by Rick Beck

Chapter 2

Reality Strikes

For Vince Parsons, arriving at jail was future shock. The building stood tall and stark, reaching into the night sky, resembling a medieval structure. The alley was narrow and they stopped at a door marked "prisoners". As the door slid open, the police officer waited to let Vince out of the car. Passing through the automatic sliding door, it closed behind them before a door opened admitting them to the jail.

"DUI, Dep," the officer said to a deputy with a clipboard, who would see the request was followed.

The handcuffs were removed and the police officer went back the way he came. The jailhouse deputy opened the barred door, taking Vince's arm, moving him in front of a glass partition, closing and securing the door behind him.

Inside the glass Vince could see several dozen men, sitting, standing, and pacing in a room smaller than his clothes closet. It was painted a dull gray. Halfway up the tall wall the paint turned an ugly yellow. It was harsh. The glass was filthy with stains.

"Give me your full name," the interview began.

"Vincent Lucien Parsons. Doctor," he added sharply.

The deputy looked up from the form. He wasn't impressed. Each question was asked and answered. The deputy jotted down the information in the appropriate place.

"I need a blood test," Vincent said.

The deputy looked up from the form as if he was confused.

"Breathalyzers are notoriously inaccurate. I was told I'd be given a blood text if I requested it."

The deputy was left handed and he needed to remove the paperwork from his clipboard to write the request at the top of the page. Jotting down: Blood Test, he slid the form back under the clip.

Vince felt a little like he was in a fog. Although he knew he was there, he couldn't connect with where he was. His usual cool, in-control demeanor had left him. He felt a little like he was trapped.

He stared down at the gray floor. It was covered in a film of dirt. There were several benches scattered around with chains and cuffs attached. There was a hallway and more closet sized rooms filled with men. The musty smell became apparent as he searched for some way out of the mess he was in.

"Phone's in here. You're a guest of our fair county until you bail out. That's Monday."

"Monday?" Vince said, finding it inconceivable he'd be held against his will over the weekend.

"It's Friday night. Judges are off on weekends. Charges are pending. A lawyer would help. You're in pretty deep. If I were you, I'd call a high powered lawyer. They all know judges and a good one just might have you out of here tomoorow."

"Thanks," Vince said.

"There's a phone in the holding cell. Stand in line and call someone who can help you. Don't call your girlfriend for help."

The door slammed behind Vince. The phone was blue and hung on the wall like at the bus station. A man leaned against the wall talking on it. Five other guys stood in a disorganized line.

"Back ah the line, bud," a guy said, as if Vince had insulted him.

Vince didn't move, exchanging stares with the angry man, who mumbled but had nothing more to say.

As distasteful as the "tank" was from outside, the inside was an insult to his humanity. The first thing he noticed was the smell. Vomit penetrated his nostrils. A towel covered the source of the stench. The next smell to insult his dignity came from the occupants.

A few men were dressed for a Friday night of fun. Vince had the only three piece suit. Most of the inhabitants were unkempt, unwashed, and distasteful to see. It wasn't how Vince saw his evening ending. He'd entered a world where he had no control and he was trapped.

One guy finished with the phone and the next guy moved up. Vince thought about his call. He'd call his secretary. No, there were doctors at the hospital. No, he didn't want it to get around work. He searched his brain for a suitable person to call. Dr. Quinton Hoarsely had always been responsive to Vince. He'd be home by now, and Quinton would know a competent attorney.

Vince thought it over. How did he ask for help? People came to him for help. How could he ever be the same? Being arrested, humiliated, treated like a criminal, and he didn't know what to say.

Quinton's answering machine picked up. It was frustrating.

"This is Vince. I'm in the San Diego jail. I need an attorney."

He was desperate and he felt helpless. He was trapped in a nightmare. He was cut off from his world. The occupants in the tank were too close, offensive, and disgusting to a man like Vince.

Using his handkerchief to wipe off the seat, he settled into the corner of the tank. Dr. Vincent Parsons was on his own.

Vince watched the comings and goings. They'd call a guy out and he'd disappear, never to return. Others went directly across the corridor to be fingerprinted and photographed. Then, they too disappeared into the bowels of the jail.

Others came in through the gate, being added to the tank to keep it full. The smell of the vomit, the spit, the sweat, and the grime blended together until he couldn't discern one from the other. The air was heavy with unpleasant smells. As the night went on, there was finally enough room for him to stretch out his legs. His back ached. His suit was a mess. It would require an all day shower to cleanse himself.

It was early in the morning when he fell asleep. He woke each time a door slammed. The wall hurt his back. The bench was harder on his posterior. He woke up again. There were five people left with him.

"Parsons," someone growled.

"Is my attorney here?" he asked hopefully, moving to the door.

"No, sir. You're being booked, photographed, and printed."

"What about my attorney?"

"I'm a deputy, Mr. Parsons. I don't know anything about attorneys. It's Friday night. I'd look for one come Monday. Wait right here. When you hear your name called, move to the window. Get your documents. Return here. You'll hear your name. Go in there for fingerprints. Return here. A trustee will take your picture and let you back into the tank. Can you remember all that or should I repeat it?"

"I think I can remember all that," Vince said sourly.

"Parsons," the woman called from the booking window.

"Step forward, Mr. Parsons. Follow my instructions," she barked.

"Mr. Parsons, you are being charged with driving under the influence, vehicular homicide, driving with an expired license.. Sign here," she pointed at a spot at the bottom of the page.

"What?" Vincent said, wincing from the assault of words.

"Mr. Parsons, you are being charged with driving under the influence, …," she repeated the entire litany of charges over again.

"No. I mean homicide. The girl died?"

"Mr. Parsons, I'm a booking clerk. These are your charges. Please take the papers over there. Wait to be fingerprinted."

"My license expired?" He said in shock.

The woman left the window, shaking her head as if he was stupid. He leaned on the counter trying to focus. He wanted to grab someone, make them understand he hadn't done anything. He wasn't drunk. He was a doctor.

In a minute he was being blinded by a light flashing out of the booth where he'd been sat, having no idea how he got there. A minute later his fingers were being turned onto a card before he was back in the tank, feeling like he was caught in a dream.

"I'm a doctor," Vince said, more to remind himself.

A door slammed. Vince jumped. There were three men left in the tank with him. He was exhausted, sick, and confused. He felt himself beginning to shake. Fear replaced the idea of rescue. In a few hours he'd lost all contact to his own life. Desperation had set in.

"Vincent Parsons," the deputy called, jarring him awake.

It was later in the morning but there was no way for him to know what time. They'd brought a brown bag with a bruised apple and a green bologna sandwich for breakfast some time before. He'd passed.

"Your attorney's here, Mr. Parsons," the deputy said.

Vince found himself standing in the corridor.

"Follow me, sir. You'll be allowed to talk to him alone. He can tell you what you need to know."

"Is it Monday? They said it would be Monday," Vince said.

This deputy seemed more respectful. He entered a cubicle. A silver haired man, looking like an attorney should, waited for him.

"Hello, Dr. Parsons. I'm Wes Mathews. Dr. Hoarsley called me this morning. He said you needed my help. Quinton is a family friend. I came right away. I don't usually work on Saturdays."

"It's Saturday. Thank you. I don't know what's happening."

"Quinton is upset by your arrest. He wanted you out pronto."

"These charges. Mr. Mathews, …I didn't do it. I mean she walked out in front of me. She came from between cars. I couldn't stop."

"I know, doctor. I'll take care of it. We'll be okay. I'll see the judge in thirty minutes. I'll have you out of here in a few hours."

"They said Monday. This place is horrible. How can this happen? I won't ever get the stink off me," Vince said.

"Just leave it all up to me. I know the judges. They don't usually set bail on the weekend, but I can get a favor when I need one. You sit tight and I'll get things rolling," Wes said with confidence.

"I don't know how to thank you," Vince said.

"You go home, get cleaned up, get some rest, and be in my office Monday morning. We'll get to work on your case. I won't come back today. They'll call you after I post bail. I'll need the amount of bail plus $5,000 when you come Monday. That will retain me to handle your case. Here's my card. My numbers are on it. I'll go get you out of here."

"Thank you. I'll see you Monday," Vince said.

It was 4:30 in the afternoon when Vince got home. He left his clothes on the floor of the bedroom and stood in the shower for an hour, trying to wash off the humiliation. He did something he hadn't done since he was a child. He cried.

Without completely drying off he scooted beneath the cool sheets and fell asleep. He woke up Sunday afternoon. He'd slept longer than he'd slept in years and it took him time to get up.

He collected the San Diego Union from the front door, tossed it on the table in front of the couch, prepared coffee, and he sat down with a cup of strong brew. He was still shaken.

Reading the headlines and a couple of the bi-lines, he flipped the paper over to read below the fold on the front page. One headline jumped out at Dr. Parsons.

"Dr. Parsons Drinks, Drives, Kills Girl"

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