Ma Joad Pays a Visit to Charlie Manson by Larry Pinck

Visitor’s room, California State Prison at Corcoran.

Ma and Charlie are seated. Glass separates them. They speak on handsets.

CHARLIE: What’s up man?

MA: Howdy do Charlie. Call me Ma. Everyone calls me Ma. Even my Ma called me Ma.

CHARLIE: I dig ya Ma. What you’re sayin’ is: “This is my show, man. I plate the appetizers. I sniff the cork. And if you can’t deal with it, then, zip, no gravy; zow, no cranberry sauce.”

MA: I’ll tell ya Charlie, visitin’s a funny thing, A woman, well, she’s suited for visitin’, but men folks just ain’t got the temperament for it.

CHARLIE: The man puts you in a hallway, and most people only see a corridor. But me, Ma, I see a foyer.

MA: Tell me son, has they hurt ya? Has they made ya mean mad?

CHARLIE: I don’t snivel. I sweep out the charnel house. When he calls, I bring the cutlery.

MA: I’ve never know’d ya to be mean spirited Charlie. But sometimes they take a good boy and hurts him and makes him hard.

CHARLIE: Hardness is a parasite, Ma. It’s the absence of softness. See what I’m sayin’?

MA: You’re so much like my Tommy. He saw things clear too.

CHARLIE: And the big piggie said: “Beware of dog. He’s a bite case, a fornicator. Ain’t on the prison bowling team.”
MA: When we was on the land, there was an order to things. Old folks got killed off, and little fellers grow’d up and done their own killin’.

CHARLIE: A crippled man walked, until he fell over. You dig?

MA: I wished ya hadn’t a done it, Charlie, but ya done what ya had to do. Ya done it for the family and there ain’t no fault in that.

CHARLIE: I done it cause I’m aligned with the desert. I done it cause I’m Spin and Marty. I done it cause I let sodomy sing songs of rejoicing in my heart.

MA: Without the land, folks is lost. Ain’t got no purpose no more. Just like tops spinnin’ outa control, all helter skelter.

CHARLIE: Last night, man, I dreamed things that never were and said “what the fuck is this?”

MA: There ain’t no family no more. We cracked up. Pa lit out for Jersey and Tommy, he ain’t no help; frettin’ about cops beatin’ up guys. Rosasharon, she’s laid up with the clap, and Al got conked on the head by a crate ‘a peaches. Been teeched ever since.

CHARLIE: Teeched?

MA: That’s right, teeched. And there ain’t nothin’ nobody can do about it.

CHARLIE: That really sucks, Ma.

MA: It don’t matter, Charlie. We’re the people, and we ain’t never gonna get licked.

Larry Pinck was recently paroled after a 30-year stretch as a New Jersey attorney. By the grace of god, he emerged with the light of lunacy still alive in his eyes. He loves word play almost as much as foreplay. His work has appeared on The Big Jewel and The Yellow Ham.