Puppet Show by Barry Callen

I knew as soon as I set my bag down by the door, that I wouldn’t stay.

They had other ideas.

They went through everything in my bag one at a time, and put it in a metal box with my name on it.

They had me remove my belt and shoelaces.

Those went in the box.

My razor and shaving cream…in the box.

I might as well have been one of the deaf and dumb objects in my bag, like my lucky geode or my plastic comb.  The guards never looked me in the eye, never called me by my name, never even asked me any questions.  They went about their routine as if they had done it a thousand times, and nothing I could do would surprise them.

Hmmm, we’ll see about that.

I looked up into the corner of the ceiling at the video camera, and made my left hand shape into a dog puppet and my right hand shape into a rabbit puppet and I gave the camera a little puppet show.  After the rabbit ate the dog, the end, I then bowed and curtsied.  There was no applause.  Just the concrete and stainless steel echoes of my Converse hightops squeegeeing on the floor. Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen a miniature version of myself doing the exact same moves on the video screen behind the bulletproof glass.  The guards lips tightened.

I guess my little puppet show caused them to pay enough attention to decide that I should have a cavity search, alas.  My first.   The electronic lock on the door behind me clicked open.  The uglier guard with the gold-capped buck teeth kicked my legs apart and smashed my head down against the concrete ledge.  He had the kind of arms you can only get from years of obsessive weightlifting on rage-releasing steroids.  Muscles popped out on his muscles like they were competing in the final pose-off in a strongman competition.  He twisted my arm behind my back to hold me in place.  The other guard with the wicked grin snapped on his clear latex glove, dipped it into the lube, and then gave me a little puppet show with his gloved hand before doing his duty.

They thought it was pretty funny.

Behind the glass, I saw my name put on the box, then locked.  Then it was taken to a storage room somewhere.  I wondered if I’d ever see my lucky geode again.

What they didn’t know though, was that someone had scratched a star into the concrete block to the right of the door.  That was a message to me that The Organization would break in from the outside tonight, and break me out.  That gave me eight hours to find Rodriguez, aka “The Woodchipper”, and convince him to leave with me, or kill him.



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