Apparently I snore. And Bo, apparently, is a light sleeper. He's gone now - gone to live on the other side of the tier with a former Aryan brother (they should get along swimmingly). In his place is a newcomer, my fifth cellmate in less than a year.

Bubba is twenty-four years old—a year younger than me. His father was an alcoholic and drug addict who died of sclerosis of the liver when Bubba was ten. His father's father and uncle died of alcoholism, too. This, Bubba says with a straight face, is the reason he's "more of a methadone guy.

"Bubba served eight months in a county jail before transferring to this facility four months ago. He's already accumulating enemies. I overheard him yelling at his mother on the phone, demanding she send him $500 to help pay off part of his $1,500 dope debt; his creditors aren't happy.

Bubba has two nieces (Bubba is very chatty about his personal life) whom he adores and treats as if they were his own daughters. "Family is really important to me," he says. I asked him if he has any children of his own, and he tells me he doesn't, but adds that this "little bitch" he use to "fuck with" just had a baby, and she insists that it's his. Bubba has his doubts. He shows me a picture of the by, a toddler with blue-gray eyes that are set far apart like Bubba's. I point this out, and he says, "Yeah, a lot of people say he looks like me." bubba tucks the picture in an envelope and puts it back in his locker.

Bubba likes women—loves women. "Bitches," he calls them. "Bitches" and "hoes." I've never heard him use the words "girl" or "woman" or "lady" or "female." To him, they're all "bitches" and "hoes," with the exception of his mother whom he calls "Momma." To Bubba, women are objects to be had and used and disposed of. Ge gloats about the many women he's fucked—his former stepfather's new wife; his ex-girlfriend's best friend and cousin …"She was heartbroken," he says with a sheepish grin. "It was funny.

"Bubba has his flaws—he's messy, ignorant, sexist, homophobic …But despite all that, I much prefer him over the temperamental, aggressive, conniving Bo. My mother says it's better to live with a dumb cellmate than one who's too clever.

Last night, Bubba and I were lying in our bunks, lights off, everything still. "You know," he says, "its been a year since I've gotten any pussy.

"I'm reading Abraham Verghese's My Own Country by the light of a book lamp. I don't say anything, but I force a small chortle to confirm I've heard him. Silence. Darkness. He sighs. "Man it's been a long time, and I've still got another four years. Shit. And these CO Bitches ain't fucking neither." Pause. "Man, I don't know what I'm gonna do.

"I look up from my book and stare at nothing, and I think What an odd comment to make. And my dick seems to agree because it's lifted its head like a dog who's just heard his owner pull into the drive. More silence, longer this time. He's waiting for a response.

"Yeah, well don't feel so bad," I commiserate. "I've still got a little over nine years to go." I hear another sigh, slightly affected this time, from below me. I'm gripping my book harder now. I've lost my place, but I don't mind.

Bubba lets out a random laugh as if he's just remembered something funny.

"You know what I told Red?" (Red lives in the cell next door.) "I told him I'm a trisexual—I'll try anything sexual." He laughs again, but it's not that funny, so he says, "That's funny.

"My dick hears this and rises to its haunches, nose in the air, alert, head cocked to one side like the little RCA dog. My hands are trembling now, and the small light of the book lamp wobbles across my lap. How do I respond? What do I say? Is it a prank? Is he seriously proposing what I think he's proposing? I say nothing. Not even a chortle.

"You know Zee, that guy downstairs?" he asks changing the subject. "I heard he owed some guy $80 and offered to suck the guy's dick to pay the debt. Crazy shit, huh?"

"Crazy shit," I say.

"That'd be cool if I could suck my own dick. Shit, that's be awesome.

"I'm flabbergasted. The death grip on my book tightens and my fingernails have gone white. My dick has reached the end of its leash and is yelping to be freed. My body is trembling harder—all over—and I'm afraid the leash isn't going to hold; it's going to snap. I'm thinking crazy thoughts. I'm thinking about the sound Bubba makes when he's taking a piss—that loud deep bellow—and I'm trying to gauge, by sound alone, just how big his dick is. (It's something all guys think about—gay or straight—when standing at a public urinal.) The louder the growl, the bigger the animal. I want to tame that animal. God, how long has it been? Nine months without sex? I'd like to crawl down there right now and give that straight boy the best suck-"n"-fuck of his life and show him those "little bitches" don't know what the hell they're doing - "Spit or swallow?" I ask him. I can't believe I just said that. Why did I just say that? A small part of me wants to egg him on and see if he's got the balls to come out with it already and say what it is he wants without all this pretense.

He hesitates. "I don't know. I don't think I'd let it get that far. I'd probably just jerk it to a finish," Silence. (I'm holding my breath.) "you?" he asks.

I'm still thinking it may all be a prank, so I play it straight: "I have no interest in sucking my own dick," I say with mock disgust.

The silence is longer, more painful, this time. I can feel his disappointment and insecurity radiate from below me like heat off a furnace. I'm waiting. My body is having a fit, and that damned dog is clawing and scratching and practically choking itself to death on its leash. It's been nine months since the old hound's been throne a bone, and the temptation is racking every nerve in my body. *It's a trick. Don't fall for it. He's just waiting for you to crawl down there so he can get a good laugh and tell everyone what a big homo you are. It's not worth a lay. They'll terrorize you, they'll beat you - they'll run you off the compound!*I switch my book light off, set my book aside, and pull the covers up over my head. Relax. Just relax. the shakes begin to subside, and Bubba sighs heavily again.

"I ain't never suck no dick," he says. "No, sir. I like pussy too much.

"Sleep comes surprisingly quickly, and just before the tide pulls me out to sea, I hear him: I hear his weight shifting; I hear him spit; I hear the wet friction.