Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 6)

Jack is serving life without parole, and has terminal cancer. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread each other’s chapters. Jack is seeking pen pals, so anyone interested please eamil me at for his details.

Hello, my friend. How are you today? Well, I hope. I’ve been under the weather the last few days, but feel much better this evening. I received your two letters today, or should I say, one letter and the closing of your book. I am extremely proud of you, and your accomplishments. I believe you’ve only brushed the surface of what I predict will be an enormous award-packed literary career. Soon your lecture circuit will include presentations on how to be a highly regarded and successful writer, along with those presentations that you give now. The impact you have on those around you is everlasting, just look at how you impacted all of us here in purgatory. But remember, once you further gain fame and fortune, always be true to yourself. I know it’s a tired old cliché, but no one else will have your best interest in heart more so than you.

I’m glad that the howl of the wolves doesn’t trigger a large enough desire in you to rejoin the pack. After all of these years, I too still hear that siren’s song, but can proudly say that I’ve been able to stay the course. Even now with my medical problems making the threat of disciplinary actions untenable, I am still not swayed. I guess there really isn’t a viable reason for me not to falter, other than my own personal belief system, which, it just so happens, is the only thing that DOC can’t take away from me, and it is the only thing that I refuse to relinquish.

Quick update on my medical situation. I had a bad reaction to the chemo during my last session and had to be hospitalised for a short period of time. Right after that I developed the shingles, which was not fun at all. I went back to the oncologist on Aug 6th, luckily for me the oncology clinic just installed a CT scanner in July, so the clinic went ahead and put their new CT scanner through its paces, and drew all the necessary blood for the cancer work also. I’ll be going back sometime in the near future for the outcome of these tests. I am hopeful for remission, but understand the issues at hand, that it is only a temporary respite. This type of cancer can’t be cured, but can be knocked down for a while. It’s mine, I own it, so I might as well be comfortable with it. I’m at a relatively good place now mentally. The stoic in me accepts what has occurred and what will occur. My biggest concern is the loss of what little control I have over my life. I know that eventually I will go down the same path as Two Tonys. I just hope to maintain control until then. Anyway, wish me luck and keep me in mind for the upcoming announcement.

I do miss writing, whether it be awkward attempts at creating from whole cloth or writing to those few people I stay in touch with. I haven’t done nearly enough of either in the past few years. I want to reconnect with my friends and family while I still can. Besides, it’s my fault if they don’t want to write since I haven’t been exactly burning up the postal system with my missives. I’m even willing to take on new responsibilities, such as new pen pals, so if you know of anyone wanting to write a well-used (read:worn out) hack please pass along my name and number.

You asked about sending me books. My tastes are rather plebeian. I’m not trying to expand my mind as much as I once did. Anything dealing with English, Scottish or American history or historical fiction is fine by me. Truthfully, anything would be fine by me, although I’m not real keen on you spending money on me. I’m quite sure you can find more worthwhile things to indulge in.

Well, my friend, it’s late and I’m tired. We didn’t work last week or today, so you would think I would be well rested. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. The weather here has been typical for this time of year, 110 degrees, and high humidity. The monsoon keeps just to the south of us, so we don’t get much relief. I think that part of my problem stems from the weather. Hopefully, we’ll only have another month or so fo this high heat, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the humidity will dissipate in the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to a substantial weather improvement.

Take care of yourself. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,


Shaun Attwood   


Anonymous said...

Hi, Jack. It's been about 10 days between the time that Shaun posted your most recent letter on his blog and me writing this comment. Though that's such a huge gap of time, I hope that Shaun will pass along this comment to you. It was good to read that you were feeling in better spirits in your letter to Shaun. I agree with your thinking that you would like to start writing your family and friends again. It's just my opinion, but I think that your family and friends would very much like to hear from you at this crucial time. Please don't, "let them down", Jack. However much time you have left, whether it is one day or 30 years left, try to make the most of it. I believe that it's never too late to change the past. We cannot change the bad events in our past, but we can change how we look at those bad events. I've never really thought about what a person is to think when a doctor tells the person that he/she has a limited time left to live. So sometimes, it's a little scary thinking that I might say the wrong things to someone in such a situation. But, I'll try anyway. Personally, I do believe in some sort of an, "afterlife". I believe that the soul exists in some way, shape, or form after the body has died. I believe that God, and God alone knows everything that a man has gone through in his life. We cannot choose when we will die, but we can choose how we will meet our deaths. If writing is something that brings you peace, Jack, than I hope that you will keep it up. I am sometimes left thinking about the difference between what people who are incarcerated dream of, and what people on "the outside" dream of...I noticed that you wouldn't mind having pen-pals. I'm looking into whether I can write you, but I cannot make any promises at this time. Still, I hope that you will try your best to take care of yourself, and I look forward to your next letter on Shaun's blog. I leave you now with the beginning lines of, "The Serenity Prayer": "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Bye for now, Jack.

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