“You made the news.”
“I know,” he told her. “We do have tvs here.”
The inside was nothing like what you see on television. That would be a vast improvement. You’re not divided by bullet proof glass. He wasn’t even in the same room. Instead she had to talk to him via video system with a telephone headset. It was like Skype, but crappier. There was a hum to the audio and the video was so bad she thought she was looking at a Monet.
“Realtor punches Developer at private school pickup line. Classic,” she said sardonically, holding her lips tight so she wouldn’t yell at him.
“Yeah, something like that. So…”
“So.” She wasn’t going to finish his thought for him.
“Did you talk to the Bail Bondsman?”
She hadn’t. There were things she didn’t believe in paying. Intermediaries like bail bondsman were on that list. Interest over .5% and anything for conflict diamonds (since that seminar on West Africa she attended at the Junior College; her engagement ring didn’t count.)
“No. We’ll wait until the hearing. They might reduce your bond. I’m not going to flush money down the toilet. Not right now.”
He started to object. She kept talking, trying to make eye contact through the fog of the video.
“I did hire you an attorney.”
And what a catch he was. When your savings are a sliver away from being blown and your credit card is a sliver away from being maxed out, you go for Joseph A. Bank, not Brooks Brothers.
“Great, but when do I get out of here?”
“Look. Right now your bail is $10,000. Given how little much we’re bringing in right now and how much you keep drinking up, 10% of that is gonna be a lot to scrape together. The house payment is due next week, the car payment the week after that. The lawyer seems to think that the judge will reduce your bail. I’d rather wait and see.”
She watched him do that thing where he tries to think of what to say, gesticulates, then shakes his head in assent, defeat, something.”
They talked about the food (it sucked, of course), the accommodations (no pillow unless you buy one–$20 each), and the guys in his pod (pretty boys with drug issues, an old man who couldn’t keep his hands to himself, a skinny black kid who wouldn’t talk). He brought up the bail bondsman a few more times. She held firm, hard as it was. He was miserable. But she hated how he made her feel like a tough mom more than his wife.
The screen flashed. Time to go. They flashed one another the sign for “I love you”–an old habit from her Sign Language class during her M.A.
She held back the tears as she gathered her ID from the attendant, took the elevator down, walked past the slapdash gallery of inmate art, through the metal detector and out the door toward the parking lot.
There was a bridge over a stream that separated the jail from the parking lot. She paused for a minute, sucking the tears in, when she saw something swimming in the water.
This is pretty far out here, she thought. Far enough in the country that there are otters.
She had never actually seen otters, except in videos. She leaned over the handrail a bit and thought something about finding a little bit of beauty even in the worst of circumstances. Maybe this was a sign. This bad streak was going to end, sooner than she thought.
Then she noticed.
That was not an otter. It was a rat.
Time to get home.