I wasn't handcuffed. Thankfully.
I was put into the back of a squad car. Just like in the movies, the officer held the top of my head as I was tucked into the back seat of the car and the door closed. A wire cage separated me from the front seat.
I had never been in trouble before. I had and still have a very healthy respect for law enforcement to this day.
I was scared to death.
Not scared of these kind men in uniform but scared mostly of being sent back to Barb and Bob.
Tears rolling down my face I ask "Where am I going?"
"You are going to juvenile detention until your court date in a few days. Charged as Juvenile Delinquent, " the officer explained.
I breathed a sigh of relief....Then what?
I wouldn't even think of that right now.
What was juvenile detention?
I had no idea but knew I was about to find out.
Gates open to let us in. Guards on duty. Razor wire surrounds the facility. Guns.
I am taken into the stark brick building.
Bartow Florida Juvenile Detention Center.
The processing is a blur in my mind. I was so scared. I remember being handed a blue jumpsuit and told to shower.
After a shower and being sprayed for lice I am taken to a small room and asked questions.
I am filthy dirty so a warm shower was like a dream. The lice spray was not.
They tell me that the authorities have contacted my parents and let them know I am safe. Ha! Safe is being held in jail behind bars that protect me from them not the other way around!
The walls are so cold and our footsteps echo on the hard floors as I am escorted to my cell.
The door is opened and I am shoved inside.
There are bunk beds bolted to the walls. A small window above the metal rails of the beds. A toilet and sink.
I am told I have the bottom bunk.
The heavy door with an 8x8" window closes with a loud clank behind me.
As I enter I notice a young black girl stretched out on the top bunk.
I say hello but get no answer.
I have no idea what to do or say. I lay down and curl up without pulling the scratchy green blanket down. I just lay down on top of it.
As I close my eyes, I hear the most beautiful voice begin to sing....
You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I'll be there
I'll reach out my hand to you, I'll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I'll be there
And oh - I'll be there to comfort you,
Build my world of dreams around you, I'm so glad that I found you
I'll be there with a love that's strong
I'll be your strength, I'll keep holding on - yes I will, yes I will
Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, well that's all I'm after
Whenever you need me, I'll be there
I'll be there to protect you, with an unselfish love I respect you
Just call my name and I'll be there
The tears come and do not stop. Sobbing. Those words to that beautiful song just bounced around in that tiny cell. That beautiful voice just bounced around in my heart.
I find my roommate's name is Jackie. She has been there for over a month. Her 2nd court date was not for another 30 days.
"Why? What did you do?" I ask her.
"Oh, I took a screwdriver and stabbed my step dad in the neck then called the law. I'm not sorry. He beat me and has been raping me almost every day since I was 9 years old. I only wish I had killed him. He almost died. Was real close to dead. Next time he will die."
Her face was like that of a small child but her eyes were old beyond her years.
I will never forget her.
Jackie asked me what I had done. When I told her why I was arrested and placed there, she came down from her bunk and sat near me. She took my hand and told me that the courts would send me back to them. My offense was too small to even deal with.
"I can't go back there." I wailed in desperation.
I knew the wrath of Barbara would be swift and harsh. To have escaped her evil and to be caught would be certain cruelty and the more savage the punishment she could think of the better, in her twisted mind....
Other girls in other cells up and down the hallway yelled out to tell me to "Shut up you big crybaby."
Jackie hummed a soft tune as I quietly continued to cry.
My court date was in 3 days.....