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The Short Form

“Outside Work Detail”

Scott Wolven


I doubt the old Vermonters even saw a human when they turned back to look at me, and certainly, after the first couple of years, I began to feel less and less like someone who'd once lived down the road from them and got drunk an did something stupid. I felt like what their eyes said I was, someone who needed to be in a tiny concrete room behind high fences and armed guards and locked down but good, for as long as the locks held and longer if possible. It was probably only procedure that I was transferred to The Farm, nothing more. In their hearts, no one on that parole board wanted me to step closer to the door–one step closer to being in a grocery store in their town, one step closer to walking down Main Street.

I answered the questions they asked of me, that I planned to go live with my sister Elizabeth in Essex when I was released, and I produced an old letter from her, giving me permission to live at her house and inviting the parole board to call her if they had any questions. She had stopped visiting me after three years, and I didn't blame her. She still wrote occasionally–wrote when my grandmother died–and I was still planning on living at Elizabeth's house when this was over and that was all I could ask of anybody.

We read it in Controlled Burn.