jailhouse-door-2Saturday morning was like any other morning except after breakfast there were no calls for work details. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, the usual groups formed and hung out like they always did. Bill watched them and took it all in from on top of his bunk.

Two men were called for roll-up. That meant they were getting out. Either they had served their time or some other circumstance had come into play. Someone might have paid their outstanding fine or a judge might have granted a change in their sentence. Unbeknownst to Bill, that would happen for him and after seventeen days he would be let out by a judge granting his lawyer’s petition that he not be in jail for the Jewish New Year.

When called for roll-up, you stripped your bed, rolled up the mattress, gathered all your things and went up front to the cell door. On the way out, you dropped off your dirty laundry, picked up your clothes and your belongings, were ushered into a changing room where you put yourself together. Then you met whoever was there to pick you up and they signed you out.

This morning, that one guy, Ronnie, who had tried to get under Bill’s skin by asking him what he thought his wife was doing while he was in there, was released. Bill had not spoken to him after that initial  conversation. He had stayed away from him as much as could, but not conspicuously. Ronnie, Bill would discover, had inquired about him, but when he learned why Bill was inside, he’d stayed away. It wouldn’t have looked good to pick a fight with someone who’d assaulted a cop. That was a breach of prison etiquette. Cops were considered the enemies. Another etiquette was that you could ask someone what they were in for, but you could never ask anyone what they did.

About 10:00 AM the library cart was rolled in. Most of the inmates paid no mind to it, but some found magazines. Bill took a good look and found a long history of the French Revolution which he took. It served well to put him to sleep, and when it didn’t succeed at that, it occupied his mind. He won either way.

Immediately after lunch, visiting started.  A name would be called, sometimes two or even three, and the inmates would be escorted to the visiting area. Bill’s name was called a little after one. When he got there, Alex and Sue were seated at a table and waiting for him. They looked the same as always, Alex in slacks and a sport shirt, Sue in jeans and a long sweater-like blouse. Bill saw both of their faces fall when they saw him. They stood up and Bill shook hands with Alex then hugged and kissed Sue.

A guard came over posthaste. “No hugging, no kissing,” he said. “No kidding.”

“Yes sir,” Bill responded quickly.

“They took your hair,” Alex said.

“First thing. Gleefully. Four strokes with the clippers.”

“It’ll grow back,” Sue said.

Bill smiled a wry smile. “You doing okay?” he asked her.

“Fine,” Sue said.

“How about you?” Alex asked.

Bill said he was getting along. He told them about the cell arrangements and described his work detail. He told them he could use some money and cigarettes in his commissary account. Alex said they’d taken care of it. Bill said thanks. He wanted to cry but didn’t dare. Instead, he continually reassured Sue he was okay. Then they sat mostly silent for the remainder of the half-hour visit. Sue told about her classes, and Alex, a Comp. Lit. instructor, told about his.

“See you next week,” Sue said when they had to go. “I love you.”

“Love you too,” Bill said. He thanked Alex for bringing Sue and for everything he’d done. Then he was led away by the guards, Alex and Sue left there to watch him disappear. Bill could see Sue crying, the last thing he saw before he was moved out of their sight.