Fan Mail From Prison

04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

A man named Garrett Brock Trapnell who was a Brock from Brockton, MA became my "pen" pal (in this case -- short for penitentiary?). It began when I was on the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow" and I got a letter in my fan mail from Marian State Penitentiary -- a brilliant letter filled with glorious poetry quoting Keats and Yeats and Shakespeare...You get the picture. I was enthralled and wrote him back with answering quotes. I told my husband, Steve, about this wonderful prisoner and where he was. Steve suggested I stop writing him as that prison was for lifers. But oh no, not me. We kept writing and discussing books and poetry and reasons for "being" and became great friends. Garrett mentioned in a letter that I reminded him of his wife. Well, since he was a lifer, I wondered if he had murdered said wife, who I reminded him of. So I ran out instantly to get the book he told me had been written about his life called The Fox is Crazy Too. Hmm, turns out he had six wives, all at the same time, and he and each wife belonged to country clubs up and down the East coast. Needless to say, none of the wives knew about the other.

He had a plane and would fly to Canada where he was number one on the Royal Canadian Mounties Most Wanted list. He'd rob a bank in Canada dressed impeccably and let me add he never used a weapon -- but pretended he had a gun inside a cast on his arm. After robbing the bank he'd fly himself back to one of his many homes in the US. Now and then he would get caught. Then he would pretend he was insane and, crazy like the fox in the book title, he would get sent to a mental institution and, of course, his feigned insanity would instantly clear up. He was so brilliant he always got away with it. On and on his life went until he finally for some reason I forget hijacked TWA Flt 1 which was going around the world. He was captured for that rather small peccadillo and sentenced to life in the prison from which he was writing me constantly and making Steve really upset.

THEN one night, as Steve and I were getting ready to go to sleep, we were half heartedly listening to the news on the radio. There was a story about a prison breakout in...Oh, Marian, Illinois. Marian Illinois -- where my poet was. A small plane had landed in the prison yard and my poet was escaping in the get away plane that one of his six wives (one that looked like me?) had landed there. My heart was pounding. Of course my apartment would be the place to hide. A place where no one would think of looking for him. The perfect place to hide. Steve looked at me. I had said again and again, "Steve, he will never get out of prison so of course I am going to write him" (he is so interesting and so on).

Steve just kept looking at me -- no "I told you so" -- he just looked and I started to shake as Garrett and I were communicating all, all the time. We finally turned off the lights with no news as to whether Garrett and his "wife" had gotten away with it. The stations just kept repeating there was a prison breakout. Steve slept, and I paced the apartment all night checking for updates as to what was happening and I kept imaging him and his "wife" flying through the air to land near New York City and arrive at our apartment. I had given him my home address so our letters could whiz back and forth faster than going through CBS. I kept thinking of his last letters with glowing references to the fields of daffodils he yearned to see again. It was Spring "when a young man's fancy turns to love" and he was missing the poetry of Nature in his prison cell. Ohhhhhh.

The next morning it was announced the attempt to escape from the Marian State Penitentiary had failed and since I never heard from him again, I have to believe he was put in solitary and not allowed to write letters since obviously while he was quoting poetry to me he was plotting a bold escape with her. Sort of two timing me!

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