jailhouse-door-2All afternoon he remembered.

Bill could lose himself in his thoughts as he worked since this work required no brain power and  only perfunctory concentration. That was one of the things he would like about working in kitchens, that and a certain satisfaction to be found from the physical labor.

The pain in his blistered hands lessened. His hands dried where the calluses were about to form and he accepted the pain more as he understood it more. He understood it as a process now, and he thought he might hasten the process by not babying himself.

He was not hungry any longer. He had not eaten in three full days and had no prospects for eating in the near future, at least as he could see it. One benefit was that he was losing weight. He didn’t need to lose weight, but… A second benefit was he didn’t have to take a crap. Not for nothing, but he didn’t relish the idea of using those toilets in that dorm-like cell sealed by bars.

The first morning a guard had come around and called out “Brown Bombers.” Bill hadn’t asked, but he’d come to understand that brown bombers were extremely potent laxative pills. The men who needed them went up to the front gate and got them. Columbus didn’t have a backed up system.

He remembered being bailed out some ten hours after his arrest. His headache never went away. That undercover had been let go quickly, the first one to get out. Bill would never have known he was undercover except for the pot encounter, and altogether, so far as Bill knew, his cover was never blown. If Bill had any doubt about how set up he’d been, that encounter erased it forever. Of course it wasn’t him who was set up. It was whichever nameless, faceless stooge happened to fall into the trap.

His eye had scabbed and stopped bleeding. His head, where he’d been hit from behind with handcuffs wrapped around the knuckles of the FBI agent who’d hit him, an unidentified plain clothes agent who didn’t identify himself, had stopped bleeding too, so it must have scabbed also.

By the time of the gassing incident the cells were all occupied. After the first few deliveries of prisoners from the riot, a freakish circus atmosphere overtook the holding cells. Noise ratcheted up. Those who were unhurt were jovial, laughing and goofing around. Each new set of arrivals was greeted with cheers and loud applause. Each new prisoner told what was going on at the school. Campus was closed down. Classes cancelled. Police and demonstrators were clashing constantly, the police using tear gas to scatter the crowds. Instead of relenting, the demonstrators were digging in, fighting back, hurling rocks and whatever else they could find.

The release of the gas through the ventilation system was met with loud objection despite the coughing and covering of faces. They were told to shut up, get still, stay quiet. But they didn’t and the noise and gas only worsened Bill’s headache. That headache–he had a severe concussion–would stay with Bill for days.

As the afternoon wore on, Bill could see darkness settling in outside. These cells, this lockup, was on the top floor of the main police station in downtown Columbus. It was one long row of cells across from which were the windows. Outside the window Bill could see through  were upper floors of several taller buildings. As darkness overtook the outside, a row of single light bulbs set in into the wall between the windows came on as did one single light in bulb each cell. Each cell, like the one Bill was in, was dimly lit, as was the entire room.

Also as the evening came prisoners began being bailed out. A name would be called. Then “Bail,” a voice would say over the PA. Then a policeman would come in, call out the name again and wait to hear the prisoner say “over here.” In the workhouse they called out a name then announced “Roll ’em up.”

Bailing out of prisoners increased in rapidity as night came on. Bill sat, got up, sat down again, got up, paced the small cell, the very small cell, sat back down again. He had no hopes for bail. He didn’t know anyone. No one knew him. He had no idea as to how long he would be in lock up.

 

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