It was all fun and games at first. The two inmates sauntered about the place, a relatively small building that perhaps used to be a Wendy’s, pretending to plan an escape as the other teens, a group of several, laughed and snickered at them. The officer in charge; the one adult in the room; sat among them, in a chair or on a sofa near the south wall, nearly asleep. He saw what was going on but didn’t pay it much mind. He was just letting the kids have some fun as he prepared to get a little shut-eye. Besides, there wasn’t much else to do. I don’t know what they were all there for. It was as if everyone was waiting to be picked up or something; like a teacher with his class on a field trip, waiting for the bus to come take them back to school.
What’s weird is that the man, a black man probably in his 40s or 50s, did seem like a normal teacher or temporary guardian to the kids with the exception of the two boys who were walking around, pretending to be about to escape, as everyone else sat or stood. The other kids, it seemed, were free to go home once the “bus” arrived, but those two really were inmates and the man really was a police officer. In hindsight, the teens were probably all inmates under him; out on some sort of one-day work release. It’s just that everyone was focused on the two boys. At one point, the officer; eyes barely open, one more than the other; even muttered to the other kids something to the effect of, “All I know is that they better not open that door.”
The building was made just like a Wendy’s or most other popular fast-food places. There was a door or two at the front in what would be the main lobby or eating area surrounded by windows, perhaps a door or two on the side or sides, and one door all the way in the back, where, if it were a restaurant, employees would walk out to dump trash or take cigarette breaks. That’s the door one of the two boys; he seemed like a real-life criminal I knew named Eugene; finally did walk out of for real. It happened quickly, without warning, and the whole mood of the place turned from laughter and amusement to quiet disbelief as everyone realized what he did; including the officer, now fully awoke. “He left,” he asked, almost nonchalantly. The kids said yes.
Everyone stared at the other boy as he walked back, from the back, to the main area where they were, with a solemn expression on his dark-skinned face. “I didn’t go nowhere near that door, sir,” he said before the officer even had a chance to accuse him. It seemed obvious that the boy was just as shocked as everyone else about what his friend just did. He, the boy who didn’t leave, was set to be released from the prison very soon and knew that any unruly shenanigans would jeopardize that fact. The boy who left wasn’t set to go free as soon, perhaps several months or a few years compared to a few weeks or months, but his decision to leave the “work” building; a decision seemingly made on pure impulse; instantly added years to his sentence.
The officer made a phone call, presumably to his police buddies, but, just that quick, they’d already caught him. It was late at night and the neighborhood they were in was a quiet suburban one, so a young black male, probably dressed in orange, looking as if he were trying to break into a car, which is what the other kids surmised from listening to the officer’s phone conversation, would’ve made for an immediate investigation from the local night patrol. It was a stupid decision that couldn’t be undone or joked away and everyone knew that as a somber depression took over the room. The kids, comprised not only of boys but also girls, all seemed to like him. He was adored as a class clown of sorts. But he messed up in a major way.
2017 ( October 20 )