pretty nice—most of the women are here on drug-related issues—although for a long time, nobody would speak to me. But I’ve tried to be on my best behavior and put my best foot forward, always being pleasant and helpful, and now almost everyone has more or less come around.
One woman, in here because she stabbed her best friend with a pair of scissors over an argument about which TV show to watch—even told me she thinks I have a pretty smile. I think she might have a crush on me, although I’ve done nothing to encourage her in that regard. There are still a few women, mothers of small children mostly, who won’t have anything to do with me, but I’m working on them, and I feel their resistance beginning to wane.
This might sound strange, and I hope you won’t take it the wrong way, but you’ve always been kind of a role model for me. I want you to know how very much I admire you. Before I was sent to prison, I used to read your column every week. My favorite columns were the ones you wrote about the time an ex-boyfriend talked you into going bungee jumping—I could really relate, having been talked into a few ill-advised outings myself—and about the problems you had deciding what to wear when your daughter’s father got married and you didn’t want to upstage the bride. I thought that was so funny. But touching, too, the way you took everyone’s feelings into account.
I even wrote several letters to your website, and you were kind enough to respond. You probably don’t remember. And there’s no reason you should. I wrote them about three years ago, just after you started doing your column. This was way before anything bad happened, and I didn’t sign my real name, so you wouldn’t have had any reason to connect me to that monster you wrote about later. The Beastly Baby-Sitter, you called me. I felt really awful about that—still do—since I hate that you have such negative feelings about me. I want you to like me. Your opinion is very important to me.
Anyway, the first time I wrote you, it was about my older sister, Pamela, who’s always been a real pain in the you-know-where. I’d borrowed an old blouse of hers—I swear I didn’t know it was her favorite—and my boyfriend accidentally spilled some red wine on it. This boyfriend’s name was Gary. (You may remember him—he testified against me in court.) When we tried to get the stain out with water, we only made it worse. (I didn’t realize the blouse was silk, and that it had to be dry-cleaned.) Anyway, Pam has this really bad temper—so does my whole family—and I was afraid to tell her I’d ruined her blouse, so, coward that I am, I threw it in the garbage. But then I felt so guilty, ’cause she was crying and tearing up the house looking for it. So, I wrote to you, asking for your advice. You told me that you weren’t an advice columnist, but in your opinion, I should tell her the truth and offer to reimburse her for the blouse. I thought that was very good advice, and I often wish I’d taken it. But I just couldn’t. I was too afraid of her temper. (Plus I didn’t have the money.)
The second time I wrote you I was having problems with Gary. I told you he was very controlling, and trying to get me to do things I was real uncomfortable about doing, but that I was afraid of losing him if I didn’t go along. Again, you made it very clear you weren’t an advice columnist, but that, in your opinion, I shouldn’t do anything that made me uncomfortable, and that I should worry less about losing him and more about losing myself. Those words touched me very deeply, even if I didn’t heed them.
Please don’t think there was anything wrong with your advice just because I wasn’t strong or wise enough to take it. You were absolutely right. I did end up losing myself. That’s how I found myself in this awful mess.
I want you to know I never planned for any of this to happen. I never intended to hurt anyone. I still can’t believe I
Stephen King, Stewart O’Nan, Craig Wasson