The Truant Risk

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 12 (v.1) - TIME TO PAY THE PIPER

Submitted: June 25, 2019

Reads: 95

Comments: 1

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Submitted: June 25, 2019

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The phone began to ring once, twice, three times, four… “Hello.” came the young voice on the other end.  KariAnn recognized the voice as her youngest sister, Denise, who ran off looking for mom once she realized who it was on the phone.  “Mom!  Mom! KariAnn’s on the phone!”

It didn’t take but a minute before Mrs. Randall picked up the answered receiver sitting on the counter.  “KariAnn!” she exclaimed almost out of breath.  “We have all been sick with sorry about you!  Thank God you’re okay!”

“That’s why I’m calling, mom, to let you know I’m okay.” replied KariAnn.“I can’t tell you how sorry I am for making everyone worry about me.  I hope everyone doesn’t hate me now.”

“Of course we don’t hate you.” assured her mom.  “Where are you?”

“I’ve been living in Detroit with friends I made, and working a real job.” answered KariAnn testing the water before mentioning anything about wanting to come home.  “I’ve been doing pretty good, but lately have been feeling kind of home sick and sometimes I really miss you all so much.  I just needed to hear your voice again.”

“It’s great hearing your voice too, KariAnn, and I want you to come home.  I don’t care what you’ve done; just say you’ll come home.” begged Mrs. Randall.

KariAnn did not expect this reaction from her mother, and wasn’t sure she could trust her.  “I’d like to come home, mom, as I realize I need to get back to school, but I have a boyfriend that I love very much.  He’s older and the only way I’ll come home is if you promise he can drive out to see me on weekends.”

“If that’s the only way you’ll agree to come home, then I guess we will have to learn to like him.  I can pick you up if you want to tell me where you’re at.” offered Mrs. Randall.

“No, I can get a ride from Tony when he gets out of class, and that will give you a chance to meet him.” said KariAnn still in shock her mother was letting her back in the family.  “How’s dad?  I can’t wait to see him.”

“Your father, like the rest of us, is doing the best he can under the circumstances, but will be so relieved you are okay.  I want you to come home today or the deal is off.” she stipulated her condition.

“Okay, mom, it’s a deal.” KariAnn agreed.  “I’ll be home early tonight and thank you so much for giving me another chance when I know I don’t deserve one.”

“Just come home, KariAnn, and we will work this out together.  I love you.”

“I love you too, mom.” said KariAnn trying not to tear up.  “See you soon.”

Hanging up the phone, she told Debbie the good news.  “Mom said she wants me to come home, and even agreed to let me keep seeing Tony.  I am so home sick and want so much to believe her, but something inside me is not totally convinced.”

“You told me Vista Maria won’t take you back after running away for a second time so you know she can’t send you back there again.  Maybe she is ready to compromise like my mom did.” Debbie reasoned.

“I hope you’re right, Deb, but know if you don’t hear from me in a few days then something went wrong.” KariAnn told her.  “Also know I will run away again if this is a lie or a set up so don’t let anyone move into my spot in the basement until you hear from me.”

“You got it, KariAnn.” promised Debbie.

It was going on 5:30 when Tony swung by the commune after his class, and KariAnn informed him she called home and what her mom had said.  “See I told you it was a great idea.” said Tony pleased he was right.  “Now you can get back in school and I’ll know you are safe.  You know I’ll come see you every weekend, and remember it’s only about a half hour drive away.”

“I love you, Tony, and I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t see you.  What if mom is only telling me she’ll let me see you to get me home and then changes her mind?” KariAnn expressed her main fear.  “My parents disapproved of my last boyfriend, and he was younger than you.”

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Besides I remember you telling me a while back that with my good looks and charm I could get most anything I wanted.” smiled Tony.  “I’ll just have to work my magic on your parents.”

Grabbing a few of her things, she told Tony she was ready to go and they hit the highway for Troy.  The same old familiar welcome sign greeted them at the city limits, and the new Arby’s that was going up the last time she went home was now open for business.  Pulling onto Hickory St., KariAnn told him the house number was 88 and it was on the right side.  It was decided on the way as a precaution that it might be better if Tony didn’t walk her up to the door this time, and she kissed him quickly goodbye before stepping out of the car.  “You have my number, and I’ll try to call you too as soon as I can.” she promised.

“Good luck, KariAnn, and I’ll be waiting to hear from you.  I know you can do this.” said Tony backing out of the driveway.

Before reaching the porch, KariAnn’s sister Renee opened the screen door and the family German Shepherd pushed his way through to run out to greet her first.  It felt like no time had passed, and she was finally home.  Mom grabbed her as she walked in the door and they stood there hugging for a couple minutes, then dad hugged her too before the questions started.  “You have been gone all summer.  Where have you been staying all this time?” asked Mrs. Randall.

“I lived in a commune.  We were like a family and everyone contributed in some way.” KariAnn began to explain.  “Since I had a paying job, I would chip in for groceries, but those not working did other things like laundry, cooking and cleaning.”

“You said you had a job?  Who would hire a fourteen year old runaway?” her mom pressed for an answer.

“I worked under the table on a food truck making $60 a week.” she stated vaguely suddenly becoming concerned that she needed to carefully pick her words to ensure she didn’t give her parents any information that could lead to anyone getting in trouble for helping her.

“So tell me, that young man who drove you home in a new Cadillac convertible is your boyfriend?  How old is he?  Does he know he’s been messing around with an underage minor?” Mrs. Randall fired question after question.

“Tony is nineteen, mom, but we have not had sex, because he wants to wait until he gets married.  I know that sounds old-fashioned, but he’s from an affluent family and has big plans for his future and doesn’t want to mess things up with an accidental pregnancy.” KariAnn found herself explaining, but feeling that it likely didn’t make any difference.  She was starting to get worried that maybe things weren’t going to go as well as she had hoped, and had a bad feeling she was not going to be allowed to keep seeing Tony either.  Just then two black and white police cars pulled up front of the house, and KariAnn instantly knew they were there for her.

“You called the police?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yes, I had Marilyn across the street call them when she saw you pull in the driveway.” Mrs. Randall confessed.  “Did you really think you could party and have fun all summer and then just come back home like nothing happened?  You’re going away again and this time it won’t be as nice a place as Vista Maria was.”

The four police officers were now at the door, and her father was letting them in.  “KariAnn Randall please put your hands behind your back.” one of the officers ordered as he handcuffed her in front of her parents and younger siblings looking on, and then walked her out to the cop car with lights still flashing.  KariAnn never turned around and walked straight ahead as she couldn’t bare the thought of giving her mother the satisfaction of seeing how hurt and betrayed she felt.  She would not make that mistake again, and the wheels inside her head were already turning. 

“Where are you taking me?  I’m not going to jail am I?” asked KariAnn.

“No, we are taking you to the Children’s Village in Pontiac which is a juvenile detention center, or in other words a prison for underage minors that have committed a crime.” the arresting officer explained.  “You will likely stay there for two weeks and see the judge who will decide what happens to you then.”

“Is running away actually a crime?” asked KariAnn.

“Yes, running away from home is considered a crime, but giving aid or assistance to a runaway instead of turning them into the police is a more serious crime called ‘harboring a runaway’ and is typically a misdemeanor.” answered the cop.

“So what can happen to someone who is accused of harboring a runaway?” she wanted to know.

“The runaway’s parents can sue anyone involved in aiding the runaway in civil court,” the cop answered, “but just sit back and all your questions will be answered soon enough.”  Then turning to his partner driving the car asked, “Do you know if dispatch called the control room to inform the staff that we are in route with a juvenile?”

“Yes, they are aware we are in route and know our ETA is about twenty minutes out.” the other officer confirmed.  The rest of the trip was in silence as KariAnn looked out the window wondering how everything was going to play out and what would become of her now.  Their destination ended at 1200 N. Telegraph Rd. in front of a large brown brick building with big white lettering on the building which read: OAKLAND COUNTY CHILDREN’S VILLAGE.  The police car pulled around back into a small parking lot of the detention facility used by law enforcement. There was a sign near the parking lot entrance which read:

STOP

Children’s Village

Restricted Entrance

Authorized Personnel Only

<--- Visitors Entrance

The two officers got out of the car and walked over to open the back door where KariAnn sat still cuffed with her hands behind her back.  She was then led by both officers each holding one of her arms to the exterior slider door of the intake hall.  The control room officer answered the intercom and enabled entry into the first slider entrance of the intake hallway.  Once that door had closed behind them, the second slider was electronically opened and they were finally inside the intake hallway of the detention facility.

First they removed KariAnn’s handcuffs, and asked her to remove her shoes, belt, jewelry and all personal belongings from pockets then she was patted down.  A metal detector was then used after pat-down to ensure that noting was missed.  General information was taken, and then she was ushered into the showering area.  Soap, shampoo and towels were passed to her through a two way door.  After KariAnn had finished showering, she was issued clothing including socks, underclothes, sweatpants, T-shirt and sweatshirt along with a toothbrush and comb.

“Please come with me, KariAnn, as I’ll need to put you temporarily into Holding Cell A while we process another girl that just arrived.” the intake officer explained as she was escorted to one of the cells located in the intake hallway.  “I’ll come back for you when I’m done to collect some more pertinent information so I can make a recommendation to the judge.”

“Does that mean the judge will hear my side of the story too, and not just my parents’ point of view of what happened?” asked KariAnn.

“Yes, that’s correct,” the intake officer smiled, “and my recommendations usually hold some weight.  Sit tight now, and we’ll talk soon.”

The interview with the intake officer went well, and KariAnn told her the whole story leaving out names and places.  She admitted messing up, but blamed it all on being home sick and feeling abandoned.  “All I ever wanted was another chance to go home and be part of the family again.” said KariAnn at the end of their talk.

“Thank you, KariAnn, for being open with me.” acknowledged the intake officer.  “As you’ve been cooperative and don’t seem to be a threat or harm to yourself or anyone else, you are ready to be assigned a cell in one of the four halls.  Here’s a handbook of the rules, and the first expectation we have is you will read it and ask staff if you have any questions.  Let’s grab your bedding and I’ll call a detention officer to come get you.”

As KariAnn and the detention officer walked down the hallway to where she’d be staying, he explained that there were four dormitory halls labeled A, B, C, and D which in total had a maximum capacity of 88 beds.  Boys were segregated from the girls and Halls A and B was where they housed the boys and C and D was where the girls stayed.  Each Hall held twenty-two cells with one cell per dorm that housed two beds used only when at full capacity, and all other cells housed just one bed.  Each cell was furnished with a built-in bunk, a desk with a stool, a sink and a toilet.  Then stopping in front of an empty cell in Dormitory C, he unlocked the door.  “This one will be yours KariAnn.  You can set your things down for now, and come join the others in the recreation room.  As a new admission you will start at Level 2, and recreation ends at 8:30 for that level.  As you earn points and level up, your privileges will increase.  You can make up your bed then, and lights out will be at 10.” he explained.

As it was already going on 7:30, KariAnn only had about an hour of recreation time left.  Looking around the room she counted about twenty-nine girls all ranging in different ages playing games and listening to music.  Smoky Robinson was on the radio singing The Tracks of My Tears, and a few of the girls were singing along.  Spying an empty chair in the corner of the room, KariAnn sat down and started to familiarize herself with the handbook she was instructed to read to learn what the rules were and how the point system worked that would control what level and privileges she’d receive.  ‘Good Behavior in Detention = More free time and privileges’ she read, and thought to herself that makes sense.  ‘You can earn points during the 3 staff shifts each day.  Those 3 sets of points are averaged each 24 hours to provide a single daily score.  Your score influences your Level.  Your level influences your privileges.’

 

Possible Scores

3 = Excellent behavior, above/beyond expectations

2 = Average behavior, expectations met

1 = Not good behavior, an expectation not met

-1 = Bad behavior, one or more expectations not met

MV = Major Violation, deliberate disregard of expectations

(Level 1 privileges last at least 24 hours)

SR = Security Risk, deliberate disregard of expectations, security & safety

(Level 1 privileges last at least 48 hours)

‘A continuous daily average of 2.6 or higher put you at Level 4; 2.0 – 2.5 for Level 3; new admissions came in at Level 2; 1.4 – 1.9 for Level 1; and a 0 – 1.3 score would knock you down two levels immediately.’

Just then a girl with a friendly smile interrupted her reading to ask if she knew how to play Euchre and see if she would be her partner as they were a person short, and KariAnn put the handbook down thankful to be included in something fun.  At least it would help pass the time and give her a chance to maybe make a couple of friends.  “Sure, I like to play Euchre.” said KariAnn standing up and following the girl to the table where the other two girls sat waiting.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.” apologized the girl who was going to be her partner.

“I’m KariAnn.”

“Great.  I’m Mindy, and this is Chris and Ellen.” Mindy introduced.

“So what are you guys in for?” KariAnn was curious to know, but was quickly told it was not permitted to talk about crimes, escapes, drugs or any other illegal activity.

The time went by quickly and before she knew it her recreation time was up, and all Level 2s were told to line up at the door to be escorted back to their cells.  “Please just a couple more minutes.” KariAnn pleaded as the score was close at 7 points to 9. Mindy had dealt the hand with a Jack of Diamonds showing face up.  Ellen passed not wanting to give them a right bower and control, but KariAnn ordered it up having the left bower and three aces. She figured if together they won all five tricks they would tie up the score, but Mindy picked up the Jack as ordered by her partner and told KariAnn not to worry as she was taking it alone.  This meant if she won all five tricks on her own they’d get 4 points and win the game.  The hand played fast, and KariAnn got to see Mindy win the game before heading to her cell.  With an hour and a half to kill, KariAnn read the rest of the handbook and had the gist of the rules down.  At 10 p.m. toothpaste was handed out and shortly after that it was lights out.

Morning came early at 6:00 a.m. giving you 15 minutes to wake up, get dressed, make bed, and straighten room.  At 6:15 youths were released from their cells for breakfast which was served in the cafeteria.  Everyone lined up awaiting instruction by the detention staff, and while in line there was to be no talking, you must stand up straight with no leaning against the walls, keep your hands folded behind your back, and be prepared to transfer as directed.  Everyone traveled through the electronically secured doors separating the four halls from each other and down the hallway, and finally passed through the door into the cafeteria/dining room.

Grabbing a mint green plastic meal tray from the stack, KariAnn followed the girl in front of her walking through the line while the kitchen staff plopped food into four of the five molded compartments leaving the last compartment for your milk carton which you grabbed at the end of the line.  The dining area was divided in half separating the girls from the boys.  The boys waited outside the door and couldn’t come through until after the girls all had their food and were seated on the left, and then they filled up the other side of the cafeteria.  It was against the rules to talk to the boys or pass notes and vice versa, but they couldn’t stop you from sneaking a peek.

After breakfast, everyone went back to their cells for about a half hour until school started.  As part of school, it was mandatory for Levels 2 through 4 to start off the school day with exercise between 7:30 to 8:00 followed by a quick shower, and school started at 8:30.  If you were a Level 2 or above, you had no choice but to attend the detention school program, which was substandard at best, even if you had already graduated or had your GED.

“Okay girls, line up along the wall, hands behind your back, and no talking.” instructed the senior detention officer.  “That goes for whispering too, KariAnn.  Do you have a question that can’t wait?”

“No, sir, sorry.” answered KariAnn surprised she got caught.  School took place in the school room off the gymnasium, and another secure door separated the classroom from the gym.  The classroom was furnished with cafeteria type tables where the students did most of their work, and again the boys were separated from the girls by a wall and another electronic door that divided the large classroom.  KariAnn was quick to realize that classes were grouped by age, not ability, and teachers seemed to look for a middle ground where everyone could follow along; focusing more on keeping the young offenders quiet rather than educating them.  Although school time was boring as hell to KariAnn who wasn’t being taught anything she didn’t already know, it at least helped to pass the time.

A fifteen minute bathroom break was given at 10 o’clock, and everyone was ushered back to their cells between 11:30 and 12 to get ready for lunch, then it was back to school again until 3:30.  After school it was free time in your cell until dinner at 5 p.m., and then recreation from 7:00 until your level’s time was up.  The weekend schedule was a little different since there was no school, and gave you more free time and recreation slots.  On Saturdays everyone changed bedding and cleaned their cells.

It only took KariAnn four days to move up to Level 4 increasing her recreation time from an hour and a half up to the maximum of three hours.  It was slow making friends as there were so many times you weren’t allowed to talk with the main exceptions being during recreation time and meals.  Every day seemed like a repeat of the day before with the same rigid schedule.  KariAnn thought of her friends often, especially Tony, and daydreamed of being back with them.  She figured everyone had to know by now that things didn’t work out at home, and she longed to get a message to them, but only collect calls to parents were allowed.

Thoughts of escape were always in the front of KariAnn’s mind.  As she ate her meals she couldn’t help looking out the cafeteria windows and realizing just the other side of the glass was freedom to the outside world with the highway being right there too.  She noticed there were no fences around the place except for the razor wire fences around the outdoor yard out back, but with all the staff monitoring everything and the electronic doors, it would be near impossible to escape without being seen and quickly apprehended.  Her court date in front of the judge was coming up in a few days, and she would just have to wait it out to see what lied ahead.

“KariAnn if you have a minute I’d like to talk to you.” requested Mrs. Wilson, one of the first shift detention staff that had knocked on her door.

“Sure thing, Mrs. Wilson, what do you want to talk to me about.” asked KariAnn walking over.

“Since you’ve been on Level 4 a week now, I thought you might be interested in a chance to work this morning’s kitchen detail during the breakfast meal.” Mrs. Wilson offered.  “It would offer you a chance to earn a ‘special incentive score’ in addition to your three shift scores, and would qualify you for a Positive Performance Snack.  This would be an extra snack in addition to any other regular scheduled snacks.  Are you interested?”

“Maybe, what would I be doing?” asked KariAnn intrigued.

“We need someone to make and butter all the toast as the regular girl is sick.  It’s very easy, but I will need you to go now.” explained Mrs. Wilson.  “Hurry up and get dressed, and I’ll walk you down.  It will get you out of exercise too as you’ll be helping the other girls clean up and load the dishwasher afterward.”  Two girls were already working in the kitchen when they arrived, and KariAnn was introduced to Theresa and Kim.  KariAnn had never seen a vertical conveyor toaster before, but was shown how to load the basket with bread and the toast fell into a heated storage area when slices were finished.

“When the bottom three slices fall into the storage area, pull them out and butter them like this.” said Teresa dipping a pastry brush into a metal container of melted butter and then tossing them into a tray where Kim diagonally sliced them and stacked in a serving tub.

“Easy, peasy.” said KariAnn grabbing the toast that just finished.  “So do either of you know what the positive performance snack is?”

“Apple crisp!” answered Kim with delight.  “It was posted at the control room window.”

“Sounds yummy.” agreed KariAnn.  “So when do we get to eat breakfast?  I’m starved.”

“Once everyone goes through the line, we can make ourselves up a plate.” explained Teresa.  “Another little side perk is we can grab extra bacon.”

After everyone had finished eating, the three of them carried back to the kitchen the tub of soaking silverware, plastic trays and glasses to be washed.  There was a large basket of dirty dish towels, aprons, oven mitts and dish cloths sitting next to a door in back of the kitchen, and Teresa asked KariAnn if she minded throwing them in the washer out back.  “Set the temp at warm, add in one small scoop of soap, and use the normal cycle.  Here, let me get the door and light for you as that basket is heavy.”

There was only one door in the room, but it had two small windows located near the ceiling with a lever handle that latched the window.  The windows were high enough that you needed to stand on something, and the washing machine was just perfect.  Climbing on top of the washer, KariAnn unlatched the hopper window, which was hinged at the top and it opened inward.  Without giving it a second thought, she climbed out and jumped the short distance to the ground.  KariAnn ran across the visitors’ parking lot, and was getting ready to run across the road when out of nowhere a cop car was coming down the road straight toward her.  Depending on your point of view, it was either the worst or the best of timing. 

“Oh, fuck!” KariAnn said to herself and kept on running.  Looking over her shoulder she could see the two officers exit their car, and joined in a foot chase after her.

“This is the police!  Stop now!” yelled one of the officers on her tail, but still KariAnn kept running.  “Stop now or I’ll shoot!” he gave final warning, and this time KariAnn stopped dead in her tracks.  “Get down on the ground face down!” he ordered, and had KariAnn’s hands handcuffed behind her back by the time the other cop caught up to them.

“Looks like we have ourselves a truant juvenile from across the street.” the first officer’s partner said as the two of them lifted KariAnn off the ground and back on her feet.  Placing her in the patrol car, they drove her back and pressed the intercom button to the control room to be allowed admittance.  “We have one of your juveniles that just escaped out a window.”

It was a different intake officer that processed her this time, and since she wasn’t gone long she was only patted down and put into a holding cell until one of the detention officers could come get her and lock her in her cell.  KariAnn immediately went from a Level 4 to a Level 1 status after being written up for a Security Risk violation with loss of all privileges for the next 48 hrs.  “I was shocked to find out it was you, KariAnn.” said Mrs. Wilson with disappointment.  “Looks like you’ll be spending the rest of your time now locked in your cell except for an hour a day of recreation while everyone is in school.”

The two days in lock down was spent mostly sleeping and reading a book, and passed by quickly.  Tomorrow morning was her court date to see the judge … and her parents…  and she was first on the docket with a 9 o’clock hearing.


© Copyright 2019 Katie McDougal. All rights reserved.

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