‘How can you be so obtuse?‘ Andy said, so low that Chester could barely hear. But he heard the warden just fine.
‘What? What did you call me?‘
‘Obtuse? Andy cried. ‘Is it deliberate?‘
‘Dufresne, you‘ve taken five minutes of my time - no, seven - and I have a very busy schedule today. So I believe we‘ll just declare this little meeting closed and -‘
‘The country club will have ail the old time-cards, don‘t you realize that?‘ Andy shouted.They‘ll have tax-forms and W-2s and unemployment compensation forms, all with his name on them! There will be employees there now that were there then, maybe Briggs himself! It‘s been fifteen years, not forever! They‘ll remember him! They will remember Blotch! If I‘ve got Tommy to testify to what Blatch told him, and Briggs to testify that Blatch was there, actually working at the country club, I can get a new trial! I can -‘Guard! Guardl Take this man away!‘
‘What‘s the matter with you?‘ Andy said, and Chester told me he was very nearly screaming by then. ‘It‘s my life, my chance to get out, don‘t you see that? And you won‘t make a single long-distance call to at least verify Tommy‘s story? Listen, I‘ll pay for the call! I‘ll pay for -‘
Then there was a sound of thrashing as the guards grabbed him and started to drag him out‘Solitary,‘ Warden Norton said dryly. He was probably - gering his thirty-year pin as he said it ‘Bread and water.‘
And so they dragged Andy away, totally out of control now, still screaming at the warden; Chester said you could hear him even after the door was shut: ‘It‘s my life! It‘s my life, don‘t you understand it‘s my life?‘
Twenty days on the grain and drain train for Andy down there in solitary. It was his second jolt in solitary, and his dust-up with Norton was his first real black mark since he had joined our happy little family.
I‘ll tell you a little bit about Shawshank‘s solitary while we‘re on the subject It‘s something of a throwback to those hardy pioneer days of the early-to-mid-1700s in Maine. In ..those days no one wasted much time with such things as penalogy‘ and‘rehabilitation‘ and ‘selective perception‘. In ,those days, you were taken care of in terms of absolute black and white. You were either guilty or innocent. If you were guilty, you were either hung or put in gaol. And if you were sentenced to gaol, you did not go to an institution. No, you dug your own gaol with a spade provided to you by the Province of Maine. You dug it as wide and as deep as you could during the period between sunup and sundown. Then ,they gave you a couple of skins and a bucket, and down you went Once
down, the gaoler would bar the top of your hole, -.row down some grain or maybe a piece of maggoty meat once or twice a week, and maybe there would be a dipperful ; barley soup on Sunday night You pissed in the bucket, and you held up the same bucket for water when the gaoler came around at six in the morning. When it rained, you used lie bucket to bail out your gaol-cell ... unless, that is, you wanted to drown like a rat in a rainbarrel.
No one spent a long time ‘in the hole‘, as it was called; thirty months was an unusually long term, and so far as I‘ve been able to tell, the longest term ever spent from which an inmate actually emerged alive was served by the so-called Durham Boy‘, a fourteen-yearold psychopath who castrated a schoolmate with a piece of rusty metal. He did seven years, but of course he went in young and strong.
You have to remember that for a crime that was more serious than petty theft or blasphemy or forgetting to put a snotrag in your pocket when out of doors on the Sabbath, you were hung. For low crimes such as those just mentioned and for others like them, you‘d do your three or six or nine months in the hole and come out fishbelly white, cringing from the wide-open spaces, your eyes half-blind, your teeth more than likely rocking and rolling in their sockets from the scurvy, your feet crawling with fungus. Jolly old Province of Maine. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.
Shawshank‘s Solitary Wing was nowhere as bad as that... I guess. Things come in three major degrees in the human experience, I think. There‘s good, bad, and terrible. And as you go down into progressive darkness towards terrible, it gets harder and harder to make subdivisions.
To get to Solitary Wing you were led down twenty-three steps to a basement level where the only sound was the drip of water. The only light was supplied by a series of dangling sixty-watt bulbs. The cells were keg-shaped, like those wall-safes rich people sometimes hide behind a picture. Like a safe, the round doorways were hinged, and solid instead of barred. You get ventilation from above, but no light except for your own sixty-watt bulb,which was turned off from a master-switch promptly at eight p.m., an hour before lightsout in the rest of the prison. The wire wasn‘t in a wire mesh cage or anything like that.
The feeling was that if you wanted to exist down there in the dark, you were welcome to it. Not many did ... but after eight, of course, you had no choice. You had a bunk bolted to the wall and a can with no toilet seat. You had three ways to spend your time: sitting,shitting, or sleeping. Big choice. Twenty days could get to seem like a year. Thirty days could seem like two, and forty days like ten. Sometimes you could hear rats in the ventilation system. In a situation like that, subdivisions of terrible tend to get lost.
If anything at all can be said in favour of solitary, it‘s just that you get time to think. Andy had twenty days in which to think while he enjoyed his grain and drain, and when he got out he requested another meeting with the warden. Request denied. Such a meeting, the warden told him, would be ‘counter-productive‘. That‘s another of those phrases you have to master before you can go to work in the prisons and corrections field.
Patiently, Andy renewed his request And renewed it And renewed it He had changed, had Andy Dufresne. Suddenly, as that spring of 1963 bloomed around us, there were lines in his face and sprigs of grey showing in his hair. He had lost that little trace of a smile that always seemed to linger around his mouth. His eyes stared out into space more often, and you get to know that when a man stares that way, he is counting up the years served, the months, the weeks, the days.
He renewed his request and renewed it He was patient He had nothing but time. It got to be summer. In Washington, President Kennedy was promising a fresh assault on poverty and on civil rights inequalities, not knowing he had only half a year to live. In Liverpool, a musical group called The Beatles was emerging as a force to be reckoned with in British music, but I guess that no one Stateside had yet heard of them. The Boston Red Sox, still four years away from what New England folks call The Miracle of ‘67, were languishing in the cellar of the American League. All of those things were going on out in a larger world where people walked free.
Norton saw him near the end of June, and this conversation I heard about from Andy himself some seven years later.
‘If it‘s the money, you don‘t have to worry,‘ Andy told Norton in a low voice. ‘Do you think I‘d talk that up? I‘d be cutting my own throat I‘d be just as indictable as -‘That‘s enough,‘ Norton interrupted. His face was as long and cold as a slate gravestone. He leaned back in his office chair until the back of his head almost touched the sampler reading HIS JUDGMENT COMETH AND THAT RIGHT EARLY.
‘Don‘t you ever mention money to me again,‘ Norton said. ‘Not in this office, not anywhere. Not unless you want to see that library turned back into a storage room and paint-locker again. Do you understand?‘
‘I was trying to set your mind at ease, that‘s all.‘
‘Well now, when I need a sorry son of a bitch like you to set my mind at ease, I‘ll retire. I agreed to this appointment because I got tired of being pestered, Dufresne. I want it to stop. If you want to buy this particular Brooklyn Bridge, that‘s your affair. Don‘t make it mine. I could hear crazy stories like yours twice a week if I wanted to lay myself open to them. Every sinner in this place would be using me for a crying towel. I had more respect for you. But this is the end. The end. Have we got an understanding?‘
‘Yes,‘ Andy said. ‘But I‘ll be hiring a lawyer, you know.‘
‘What in God‘s name for?‘
‘I think we can put it together,‘ Andy said. ‘With Tommy Williams and with my testimony and corroborative testimony from records and employees at the country club, I think we can put it together.‘
‘Tommy Williams is no longer an inmate of this facility.‘
‘He‘s been transferred.‘
At that, Andy fell silent. He was an intelligent man, but it would have taken an extraordinarily stupid man not to smelt deal all over that. Cashman was a minimumsecurity prison far up north in Aroostook County. The inmates pick a lot of potatoes, and that‘s hard work, but they are paid a decent wage for their labour and they can attend classes at CVI, a pretty decent vocational-technical institute, if they so desire. More important to a fellow like Tommy, a fellow with a young wife and a child, Cashman had a furlough programme ... which meant a chance to live like a normal man, at least on the weekends. A chance to build a model plane with his kid, have sex with his wife, maybe go on a picnic.
Norton had almost surely dangled all of that under Tommy‘s nose with only one string attached: not one more word about Elwood Blatch, not now, not ever. Or you‘ll end up doing hard time in Thomaston down there on scenic Route 1 with the real hard guys, and instead of having sex with your wife you‘ll be having it with some old bull queer.
‘But why?‘ Andy said. ‘Why would -‘
‘As a favour to you,‘ Norton said calmly, ‘I checked with Rhode Island. They did have an inmate named Elwood Blatch. He was given what they call a PP - provisional parole, another one of these crazy liberal programmes to put criminals out on the streets. He‘s since disappeared.‘
Andy said: ‘The warden down there ... is he a friend of yours?‘Sam Norton gave Andy a smile as cold as a deacon‘s watchchain. ‘We are acquainted,‘ he said.
‘ Why?‘ Andy repeated. ‘Can‘t you tell me why you did it? You knew I wasn‘t going to talk about ... about anything you might have had going. You knew that. So why?
‘Because people like you make me sick,‘ Norton said deliberately. ‘I like you right where you are, Mr Dufresne, and as long as I am warden here at Shawshank, you are going to be right here. You see, you used to think that you were better than anyone else. I have gotten pretty good at seeing that on a man‘s face. I marked it on yours the first time I walked into the library. It might as well have been written on your forehead in capital letters.That look is gone now, and I like that just fine. It is not just that you are a useful vessel,never think that. It is simply that men like you need to learn humility. Why, you used to walk around that exercise yard as if it was a living room and you were at one of those cocktail parties where the hellhound walk around coveting each others‘ wives and husbands and getting swinishly drunk. But you don‘t walk around that way anymore. And I‘ll be watching to see if you should start to walk that way again. Over a period of years,I‘ll be watching you with great pleasure. Now get the hell out of here.‘
‘Okay. But all the extracurricular activities stop now, Norton. The investment counselling, the scams, the free tax advice. It all stops. Get H & R Block to tell you how to declare your extortionate income.‘
Warden Norton‘s face first went brick-red ... and then all the colour fell out of it ‘You‘re going back into solitary for that Thirty days. Bread and water. Another black mark. And while you‘re in, think about this: if anything that‘s been going on should stop, the library goes. I will make it my personal business to see that it goes back to what it was before you came here. And I will make your life... very hard. Very difficult You‘ll do the hardest time it‘s possible to do. You‘ll lose that one-bunk Hilton down in Cellblock 5, for starters, and you‘ll lose those rocks on the windowsill, and you‘ll lose any protection the guards have given you against the sodomites. You will... lose everything. Clear?‘I guess it was clear enough.
Time continued to pass - the oldest trick in the world, and maybe the only one that really is magic. But Andy Dufresne had changed. He had grown harder. That‘s the only way I can think of to put it He went on doing Warden Norton‘s dirty work and he held onto the library, so outwardly things were about the same. He continued to have his birthday drinks and his New Year‘s Eve drinks; he continued to share out the rest of each bottle. I got him fresh rock-polishing cloths from time to time, and in 1967 I got him a new rockhammer- the one I‘d gotten him nineteen years ago had plumb worn out Nineteen years!
When you say it sudden like that, those three syllables sound like the thud and doublelocking of a tomb door. The rock-hammer, which had been a ten-dollar item back then,went for twenty-two by ‘67. He and I had a sad little grin over that Andy continued to shape and polish the rocks he found in the exercise yard, but the yard was smaller by then; half of what had been there in 1950 had been asphalted over in 1962. Nonetheless, he found enough to keep him occupied, I guess. When he had finished with each rock he would put it carefully on his window ledge, which faced east He told
me he liked to look at them in the sun, the pieces of the planet he had taken up from the dirt and shaped. Schists, quartzes, granites. Funny little mica sculptures that were held together with airplane glue. Various sedimentary conglomerates that were polished and cut in such a way that you could see why Andy called them ‘millennium sandwiches‘ - the layers of different material that had built up over a period of decades and centuries. Andy would give his stones and his rock-sculptures away from time to time in order to make room for new ones. He gave me the greatest number, I think - counting the stones that looked like matched cufflinks, I had five. There was one of the mica sculptures I told you about, carefully crafted to look like a man throwing a javelin, and two of the
sedimentary conglomerates, all the levels showing in smoothly polished cross-section. I‘ve still got them, and I take them down every so often and think about what a man can do, if he has time enough and the will to use it, a drop at a time.
So, on the outside, at least, things were about the same. If Norton had wanted to break Andy as badly as he had said, he would have had to look below the surface to see the change. But if he had seen how different Andy had become, I think Norton would have been well-satisfied with the four years following his clash with Andy.
He had told Andy that Andy walked around the exercise yard as if he were at a cocktail party. That isn‘t the way I would have put it, but I know what he meant. It goes back to what I said about Andy wearing his freedom like an invisible coat, about how he never really developed a prison mentality. His eyes never got that dull look. He never developed the walk that men get when the day is over and they are going back to their cells for another endless night - that flat-footed, hump-shouldered walk. Andy walked with his shoulders squared and his step was always light, as if he was heading home to a good home-cooked meal and a good woman instead of to a tasteless mess of soggy vegetables, lumpy mashed potato, and a slice or two of that fatty, gristly stuff most of the
cons called mystery meat ... that, and a picture of Raquel Welch on the wall.
But for those four years, although he never became exactly like the others, he did become silent, introspective, and brooding. Who could blame him? So maybe it was Warden Norton who was pleased ... at least, for a while.
His dark mood broke around the time of the 1967 World Series. That was the dream year, the year the Red Sox won the pennant instead of placing ninth, as the Las Vegas bookies had predicted. When it happened - when they won the American League pennant - a kind of ebullience engulfed the whole prison. There was a goofy sort of feeling that if the Dead Sox could come to life, then maybe anybody could do it I can‘t explain that feeling now, any more than an ex-Beatlemaniac could explain that madness, I suppose. But it was real. Every radio in the place was tuned to the games as the Red Sox pounded down the stretch. There was gloom when the Sox dropped a pair in Cleveland near the end, and a nearly riotous joy when Rico Petrocelli put away the pop fly that clinched it And then there was the gloom that came when Lonborg was beaten in the seventh game of the Series to end the dream just short of complete fruition. It probably pleased Norton to no end, the son of a bitch. He liked his prison wearing sackcloth and ashes.
But for Andy, there was no tumble back down into gloom. He wasn‘t much of a baseball fan anyway, and maybe that was why. Nevertheless, he seemed to have caught the current of good feeling, and for him it didn‘t peter out again after the last game of the Series. He had taken that invisible coat out of the closet and put it on again.
I remember one bright-gold fall day in very late October, a couple of weeks after the World Series had ended. It must have been a Sunday, because the exercise yard was full of men ‘walking off the week‘ - tossing a Frisbee or two, passing around a football, bartering what they had to barter. Others would be at the long table in the Visitors‘ Hall, under the watchful eyes of the screws, talking with their relatives, smoking cigarettes, telling sincere lies, receiving their picked-over care packages.
Andy was squatting Indian-fashion against the wall, chunking two small rocks together in his hands, his face turned up into the sunlight. It was surprisingly warm, that sun, for a day so late in the year.
‘Hello, Red,‘ he called. ‘Come on and sit a spell.‘I did.
‘You want this?‘ he asked, and handed me one of the two carefully polished ‘millennium sandwiches‘ I just told you about
‘I sure do,‘ I said. ‘It‘s very pretty. Thank you.‘
He shrugged and changed the subject ‘Big anniversary coming up for you next year.‘I nodded. Next year would make me a thirty-year man. Sixty per cent of my life spent in Shawshank Prison.
Think you‘ll ever get out?‘
‘Sure. When I have a long white beard and just about three marbles left rolling around upstairs.‘
He smiled a little and then turned his face up into the sun again, his eyes closed. ‘Feels good
‘I think it always does when you know the damn winter‘s almost right on top of you.‘He nodded, and we were silent for a while.
‘When I get out of here,‘ Andy said finally, ‘I‘m going where it‘s warm all the time.‘ He spoke with such calm assurance you would have thought he had only a month or so left to serve. ‘You know where I‘m goin‘, Red?
‘Zihuatcnejo,‘ he said, rolling the word softly from his tongue like music. ‘Down in Mexico. It‘s a little place maybe twenty miles from Playa Azul and Mexico Highway 37. It‘s a hundred miles north-west of Acapulco on the Pacific Ocean. You know what the Mexicans say about the Pacific?‘
I told him I didn‘t
They say it has no memory. And that‘s where I want to finish out my life, Red. In a warm place that has no memory.‘
He had picked up a handful of pebbles as he spoke; now he tossed them, one by one, and watched them bounce and roll across the baseball diamond‘s dirt infield, which would be under a foot of snow before long.
‘Zihuatanejo. I‘m going to have a little hotel down there. Six cabanas along the beach, and six more set further back, for the highway trade. I‘ll have a guy who‘ll take my guests out charter fishing. There‘ll be a trophy for the guy who catches the biggest marlin of the season, and I‘ll put his picture up in the lobby. It won‘t be a family place. It‘ll be a place for people on their honeymoons ... first or second varieties.‘
‘And where are you going to get the money to buy this fabulous place?‘ I asked. ‘Your stock account?‘
He looked at me and smiled. ‘That‘s not so far wrong,‘ he said. ‘Sometimes you startle me,Red.‘
‘What are you talking about?‘
There are really only two types of men in the world when it comes to bad trouble,‘ Andy said, cupping a match between his hands and lighting a cigarette. ‘Suppose there was a house full of rare paintings and sculptures and fine old antiques, Red? And suppose the guy who owned the house heard that there was a monster of a hurricane headed right at it. One of those two kinds of men just hopes for the best The hurricane will change course, he says to himself. No right-thinking hurricane would ever dare wipe out all these Rembrandts, my two Degas horses, my Jackson Pollocks and my Paul Klees.
Furthermore, God wouldn‘t allow it. And if worst comes to worst, they‘re insured. That‘s one sort of man. The other sort just assumes that hurricane is going to tear right through the middle of his house. If the weather bureau says the hurricane just changed course, this guy assumes it‘ll change back in order to put his house on ground zero again. This second type of guy knows there‘s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you‘re prepared for the worst.‘
I lit a cigarette of my own. ‘Are you saying you prepared for the eventuality?‘
‘Yes. I prepared for the hurricane. I knew how bad it looked. I didn‘t have much time, but in the time I had, I operated. I had a friend - just about the only person who stood by me - who worked for an investment company in Portland. He died about six years ago.‘
‘Yeah.‘ Andy tossed his butt away. ‘Linda and I had about fourteen thousand dollars. Not a big bundle, but hell, we were young. We had our whole lives ahead of us.‘ He grimaced a little, then laughed. ‘When the shit hit the fan, I started lugging my Rembrandts out of the path of the hurricane. I sold my stocks and paid the capital gains tax just like a good little boy. Declared everything. Didn‘t cut any corners.‘
‘Didn‘t they freeze your estate?‘
‘I was charged with murder, Red, not dead! You can‘t freeze the assets of an innocent man - thank God. And it was a while before they even got brave enough to charge me with the crime. Jim - my friend - and I, we had some time. I got hit pretty good, just dumping everything like that. Got my nose skinned. But at the time I had worse things to worry about than a small skinning on the stock market.‘
‘Yeah, I‘d say you did.‘
‘But when I came to Shawshank it was all safe. It‘s still safe. Outside these walls, Red, http://www.tingclass.net/show-5471-5601-1.html