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Chapter 1: Scene 3: Body Search


       "John Hanson?"


       "Come with us, Hanson. I'm Mr. Kelly, in charge of intake and this is Mr. Merten."

       I stand up and they fall in behind me and we go down another hall. Kelly motions me in at a door marked Shower. A steel bench hangs on one wall, a toilet on the other and a shower spigot at the back. Everything's white tile up to the ceiling. Merten rummages around in a cardboard box and comes up with some clothes and an old pair of white tennis shoes.

       Kelly pulls on a pair of rubber gloves like doctors wear. "Time for a body search . Ever done this before?" I shake my head. "Give me whatever you've got in your pockets."

       "They took everything off me at the courthouse . There's nothing but this." I take out a wad of tissue and hand it to Kelly. He shakes it out, tosses it into the toilet and flushes.

       Merten comes over and stands on one side of me and Kelly stands on the other. "Strip down. Everything. Put it in this basket."

       I feel the back of my neck get hot. Kelly stands there, waiting for me to begin. I unbutton the shirt Mom bought for me to wear at the hearing . Seems like it happened months ago, not just this morning. My jeans are new, too, and still stiff. Crazy time to get new clothes. Like I was supposed to dress up for my own hanging . I look down at my boots. I was going to buy some new ones before school started with money I'd earned at the gas station . I pull them off and stuff my socks inside. I straighten up, look at the wall, and unzip my jeans.

       When I stand there in my uns , Merten says, "Those, too."

       Oh, God, they're really going to do it.

       Kelly tugs up his rubber gloves and gets right in my face. "We go over you for contraband -- drugs , weapons ."

       "That's crazy. I don't have that kind of..."

ThinkLink: Have you ever worked really hard to find a good hiding spot for something? Tell about it.

       "Open your mouth." He pulls my lip up and runs a finger along my gums . Then he pokes under my tongue . Goose bumps jump out all over me. He runs his hands through my hair, fingers spread out, feeling all over my head. I try to stay still, not act chicken , but I want to puke all over him. Then he slides his hands under my arms and along my sides. What'd he think I could hide buck-naked? He leans over and lifts one foot at a time, running his fingers along the bottom and between each toe. Stop it, damn it. My foot jerks away, but he hangs on.

       I think he's through and I gasp for air. "OK. Assume the position ." I stare at him, not knowing what to do next. "Against the wall, arms and legs spread ."

       I bite down on my tongue until I taste blood. Mom, I scream in my head so loud he must be able to hear. Mom!

       Then it's over. Kelly strips off the gloves and throws them in a bin in the closet. Merten goes over all my stuff and puts it in a cloth sack. Kelly turns on the shower and hands me a little bar of soap. "Wash good. Hair, too." I step under the hot water and stay under as long as I figure I can until I feel almost clean.

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 Updated on 5/13/04

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