Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 20 of 64

“So then I was rolling around on the ground, feeling like my sinuses were trying to explode out of my face. Feeling like my eyeballs were melting. Feeling like my lungs were all shriveled up into raisins. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t even breathe. By the time I could even roll over and open my eyes, they had me cuffed: ankles and wrists in zapstraps that were so tight, they felt like piano wire. I was a cool fifteen year old, but not that cool. I started up the waterworks, boohoohoo, couldn’t shut it down, couldn’t even get angry. I just wanted to die. The Sony cops had seen it all before, so they put a tarp down on the Veddic’s backseat upholstery, threw me in it, then rolled it into their recovery truck and drove me to the police station.

“I puked on the tarp twice before they got me there, and almost did it a third time on the way to booking. It got up my sinuses and down my throat, too. I couldn’t stop gagging, couldn’t stop crying, but by now I was getting pissed. I’d been raised on the whole Sony message: ‘A Car for the Rest of Us,’ gone with Mom to their Empowerment Seminars, wore the little tee shirts and the temporary tats and chatted up the tire-kickers about the Sony Family while Mom was busy. This wasn’t the Sony Family I knew.

“I was tied up on the floor beside the desk sergeant’s counter, and a Sony cop was filling in my paperwork, and so I spat out the crud from my mouth, stopped sniveling, hawked back my spit and put on my best voice. ‘This isn’t necessary, sir,’ I said. ‘I’m not a thief. My mother owns the dealership. It was wrong to take the car, but I’m sure she didn’t intend for this to happen. Certainly, I don’t need to be tied up in here. Please, take off the restraints—they’re cutting off my circulation.’ The Sony cop flipped up his goofy little facemask and squinted at me, then shook his head and went back to his paperwork.

“‘Look,’ I said. ‘Look! I’m not a criminal. This is a misunderstanding. If you check my ID and call my mother, we can work this all out. Look!’ I read his name off his epaulettes. ‘Look! Officer Langtree! Just let me up and we’ll sort this out like adults. Come on, I don’t blame you—I’m glad!—you were right to take me in. This is my mom’s merchandise; it’s good that you went after the thief and recovered the car. But now you know the truth, it’s my mother’s car, and if you just let me up, I’m sure we can work this out. Please, Officer Langtree. My wallet’s in my back pocket. Just get it out and check my ID before you do this.’

“But he just went on filling in the paperwork. ‘Why? Why won’t you just take a second to check? Why not?’

“He turned around again, looked at me for a long time, and I was sure he was going to check, that it was all going to be fine, but then he said, ‘Look, I’ve had about as much of your bullshit as I’m going to take, little girl. Shut your hole or I’ll gag you. I just want to get out of here and back to my job, all right?’

“‘What?’ I said, and it sounded like a shriek to me. ‘What did you say to me? What the hell did you say to me? Didn’t you hear what I said? That’s my mother’s car—she owns the lot I took it off of. Do you honestly think she wants you to do this? This is the stupidest goddamned thing—’

“‘That’s it,’ he said, and took a little silver micropore hood off his belt, the kind that you cinch up under the chin so the person inside can’t talk? I started squirming away then, pleading with him, and I finally caught the desk sergeant’s eye. ‘He can’t do this! Please! Don’t let him do this! I’m in a police station—why are you letting him do this?’

“And the cop smiled and said, ‘You’re absolutely right, little girl. That’s enough of that.’ The Sony cop didn’t pay any attention. He grabbed my head and stuffed it into the hood and tried to get the chin strap in place. I shook my head as best as I could, and then the hood was being taken off my head again, and the Sony cop looked like he wanted to nail the other cop, but he didn’t. The desk sergeant bent down and cut my straps, then helped me to my feet.

“‘You’re not going to give me any trouble, are you?’ he said, as he led me around to a nice, ergo office chair.

“‘No sir!’

“‘You just sit there, then, and I’ll be with you in a moment.’

“I sat down and rubbed my wrists and ankles. My left ankle was oozing blood from where it had been rubbed raw. I couldn’t believe that the Sony Family could inflict such indignities on my cute little person. I was so goddamn self-righteous, and I know I was smirking as the desk sergeant chewed out the Sony cop, taking down his badge number and so on so that I’d have it.

“I thanked the cop profusely, and I kept on thanking him as he booked me and printed me and took my mug shots. I was joking and maybe even flirting a little. I was a cute fifteen-year-old and I knew it. After the nastiness with the Sony cops, being processed into the criminal justice system seemed mild and inoffensive. It didn’t really occur to me that I was being arrested until my good pal the cop asked me to turn out my pockets before he put me in the cell.

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