I walked into the police station and quickly put my bag in a plastic bin to be sent through the security x-ray machine thing. I feel so nervous at security stops. I always have to rack my brain for mental images of the various items I threw in my purse. Somehow I always feel convinced that there is a grimacing flip-handled knife or one of those small pearl handled pistols in there. I don’t own either. I get too nervous to dig through my bag to make sure I’m not a potential threat to America, and just send the bag through, almost always with a strong desire to cross myself. I generally refrain from performing this blasphemous gesture out of fear that it will cause the imaginary gray-bearded man in the sky to plant a cardboard cutter or other ambiguously “dangerous” item in my purse. God I’m a crazy person.
I sent the purse through with less anxious contemplation than usual and walked through the metal detector awning. I had some giant steel screws in my left pelvic bone from a childhood car accident. Those damn detectors always beeped on me. What a day to be patted down by security. The only guard person there was male. A big ass sweaty dude. Ugh. All I had on was a loose t-shirt, a crappy old sports bra, leggings and flip flops.
“I don’t even have pockets, man.”
“Standard procedure Miss.
He patted me down and took his sweet ass time too. I wanted to kill that government heavy petter. Jesus.
“Okay. You’re good to go. “
He could tell I was uncomfortable.
“Sorry, Miss. Just doing my job.”
I felt really panicked and stopped by the bathroom before checking in at the front desk. I looked in the mirror. My cheeks were really red and my neck was splotchy. I yanked down the collar of my t-shirt. My chest was all splotchy too. I was freaking out. My body was reacting quicker than my head. I’d dealt with this sort of reaction before and I knew I needed to just sit in there and breathe for a while. I went into the handicap stall and lay down on the floor. I just took deep breaths, closed my eyes and pretended I was lying down on the bank of a river. A shrink once told me to go sit by the brook near my house and meditate. I didn’t live by a brook anymore and I never did go down there and meditate when I did. I just figured the sound would make me need to pee. But since I was already in a bathroom, I figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem, so I finally half utilized her advice.
A little time went by and someone entered and went into a stall. I didn’t want them to be suspicious or ask me if I was okay or something. After all, my legs were poking out from under my stall like the Wicked Witch of the East or whichever one Dorothy’s house landed on. I stood up, unlatched the lock and went over to the sinks to look in the mirror again real quick. I tugged on the skin under my eyes with my finger tips so that I looked like a basset hound and then walked out. It always feels kind of good to exit a public bathroom and not wash my hands when someone else is in there. People are just way too fucking cleanly these days. It’s annoying.
I went up to the front desk or whatever you call that huge transparent glass wall with the little talking holes and money slots and half a dozen clerks sitting behind it. There wasn’t a line at the time so I went right up to the first window. The lady said she’d be right with me. In the mean time I just starred at her. She had curly red hair with white and gray frizz shooting out at the beginning of her hairline. It was pulled back in a sloppy bun. She was a little overweight but really more saggy than fat. It looked like she’d been bent over in that cheap wheelie chair for all of eternity. I felt sad for her. Then I recalled this bossy little Pilipino coworker at a coffee shop I worked at telling me that I shouldn’t feel sad for people. That people don’t like it when you feel sad for them. She said this after I mentioned feeling sad for a regular customer who had cancer. It wasn’t like I went up to the lady and blurted out: “Grace, I feel so sad for you!” That wasn’t exactly my style. Honestly it’s always less that I feel sad for someone and much more that I feel sad because of that person. Which is far more about me than anything. Often times things and people, objects of all sorts really, that come into my line of vision throughout an average day have the effect of making me sad. This clerk lady was no exception. She was depressing to look at. Or maybe I was just depressed. I wondered if she had this effect on other people who came through, or if they even paid attention to her. I was paying a lot of attention to her, but she was ignoring me. She was typing away on a computer from the Stone Age. If I were her, I‘d probably pretend to be doing work while someone was waiting, just for the hell of it. I imagined that the computer screen she was starring at with such apathetic concentration was completely black.
She finally looked up and made this sort of indirect eye contact with me due in part to a bit of a lazy eye. She also probably had little or no concern for my existence, or any other person who came through the line for that matter. Can’t say I blame the broad. I told her that I called in as a witness to a murder and that the officer on the line asked me to come down to the station. She told me to take a seat in the lobby and that someone would come and get me soon. Then I just kind of wandered away from that glass wall and found the lobby area she was talking about.
The chairs in there looked like they were once nice. They were wooden with dark green leather cushioning nailed down by brass buttons. Most had rips in them, some with the cotton interior falling out and others patched with black duct tape. On the walls hung peeling old oil paintings in huge dust covered gold frames of old white guys in judicial robes. When I sat down I felt like they were all glaring at me. There were other people waiting too. A wealthy looking older lady with gaudy jewelry and purplish gray hair. A black thirty-something guy with a navy-blue velour track suit on. A kind of ratty looking balding white man with worn out Carhartt coveralls and huge mud and paint covered steal toe boots. And another woman who looked emaciated with premature wrinkles, brown leathery skin and a huge looney tunes shirt on. She had a baby carrier at her feet and the baby was fussing incrementally. I really hoped it didn’t end up screaming. The fussy sounds were aggravating enough.
All of those white guys on the walls were looking down on us with chastising brows. This mixed-matched bunch looked like the perfect group for a purgatory of the clearly damned. A random sampling of folks, yet every person looked like they had some dirty, dirty secrets. And in this environment, where we were all just sitting and waiting and waiting and waiting, those dirty secrets found their way to the forefront of our minds. (Well, actually I have no clue what those other people were thinking about. But they all looked kind of spaced out and terrified and stoic at once.)
I felt a little worried. I was beginning to feel like a murder suspect. My mind was twisting itself in knots and I began imagining that I was somehow involved in the murder. Like my passivity in the situation was accommodating to the incident. What if when I’d thought in my head: “shut the fuck up!” I had just yelled it out to those men on the bus. Would that have changed anything? Or what if I was really the one who stabbed that guy and the other dude just rushed off the bus as a means to get away from me? No. That couldn’t be so. I mean I’d been pretty out of it, and could only really remember being pissed at those guys for talking so goddamn loud, but I don’t think I killed anybody. No. Surely not. God I hoped not.
Then I started daydreaming about being behind bars. Maybe it’d be good for me for a while. Maybe I should overemphasize my neuroticism to the interrogators so they’d put me in the nuthouse for a while. Maybe I needed that.
I picked up a sticky old magazine off the small table next to my seat. Ah, yes, Michael Jackson died. I’d forgotten all about that. I read an article about the g-spot and another one about accessorizing with chunky party jewelry to spice up a bland outfit. It was stupid enough to distract me. If it had been some big thick book that one of those white guys on the wall probably read recreationally, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on it. I flipped through a few other magazines, looked at pictures of zebras and Russian village people in a National Geographic, and then found myself sitting on the floor playing with one of those doll size plastic jungle gym things for kids. The ones with wooden beads that toddlers slide around for no apparent reason. Little kids are pretty stupid. Their parents would beg to differ, but really they’re dumb as shit.
God that toy was ancient. I played with an identical one at the pediatrician’s office years back. That sort of plastic nostalgia freaked me out. What a weird epoch we’re in. Nonetheless, I pushed the beads aimlessly around as if I was a prehistoric book keeper who’d gone mad and still crunched numbers on his abacus, in attempt to make sense of nothing. Only I was doing the opposite, I was trying to take the sense out of nothingness and just sit there thoughtlessly until a damn cop took me into some room with uneasy lighting to drill me. Finally someone came. As was the theme for that day, I had no fucking clue how much time had passed, but it’d felt like an eternity.
My interrogator was a female cop. She was a giant. Probably over six feet tall, maybe even seven feet really. I’ve always been deathly afraid of two types of people: unnecessarily tall women and identical twins. I bet she had an identical twin too. God she was scary. She greeted me pseudo-warmly and led me away from the waiting area.