5 Jul


solitary prisoner photo: The Prisoner 3 ThePrisoner3.jpg  What made Gregor Dimwit commit suicide was the way the Reverend Benjamin Conviction described Heaven during a face-to-face meeting in his isolation cell in Hangem Jail..

“Gregor,” he said in his suave and educated greasy voice, “Heaven is where we meet again, in a wonderful afterlife, the loved ones who have gone before us.”

Gregor’s mother had gone before him. She’d been gone this past thirty years and he had missed her every day of them. He had missed the way she had tucked him into bed at night, sometimes making the handcuffs chink to sound like ice falling into a glass of whiskey. He had missed the little words she had whispered to him as sleep stole over him, the “I’ll kill you and then you’ll be dead before me, little Gregor,” that she had crooned into his ears. He had even missed the slight aroma of cod or haddock that rose from her when she leaned over him and stroked his head and other parts whilst cackling about sin.

In fact, there was nothing about his mother that he didn’t miss. And when The Reverend Benjamin Conviction told him, in no uncertain terms, that Heaven was the place where we were sure to meet those loved ones who had gone before us, he was determined to go there.

“But,” advised the good Reverend, “you must understand this. You only go to Heaven if you live a good life, a believing life, a life dedicated to holiness.”

“And if I do that I’ll meet my mother again, and talk to her and walk with her…?” he asked, grinning inwardly.

The Reverend Benjamin Conviction nodded. “That’s the case: it suggests it in the good book,” he averred. “There can be no better way of celebrating the fact that we’ve lived a good life than being re-united with the angels in our lives – for they will be angels, you know, they will have wings and be sitting at the feet of our Lord and singing wonderful songs of adoration. Personally, I can’t wait.”

“Then from henceforth I will live a good life,” said Gregor proudly. “I will cast away the arsenal of death I have accumulated in my cell. I will throw aside all doubts and evil thoughts, I will stop planning the execution of my enemies and I will encourage all of the men and women I meet to pray daily and love their Lord. That’s what I’ll do. And that way the Lord will look down on all my good works and will walk with me into Heaven when my hour is up, proud to be my friend.”

“You do all those things and there will certainly be psalms sung in Heaven,” murmured the Reverend Benjamin Conviction, unconvinced.

But Gregor was as good as his word. He called the prison warders to him and confessed to the possession of various nasty things, half-rusted blades, sharp and dangerous objects, all the things he had squirrelled away in the hope that one day he would use them to cause mayhem and bloodshed amongst his enemies, most of whom were prison warders anyway. And all but one weapon were taken away by astonished guards, but as a token he kept a single sharp blade, hidden where none would find it.

He cleansed himself properly in the shower and demanded circumcision as proof of his conversion. And when the prison doctor agreed to his demand he refused any kind of pain relief. He wanted to go to Heaven, he said, no longer imperfect, ready to join an army of angels at the feet of the Almighty.

Then he started praying. Being the solitary occupant of a cell intended for dangerous criminals he never met other inmates, but that didn’t matter. He had a good voice, and used it. He invented prayers of his own, deeply-felt invocations to the Heavenly host to look with benevolence upon him, and sang them in a rich baritone so that everyone anywhere near couldn’t help but hear him. And such was his persistence and the richness of his baritone and the hypnotic qualities of his rhymes that eventually other inmates in other cells learned his prayers as a consequence of their repetition, and joined in. “E” wing of Hangem maximum security prison became a veritable choir, and rich voices were raised to the Heavens in melodious overtures.

The warders heard, the bored prison officers whose only real job was checking for escapees by watching flickering screens in their office, and Gregor’s prayers ate into their minds as well, and they joined in. And at the end of their shifts they drove their cars home with Gregor’s prayers still ringing in their minds so that, when greeted by comely wives with wonderful bosoms they opened their mouths and out came Gregor’s invocations to Heaven, melodious and beautiful.

Months later the Reverend Benjamin Conviction returned to see Benjamin and he was astounded by the things he heard. The entire of Hangem Jail was awash with a series of melodies that had their origin with the mass murderer Gregor Dimwit in his cell. The haul of weapons that had been gathered since his decision to live a good and holy life was immense and left the prison governor shaking his head in disbelief.

“You have surely become one of the Lord’s angels,” murmured Benjamin Conviction, “and when you are called from this life you will surely go to Heaven to meet your ancestors in love and harmony…”

“I will?” beamed Gregor.

The Reverend nodded, smiling.

Which is why, that night when the world was dark and not even the moon looked down, Gregor Dimwit took his own life using a rope with which he planned to hang himself, cunningly made over the months from his bedding, and clutching in one clenched fist the blade with which, when he reached Paradise, he intended to put an end to that bloody mother of his and her foul, destructive, hateful perversions once and for all.

© Peter Rogerson 05.07.15


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