Riot in Cell 28

Cabbages & Kings

There has always been malicious talk around college campuses that police are out to get students, that they are envious of tweed sport jackets, or some such thing. Of course, this is not true.

Take for instance my recent experience with an unregistered car. Seems that Connecticut cars have to be registered by March 1; I, driving a borrowed car, knew nothing about it. But the Hartford police got me just before I could make a safe getaway into Massachusetts.

"Okay, sonny, where are them '54 tags, ya should have put 'em on fifteen minutes ago."

"Well, I'll be darned, you see this is my roommate's car, so I didn't know anything about it."

"Yeh, sure, neither did my mother, follow me down to the station, Mac, and no funny business."

The station was full of Hartford's finest, milling about the assignment desk, waiting their chance to go out and get the registration criminals. They all smiled knowingly when their successful compatriot came in and led me into the Captain's office.

"Look, son, I know you gotta get back to Harvard, but we have lock you up until somebody gets down here to bail you out. It'll be fifty dollars for you."

"But I don't know anyone around here."

"We can get ya a professional bondsman. Freddic Carbonne will help ya if anybody can. He only charges ten dollars. Lock him up, Al, put him in with that drunk, Sorry, kid, rules of the house, you know."

"Okay, Mac, lets have your personal belongings, wallet, belt, shoelaces, everything."

"What about the 38 in my shoulder holster?" I quipped, sensing the humor of the situation."

"We're way ahead of you, sonny boy," the guard answered blank faced.

Cell 28 was black and dirty, smelling rather strongly of the prostrate man on the one steel bench. A couple of cells down were two women, also drunk, who were attempting to solicit the attention of the guards who walked up and down the dingy corridor. Some other drunks added to the babble in the cell block.

"Hi," I said to my cell mate. The drunk's eyes flickered, then he swallowed once and turned over, unconscious. An hour, then two, went by as I watched the more sober ones go out to talk to bondsmen. Finally the guard stopped in front of cell 28, "What did I tell you, boy, Freddie will spring you out now."

Freddie was a shifty-cyed little man who sweated profusely.

"Hiya kid. Whatsa matter, your Pop forget to give yuh allowance this week? Never mind--Freddie will go bail for yuh. You look like a honest kid."

"Err ... Thanks."

"New, I get a bang from helpin' people out. And look, kid, in case you think maybe about not answering the summons, remember it'll cost me $50 an'you wouldn't want to do that to summone who's helpin' you out, would you?"

"Oh, no, sir."

"That's right. I like helpin' you."

"Oh ... thank you." I had been collecting my things from the desk sergeant. Having signed the receipt, I headed for the door.

"Say, kid, that'll be ten bucks. I don't get that much bang from helpin' no one."

I paid, and left, feeling like George Raft.