Continued from Chapter 11.
He was a muscular black man, not tall, but taller than average. His head was shaved and he wore a short curly goatee. An injury that left a scar on the right side of his face had also caused his right eyelid to droop. His eyes were pale brown and made his sharp, angular nose appear severe, more Mediterranean than African. His thin lips covered perfect teeth, save for the gap between the upper front two.
He wore a light blue V-neck sweater, stretched over his biceps and pectoral muscles — muscles which had been developed in the yard of his special training camp over the past six years. His hands were large and calloused. He wore three rings on the middle fingers of his right hand, giving the appearance of an improvised set of brass knuckles. His denims had been pressed, and bore a crease down the center of the front and back. He wore black military style boots.
She, in contrast, was white and tall, almost six feet tall. Her cropped, bleached hair revealed dark roots near the scalp. She wore eight stud earrings in her left ear and five in the right. The earrings complimented the turquoise stud through the right nostril of her small upturned nose. The make-up around her eyes was heavy and dark, in stark contrast to her fair, almost pale skin. Her eyes were an icy blue.
Her worn black leather jacket covered the ribbed white tank top she wore, concealing and revealing at the same time her lithe body. The tight denims she wore were strategically torn just below her right buttock, exposing, for a taste, the skin of her long legs beneath. She also wore black military style boots, the traditional shoe strings having been replaced with white nylon cord.
They walked with caution and precision as they entered the visitors’ entrance of County Jail and took their place in line at the information clerk’s window. In front of them was a young Latino woman holding a baby. Grasping at her legs were two young boys, who now quietly gazed up at the couple behind them in line. She noticed their stares and narrowed her eyes, glaring back at the boys. The boys grasped their mother tighter as they turned their faces into her leg.
“Yes, Mrs. Rodriguez, you can see your husband. But only you, not your children,” said the jail clerk, Beatrice Weston.
“Por favor, Señora. I not leave my niños alone aquí,” replied the woman in Spanglish, a common language of Latinos and Anglos in Southern California.
Beatrice sighed. A veteran jail clerk, she had heard every story as to why jail visitation policy should be changed to allow more than one adult family member at a time.
“In the courthouse…la corta casa…es una daycare para los niños. Third floor, floor trés,” said Beatrice, a look of hope that the woman understood she could leave her children with courthouse daycare services while she visited her husband.
“Lo siento, no comprendo,” replied the woman.
“Un momento. I’ll get a translator for you. Siéntense, por favor,” said Beatrice, motioning from behind the grated window to a bench across the narrow hall.
The woman looked imploringly at Beatrice. She then turned and walked to the bench and sat with her three children.
I just got done with my break and I’m ready for another, thought Beatrice. “Next,” she said to the blonde-haired woman who waited patiently in line. “What can I do for you?”
“Is this where I come to bail someone out?” asked the woman.
“This is it,” smiled Beatrice. “We take cash, money order and all major credit cards. No checks.”
“Oh, it’ll be cash,” said the woman as she pulled a white envelope from her jacket pocket.
“OK, I’ll need you to fill out this form with the inmate’s name and booking number,” said Beatrice, sliding a small form and pen under the window grate.
“I don’t know his booking number,” said the woman.
“You see that book on the shelf there?” said Beatrice, pointing to a shelf to the left of the window. “Look up his name and find his booking number next to his name. Then just write it down.”
The woman picked up the book, a daily log of in-custody inmates and flipped through the pages. She apparently found the name and wrote down the information on the form, slipping it back under the window.
“Thank you,” said Beatrice, as she picked up the form and turned to her computer terminal to begin the bail process. She looked at the name and froze. The name on the form read “Douglas Peters.”
On her break ten minutes earlier, Beatrice had been told by the jail watch commander to notify him if anyone came to visit or bail out Douglas Peters. She was told he might have something to do with the murder of Officer Castillo the night before. Now here they were: a man and a woman to bail out Douglas Peters.
She looked up trying to mask her surprise. The woman and man were close to the grated window staring at her intently. Beatrice forced a smile and turned to her terminal. Trying to think quickly, she pretended to type in the information.
“That’s funny,” said Beatrice.
“What?” replied the woman.
“This booking number is not coming up on the screen. Let me try again,” said Beatrice, looking toward the next room where the booking clerks worked behind large glass windows. She hoped someone was looking her way. They were not.
“Let me get my log book and double check the number. Douglas Peters, right?” she said to the woman.
“Yeah, that’s him,” answered the woman.
Beatrice moved her large frame from her stool and walked to the back of her room. The woman strained to see her, but could not. Beatrice waved frantically to the booking clerks in an attempt to get their attention.
“Did y’all find it?” the woman called.
“Not yet,” said Beatrice. “Just a minute.”
To the relief of Beatrice, one of the clerks in the booking room looked up and saw her. She motioned anxiously toward the window. Not knowing what the problem was, but aware something was wrong, the clerk activated an alarm which alerted jail deputies, via pager, that there was a problem in the booking room. Within seconds, three deputies arrived and were directed to Beatrice who was now almost jumping up and down pointing toward the visitors’ window.
Adjacent to the visitors’ window was a sally port to allow jail personnel, attorneys and law enforcement to enter and exit the jail. There were two barred doors. One would open and close before the second would be allowed to open, thereby preventing any would-be escapee to leave through just one door. The time to enter and exit through the sally port was about one minute.
As the three deputies lined up at the interior door, there was a large metal clack and the grinding mechanism began to open the door.
The noise drew the attention of the man who saw the three deputies entering the sally port.
“Something’s up,” he said grabbing the woman’s arm.
“Shit,” she said.
They turned to run from the visitors’ area. One of the small boys had walked away from the bench. The man saw him in time to avoid him. The woman did not. Her left knee caught him in the chest, throwing him back against the wooden bench. As his head struck the bench, his scalp split open and blood splattered everywhere. The mother screamed and jumped to her son as the man and woman ran from the building onto “C” Street. The second door opened and the deputies piled through only to have the first trip-and-fall over the crouched woman. The remaining two deputies tumbled in a tangled mass over the first.
The man and woman ran two blocks east where the San Diego Trolley had stopped to load and unload passengers in front of the City Administration Building. Foregoing the purchase of a token, they stepped aboard, looking back as the deputies emerged from the jail entrance. They quickly sat down as the trolley started up, traveling east. They rode the few short blocks to the Tenth Avenue station, where they exited and melted into the crowd waiting to board.
Did you enjoy this chapter of Steve Burns’ book? Subscribe to The Dove and the Cockerel and get an email every time a new chapter in this series is posted!
Doug Porter says
every week it leaves me hanging. love it!