Previously, on Falling Shoes:
"On my way home from school a day or two later I stopped at Kroger to pick up a few things. On my way out I popped into the police sub-station to ask for that recite. The officer there was a younger black woman and she was very nice. She called someone who explained to her how to write the recite. We chatted a little while I waited. When she was done she called her sergeant to clear everything. When the conversation ended, she hung up the phone slowly, an almost guilty look on her face. "My sergeant says you have to be processed" I have no idea what this means. "You have to be arrested"
She was sitting at a desk that was pushed against a wall, I sat next to the desk on a chair facing her. I just stared, not comprehending. Be arrested? What does that mean? She said someone would come to take me downtown and is there someone I can call to pick me up at the justice center? I probably wouldn't even be booked, it's just a formality. Call someone to have them pick you up downtown. I called my boyfriend, he was working. I called my sister, I asked her to pick me up downtown, that everything would be fine. We sat there, just waiting. I asked if I could go to the bathroom. She seemed hesitant but took me anyway. She was nice and it was clear she felt awful about the whole thing.
The other officer arrived, a young white guy. He was nice enough but business-like in his demeanor. In the office, he put my hands behind my back and put the handcuffs on. We walked out to his car. We walked out through my neighborhood grocery store to his car. I felt shame. I knew people would think I had been shoplifting. It was humiliating.
The drive lasted forever. It was dead quiet, just the muffled announcements from his radio. It was incredibly uncomfortable. The backseat is a molded plastic bench. When you catch the scent of the previous passengers, the plastic is a relief, at least that urine/alcohol smell is in the floor and not soaking into your clothes. But plastic is hard and when you are leaning against your cuffed hands, the metal digs in. I watched out the window, the same things I saw everyday driving to school. We passed the Camp Washington salt dome and Union Center. We entered downtown Cincinnati, the Omni flag above us, abandoned, heavily tagged buildings next to us. I saw them all but they looked different. Like I was seeing them from an airplane.
When we arrived at the justice center we went in through a back entrance. The officer looked at me kindly and asked if the cuffs were hurting me. "No, I'm fine" I mumbled and smiled at him to prove how fine I was. He had me stand by a wall. He said that he was sure I wouldn't have to go through booking. "We'll just process you and you can get a ride home. It'll be okay." He smiled at me now and I knew that my nonchalance was not fooling him. I continued with it anyway as it was for my own benefit, I needed to feel strong. He walked over to a desk.
He came back over a few minutes later and I knew things weren't going to get better. He had the same look as the policewoman back at Kroger had when she hung up the phone. It was pity. Not the ugly kind but the kind that wished this was not out of his hands. He said, "I'm sorry but they said you have to be booked." I don't know what this means. What does this mean? My sister is on her way to pick me up. I can't call her to tell her something has changed. But if I could, what would I even say? I don't know what this means. I just remember breathing at this point. I don't know what else to do. I am taken over to the desk. Here, a man takes all my things and carefully observes and records everything in my possession. He laughs when he comes across my Bible College ID. I'm not amused but I laugh anyway, a shy giggle that I know older men like when they joke this way. This way that is supposed to humiliate you under the guise of humor. This is nothing new, Desk Guy.
I am escorted by a woman over to a changing area. I'm to remove my bra, my hair clip and my shoelaces. I give them to her. We come out and we are back in this room with the desk. It's a busy room. I am taken over to one side of the room where a few officers are standing, one is a tall man, he's not Cincinnati police, I think he might be Highway Patrol or maybe just a guard. He reminds me of an officer I knew when I worked downtown. This officer I knew was a bike cop and he was the most blatantly racist person I had met. Some black children were looking in the window at us once and he said, "Hey little monkeys, want some peanuts?" He was nice to us but he was not a good person. That is what I thought of this tall officer, staring at me. The woman who had escorted me to the changing room now instructed me to remove any jewelry or piercings. I had to cut off a thread anklet and take out six earrings. Then my tongue ring. Then I remembered my navel ring. I lifted my shirt and said, "I'm not sure I can get it out." The woman said, "I'm sure he'll be happy to do it for you" indicating the tall officer. "Oh, I'm sure, uh...I'll do it." I mumbled. And I did.
Then I was told to sit, I could use the phone for a local call. I left my sister a message, I didn't know if she would get it and I didn't know what she would do anyway. I didn't know what she could do.
When I sit, there is a woman, older than me, maybe 35 or 40. She has overprocessed blond hair with dark roots and she wants to talk. She wants to complain about how she's being treated like an axe murderer for passing some bad checks. She's thrilled that we are in for the same thing. I sense that she wants the security of the two of us sticking together. After all, we obviously don't belong here. But I don't want a partner, especially not a chatty one. I know who we are in here with and I want to be quiet. I do not want to align myself with anyone.
I am taken back to a small room to have my picture and fingerprints taken. The guys back here are pretty friendly. They take my photo and then my regular, inked fingerprints. Then one guy presses each of my fingers on a very small, electronic pad. They will go to the FBI. I am escorted to a holding cell. Blond lady is in there too but I stand across the room from her and look away.
The holding cell is cement, painted grey. I guess the grey of the cement wasn't quite depressing enough so they had to paint it. Nothing can be moved, the seats are cement, molded to the walls. Over a molded cement half-wall there is a steel toilet. The wall is so short that you can still be seen if you are sitting. The toilet is full of god knows what and no one is going to use it. The axe murderer woman and I are the only white women in this cell of at least 25. I practice the few street skills I've learned working in Price Hill. I don't look at anyone but I don't look down either.
I'm drawn to a young girl in a bright pink top. She looks tired, haggard even, but couldn't be more than 18. She reminds me of my friend's younger sister, street, but in a way that suggests she doesn't belong. I am summoned by a female officer. I don't know why. I don't know anything. I am escorted to a desk at the end of the hall where a bored woman takes my information without ever looking at me. She tells me it's late so I will be arraigned tomorrow. I ask her what this means. "It means you go before a judge in the morning." I ask her about bail, I tell her my sister is coming for me. She doesn't know anything. I go back to the holding cell. I comfort myself with thoughts of my sister being nearby. I know she is the one person I want right now. If anyone can get me out it's her.
Now we are all moved into the main population. I don't like this. It feels like maybe I'll be spending the night. We walk down hallways, lots of them, it takes a while. We get into an elevator. The female guard escorting us is gruff and I know my smile will not work on her. We go through more grey hallways and arrive at a door. Inside is a large room with tables and a tv. There are women sitting around, braiding hair, playing cards. The walls are lined with cell doors. Not iron bars, just doors with small windows in them. There is a second floor with more doors. We are each told a number, when the door opens we are to walk straight to the room with that number and close the door. I do as I'm told.
I walk into the cell. It's small, cement block, painted a dull beige color. There is a metal bed frame attached to the wall with a thin plastic mat on it. There is a toilet. It is placed so that if I were to sit on it I would be looking straight out the small window in my door. Within plain view of the guards. I will not use it. I sit. I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. I know my sister is out there, I know she will fight for me. I look out the window. It is maybe 8 inches high and 18 inches long. I just rest myself against the wall and watch outside for what feels like hours. It's dark. There's nothing going on. I'm looking over Reading Road, a stretch I don't usually drive. There is a dragon painted on a building. There are neon signs in the storefronts that advertise BAIL BONDS. It is a sleeping city and it is depressing.
I think maybe I should lay down. I've been in here for a while, maybe I should sleep. But I know I can't. I have to pee. Like, I REALLY have to pee now. I look at the toilet and I look at the window and I convince myself that it doesn't matter. I hover over the toilet. I'm not usually a hoverer but desperate times and all. I look out the little window in my door the whole time. Will I jump up if someone looks in? I don't know why I'm watching.
I stand at my door for a while, I look out at the women who are in here who will be here for a while. They seem nice. They braid each others' hair. One of them knows one of the girls who came in with me and she lays outside her door and they talk. She looks sad. These women are tough, they are real, they care for each other.
Eventually, when I'm not looking, a guard opens my door and tells me to come out. We walk back down those long hallways, go back down the elevator, walk back down the long hallways. I ask her what is going on, "I guess someone posted your bail." I feel such a huge relief. I am placed in another, identical holding cell. Only this time there is a man sitting on the bench across from me. It seems wrong to me but the guard closes the door, this one made of iron bars. We sit in silence and I watch the guards encased in glass. A male guard comes to get me and is startled to see me sitting with a man. He can't believe I was put into a male holding cell. He's not happy and he says so, but not to me.
I have to wait some more. I go to a window where I'm given my things minus what little money I had on me, they keep that. I go out to a small waiting room where I see my sister and her friend. I've never felt so happy. She is there, I knew she would be. We step outside and light our cigarettes and the rain feels just right. We walk to her car and she tells me how she threatened the man at the desk. She had paid my bail and then waited another four hours for me to be released. She went to the man every 15 minutes demanding to know where I was and why I had not been released yet. THIS is why you need an Emily in your life.
I'm out. We go home.
6 years ago