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Dec262011

Dad

He had been a tradesman his working life, now retired after years of fulfilling but physically demanding labor.  He was reasonably fit for a man of 65, dressed in neat grey slacks, ironed work shirt and herring-bone jacket, one of two or three accumulated over 40 years.  He appeared a bit awkward, sitting straight-backed in the hallway's row of plastic chairs, each chair colored the same pale orange.  Most of the others seated nearby were women, some with children, engaged in small talk.  The chairs were actually seats, immovably attached beneath to a metal beam that ran the length of the wall.  

He was in prison, in fact he had been in prison many times over the past decade as his son repeatedly ran afoul of the law and was repeatedly imprisoned for a series of minor but criminal acts.  He had become familiar with prison's many regulations and requirements, from donning all personal belongings into a locker that cost a quarter to lock, to the eversameness pale-orange plastic seats.  It seems as if prison had become second nature, perhaps now after ten years a second home.  

His son was a drug addict, since a teen, and that addiction had led to fights, thefts and other altercations.  The first infractions were dealt with gently, some dismissed, as police and prosecutors, some the man's friends, had hoped his son would learn, reject his life and seek a life like his Dad’s. Each time this approach failed, until it became apparent punishment was necessary.  The man couldn't remember at this point when the turning point was reached, by now imprisonment had become routine, an expected outcome each time his son achieved a brief period of freedom from his most recent prison bid.  The tradesman had raised his son otherwise, to follow perhaps in his footsteps or take another path to a profession.  It was not to be, those paths were long-since closed, not taken.  

A guard appeared nearby, placing her paperwork near a metal detector.  It was time to pass, to make a visit to a son.   

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