Ch. 14: Letter #2. Dear Alice. July 21, 2007.

Ch. 14: Letter #2. Dear Alice. July 21, 2007.

A Chapter by Gee Roughin

Dear Alice,


A little bit strange to write to the dead, but as you know I have been dead more years than I was alive. Like talking to myself, but I have had no one but myself to talk to for so long it seems almost as if it makes no difference. Except that I wish you were still out there, doing your courageous doing, seeing with your courageous eyes, sewing truth into a sea of lies.


Sam told me some years ago you were officially declared dead. He published a tribute to your life in one of his newsletters; I wish you could have known, in your last lonely time, that you were not alone. That you are not forgotten. I feel almost as if you followed me to the ends of the earth--I feel so torn by this--as if on the one hand I am somehow responsible through my senseless, unchosen life for your calling the worst upon your shoulders. But I also know we give each other strength, through our stubborness and defiant pain, and many times when I thought of you I felt somehow that it was all possible.


I also saw your mother. After all these years of silence, and certainly of deep, brooding anger, she came to pay her respects, to you, to me, to Sam; to apologize for some imagined culpability for my condition. And to apologize, vicariously, to you. I tried to tell her, I hope I was able to tell her that we all share this. That you had the strength you needed in your life. That she should be proud of you, and not give in to useless guilt. That we carry our burdens alone, but if we are willing to do something together, we can do more than we know or imagine. That there are more of us than of them. That we have the power to take this planet somewhere closer to sanity and love. That you are the proof.


She's the one who told me how the State Department was reporting your death. They won't say what country you were held in. They can't deliver proof of your passing. They have no information regarding the last location you were held in. They confirm that you were arrested by official police forces of the host country and not kidnapped or held for ransom. They cannot give any indication of the conditions of your holding. They claim that you were arrested for illegal activity and that they have received clear evidence regarding your death of natural causes inside the prison. The report and all the other related documents are classified.


I shudder to think what may have been your body in your last months of life. Alice, I have been saying for years that solitary confinement is torture, and can't be placed on some theoretical or scientific scale of clean and dirty forms. But you know how much painstaking research I've done on all the ingenious methods invented by man to manipulate nerves and brain and break the human spirit. I am sure your spirit can never be broken, but if there was a moment in my years of godlessness that I resorted to praying an unseen being with powers beyond those of our fragile skeletons, it was when contemplating your case. May your God preserve your soul.


Of course if you were in contact with any rebel groups, this was enough for "legitimate" arrest. And the secrecy surrounding your death stinks to high heaven. But none of this is new.


Your mother said she had joined a support group for parents of gay children. I laughed outloud! After all these years... anyway, if it helps her work through something, why not. She looked for similar groups dealing with the family members of disappeared, imprisoned or killed-in-action journalists, but couldn't really relate to the ones she found. I told her she should start her own, in defense of independent journalism, right-to-information and international protections for members of the press. I told her she should focus on the local journalists in high-risk areas, who always bear the brunt of it, ignored or fed-off of by the big names. Paid nothing and dying every day. A few months ago she sent me the first newsletter. It was stunning. So our work goes on, without us.

I guess this is what I'm supposed to say, what I meant to say in this letter. You followed me to the cell, now I'm following you to the earth. Thank you for being you all these years. I've missed you for forever. The goodbye is long overdue, but now that I am going, our friendship dies with breath and memory. May we rest in peace, and may they fight in strength.
Love forever, my beautiful friend,


© 2011 Gee Roughin

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Added on November 6, 2011
Last Updated on November 6, 2011
Tags: fear, paranoia, America, 80s, prison, suicide, paranoid wasp


Gee Roughin
Gee Roughin

Cairo, Egypt

Before spending seven years writing Paranoid Wasp, I studied literature at Wheaton College (IL), Yale University and the University of Chicago. I moved to Paris in 1999. In addition to ten years in Fr.. more..