Felon in the Making

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Things fell apart that spring.

I don’t remember what I was doing that night. I guess reading a book, or something. But it doesn’t really matter what I was in the middle of when he came in.

He took a seat on the couch and rifled through the newspaper before pulling off his headphones and contemplating me for a moment.

“What’s up?” the question finally came. I put down my book, or whatever it was.

“Not much. How’re you?”

“Good, good.” A moment of silence ensued. He leaned forwards a bit, and folded his hands inside his sweatshirt pocket. “Can you lock the front door?”

“What, did you not?”

“I can’t.” Blink, blink, wait a moment. Can’t? What?

“You can’t lock the front door?” I echoed.

“Yeah. I can’t figure it out.” He started laughing then, and I laughed too. It was funny, to me, that he was in such a state all the time. Funny that he couldn’t figure out ow to turn the deadlock to the left so that it locked and the house was safe for the night.

It wasn’t funny a few weeks later, when we got the news that he’d been arrested for possession with intent to deal, that he was in jail, that it was a felony, that he could be sentenced to time behind bars. It wasn’t so funny waiting in a grungy cement building for him to be released on bail.

We waited in that concrete room for what felt like hours. There were other people there, but not many, all silent. They were mostly just eyeing the massive steel doors. I didn’t know how to face what was on the other side; neither did they.

I remember that I couldn’t sit still. I paced, picked at the paint on the wall, and read the free pamphlets. They said things like ‘fitting back into the community’ and ‘how to get a job with felony and misdemeanor charges.’ It was nothing I wanted to think about, but I read them none the less. Better, I figured, to read the pamphlets than to let my mind focus entirely on his sentence. After all, we were only getting him out on bail.

The doors were high-tech in a way that didn’t seem to fit with the grungy atmosphere of the building, and they scared me. It made everything too official, too severe. They looked serious, permanent, and impenetrable.

Now and then- perhaps every half hour, or hour- they would slide open, and then the doors behind them would release, too. A guard emerged, and then an inmate emerged. We always snapped our heads up with the first groan of the massive doors, straining to see the man passing around the hallways corner. Again and again it was only a stranger. I felt a surge of sickness each time.

At long last, though, he was the one being released. I leapt forwards and embraced my brother the moment he was past the entrance, and for once, he let me hug him long and hard.





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