Around midnight a winter storm descends on the prison waking me. Thunder reverberates through the cellblock and echoes off the prison walls. I stand at the window wrapped in a blanket watching raindrops pound against the warped glass. I stick my arm out through a broken pane to feel the cold rain washing over my hand. Bold flashes of lightning intermittently shatter the black shroud of the night. The strobing brilliance flashes against the scalloped glass, casting running shadows of rain rivulets into the cell. Shadows of the scuttling rivulets make it look like the cell walls are crying.
I open the locker and remove a picture of Revelstoke parked in a tropical forest above Waimea Falls. Striking a match, I see Puu standing at the open backdoor with his floppy ears down. Susan was inside baking cookies and I could almost hear her ordering Puu, The Nose, out of her way. I wish I could will myself into that picture, but memories will have to do.
* * *
I am standing beneath a towering tropical tree. A trade wind is blowing. I listen to the rustling leaves, while looking at the soft yellow light coming out Revelstoke’s open backdoors. Puu is standing there with his tail wagging, he woofs at me. I see Susan taking cookies from the oven then she turns and smiles. The wind has the feel of rain. The interior of Revelstoke looks warm and inviting with the enticing aroma of cookies right out of the oven. I step inside.
Susan sweeps her long blond hair to one side as she closes the oven door. She is wearing a blue silk crop top and black nylon Dolphin shorts, it is a runner’s outfit, and she wears it well. I collect a hug, two cookies, and a kiss. Outside I hear the wind blowing amongst elephant bamboo. The wind is bending the tall bamboo’s leafy tops, causing the trunks to clack and rattle against each other like a giant wind chime. I take my cookies to the backdoor and look out as Susan steps up behind me and places her arms around my waist.
“When do you expect to have to leave Hawaii?” she asks.
Susan and I are living on borrowed time. The Navy machine is awaiting my transfer papers from the personnel department. For some odd reason they are slow in coming, which pleases me greatly. After my release from the brig, I reported as ordered back to the command. The Executive Officer had been reluctant to have me back around the rest of the men, so he ordered me to go back out the base gate and to pretend I was on leave. I was to report in once a week to check on my orders and occasionally to pick up a paycheck. I thought the transfer process would take two weeks, but three months had passed. Three glorious months of surfing, hiking with Susan and Puu and being totally in love in an island paradise. Watching Puu running and barking among the swaying bamboo with Susan’s arms around my waist I am so happy and so afraid that I will lose her when my orders come. “I don’t know why they haven’t arrived already,” I answer.
Susan rubs her head against my shoulder as a strong gust of wind blows through the elephant bamboo forest, the answering sound is magnificent. The trees thunk and clack loudly. She burrows her face into the hollow of my neck. I feel her warm breath caressing my skin as she says in a soft voice that has lodged in my mind ever since, “Steve, I love you so much, please don’t ever let me go.”
A tropical rain comes down abruptly in heavy sheets.
* * *
Standing before the cell’s window, I feel the bite of the icy wind blowing through the broken panes as a sudden chill runs through my body causing me to shudder. The rain is splashing against the window like an ocean of tears. Thick drops run in rivulets down the panes to puddle on the sill, and abruptly I am crying—not crying in self-pity, but rather for the wonderful happiness, I have known and so treasure. The images are a bandage that caresses my battered soul. Turning away from the window, I see the lightning strobe against the cell wall, it paints abrupt shadows of the jail bars and a splash of tears, and then as the rain thunders down harder, it dampens the dim glow from the security lights, the cell fades to darkness.
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