Alig, Rico, and I climbed in. Outside we could see Fernandez being questioned by a pissed-off prison official: no big cameras were allowed to film on prison property.
"How do you feel being free, Michael?" I asked, excitedly. We'd become close over the past decade, after a magazine asked me to interview him, for an article coinciding with the release of Party Monster. I'd thought Alig was an intriguing, complex person, and he seemed to have genuine remorse about killing Angel. After two interviews I'd agreed to help him with his autobiography, Aligula.
"I feel like I'm about to be re-arrested!" Alig said.
A prison truck had pulled in front of our van, facing us, and a hardened corrections officer wagged her finger and yelled, "They told me not to let you leave!" A second truck parked beside us.
"They're blocking us in!" Alig exclaimed.
"Oh man, this is crazy," I heard behind me. I looked back at Rico, who was wearing a rosary. He smiled sweetly.
After a few stressful minutes, we were allowed to leave. "This is an iPhone," I said, showing Alig as we raced along Interstate 90. For the past 18 months I'd been posting tweets he'd given me over the phone, so I taught him how to tweet for himself:
— Michael Alig (@Alig_Aligula) May 5, 2014
At a rest stop, Alig tried Starbucks for the first time: "So decadent!" Then he and I took a selfie in front of a tree with large purple blossoms. "It's so pretty—springtime! New beginnings!" Michael gushed. "It feels like being reborn again: everything is new and unusual." In Manhattan, St. James and his crew waited outside the restaurant Almond in the Flat Iron district. "I'm nervous he'll think I look fat and old," Alig told me.
"But he's your friend," I said. "And your skin looks great because you've been out of the sun for 17 years."
The reunion went well ("He's the one who looks fat and old!" Alig joked), and we all sat down for Alig's first fancy dinner in almost two decades. "It's so weird tasting spices again," Michael said, digging into his pan-roasted arctic char.
He reminisced, until a World of Wonder employee/handler said, "No dessert—we have to get Michael to the Bronx!" His parole stipulated he had to be home by eight.