“I am a necessary human being,” she pleaded to no one in particular. No one in particular was listening. Central booking didn’t harbor a propensity for personal petition. It was one of the few places that had truly heard and dismissed it all before. Her words echoed emptily off of the concrete walls failing to secure the sympathy they desired.
It was her first time that she’d been busted. On their third time the vice squad had gotten it right. It was the first time that she was sloppy. To her it was late. To them it was early. She was tired. They were alert. She was just ending her working day. They were just beginning theirs. They, unfortunately for her, decided to begin with her. A plainclothes cop shoved a $100 bill in her hand before she could blink. Three uniforms came in behind him as the bill stuck to her palm. She was frozen in criminality. In a heartbeat her life had stopped. Abruptly, she was on somebody else’s agenda. The handcuffs reinforced it, strangling mercilessly any nuance of freedom that she still possessed. They slapped them on as effectively as a cowboy roped a steer. She was corralled into the van as they continued their pursuit.
Soon, she had company. First stop, three girls. Next stop, two more. Final stop, a swing across town, brought the total to eight. It was quite an impressive haul. The embroidery of eight lives was now undergoing significant alterations.
In the van she sat by herself until the crowding bred socialization. It bred a socialization of circumstance. A circumstance that she hoped she would never be privy to. She just wanted to work one more month to return home to her son with some semblance of financial dignity. Now she was left without any sense of dignity, financial or otherwise. The girls were bonded in their common pursuit, which now was to escape with some splinter of self. As the van bounced along through the puddles of residual rain reflecting the neon lit cape of the city, their tears reflected the dimly lit reality of their situation.
The plainclothes cop confiscated the eight hundred dollars that evidenced her endeavor for that disgusting day. She knew it was as if she had never made it. She had gone to work that day for a man she didn’t even know. He was duly impressed. Not only did she earn him eight hundred tax-free dollars but she also assisted him in his career endeavors. Terrific employee, he had to find more like her. She was more productive than any of the others that they had absconded with. He really should thank her, but that would be so unprofessional. After all, he was a professional.
After preliminary introductions were exchanged with the criminal justice system the municipality provided her with their idea of overnight accommodations. It was obvious that the influence of Better Homes and Gardens had never permeated this enclave. The night was spent with a sense of total desperation commensurate with the peeling paint on the walls and the clanging of the steam pipes reverberating relentlessly as if a hammer was thrashing them.
Sleeping was not an option. Even if so inclined, the adrenaline rush that infused her at this point wouldn’t entertain it. She was revved up to a not heightened, but ridiculous sense of awareness, which was only matched by her distress.
As morning intervened and she was remanded to a judge she realized that she would have to start over. A fresh new life should be at hand. By circumstance, it was however, out of reach.
Bio: Charles Coleman is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York.