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Chapter 1: Scene 1: Arrival for Intake


ThinkLink: Have you ever had to go to a new and frightening place?

       The steel door clangs shut. The guard doesn't get close enough to touch me, but he stays right behind my back. On one side are windows so high up I can't see out. Doors line the other side. I keep thinking about what my mom said at the hearing . "It's a dangerous place. A dangerous place."

       " Intake area ," the guard says. "This's where they do tests. Medical, teeth. See if you can read." He slows down. "These are offices the POs use. Yours'll get to you in a day or two."

       He waits to see if I'll ask, but like the deputy who drove me here from Wheatland told me, I keep my mouth shut. Every time I open it, I get in deeper.

       "PO's a Parole Officer ," he goes on, explaining anyway. "They got the say. Don't forget it."

       When we get to the end of the hall, he reaches past me and pushes a button on the wall. A buzzer goes off and he pulls the door open. "Move on through." He puts his hand on my shoulder and I jerk away. "Cool down, kid. That won't earn you Brownie points here."

       My feet are heavy, hardly able to move, like when my work boots get stuck in the mud out in the pasture after a heavy rain, rain that comes all at once instead of regular like we need it.

       "I'm coming, I'm coming."

       "Watch how you talk. That'll get you in trouble."

       "Like I'm not already in trouble."

       "What'd you expect? It's no fancy girls' school here, you know."

       No fancy boys' school either, no matter that the sign out front says Fire Oak School for Boys , State of Oregon. Everybody knows it's a jail, only this one's for kids.

       The guard herds me through the door like I herd the milk cow at the ranch , crowding her, moving her along. My little brother Nick'll be bringing her in now, turning her into a stall in the barn so Mom can milk her. A stab of hurt goes through me so hard I bend forward.

       "Watch it," the guard says. "No funny stuff. Sit down here while I get Mr. Kelly."

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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