Sometimes it takes longer to get into prison. It’s where I work and I do it every day, so I should know by now. I’ve been doing it for nine years now. Getting into prison, I mean. I just knock on the gate and I’m in. It’s not like that for everybody.

Maybe I should post a pic of the gate, it’s very impressive. Built in 1896, the gate is of yellow striated sandstone and very ornate. It’s got a lion’s head up there. The lion is holding a big brass key in his mouth. It’s a symbol of Royalty, that lion. The story is that if any inmate can get the key from the lion’s mouth he gets a pardon from the Queen. Pity the lion is on the outside of the gate.

This morning I am waiting to get in. There is some delay inside and other staff members arrive. One of the clinic nurses says to me, “I’m enjoying reading your book.”
“Really?” I say. “Which one?”
“The Insiders one. Short stories. With the red cover.”
“Oh, yeah. Glad you like it. Where did you get it from?” A few places around town stock it and I like the idea that they are moving them out.
“Down at the methadone centre. I work there some days.”
“What was it doing down there?” I’m a bit sideways at this point.
“Somebody must have left it there,” she says. “It was in the staff room.”

A thought runs quickly through my mind. I take an inner look to check it. “That means no royalties.” The thought is quick to appear. “Must work on that one day,” I say to myself. I get back to the conversation.

“And where are you up to?” I ask.
“I’m sitting in the café with Alice,” she says. A big smile crosses her face.

Another thought, just as quick. “Fantastic. She’s identified with the character. Wants to be there.”

“That was a fun story to write,” I say. “I hope you like where it takes you when all the stuff about coffee turns to what happens with the absinthe.”

The gate opens and an escort truck drives out. It’s full of inmates, insiders themselves, going elsewhere. None of them can see the lion above the gate. Or the key. Perhaps some of them think about it. Probably not.

Royalty. Royalties. Some people don’t get it.


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3 Responses to “Royalties”

  1. max Says:

    This is really lovely.

    And you are much more polite than I am. I do not think I could be quite that nice about the whole “oh I found it in a methadone center” sitch.

  2. scribblygum Says:

    Hi Max,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    In my work I hang around with murderers, rapists, all the guys my Mum wouldn’t let me hang around with when I was growing up. Kind of used to anything in that environment. 🙂

    Hope the strike thing turns out OK. We even get to hear a bit about it over here in Oz.

  3. jane Says:

    Have I told you that I love the way you write ?
    I should have, so if I haven’t, consider yourself told 🙂

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