~ Soul Prisoner Mugshots ~
I fingered my spork
I slowly looked up.
Yeah you know, cinderblocks, i’ve got to find out the history of cinderblocks, I have a sneaking suspicion the Germans were involved. They had had a renaissance of very advanced industrial genius just before the wars, all the artificial color you see around you is directly attributable to German industry.
But – cinderblocks should not be pink.
I guess that’s part of the punishment, but when you fill your eyes with an unbroken field of pink cinderblocks, It’s an instant, finely tuned soul destroyer.
Actually, my opinion, painted ANY color, cinderblocks are bad news – although raw, they’re not so bad.
Anyway, it’s a police station cafeteria, you probably figured that out, and i’m talking to Officer X, and really not getting anywhere.
it’s all going pretty much by the book – Officer X doesn’t know me from Adam, she’s a classic California cop.
It’s an imaginary interview. I’ve done this a lot.
I ask about the booking process and her job.
‘It’s a digital camera, a really good one’
‘Yes, a Canon Rebel. It’s mounted in a box on the ceiling, so (laughs) you know, i’ve never actually touched it.’
‘So it’s got mirror in it – are you the only one who uses it?’
‘Heavens no, I’m like the unofficial photographer, but really, anyone can do it. There’s a checklist on the wall’
‘Do you have a lot of… subjects?’
‘I probably shoot a six hour shift, the rest is paperwork and filling-in on intake, so like maybe, oh from 20 (laughs) to you know a hundred and twenty. Or more. It all depends on what is going on.’
‘So you end up doing all of them… If it gets busy?’
‘Mostly – although the pix go into the system automatically from the camera. So getting the.. subjects in front of the camera to behave, that’s the part you…’
A lot of people give you trouble.’
‘each one is different…’
She turned her face to my left – toward the light from the windows. Her hair was straightened, a short tight bob, with maybe a touch of henna.
‘yeah, well that was kind of what i wanted to talk about…’
She looked at me first, out of the corner of her eye, and turned to face me. She looked at me. For a moment I thought she was going to understand. Then,unhurriedly, with royal deliberance – she cut her eyes at me, down and to to my left, at nothing.
Before the silence could get too long, I steered us into safer water.
‘Then I put them in the CAD, into the database, they’re public records, so that’s why your search found so many on the net.’
She brightened. I hadn’t lost her.
‘It’s an interesting job, I mean it’s kinda boring – I didn’t picture this when I got out of academy, but, I actually enjoy it, and I learn a lot of stuff about people, I think it would help on patrol, or even if I’m working the station. Yeah, getting to see people, just right when they come in, it’s an education, for sure’.
Then I looked right at her. She was African American, with a perfect California accent that I know can be turned off and on at will. A chameleon job I think, i’m no stranger to that. Like a switch in the head. But she wasn’t fronting, this is what she had always been… She wore the station uniform, badge, belt, sidearm, and a tie, with ease. There were two identical ballpoint pens in her left shirt pocket. Her eyes told a different story. They were cool, appraising, I knew her smile could cut right through you, and that she had rigid and effortless control of her demeanor. She had watched a lot of people try to give her shit.
I knew I didn’t want to trip her dookie snare.
‘Do you ever get anyone who… Like Native Americans… Or Caribbean people,who object to having a… You know, on like, religious grounds? ‘
Now I had her attention.
‘You mean like Hopi or Navajo or Santeria, Voodoo, that kind of thing?’
‘Oh… You know …’ She started slowly.
‘I’ve heard every thing, people say all kinda stuff. I get their shot, one way – or the other.’
Rueful smile. Looking over my right shoulder. Eyes suddenly.
‘But I haven’t heard that one in… quite some time.’
‘But you have.’
I figure this is it. I put my elbows square on the table, clasp my hands together into the ‘here’s the steeple’ – lift it to my mouth, look out the window and say,
‘Is it true? ‘
Now I can feel her eyes.
Calmly she answers ‘of course’
I look back. I must look back. Quickly, and I must look surprised because her grin is so wide.