When the jail door clangs shut and the vibration ceases to stab him in the brain the remaining sensation is like being buried alive. Not lovingly buried in a coffin under soft dirt but beneath the tonnage that is the system. A system that only exists to destroy.
With wrists wrapped in steel, steel that chafes skin red, he knows that if he gets out today, tomorrow, or never he will wear the mark of these cuffs for a long time as the skin heals. The echo from the door whispers in the badly painted cinder block as he is told by a guard, “to stop and face it,” with a meaty earth-colored finger.
The echo says things about lives lived badly, lived for moments wished back. Punished for those moments for the rest of their lives.
The wall stinks from tears shed for dead dreams.
The guard gets in his ear, “do you want to hurt yourself?” His breath smells like dental work and overripe strawberries.
The prisoner says, “no.”
“Do you want to hurt me?”
“Do you want to hurt anyone?”
And he shakes his head, no. All lies. He wants to burn the world to the ground and see all the little people scurry to another place for safety.
The corporal he came in with puts the bag containing the prisoner’s belongings on the counter.
“All he brought in with him were these two ID cards.”
“You a vet?” the guard asks seeing his VA ID card.
The prisoner says, yes, because he served, not in war, not in the sense of getting a combat patch, but he served, busted ankle and other ailments aside it- was a most boring tedium, but now he is here and that was twenty years ago and he is still serving. He’ll be serving for the rest of his life.
The guard and he do their bureaucratic dance as another metal door slams closed and then another until he decides to stop keeping count and just do the time.