Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Comfort and Resistance by Borislav Pekic

In 1948 Borislav Pekić was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for his activity in the Union of Democratic Youth of Yugoslavia. He served five years before being pardoned. He describes his process of political maturing in the three-volume work ‘The Years the Locusts Devoured’[*], from which the following extract is taken.

With a thrill I read The Colditz Story[1], about a German full-security prison during Second World War from which it was impossible to escape, and yet people regularly did so; French prisoners longing to go home, the English for the sport of it, and then there were those, of course, still eager for the front. I have watched movies on spectacular escapes, particular escapes from German camps, which invariably succeed with tangible aid of patriotic, caricaturing the myth of the meticulous German national character[2]. I have learned of real escapes. From the Ile du Diable (French Guiana), from Boer, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Soviet concentration camps[3],, from jails of all shapes and sizes: American Alcatraz to the Parisian Sante. I have listened to tales of Yugoslav prisoners' escape, and I once personally assisted, when a friend, M., in May of 1949 hopped a wall before his trial during the exercise session in the prison yard at the Zemun detention centre with the help of a garden rake, and went off to the nearby cinema, only to return, at his parents’ prompting, to serve his eighteen-year sentence. I have, therefore, become acquainted with many modes and motives for escape, with all the forms of resistance one can muster in jail – of which a successful escape is always the best escape – without adding my personal experience to that list…

Of all the attempts at escaping from prison, I was most deeply impressed by the famous tunnel dug by the Count of Monte Cristo[4]; for years he worked on it only to have it take him to the cell of another prisoner whose sentence was even longer than his. Remembrance of this human-destiny-like tunnel has inspired me to this memoir in which there will be no mention of something that did happen but rather what did not, and the reason why.

In The Gulag Archipelago, Solzhenitsyn writes: “At what exact point, then, should one resist? When one’s belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one’s home[5].

The list of questions could continue. On the way to jail? Outdoors, before they take you in? At the registration desk before they enter your name? When they first raise their voice or a fist at you? When they first tell you the lie you will be required to swear to in court as the truth? Or only later, after a few years, when you can no longer bear it?

“Arrest consists of a series of incidental irrelevances, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about any one of them individually – especially at a time when the thoughts of the person arrested are wrapped tightly about the big question: ‘What for?’ – and yet all these incidental irrelevancies taken together implacably constitute the arrest.”[6]

It is arguable whether or not all these are truly incidental, although indeed, they do not matter – in proportion to what will happen to you later on – but it is true that, incidental or deliberate, softening you at the beginning of the interrogation procedure, they do indeed constitute the arrest.

If, on the other hand, one considers escape to be the most effectual, and not merely effective, sort of resistance, possible at any phase of prison life, the opportunities for it decrease in proportion to one’s proximity to jail. It is obvious easier to brake away while still at one’s house or on the way to the police station than it is from inside the station. Later the chances increase again while serving the prison term – during transport, forced labor off prison grounds, medical treatment in civilian hospital, etc. (There are cases where prisoners have intentionally committed another crime while in jail in order to secure a new trial that might facilitate escape.) The chances for escape during a prison term resemble a sinusoid, a curve, the base of which designates the greatest, and the peaks the least likelihood of flight.

The actual act of escaping will depend in equal measure or perhaps even more the sinusoid representing one’s will to escape. When these two overlap, one flees. By some strange circumstance, which when considered from the psychological point of view is not so strange, the two sinusoids rarely coincide, making a graph on which the best chances for escape overlap with the least will to do so, while the worst likelihood inevitably overlaps with the greatest will. When they arrest us, regardless of animal instinct, one’s will to run is either distracted by other things or suffers from an ignorance of what is to come, but the opportunities here are certainly far greater than they will be later on. When in prison, we grasp what we are in for and the will to escape is ferocious but the chances have, generally, evaporated or are coupled with the risk so great that they are no longer worth it. By the time chances do arise during the prison term, the will is usually gone.

From this one could conclude that I spent a good deal of my time in prison plotting my escape. But I never, never once, so much as considered it. Least of all on the night of my arrest.

For resistance, against one’s will, physical readiness, boldness, agility and skill, are advantages which have been lacking, to a notable degree, in me. From the perspective of my parents’ advice that I should do more gymnastics was appropriate. There are also two essential givens: the chance or the weapon. I say “or” because the presence of one excludes the need for the other. Either you have the chance witch makes a weapon unnecessary, or you have the weapon and can create the chance.

Though I had neither one nor the other (a chance at hand or weapon in hand), this explains nothing. For where there is a will, it waits not for a chance but forges its own. In the most spectacular of escapes – as I have learned from books and movies – the chance is created, one finds a weapon and slips off, leaving behind the requisite number of corpses, the last of which might easily be one’s own.

Among the most remarkable of escape stories is one I heard while in jail. Two brothers shared counter-revolutionary convictions and a striking similarity. The only difference was that the first was innocent, while the other was guilty. Their fraternal pact was that should the police come to arrest the guilty one, the innocent twin would claim to be the other, allowing the guilty one to escape. (They hadn’t considered what action to undertake in case the police came for the innocent brother. They weren’t Russians). And so it happened. The police came carted off the innocent one and the guilty brother made hastily for an underground hiding place they had prepared in advance. Meanwhile the police discovered they were holding the innocent party – formerly innocent, since from then on he too was guilty – and undertook to remedy their failure. Failure, mind you, not oversight. They had failed to arrest both guilty parties. It would only have been an oversight or error had they apprehended someone innocent, which they evidently, had not.

When the police make an oversight they come to resemble, in psychological state and pessimism, a hunter who has come home with an empty sack after hours of trashing around in the underbrush. (This is perhaps why hunters go to the butchers to buy game, and some police forces – formerly the Soviets – now the South Americans – pick up anyone who happens to be there when they fail to find the person they are looking for. This is also the reason why the British police when clashing with strikers arrest random onlookers if they can’t snatch the rioter.) In that mood it didn’t take the police long to reach an agreement with the ex-innocent. He led them to the hiding place of the ex-wise and the guilty one, and the police took the two of them to the Sremska Mitrovica prison, where they told me this instructive tale. (The moral is not that you shouldn’t have a brother or that you shouldn’t let him go in your stead to jail, but that you should never be hiding where you promised you’d be.)

I know of other escape stories but it hardly seems appropriate to tell them at the moment when I should be explaining who I, myself, did not escape. I have said that the fact that I had no chance or weapon explains nothing and I stick to that. For even the best opportunity in the world requires the will to make the best of it, and this always assumes that the person in question must have contemplated this as an alternative. At least a little. Even in the form of a passing thought illuminating the dark horizon of the future with a gleam of hope, only to vanish just as suddenly, leaving him in even greater darkness.

I never once contemplated resistance in any form – except a “cool and collected” demeanor and a “decent upbringing” which was, according to the competent opinion of my mother, all that was left – “at the demise of the whole world as we know it” – though I did not have the same justification that Solzhenitsyn permitted his fancied prisoners. I spend no energy wondering why they had come to get me. My mind was an utter blank – with the exception of my observations of the mirror in “a red frame, stained with lead splotches from age”, and “stains on the leather jacket roughly the size of a fist[7], all of it descriptive gibberish free of thoughts of resistance, or escape. For in all fairness, in such a situation escape is the only genuine resistance. Not one’s indignant complaint at the agents’ rough handling or a polite request for them to be a little more circumspect with their language just as they happened to smash your leg with their boot...[8],
If in my defense, I say that I did not, technically[9], have a real opportunity, I would not be laying. But that would assume that I had considered resistance and then rationally forsaken it when I saw that I hadn’t a chance. Which wasn’t so. I could claim that surprise paralyses the will to resist, but this is not so. I wasn’t surprised. Though I’d hoped that despite M.’s arrest they would somehow – how, I don’t know! – neglect to arrest the remainder of us. I had been expecting it deep in my soul and nerves for several days at that point…

I could also claim that I forsook all thoughts of resistance for the sake of my parents to save them from trouble, but the explanation would not only be untrue, it would be offensive: if I had before been thinking of them, I wouldn’t have been up to what I’d been doing. I wasn’t thinking of them. How could I have been? At the time I hardly knew I had parents; in return for the lovely childhood they’d have given me I gave them a lovely old age: an endless vigil at jail gates, doing without for my sake (“the boy must, after all, have only the best”), humiliation before those authorized to issue pardon, correspondence with hostile institutions, trepidation day in and night, and an unending uncertainty.

There is no answer. I have no answer because the question has not been precisely posed. The true question is not why didn’t I escape, but why did I never so much as contemplate escaping.

I knew I would be arrested, I merely didn’t know – when. It is no good trying to fool myself as far as that’s concerned. Perhaps I didn’t dwell on it – my resolve not to consult my Diaries from the period does not, in this case, obstruct the truth, for in them I was careful enough not to write anything that might betray my underground activities, though they can be sensed, probably, as a sub-text to the many otherwise inexplicable moods; undoubtedly apparent, however, is the fact that I must have been afraid. (Yet, again, that fear, diluted by immaturity and moral-ideological fanaticism is not, presumably, what I would feel today, diluted, again, by other factors such as maturity and indifference.)

An authentic undergrounder would have disappeared, or at least tried to disappear, before they came to fetch him[10]. After all, underground organizations are not formed for the express purpose of having their members arrested, are they[11]. My indifferent demeanor would only have been worth something if we have indeed conspired to speed our arrest.

The reasons I propose may seem a bit incredible, perhaps even ludicrous to some, but this by no means diminishes their psychological credibility when I am in question …

The reason lie in … comfort.

In comfort, in our instinct for comfort – one more part of the legacy of my mother’s “decent upbringing”. The title of this essay, “Resistance and Comforts”, sums up the matter as I see it. And goes further yet in explaining instances when I chose not to resist while in jail, especially those less related to the goal and more related to so called dignity – vanity, arrogance, as you like – as a form of resistance that costs a great deal and brings little in return[12].

Immediately following 1944 until the “thaw of the socialist chill” in the late 1950s, if one lived and suffered on the outer hostile fringes of reality, stripped of security, rights, outlook and hopes, then the illusion of security and rights, outlook and hopes was not only sustained, but paradoxically, as the external class pressure rose, it swelled, at least in the inner realm of parents, relatives (not all relatives, of course, not those who had adapted, or as we put it “sold out”), friends, compatriots; in other words, like-minded people.

This paradox does not point to the particular vigor of one social stratum or the vitality of the Serbian middle class – which would be difficult, after all, to prove despite the inimical geographical and historical circumstances, in light of the relatively easily lost government – it is rather the natural consequence of the state of being an outcast. A process of growing cohesion is noted in each community that is made hermetic by force, each social, spiritual, racial ghetto exposed to pressure, persecution, extermination. The vision of reality is disproportionate – and luckily so, I might add – to the reality, thanks to the gradual and spontaneous emergence of the special self-protective givens of the ghetto, utterly unreal in terms of external and internal genuine realities, but, as I said, really quite vital and sustaining.

Regardless of the fact that one in principle knows what a ghetto is, who belongs there and why and what the ultimate fate is to be, a marked man on the inside feels safer, more protected, stronger, than he does on the outside. And not only does he feel safer, he is safer, protected, stronger. What starts as an illusion becomes reality. What was escape and retreat becomes concentration and entrenchment. The haven becomes a stronghold.

The bourgeoisie in our post-revolutionary period was, I presume, much like all former social elites when they learn overnight that a bit more than egocentrism and a few bayonets are needed to maintain an enduring government and its historical justification (at which a cynic, of course, would comment that though any egocentrism would suffice, many more bayonets are needed and with them the wisdom of when and how they should be used).

When faced with the reality of socialism, which seemed like full-fledged communism to us and therefore all the more nightmarish, the bourgeoisie of ours felt more or less like Jews in wartime Warsaw[13]. Completely exposed, insecure, powerless outside the ghetto when in direct contact with the Germans and the realities of the New Order, much less exposed, more secure perhaps even powerful within its walls. Yes, within its illusions, but illusions which thanks to the growing cohesion, acquired the strength, resilience, the imperviousness of real walls.

Our bourgeoisie ghetto, differed from the Warsaw Ghetto in its invisibility. Its walls were built not of stone but of class hatred. The stones of the Warsaw wall were, of course, preceded by hatred, but that was racial hatred – in which revolutionary rhetoric was merely in greater disproportion to the traditional class measures of the eradication of freedom, rights, property than it was in this other socialist country of the same period. But more important is the fact that the strongest and more impenetrable parts of that wall were raised not by the class hatred of the victors, but by the class hatred of the vanquished, not so much by the revolutionary authority around us and against us, as by us around ourselves, against them. Those who did not live through this or who lived at the same time but not with us can hardly imagine, or even understand, the force, the uncompromising quality and extent of this intolerance, nor can they grasp its unifying role, the defiance it lent the members of the class ghetto [14]
The illusion of relative safety – which was, in effect, real – the basis of homogeneity, was ensured by a spiritual, and to a considerable extent a physical, sense of comfort, freedom where least expected, rights where there are no rights, an outlook and hope where they otherwise seemed impossible. And this made it easier to bear, even with a certain superiority, the spontaneous and select unpleasantries that a person was exposed to outside our circle. [15]
In jail one was exposed, there can be no doubt, to a greater amount of intense external harassment, but this did not move me spiritually, or even physically, considering the profile of the prison population at the time, from the circle of illusions with the power of the reality in which I felt secure, and in which, before and after prison, I spent the finest and purest years of my life … I found a part of this circle in jail where, by the very logic of things, there were more of those who thought as I did than were on the outside, but it is not to them that I refer. I am thinking, instead, of those remaining outside confinement, my own circle from which I was wrenched on the night between 6th and 7th November. That circle, it is true, was now outside prison, with the exception of a few of my friends – but by penetrating the prison walls with their solidarity, loyalty, concern, aid, moral support, these people remained a firm foundation for my sense of invulnerability, and, I believe, for whatever genuine resistance I did offer.

Where would escape have taken me? Under conditions difficult to imagine and even more difficult to realize – ideally to foreign lands [16]. Ideally, perhaps, from that perspective, but far less ideal from this, the perspective of those same foreign lands where I now live as I write this memoirs. In any case, escape would have tossed me into a vacuum, beyond the ghetto and its shelter.

There would have been people, presumably, to hide me – for what is the purpose of a circle if it cannot provide them – but no spiritual comfort and certainly no physical comfort, something I have always highly valued. Once the investigation was over I no longer had anything to fear in prison, in flight I would have lived in chronic terror of being apprehended [17].

In jail I received packages; out there a person had to scrounge for his sustenance (as far as life in the jungle was concerned I had no experience whatsoever, and the picture of my father eating acorns in 1917 as a guerrilla fighter was hardly inspiring). There were times in prison – particularly in the biting cold weather – when I would bathe and then dry in the wind, on the run the frost and wind would have been the same, but one had to bathe in rivers. In prison there was no heat but we warmed one another; on the run even on the hottest day the chill of loneliness and fear would be freezing. In jail we met policemen who were people, out there in every person you saw a policeman. In jail I thought freely on all manner of things; in flight I would have thought of nothing but jail and how to keep away …

And if I were to wander around like a wild dog, wouldn’t I be in a jail anyway, a jail more terrible than all others – the prison of fear and uncertainty? And even if I weren’t wandering aimlessly, if I were in safe bunker with someone to watch over me – wouldn’t that be a jail too? Then why try to escape someone else’s jail only to flee to my own? From a jail that one could, at least, despise because it was someone else’s, to a jail that could not be loved even though it was – my own?

Every form of incarceration is a waste of time, though some end up being worth something to someone in some other way. Time spent escaping is wasted in all ways. The constant trepidation and hiding, the unending struggle to survive, may well restore the atrophied proto-human jungle instincts. But – to what end? These instincts are useful only if one intends to spend the rest of one’s days in the jungle.

I may, of course, be spending my days in the jungle even now without being aware of it, but that is, nonetheless, all the difference for which it was worth doing nothing while they took away my belt …

Translated by © Ellen Elias-Bursać 1994, published by Harvill in ‘Leopard III, Frontiers’ 1994.


[*]Borislav Pekić, ‘Godine koje su pojeli skakavci, uspomene iz zatvora ili antropopeja (1948-1954)’, Vol. I-III, Beograd, BIGZ, 1988-1990; pp. 71-84.

[1] Reid, ‘The Colditz Story’, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1952.,

[2] Ana Segers, ‘The Seventh Cross’, etc. In contrast to escape by British prisoners of war, this one was rather convincing. The more so with the passage of time: as the real war is forgotten, the bolder and more incredible the escape scenes become, as if the German camps existed only so that Anglo-Saxon wit, skill and initiative could prove their supuriority over German dullness and lack of imagination.

[3] Henri Charriere, ‘Papillon’, Granada, 1980: the book and film on Churchill’s escape from Boer imprisonment: ‘The Deer Hunter’, and Rambo films, the incarnation of post-Vietnam American martial spirit beaten in Vietnam, or the spirit whose lack led to defeat: ‘The Killing Fields’, a film on flight from a concentration camp run by the Pol Pot in Cambodia; countless reports on escapes from Siberia and the camps of the polar circle.

[4] A. Dumas, “The Count of Monte Cristo’.

[5] A. Solzhenitsyn, ‘The Gulag Archipelago’, Harvill, 1986.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Comments Pekić found later in his diary from the period (op. trans.)

[8] When, one early May dawn in the year 1970, the organs of Internal Affairs – several! – came to confiscate my passport, thereby preventing my move to England, I protested sharply! Because they were confiscating my passport? No! Because I was thrust into dreadful financial and other inconvenience since I had already fully packed my belongings and leased the flat? No! Because this would separate me for months from my wife and daughter who were free to leave? Not at all! I was protesting because they had come so early, because they woke me up at an indecent hour! (As if in the meantime the confiscation of a passport without a word of explanation except of that of discretional law is by definition something not to be explained, something civilized, and moreover, in my case, somehow nearly natural. It is natural, you see – the more so, perhaps, for the groggy circumstances – that without a trial I was injured in one of my fundamental civil rights, the only outrageous aspect being that this was done at five o’ clock in the morning.) And again my father was lost, my mother frightened yet practical, my wife upset and miserable. Only I remained above the situation – at least until the agents departed with my passport. I had fallen into a sort of chilly, witty banter, and again, as if being witty were a fitting exchange for my civil rights, as if a few cynical jabs were adequate remuneration for the inflicted injury! Nothing helped! Not my years in jail, the experience of others, my mature age – I was already forty – absolutely nothing: “decent upbringing”, my mother’s universal weapon against all of life’s ailments, was my only defense. My sole consolation in the case of my passport is that far bolder defense tactics fared no better. My lawyer friend, the late Joro Barović, felt that the proper channels were the best and most expedient. He sued the police. The channel was a good one, though hardly expedient. The court passed a curt judgment, the only legible part of which was that the police had been right. Even now I maintain that the suit was magnificent, though little was said in it about me and much more of Joro’s criticism of the order of things here and elsewhere in the world. When we lost, Joro said: “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they know where we stand on this question.” I knew – I stood for nearly a full year in Belgrade instead of London.

[9] Even in the case of the open window on the staircase in ‘Levitan’ (Vitomil Zupan, ‘Levitan’, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana 1982): “So we left. They had me walk in front of them. From room into the corridor, on to the landing and then down the stairs. Then a moment of temptation struck … The window on the landing was open wide … Down below was firmly packed sand. The third floor. High ceilings. Success assured …” (p. 13). It is not entirely clear what sort of success was assured. For the jump, perhaps, but for the survival, probably not. Yet he does not jump. Why? “The Devil only knows whether I was saved from jumping by a deeply inbred trait that had already cost me much in my lifetime: my curiosity for what would happen next.” (Ibid. p. 14). The logic sounds crazy, but I believe him. A person might even go before a firing squad out of curiosity. But then comes the thought that proves both his and their reputation. “Through my head flashed a demonic thought: if I were to jump, no one in our city would have believed that they hadn’t thrown me out themselves, such was their reputation at the time.” He doesn’t tell us why he didn’t jump but it no longer matters.

[10] So a certain KM attempted to do, arrested as a member NKOJ (The Yugoslav National Committee). I know this for a fact; he told me so himself. But he told me that in the Sremska Mitrovica jail, so apparently lack and his wealth of experience in the underground activities landed us in the same place.

[11] There are instances, though admittedly rare, where such is precisely the case. At moments of political crisis when rebellious spirits spark a need to organize, it is simpler for a government to instigate such organizations itself. Only then can they control resistance, and discover, along the way, who truly supports the regime. A character of mine, Steinbrecher, said as much: “Only week police forces limit themselves to suppressing rebellion. Good police are catalysers, fermenters, instigators.- And the best? – They organize and lead them.” (Borislav Pekić, ‘How to Quiet a Vampire ,’ p. 37)

[12]Would you defy the supervisor of a prison hospital where you work as an administrator, thus losing the option of stealing medicine before his very eyes for the needy who are not being given it for whatever reason? Would you refuse to scrub the floor of your cell because you fear catching a cold, only to end up in solitary confinement in a cell sitting in several inches of water on a floor you won’t have to scrub but which is guaranteed to give you pneumonia? Would you refuse, in the name of human dignity – your personal dignity, in fact, not the dignity of the human race – to do questionable things that might save the lives of others? Would you, for instance, refuse to lie to the administration of the jail because your decent upbringing, your morals, forbid you to lie, thus placing a fellow sufferer in grave danger, as if endangering someone else is permitted by this upbringing and these morals?

[13] John Hersey, ‘The Wall’.

[14] There will be other opportunities to describe further this radical state of our consciousness – no less reconcilable that the awareness that surrounded us then – and to explain it in greater detail, but here it will suffice to say that no one ever set foot in my home or the homes of my friends from my classroom or school who was suspected of being a member of the communist youth organization. No one who was even from the indifferent and uncommitted middle-ground on the clearly delineated zone between “open reaction” and “open revolution” (the revolution being, in fact, less open than the reaction) was ever invited to our parties, held with the secrecy and fanaticism of the Early Christian Agapes of pagan time. And on that score I have no regrets. Just as those, on the other side, now claim that “such were the times”, so do I. And they were. These were not the times, nor did we have the will, and certainly not the reasons, to contemplate finding those among the communists who might be friends despite everything. The reasons were sometimes lacking, of course, because there was no will for such things; and where the will might have been found, the reasons were lacking. Such were the times. I do regret something that could not be justified no matter what the intolerance – something that was class intolerance in the ugliest sense of the word, having no “political” alibi: our distrust of everyone whom we considered rural, peasants, from the provinces. These included honest lads who roomed with their city relatives, and others living in lonely cramped rented rooms, and those quartered in dormitories – though they were generally “politically organized” by the powers-that-be – and even those whom no one knew for certain where or how they lived, or rather where they lived, for we could have seen how they lived had we looked. Well, we didn’t. Such were the times.

[15] Just a few notorious illustrations of the revolutionary atmosphere from the period of Reconstruction and Society-Building later portrayed by former activists as so idyllic. My mother was chased out of line in front of a store for wearing a fur coat; she wore the coat because most of the rest of her wardrobe had been re-distributed. My father – a high-ranking official even then – was practically swept to every city event by neighborhood women comrades, always muscular and unsightly, if he was not already being borne in the same fashion by his equally masculine and unsightly women from his job, where he was supposed to be fervently thrilled by the country’s new destiny and the prospects of its lasting forever. Authorities chopped the legs off our trousers if they were the slightest bit too narrow for the progressive intolerance and their followers in the National Youth. Pupils were sent to Cortanovac, to forced labor hoeing turnips as vagrants and hooligans if they didn’t sign up for voluntary labor, as were those who listened to jazz records at the American reading room, newspaper vendors for Grol’s paper ‘Demokratija’, the organ of a legal political party (the paper was burnt), those who attended Sunday school, etc. Second cousins of people who had never returned from the WWII camps were chased out of high schools and universities. Work brigades for laying the youth railway tracks were manned using threats and coercion. After cries for the de-fascization at public rallies, to the glum silence of the intimidated majority, the harangues of the minority and the humiliation of being caned by a row of one’s peers, all those pupils who could not adapt were expelled from high school and university long before China’s “cultural” revolution and Yugoslavia’s 1948 came along, though they had, it’s true, been able to enroll in the first place – not the case in Czechoslovakia in the heartland of Middle European civilization, a fact that casts a surprisingly favorable light on our Balkan inconsistency and slovenliness. Ah, such were the times!

[16] In as much as I would not end, as my friend L. J. did, dangling from a Triglav cliff only a few years before the Yugoslav borders completely opened up to the world.

[17] One of the escapees who came back from the jail outside to the jail inside told me: “Now at last I can sleep in peace. Out there they were after me every night in my dreams. I would wake up a free man and spend the day trying to elude capture, always fearful I’d be caught. But no matter what I did, when night fell they would be after me again in my dreams. And besides, when you’re on the run your sentence grows, instead of shrinking the way it does with each passing day behind bars.” “How so?” I asked him. “It’s simple,” he told me. “Here your sentence passes, while on the run it doesn’t. When they catch you, you start to serve your time all over again, but now you got three instead of one: the sentence you fled from, the sentence of fear while you were free, and the third one they nail you with for attempting escape."

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