Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Part 4 Jailbirds

Staring down at an empty ruled notebook, and staring up through the grilled iron bars of the North Philadelphia detention center, seemed eerily similar. Translucent onto another empty page, or lives going by in a white and red train. He had been on that train before. With his daughter on his lap, riding South, breathing condensation onto the grimy windows, and tracing a temporary matchstick family and dog, disappearing with time. He twirled a stray curl on her head, and she smiled back in little heartstring twangs.

And then somebody smashed the guitar. Or burned it.

A group of children waved at him from the 10 am, goodbye flashes in pink palms. His eyes moved right to left and back again, in seconds of futile search and minimalist acquaintances. He didn't know what he was looking for any more. His daughter lived in Maine. Or was it Chicago? There was nobody he knew outside any more. Brothers, sisters, ex-husbands were all winning charge sheet lotteries. One by one they trickled in. Sometimes arm in arm in suspicious shackles and purple eyes and clipped lips, vomiting undigested teeth.

Insurance fraud. Parole violation. 7th DUI. Possession of controlled substances. Possession with the intent to sell. Homicide.

He took his front row seat behind bars and watched train movies and swore to never set another thing on fire again. Ever. Chug chug. And then he lit a cigarette.

The gates clanged behind him and the stocky officer led a handcuffed woman into the yard. 

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