Prison don't mean walls or bars or barbed wire. Prison's inside your mind. It's thinking you're almighty, when the truth is you ain't. It's thinking you can make it through life without feeling, when the truth is you can't. Prison's believing your own con like some gospel from on high.
I should know, I've spent most of my life on the inside, a prisoner of my own making. It's a lesson I learned early upon my Daddy's knee. Life gives you two choices, to survive or to feel.
Didn't feel his belt cut and bruise my skin, didn't feel his fists break my bones. Didn't smell my burning flesh as his cigarette left it's mark, or taste my blood as it trickled down my throat. Didn't hear his angry words or my own screams.
A bloody nose, a broken bone, a cigarette burn don't mean nothing because nothing can't feel and nothing can't hurt. That's my Daddy's legacy.
So by the time I did my first stint in Lardner, I knew how to play the game. In fact, I thought I was a master. Found out I had a lot left to learn. I let myself get conned by kind words and a helping hand. Never would have pegged me for a sucker. But I let myself believe that maybe I had found another father figure.
Of course, that illusion left the stage, the first time he forced me to my knees. I had a new teacher, and I learned my lessons well. And believe me, I graduated top of my class, the day he rammed his cock into my ass.
After that, there was nothing left to learn. Nothing left to feel.
I took my Daddy's smile and my teacher's instruction and struck out on my own. I preyed upon the weak because it was easy and it was fun. I wielded charm like a knife, leaving a bloody path in my wake. When you can't feel, there's no such thing as remorse.
Con man, convict, two sides of the same rusty coin. So its wasn't no surprise I ended up back in the slammer. Made no difference to me, one playing field's the same as the other. Didn't expect to run into teacher. It seemed his new pupil needed some remedial instruction. And he figured it fell into my area of expertise. And you were mark just ripe for taking.
Cause there had never been a more ready job, a more compliant dupe. You shrouded yourself in craziness, but I could smell the need coming off you, more potent than your Daddy's cologne. You couldn't hide your unwavering want for welcomed contact. You may have batted my hand away, but it don't mean your dick didn't twitch in response. You took the bait like some hungry fish. I had you where I wanted you and it was almost too easy. But I forgot, if something appears easy, more than likely it ain't. And you took the bait but I'm the one that got snared.
Looking back, I must have loved you from the get go even if I didn't know it at the time. If not, I would have fucked you when you offered. Fucked you and made you love it. Fucked you until you begged for more, and we both know I could have done it.
And then that little scene in the gym would have broken more than your bones, more than your heart. Because saying I love you is one thing, but taking that plunge is quite the other. To yield to that desire, to lay yourself bare and open, changes everything. Then to find it was all a lie, that would have broken you forever cause that's the type of wound you can't recover.
So I saved you that day, it sounds like a cop-out I know. Just another grifter's tool of the trade. And that may be so, but that don't make it any less true.
You weren't meant to play this game, you never learned the rules and I guess you never will. Some days I find that fact endearing, but most of the time it's just goddamn annoying. You get knocked down, and you get back up.
Every. Fucking. Time.
I wish I could teach you that sometimes it's just better to play dead. But you never did. And I doubt you ever will. I think that's gotta be where it all began. You stood up and took on the monster while I just laid there and took it. In the end, the novice beat the master.
By breaking your bones that day, I cracked myself wide open. The dam broke and the truth spewed forth and the current forced me to feel. But you can't pick and chose your emotions like the lottery numbers. So I learned how to love and I learned how to hate. And indifference wasn't an option anymore. In the end, I was the one laid bare.
So tell me now, who's the con man and who's the sucker?
Cause I found my salvation reflected in your eyes. Found my pardon inside penitentiary walls. And I should fucking hate you for that, hate you for finding that small part of my soul that still remained. Hate you for making me feel, both the good and the bad. Hate you for breaking me out of the prison inside my head.
Because I'm a lifer, pal. That ain't never gonna change. And one good deed or one right move can't wash away a lifetime of fuck-ups, cop-outs and bloody ventures. We both know that.
And that's the problem, because knowing it won't, don't stop me from wishing it could. And that may be the harshest prison of all.
Cause the con man got conned, and the liar got burned, but I can still play the game. I can put on the face and pretend it don't matter when it does. I can still scare with a look or seduce with a smile. I can strut with a purpose like the master I was. And no one is the wiser, no one but me. But now doing what I got to do, don't mean I want to.
And here I am just where I was before you appeared. But now I'm choking on nothingness. I'm sinking into the well-known void I once called home. You'd think I'd find comfort there. But the truth is, familiar makes a cold mistress. And my comfort's in a prison of his own.
So tell me, do you believe? Do you believe what I say now? Do you believe I never felt this way before? Do you believe I love you? Do you believe we'll meet again? Do you believe?
Because Christ, I want to. And that just might be the greatest con of all.