The pressure to extend some of my kids sentences was getting intense. It made others look bad if my kids behaved and theirs didn’t. I would not do it and I could not change the institution. I was going to quit the next day.
I got my guys cleaned up and put to bed without incident. Their doors were all shut and they were all quiet. Time for paperwork. That’s when I noticed a little mouse, made out of a gray sock, “crawling” across the floor, pulled on a strand of dental floss that disappeared under Jack’s door.
I heard giggles coming from my guys’ rooms-they were all peeking out their little windows to see if I was afraid of their mouse. “Very funny,” I said, and it kind of was.
About ten minutes later the phone rang. “WHO’S ON STAFF?” someone from Dorm B yelled in my ear.
“Me and Julia, what’s wrong?” One guard, who was nine months pregnant, was having contractions and a riot was breaking out in Dorm B. “Tell her to get a ride to the hospital, I’ll be right over,” I said. “Julia, trouble in Dorm B,” I said, heading out the door.
It was BAD. All the doors were locked and the boys were yelling and cursing and NO staff was there! “Let us out! We have to use the bathroom! We’ve been locked in for four hours!” From behind one door a boy was cursing a blue streak, “I’m gonna f**king kill somebody when I get out.” SLAM! He rammed the door. I went to his door to try to talk to him; no dice. SLAM! I checked the latch; it was definitely giving way. Not good.
I walked to each door, trying to find out what was going on. These boys did not know me, they were furious and the door-rammer kept up a steady barrage. “I can’t let you out until you quiet down.” Curses. “Do I need to call the police?” “Man, call the f**king police,” the door-rammer yelled, I’ll kill them, too.”
So I did. The police were there in ten minutes. The boys were still cursing and threatening. “Want us to spray them?” the officer asked. “These are juveniles,” I pointed out. “All I know is that we are supposed to call you if we lose control and please note-that door is about to break-“SLAM!”-and I seem to be alone here.”
Finally some Dorm B guards came back and I walked away, like one emerging from Hades into the world of the living. Out here crickets chirped, bullfrogs drummed, and my boys snored like an orchestra of chainsaws. I gazed around at all the hard, echoing, institutional surfaces, relieved only by the little gray sock mouse that was snuggled up against Jack’s door.
God, I was going to miss these guys.
Continued Chapter 7/7