His hands oozed and bled within the first hour of work. The skin peeled from the blisters and the pain was plentiful. His work partners allowed him rests to dry up and to clean up the sores.
Morning coffee was glorious and more cigarettes were dropped off. The cops who worked at the range were very decent, even to Bill who was in for assaulting a police officer. One of them said he’d been in court the other day and was talking with Hopkins, the sergeant who had officially busted Bill. He said he couldn’t remember how they’d gotten on the topic, but they were recalling the day of the riot at the University. Hopkins was boasting about being credited with the first bust, a stupid kid named Bill Wynn. The kid had been knocked cold by the undercovers and came to in the paddy wagon. Hopkins boasted about having the kid led through a conversation that appeared verbatim at his trial, a conversation in which he said things about the police, calling them pigs and f—ing pigs and a whole lot more. An undercover planted in the paddy wagon led and guided the conversation. Hopkins was proud of the fact that the kid never had a chance, never knew what was happening, what was coming at him. He even boasted that the kid was so out of his mind from being knocked out that he didn’t know what he was saying.
Mid-morning, that cop came down to the work area and gave Bill some band aids. He also brought soda pop for all the inmates. He told Bill not to use the band aids unless he really needed them. Then he looked at Bill’s hands. He said another day and the calluses would start, that it’d be best if he could tough it out. He said the oozing would stop and the pain would abate.
Lunchtime, Bill sat by himself on a slight hill outside where they worked. He could see inside where the others ate their sandwiches and drank their packaged juices or milk. Bill didn’t eat and wasn’t hungry anymore. He drank a chocolate milk and closed his eyes to picture and re-picture that day he was busted, the events that occurred after he’d awakened.
There were three cops in the front of the paddy wagon. Hopkins was in the passenger seat. Bill didn’t know his name then, but he was called sarge, so that must have been him. The guy in the middle didn’t say much. Mostly he laughed. The banter up there was between the driver and the sergeant.
There were three prisoners in the back. Bill was on the driver’s side. His hands were cuffed behind him and the cuffs fastened to the links of the paddy wagon behind him. He couldn’t move his hands at all and he was bleeding down his face. The blood, he could see, was dripping to his clothes.
Across from him was Harlon. He didn’t know his name then, but he would learn it later. He was the kid the undercovers—later Bill would learn they were FBI—were beating on when Bill entered into the melee.
Next to Harlon was a guy Bill had never seen before. He was the one who led the conversation. He was the one who…
Bill remembered. In his cell was Harlon and the other guy. Like in the paddy wagon, the other guy led the conversation. Bill couldn’t remember what was said. He had a humongous headache. His eye was cut and his head was cut too. His shirt was blood-soaked. The only place to sit was on a metal bed-rack. Bill sat there and held his head.
About a half hour, maybe an hour into the lock-up, he couldn’t really judge time, that other guy was pulled out. He disappeared, just disappeared. But Bill saw him again, once, on a side street in Columbus. He tried to sell Bill drugs and Bill realized when he came around the corner and saw him get into a squad car down the street that the guy, he was an undercover. This was about two months after the day he was arrested and about three months before his trial and incarceration.
Bill was in lock-up that day for about ten hours before he was bailed out. For the entire time they kept bringing in new prisoners. Altogether six hundred would be arrested. He was the first. Sometime in mid-afternoon a gas was released into the lock-up. There were a lot of screams and yells and a really foul odor. Everyone coughed, Bill too, his head throbbing worse with each cough. The gas spray stopped after about five minutes, but the effects lasted about an hour. Or, really, they lasted a lifetime.