Sure, television wasn’t her favorite pastime, but she watched enough to know that it was cliche to say that she was innocent. She felt strong in the truth that she really was innocent, yet it was just in the papers the other day about a man on death row in another state who never committed the crime. He wasted twenty years of his life in prison, and was one of many claiming innocence at any given moment. She would admit that she was a tad apprehensive to be in her current situation.
She was given one phone call. She called her sister, Grace. Maybe she should have called her parents or live-in boyfriend, Chris, but it never crossed her mind. In the back of the police cruiser, all she thought of was letting Grace know. She wouldn’t be at the Salon for the weekend rush, and that was important to let her know, but in the end, Grace was the only person she was always honest with.
“I’m innocent. Lorelei saw it all, she can fill you in, I only have a few seconds left. Let Chris and Mom know…” She was quiet as she listened to her sister. “I should be out Monday when the courthouse is open.”
Officer Grimsley cleared his throat behind her.
“I will.” Emma whispered into the phone. “Bye.” She hung up, and dropped her shoulders, letting out a sigh.
A weekend here, in jail. No friends to talk to, no friends to see. Chris had always said people judged him for his appearance. It wasn’t until now as she stared at the filthy toilet, that she felt she understood.
She had taken off work early to drive out and visit her long time friend, Lorelei out at Washington State University. They’d done nothing but wander around campus, eat too many licorice, and eventually began hitting each other with them. At the coffeehouse later they were invited to a local club with a local band performing. It should have gone smoothly; she had been hoping to find a guy for Lorelei since she was hung up on an older student still.
Instead a fight broke out as they cleared the building, and the police came in and rounded everyone up. Emma had just gone back inside to grab her purse, and got stuck in handcuffs. She was thankful that Lorelei had already gotten far enough away from the fight, and was safe back in her dorm room now.
She told her story to the girl next to her, and her own story was similar, except she had taken a photo. She didn’t think it was illegal to take photos, but here she was in jail too.
“Hey, good looking.” One of the younger men in the next cell called out to her, she learned later that his name was Chuck. “What’s your name?”
“You want some, huh?” She teased him. With a once over, she decided she’d sleep with him if they got out at the same time.
Several sexual innuendos later and a female officer had come in, and banged on the bars with her night stick.
“I can’t pee in here.” The other girl, Chelsea called out to the guard. “Can I please use a normal bathroom?”
“You’ll do your business in there, or you hold it til you’re released.” The officer remarked coldly, then went to stand by the exit door for a few minutes before leaving.
“Does it help if I look away?” the college girl asked.
“No.” Chelsea sighed. “The boys are watching.”
Somewhere in the early morning, Emma dozed on a hard, half rotting bench. She couldn’t have slept more than a few hours, when there was lots of shouting and whooping going on in the next cell over. An elder man was bent over, he’d been complaining all night about needing to use the restroom, and none of the officers had taken pity on him.
“Apparently an old man’s bladder isn’t up to par with mine.” Chelsea remarked quietly.
The three girls stood by each other, a train wreck that they couldn’t help but watch, all the while cringing inside.
“I can’t believe I’m actually seeing this.” Emma whispered under her breath.
“It’s really going to stink in here now.” One of the girls had said, Emma didn’t pay attention to which one.
She was mildly thinking that if she had been guilty, that this would be the moment of her ephiphany to lead a straight and narrow life. Instead, she was just livid at the officer that put her in this cell.
It snowed at some point on Saturday night. The first real snowfall of the season, nothing like the previous year with the record amounts. A little thought gnawed at her, maybe she had lost her way. When she remembered the young junior high girl, playing violin, and aspiring to a photographer, well it didn’t feel like herself. She just reminded herself though, before the thought could unravel too far, that she just knew herself now. Her parents no longer pushed her to be what they wanted her to be, and she didn’t feel obliged to apologize for who she had become.
“McCarthy, Emma.” Officer Grimsley called out first thing Monday morning. Bringing Emma out of her near comatose state of boredom. “Your lawyer is here to see you.”
She pushed her hair out of her eyes; it seemed too good to be true. Later, when asked by friends what happened that weekend in jail, she wouldn’t be able to recall more than a few details. Not even the name of the college girl who she rode all the way from WSU with.
Officer Grimsley led her to a small room, with a two way mirror, she assumed. She didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for her parent’s lawyer, Cole London to come into the room. It might have seemed like a long time if she hadn’t just spent days waiting.
“Ms. McCarthy, sorry you were held up here all weekend.” Cole smiled reassuringly as he came into the room. A mystery arm closed the door behind him, and she could hear the click of it locking them in.
“This has all been a mistake. The whole, wrong place, wrong time, kind of deal. I can leave today right?” Her voice raised as she spoke, feeling near hysterical. The notion that she would be put away even though she was innocent, began to run away with her.
Cole looked through his paperwork before responding.
“Right.” Cole said to himself, then looked up. He seemed to take her in the panic that was begin to take over her thoughts. “Don’t worry Emma. They are not pressing charges. And you will be free to go. I had to check since one of the girls is being charged for hitting an officer in the head, but that wasn’t you, was it?” He grinned at her, and gave a little lift of his cheek for a half-wink.
“No, not me at all.” It came out almost as a laugh, giddy was almost her feeling.
“Just need to know if you want to press charges against any of the officers, and you’re free to go.”
“No, no charges.”
He stood up, shook her hand, and pulled out a business card. “If you change your mind, here’s my card. Remember timing is important.”
Leaving the police station as a free woman, she was certain was one of the best feelings she’d ever experienced. It was just past noon, and she should have been hungry. But she happened to see a familiar man standing by the bus stop, and she couldn’t resist going up to say hello.
No one knew she was out of jail yet, and he was rather cute. Chuck was polite, and asked if she wanted to get some lunch. She was the one who suggested they skip the pleasantries. It was her idea to get the room. But he didn’t object.
She knew she’d sleep with him if given the opportunity. She was usually right about these things.
It was past nine by the time she walked the creaky stairs to her apartment. She had moved out of her grandparents home after a few months, and found herself in a shared living situation with Chris. For all purposes he was her boyfriend, they lived together, slept together, and paid bills together. He cared for her, and she cared for him, in her own way.
She could hear the tv through the thin door. She unlocked it, and sighed before stepping in. He looked up, a smile lighting up his face. “They finally let you free?” He turned off the tv, and moved to stand up.
“Yeah, finally, right?” She shrugged, and he came up to inspect her face. “What?” She asked, a little nervously. She didn’t necessarily feel bad about Chuck, or even Matthew Picasso. They agreed, open relationship. It was just, that sometimes when he looked at her like this, that she wondered if he forgot.
“I’m just seeing how you’ve faired with your first weekend in the slammer.” Chris touched her cheek. “Definitely look more bad ass then before.” He teased before moving in for a kiss.
She pulled away before the kiss had finished. “What is it?” Confusion crossed his face as he seemed to inspect hers closer.
“Oh nothing.” She shrugged, trying to lighthearted. “I need to shower, I haven’t been clean in days.”
He let go of her, accepting her reason she thought, but he followed her to the bathroom.
“Are you sure you’re ok?”
“Quit being so square.” She forced a laugh. “I watched an old man pee himself, ok? I need to bathe.”
Notes: You know… Emma is my trouble girl. If ROS had been guilty/jail time… well I would have had a million ideas… but innocent/jail, and I was drawing blanks. So much that I procrastinated on this for a few real life months. In the end, her story was inspired by a few news clips. BTW, taking photos of cops in usa, irl is a bad idea. Even though it’s not technically against the law, it appears quite a few have been found guilty. Talk about gray area.