This would be another good spot to leverage the revision process by incorporating more running commentary on my authorial development into the context of my fast-failing health. If the reader remembers, near the end of chapter five there was mention of a slight cough and generalized fatigue. At that time, I implied those ailments would be addressed at a doctor’s appointment three months hence, but the days have flown by as they’re wont to do when bad news looms, and now the appointment is just a few weeks away. My energy’s still low, there’s trace amounts of blood in my sputum, and I think I’m running a fever, yet I haven’t said anything to the guards for fear of a forced hospitalization, which would ruin my chances of finalizing this manuscript before the next visitation with my agent. In the business world, they say words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises but only performance is reality. The last time we spoke on the phone, my agent wondered if this final draft would be completed by her next visit, and I fear I made a liar of myself by saying yes.
Regardless of whether this final (33rd) draft is complete, my agent will be reading it. I’ll no doubt be hospitalized before she does, so I should go ahead and do what I want to do by adding in what I want to add in, and by that, I mean I’d deeply regret not seizing this opportunity to put my inconvenient feelings for her into the following words:
(I chose a suitable name for you, per your request for anonymity.)
This is one of those occasions when desire throws open the window in the room containing my hard-earned wisdom, and out it flies like a Great Horned Owl. I’m kidding. My reserves of hard-earned wisdom are meagre to say the least, so it’d resemble something more along the lines of a finch, flying around for a few moments, or months, or however long it takes for me to come back to my senses. Several hours have already gone by and there’s no sign of its return, as I’m still firmly in the grip of a desire to tell you something, however, first I should mention my health isn’t good. There’s a small chance it’s serious because I’ve already lived longer than most of the other yardbirds in here who had HIV/AIDS. As you know, the latest covid variant made the rounds a few months ago, and, of course, it snuck past my weakened immune system, and set up camp in my lungs where it’s stayed ever since, eating beef jerky, and singing cowboy songs. I don’t want to sound fatalistic but I’m fairly sure it’s turned into pneumonia, which is basically a death sentence for someone like me. With that out of the way, and in the interest of not wasting time, I’m interrupting the main narrative of this memoir to declare my love for you. Might your heart be a flutter knowing I’m a sixty-four-year-old, disease ridden, multiple murderer whose chances are slim to none of ever getting paroled? You’ll be happy to know I laughed out loud while writing that last bit, but you know what’s even funnier? I’ve never felt this way before about anyone, so you’re the unrequited love of my life by default. I feel like Shakespeare wrote about something like this and if not, then he’s gotta be kicking himself in his grave. On the other hand, I know Tolstoy said life is fragile and absurd. Ain’t that the damn truth. Anyway, no matter what happens, I’m eternally grateful for your belief in my ability to write. Thank you for nudging me along in your gentle manner, and if we don’t see each other again, I want you to know I’ve done a lot of dreaming since we first met. It’s been so nice to dream again after all these years. Maybe I won’t get to experience my dream coming true but you, the beautiful soul who helped me to achieve it, will. There can’t be many more precious gifts in the world than the one you’ve bestowed upon me. Faith, you’ve given me the strength to row my little boat merrily down the stream from the confines of my cell, and sometimes there’s a moon above, and the crickets are singing, and the water is a mirror full of stars, and that’s when I get to feeling anything is possible. Anything at all.
Your friend, Andy.
PS Redact this letter at your discretion.