”
I went silent again.
“If someone is in jail, and they have nothing to eat… I’m starrrrrving! But you don’t remember? Nah, you don’t care. You know I needed money by Wednesday, so you put it on Thursday. Then you ask me if I ate?”
I didn’t respond. I couldn’t.
“I don’t know why I waste my time to call you. Why you say you want to help me, but you don’t listen. You pretend that you have a bad memory. You come to the jail to see me when I don’t want you here. You write me soooo many letters, you ask me to call you. You say you are worried about me, you want to help. Then what do you do? You play games. ‘Oh Prince, oh… I care about you so much. Please call me and tell me you are alright.’ Pffft… a joke. You are a liar!”
“I didn’t realize. I will remember for now on.” I said.
“No! Now it’s too late. I have no food. I have nothing. You know what? I will not talk to you anymore today.”
“I think I will not talk to you again at all.”
“I will not be calling you anymore! No more! Don’t send letters! Do not come to visit, I will refuse to see you. If you come here I will not see you. Do you hear what I said? Never!”
I could hear him chuckle as he hung up the phone.
I put down my own, took a deep breath and let out a sigh. I was filled with mixed emotions. I honestly didn’t realize there had been a cap on when the money needed to be deposited, but I also didn’t have it to put at time anyway.
I was overwhelmed with disappointment after having been anticipating the call all day, I had hoped it would have gone better. I knew the way he was treating me wasn’t right, but at the same time I felt so much empathy for his suffering. I cared about him so much, that it literally felt like I was in the jail with him. It was as if we were both serving the sentence. Since he had been gone, my world was left sterile and grey.
I let out a few tears, then slid out of bed to blow dry my hair. Once I finished, I took a melatonin and crawled under my covers. I was feeling guilty for having a bed knowing he’d be sleeping on a cot. Just as I was falling asleep, the phone rang once more.
After sitting through the five minute automated system for the third time that night, we were connected.
“Hello.” he said, sounding like a marine sergeant.
“Listen, uh, I just wanted to say I’ve had a bad night.”
“I know.” I responded.
“Please Asterisk, let me talk without interrupting.”
I remained silent.
“There are a lot of things happening here that I can’t tell you because this phone call is being recorded. I wanted to have a good talk with you. I’ve had a bad day. I will call you tomorrow please, if that is okay with you.”
Suddenly I could hear a loud speaker booming in the background.
“I have to hang up now, it is time for count.” he said.
“Have a good night. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
My face lit up like a kid getting a puppy for Christmas. “Stay safe.”
“Bye,” I whispered.
After the call ended, I checked the date on my phone. Then I looked to my night stand. I picked up the piece of paper I had with all of The Prince’s personal information written on it.
“Chase Bank.” I dialed the 1-800 number I had written down next to it, and once again I made The Prince’s monthly payment to his credit card account.
That’s right! The entire time he was in jail, I made sure to keep his credit card accounts in good standing. Get the irony now?
I don’t think it’s funny either. Okay, maybe just a little!
*Mettez-moi en colère, j’écris une histoire. Brise mon coeur, j’écris un livre.*
***To see more stories about The Prince, just click on the links attached to his name***
If you like what you just read, you’ll LOVE MY BOOKS!