by David Koon
When he was in prison, Jessie Misskelley drank his coffee from a mug made of cheap white plastic, and when he got out of prison, he brought that mug home with him to West Memphis, Arkansas. He brought a bag of prison coffee, too, freeze-dried crystals packaged by an off-brand supply company, which is not particularly good, but after eighteen years, Jessie had gotten used to the taste. He also brought his prison pants, dull white with an elastic waistband. He'd gotten used to those, too.
Jessie had gotten used to prison. He got used to working on the hoe squad, chopping weeds from the prison fields under the southern sun, and then he got used to working in the laundry, cleaning under-shorts and shirts and other pairs of dull white pants. He got used to calling his dad, Big Jessie, every Friday to talk about whatever came to mind that week. It's not that Jessie ever came to like prison, but incarceration is an endless routine, and Jessie is comfortable with routine. A few weeks after he was released, he told a friend that it was the one thing maybe he missed about prison, the routine.