My clone is a straight-A student. He’s in college, Dean’s List and everything. He’s looking at medical schools. He wants to be a doctor. At least, that’s what I tell people. Sometimes, though, my clone is a ball player. Football, basketball, it doesn’t matter. Either way, he’s being eyed by college scouts. No matter what, you have to say college. That’s the hook.
The very first time I saw one, an honest to gawd, living and breathing clone was about my second year here. I can’t remember who I was meeting with. Probably my lawyer who was probably telling me all the reasons my appeal would be denied. What I do remember is spying KV across the room with a woman and a little boy.
Now KV is a man I know. We’ve done some… transactions… together. He’s one of those people who doesn’t realize business is business. Every time he comes by, I hold up my end of the deal. I give him the goods, but he doesn’t leave. He wants to talk. He wants to sit down and have a visit, as if we have old times to discuss.
“Man, I’m your dealer, I ain’t your friend,” I’d tell him. But he’d keep flapping his mouth about this and that.
What surprised me that day in the visiting room is all those times, all those forced conversations where I listen and smile in the name of an easy buck. All those times, he never once mentioned he had a kid.
When the guards yelled time and we all shuffled out of the room, it was my turn. Now I forced friendship on him.
“You have a son?” I asked.
“Nah,” KV replied, “He’s my clone.”
Out of nowhere here comes Malvin trying to get into other people’s business. “THAT’s a clone?!?”
“Man, he’s telling stories,” I said and shook my head.
“I’m not!” KV protested, “He’s my clone.” His pace picked up down the hall.
I hustled after him, leaving Malvin behind.
“Now how in the hell can you afford a clone?!?” I said.
“I got all that cash from the crane accident. I told you.” He was probably right about that. I think any man’s ear would tire of listening to KV at some point.
“I figured free money, free me.” KV shrugged.
Now wasn’t that just splendid news? Here he is just flushing money down the crapper, money that should be coming my way instead.
“You think you’re so special?” I asked him, “You think your genes are so damn great? Your genes got you here! That’s how fucking great they are!”
KV was unflustered. “My genes may be in here… but they are also out there.” He got a twinkle in his eye. “A free me.”
I used to think cloning was about as stupid of a purchase a man can make. Think about it. You are paying all that money to get yourself back in diapers. You are paying for the privilege to wipe your own asshole twice. I wipe my ass enough as it is, thank you very much.
But if that’s what people want to spend their money on, who am I to fucking judge? You don’t tell that fat guy not to buy a Whopper. You don’t tell the drunk not to buy a forty and you certainly don’t tell the dumb guy not to buy a clone. You take his money and you smile.
And so my business expanded. Christ, it took forever for people to save up enough. Some guys are still saving! People ask how I keep track of everything and coordinate with the outside. PayPal’s the shit, man. PayPal and MySpace. It takes so long, I don’t know how the hell you’d keep everything straight without that.
I guess it was about a couple of years later before things started rolling. When it started, it didn’t stop. Suddenly the highlight of a conjugal visit was a cheek swab. Slowly the visiting room became filled with grandmothers and mothers, regular visitors, now toting infants, the latest accessory. Those infants became toddlers and before you know it those toddlers were in school.
When scientists invented birth control, they thought they were doing it for the poor. They thought they were being so damn generous, bestowing us with a gift. But it was the rich people who took a liking to it. The well-to-do, prim and proper ladies who wanted to pay off their SUVs first. Meanwhile, the poor kept pushing ‘em out.
When scientists invented cloning, they were thinking of the rich! They never thought, “Well golly gee, we need some more poor people.” And look where it’s spreading like wildfire. They may be smart, but I bet they never saw that coming! When I look across the visiting room today and I see lanky frames and bumpy faces of teenage boys, I think of those guys and gals smug in their white lab coats. I think of their reaction and I gotta laugh.
You asked about the guards. No problem, no resistance whatsoever. The way I figure it, I’m doing them a favor. Cloning gives them more control. It’s like Christianity and slaves. You see back then, if you truly believed, you knew you were gonna go to a better place. You pay your dues here in this life, then you get a ticket into heaven- paradise, bitches galore. So why fight the slave master? Why complain? It didn’t matter what happened today. It didn’t matter because when your time came, you’d be in a better place. So you go about singing your hymns and picking your cotton, being docile and quiet, knowing, just knowing, one day things were going to be great.
So think about it. What does it matter what happens in here today? What does it matter if the satellite goes down or the cafeteria ran out of burgers. Hell, someone could come right up to you and punch you in your face. What does it matter? You have a different life, a better life. Only you don’t have to die for it. It’s happening right now.
And it occupies them. A man with a clone isn’t picking fights. He’s thinking about his clone. You see some of the worst fathers in the world in here. Didn’t even know their kids’ names, didn’t care if they live or die. But when it came to their clones, all of a sudden they are Father of the Year. I had one guy learn to write so he could send his clone emails. In the visiting room, you see dozens of men leaning in, listening to the ramblings of boys and offering sage advice like the wisdom of convicts is worth anything.
Is it because the clones are them, their exact copy? Suddenly they are vested because it’s just their DNA in the mix? Hell no. It’s because the clones are so damn expensive. It’s the difference between a run down, beat up Hyundai and a brand new Escalade complete with OnStar and shit. Which one would you treat better? Just think what this city would be like if regular kids cost even half as much as a clone.
Every now and then I’d run into a stubborn sell. A man, like me, who didn’t see the point.
“You play the numbers?” I’d ask him and it doesn’t matter who he was, where he was from, or what he did to get himself here. He’d always nod.
“Would you play yesterday’s winners today?”
He’d shake his head.
“Exactly! What won yesterday, won’t win today.” I’d say, “But the losing numbers… one day they’ll be the right combination. One day they will be the winners and the other numbers will be the losers. Your numbers… they got you here. Your numbers lost this time around. But next time, next time, they could be the winners.”
And then I’d tell them about my clone. The straight-A one day doctor/football player. A kid so great not even Oprah herself could bear. And they buy it. They buy it because deep down every man in here believes he’s got what it takes. He’s just had bad luck. If it wasn’t for that prick who had it out for him… if it wasn’t for that torn ACL… if it wasn’t for the friend who snitched. Everyone has reasons why their life’s in the crapper… and it has nothing to do with the man himself. It is always the fault of something else. Always.
And so they scrounge and they save and hit up loved ones to fill up my PayPal account. All so they can have a second chance and be the success they were ‘posed to be.
And what do I think? Do I think these fatherless copies of failed men are going to make it on the outside? I hope not.
And I hope they are just as gullible when they find themselves here.