More details

Just Desserts


Just Desserts

As far as Scott Sutton could tell, he had done everything right. He had a beautiful house, a beautiful wife, and beautiful children. He had an impressive career — high-powered enough to secure excellent jobs for his sons and high-paying enough to cover an expensive tuition for his daughter.

At the moment, this daughter was on the other end of the phone, telling him about a boy she’d met. Isabelle was the sort of daughter he always figured he would have. In high school, she was the head cheerleader and the homecoming queen. In college, she was the social chair of her school’s top sorority and a communications major who couldn’t define exactly what “communications” meant.

So while she talked, he imagined the sort of son-in-law he always figured he would have. An athlete — preferably lacrosse or tennis, an economics or political science major, a member of the same fraternity as Scott and his sons.

“No, you don’t get it, Daddy,” Isabelle said. “I love him.”

“I’m sure you do,” he laughed. “Now, what about school? How are your classes going?”

“Oh, yeah. About that. I switched my major,” she replied. “I’m doing criminal justice now.”

“Since when are you interested in criminal justice?”

“My sorority requires twenty hours of community service every semester, so I’m doing some of them through the school’s Prison Abolition Club. We visit with people who are incarcerated, write letters for their clemency petitions, raise money for their legal bills. And it made me realize that majoring in criminal justice would be more meaningful, you know?” she said. “I wasn’t done talking about Aaron though. I’m serious about him. I’ve never felt like this before. It’s like, he’s actually real. All the other guys I know just seem so empty compared to him.”

“Tell you what. If you’re still together by winter break, we can talk about him coming with us to Aspen. How’s that?”

“Okay, but here’s the thing, and you have to swear not to freak out, because it’s really not a big deal,” she said. “He’s in jail.”

“He’s in jail? For what?”

“Nothing. Like I said, it’s not a big deal. It’s not even his fault. Plus, he feels so bad about it. I mean, he’s really become a new person,” she said. “When you think about it, he’s actually the victim here, isn’t he? One of the millions of victims of our society’s prison-industrial complex.”

“Isabelle, I don’t want you seeing a guy who’s in jail.”

“Okay, well, we’re working on getting him out of jail.”

“I don’t want you seeing a guy who was ever in jail.”

“That’s so bigoted of you, Dad,” she said. “I mean, Nelson Mandela was in jail. Would you tell me you don’t want me seeing Nelson Mandela?”

“Yes. Even if Nelson Mandela weren’t buried in South Africa, I would tell you I don’t want you seeing him.”

“Put Mom on the phone. She’ll get it. She donated like ten grand to the Minnesota Freedom Fund in 2020.”

“Wait, she what!?”

“Never mind. I’ll call her myself.”


Thirty minutes later, Scott’s phone rang again. This time, it was his wife, Vanessa.

“Isabelle told me you weren’t very supportive of her on the phone,” she said. “Why can’t you just be happy that she met a boy she likes?”

“Because the boy she likes is a convict, Vanessa,” he replied. “As her parents, I think we have a responsibility to do something here.”

“He’s a kid who made a mistake, Scott. Don’t pretend you never made a mistake when you were that age.”

“I never made a mistake that landed me in prison.”

“Because you had advantages in life that Aaron clearly didn’t.”

“What’s his last name? I want to look him up.”

“Isabelle’s not sharing it because she knows you won’t respect his privacy.”

“I’m going to call her back and put a stop to this.”

“She’s an adult now. We have to let her make her own decisions.”

“But this is a stupid decision.”

“If you try to pull her away from him, all you’ll do is push her away from us. Do you want to lose our daughter?”

“Obviously, I don’t want to lose our daughter.”

“Then you have to let her go.”


Isabelle saved her best outfits for prison visits. On Saturday morning, she was in a white dress and matching heels with the greasy phone against her diamond-studded ear and the bulletproof glass under her freshly manicured hand.

She thought Aaron looked so handsome, even in his orange jumpsuit — maybe especially in his orange jumpsuit. She felt like it really brought out the flecks of amber in his brown eyes.

“I didn’t know you could miss someone so much it physically hurts. That’s how it feels every minute I’m not with you. God, I’d stay here forever if I could,” she said. “We’re trying so hard to get you out. One of my brother’s friends is a lawyer. He’s putting me in touch with some people around here who might be able to help you.”

“You know I regret anything I did wrong, but it’s hard for me to regret everything I did,” he said. “Because if I hadn’t ended up here, I never would’ve met you. I swear to God, Isabelle, you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“Tell me what it’s going to be like,” she said. “When you get out.”

“I’ll get a job like the one I had. I used to work construction. I’ll go to school too. Probably start out at a community college. I’ll study business. I’ll take extra classes, summer classes, whatever it takes to get caught up. I’ll get a scholarship and transfer to where you’re at. We’ll graduate together. We’ll get married. We can have the vineyard wedding you always talk about. I’ll use the money I’ve saved up to get us the hell out of here. You just pick a place, any place. I’ll build you a house, however you want it. We’ll get a dog. Start thinking of good names for a golden retriever. I’ll start my own construction business. Contractors make good money. We’ll have three kids. We’ll do it all — the birthday parties, the Fourth of July barbecues, the Thanksgiving dinners. And I’ll love you more than anybody’s ever loved anybody, until the end of forever.”


The first day of May was the best day of Isabelle’s life. Aaron was released from prison that morning. They spent the night together at a hotel a few blocks away from campus.

The second day of May was the worst day of Scott’s life. He got a call that his daughter was found in a hotel bed with a knife through her heart.

The third day of May was a good day in Aaron’s life. He was cruising through Mexico in a stolen car. He figured he’d just keep driving south and see where he ended up — Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina. He’d already been in prison once for stabbing a girl. No way he was going through that again.

1200 630

Man’s World in Print

MAN’S WORLD is now available, for the very first time, as a high-quality printed magazine. Across 200 glorious pages, you’ll find everything that made the digital magazine the sensation that it was – the best essays, the most brilliant new fiction, interviews, art, food, sex, fitness – and so much more.

Man’s World in Print

MAN’S WORLD is now available, for the very first time, as a high-quality printed magazine. Across 200 glorious pages, you’ll find everything that made the digital magazine the sensation that it was – the best essays, the most brilliant new fiction, interviews, art, food, sex, fitness – and so much more.

You must submit

Want to write for
Man’s World?

Here at Man’s World, we’re always looking for new contributors to dazzle, inform and amuse our readership, which now stands in the hundreds of thousands. If you have an idea for an article, of any kind, or even a new section or regular feature, don’t hesitate to get in contact via the form below.

Generally, the word limit for articles is 3,000; although we will accept longer and (much) shorter articles where warranted. Take a look at the sections in this issue for guidance and inspiration.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
I have an idea for a