"See you later, then." She turned, walking away like a Grecian goddess in her nudity, and joined the other five cavorting in the pool.
G. G. Quartermain had remained seated, his chair pushed back from the dinner table. He sipped his brandy, eying Heyward shrewdly. "I'm not much for swimming either. Though once in a while, if he's sure he's among friends, it's good for a man to let himself go."
"I suppose I should concede that. And I certainly do feel among friends." Heyward sank down into his chair again; removing his glasses, he began to polish them. He had control of himself now. The instant of mad weakness was behind him. He went on, "The problem is, of course: one occasionally goes slightly further than intended. However, if one maintains over-all control, that's really the important thing." Big George yawned.
While they talked, the others, by this time out of the water, were toweling themselves and slipping on robes from a pile beside the pool.
Two hours or so later, as she had the night before, Avril escorted Roscoe Heyward to his bedroom doorway. At first, downstairs he had decided to insist that she not accompany him, then changed his mind, confident of his reasserted strength of will and positive now he would not succumb to wild, erotic impulses. He even felt assured enough to say cheerfully, "Good night, young lady. And, yes, before you tell me, I know your intercom number is seven, but I assure you there is nothing that I'll need."
Avril had looked at him with an enigmatic half smile, then turned away. He immediately closed and locked the bedroom door, afterward humming softly to himself as he prepared for bed. But, in bed, sleep eluded him.
He lay awake for nearly an hour, the bedclothes thrown back, the bedding soft beneath him. Through an open window he could hear a drowsy hum of insects and, distantly, the sound of breakers on the shore.
Despite his best intentions, the focus of his thoughts was Avril
Avril… as he had seen and touched her… breathtakingly beauteous, naked and desirable. Instinctively he moved his fingers, reliving the sensation of those full, firm breasts, their nipples extended, as he had cupped them in his hands.
And all the while his body… striving, burgeoning… made mock of his intended righteousness.
He tried to move his thoughts away to banking affairs, to the Supranational loan, to the directorship which G. G. Quartermain had promised. But thoughts of Avril returned, stronger than ever, impossible to eclipse. He remembered her legs, her thighs, her lips, her soft smile, her warmth and perfume. .. her availability.
He got up and began pacing, seeking to redirect his energy elsewhere. It would not be redirected.
Stopping at the window) he observed that a bright three-quarter moon had risen. It bathed the garden, beaches, and the sea in white ethereal light. Watching, a longf-orgotten phrase returned to him: The night was made for loving… by the moon.
He paced again, then returned to the window, standing there, erect.
Twice he made a move toward the bedside table with its intercom. Twice, resolve and sternness turned him back.
The third time he did not turn back. Grasping the instrument in his hand, he groaned a mixture of anguish, self-reproach, heady excitement, heavenly anticipation. Decisively and firmly, he pressed button number seven.
Nothing in Miles Eastin's experience or imagination, before entering Drummonburg Penitentiary, had prepared him for the merciless, degrading hell of prison.
It was now six months since his exposure as an embezzler, and four months since his trial and sentencing.
In rare moments, when his objectivity prevailed over physical misery and mental anguish, Miles Eastin reasoned that if society had sought to impose savage, barbaric vengeance on someone like himself, it had succeeded far beyond the knowing of any who had not endured, themselves, the brutish purgatory of prison. And if the object of such punishment, he further reasoned, was to push a human being out of his humanity, and make of him an animal of lowest Instincts, then the prison system was the way to do it.
What prison did not do, and never would Miles Eastin told himself was make a man a better member of society than when he entered it. Given any time at all, prison could only degrade and worsen him; could only increase his hatred of "the system" which had sent him there; could only reduce the possibility of his becoming, ever, a useful, law-abiding citizen. And the longer his sentence, the less likelihood there was of any moral salvage.
Thus, most of all, it was time which eroded and eventually destroyed any potential for reform which a prisoner might have when he arrived.
Even if an individual hung on to some shards of moral values, like a drowning swimmer to a life presenter, it was because of forces within himself, and not because of prison but despite it.
Miles was striving to hang on, straining to retain some semblance of the best of what he had been before, trying not to become totally brutalized, entirely unfeeling, utterly despairing, savagely embittered. It was so easy to slip into a garment of all four, a hair shirt which a man would wear forever. Most prisoners did. They were those either brutalized before they came here and made worse since, or others whom time in prison had worn down; time and the cold-hearted inhumanity of a citizenry outside, indifferent to what horrors were perpetrated or decencies neglected all in society's name behind these walls.
In Miles's favor, and in his mind while he clung on, was one dominant possibility. He had been sentenced to two years. It made him eligible for parole in four more months.
The contingency that he might not receive parole was one he did not dare consider. The implications were too awful. He did not believe he could go through two years of prison and fail to emerge totally, irreparably, debased in brain and body.
Hold on! he told himself each day and in the nights Hold on for the hope, the deliverance, of parole!
At first, after arrest and detention while awaiting trial, he had thought that being locked into a cage would send him mad. He remembered reading once that freedom, until lost, was seldom valued. And it was true that no one realized how much their physical freedom of movement meant even going from one room to another or briefly out of doors until such choices were denied them totally.
Just the same, compared with conditions in this penitentiary, the pre-trial period was a luxury.
The cage at Drummonburg in which he was confined was a six-by eight foot cell, part of a four-tiered, X shaped cell house. When the prison was built more than half a century ago, each cell was intended for one person; today, because of prison overpopulation, most cells, including Miles's, housed four. On most days prisoners were locked into the tiny spaces for eighteen hours out of twenty-four.
Soon after Miles had come here, and because of trouble elsewhere in the prison, they had remained locked in "lock-in, feed-in," the authorities called it for seventeen whole days and nights. After the first week, the desperate cries of twelve hundred near-demented men made one more agony piled upon the others.
The cell to which Miles Eastin was allotted had four bunks clamped to walls, one sink and a single, seatless toilet which all four inmates shared. Because water pressure through ancient, corroded pipes was poor, water supply cold only to the sink was usually a trickle; occasionally it stopped entirely. For the same reason, the toilet often wouldn't flush It was bad enough to be confined in the same dose quarters where four men defecated with a total lack of privacy, but staying with the stench long after, while waiting for sufficient water to remove it, was a disgusting, stomach-heaving horror.
Toilet paper and soap, even when used sparingly, were never enough.
A brief shower was allowed once weekly; in between showers, bodies grew rancid, adding to close quarters misery.
It was in the showers, during his second week in prison, that Miles was gang raped. Bad as other experiences were, this had been the worst.
He had become aware, soon after his arrival, that other prisoners were attracted to him sexually. His good looks and youthfulness, he soon found out, were to be a liability. Marching to meals or at exercise in the yard, the more aggressive homosexuals managed to crowd around and rub against him. Some reached out to fondle him; others, from a distance, pursed their lips and blew him kisses. The first he squirmed away from, the second he ignored, but as both became more difficult his nervousness, then fear, increased. It became plain that inmates not involved would never help him. He sensed that guards who looked his way knew what was happening. They merely seemed amused.
Though the inmate population was predominantly black, the approaches came equally from blacks and whites.