Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.
Chapter 3: Devon Brown
Devon trembled in the backseat of a monstrous black SUV beside his sister, Caitlin. The truck was so big, the officers had had to lift them both up to the back seat. Both of them had their hands handcuffed behind their backs. Caitlin was crying, calling out, “Mommy, Mommy,” snot running down her face. That bothered him. His mother wouldn’t like it but what could he do?
He didn’t understand. Did Daddy do something wrong? Why’d they take him away? Why did the soldiers take him and Caitlin away? He slid a little closer to his sister so that they were side by side. What was going to happen? Where were they going? He was too short to see out of the windows. When he tried to crane up, all he could see were rooftops. He stopped when the soldier riding up front told him to sit back.
They drove for a long time. He was glad when Caitlin fell asleep, her little blond head against his shoulder. He was too upset to go to sleep. His hands were full of prickles, but he didn’t want to shift around, it would wake his sister. Every few minutes the soldier checked his mirror, watching Devon. It scared him, so he sat very still.
It seemed like a long time but finally the car pulled up to a gate. The driver’s window went down and a soldier stuck his head in to look in the backseat. “Go on,” he said, and the car went in. They came to a big building and the car stopped at the front door. The two soldiers got out and Caitlin woke up as the doors slammed shut.
“We’re here,” he told her as the passenger doors opened at the same time. The driver pulled him out of the car as the other soldier pulled Caitlin out. Devon’s legs had fallen asleep along with his hands and he collapsed to the sidewalk, skinning his knees.
“Stand up, kid.” He pulled Devon up by the back of his t-shirt.
“My legs are asleep.”
“Great.” The soldier kept hold of Devon’s shirt and joined Caitlin and her guard at the door. They went in and nodded to the soldier at the desk near the door. He nodded back and they went across a lobby and down a hall. There were a lot of halls, Devon thought, and soon, he had no idea where they were of what was going on. They were taken to a place where people in white uniforms, like doctors, took them after the handcuffs were taken off.
The soldiers left and the aides made them undress. Devon had trouble. His hands didn’t want to work. One aide had to undress him. Devon didn’t like that but there was nothing he could do. They were sent into a shower together. Devon helped Caitlin wash her face and when they came out, they were given gray cotton pants and shirts with numbers on them to wear—and picked up and put in barber chairs. Devon didn’t think he needed a haircut, he’d just been a few days ago with his dad. The barber took clippers and ran them over his head. Horrified, he watched as they did the same to Caitlin. She began to cry and fight them. One of the aides grabbed her hands and told her to shut up. It was over in just a moment, her blonde hair scattered all over the floor.
They were escorted to another place and a doctor looked at them. Then another place where there were other kids, standing in lines. Girls in one and boys in another. Caitlin didn’t like that and started crying again, calling for Devon. An aide came down the line and slapped her and told her to shut up.
“No!” Devon yelled and began to go to her. An aide grabbed him by the arm, slapped him, and shoved him back into line so hard he fell. “Get up, kid.” And the aide walked away. Devon, shaking, stood up. He’d never been hit by an adult. Never. He didn’t know what to think. Caitlin cried quietly, watching him, as the line kept moving. She reached the desk first.
“Six years old,” the man said. He waved his hand and an aide led her away. She didn’t want to go and fought the aide, but it did no good. He dragged her, screaming, “Devon,” until they left the room. Then it was his turn.
“Eight years old,” the man said as he checked a tablet. He waved and an aide took Devon away in a different direction than Caitlin had went.
“What about my sister?” he asked.
“Shut up,” was the only answer.
They entered a room where there were other boys sitting at desks. Devon saw that the boys sat, hands folded on their desks, eyes straight ahead. Not one boy turned to see him come in.
The man in the room checked his tablet, then nodded at
the aide, who left.
“Boy. Pay attention. I’m Mr. George. You are now called 9280970. Remember that. It’s the number on your shirt. Say it.” He stood, staring at Devon.
“9280970,” Devon said in a voice that cracked.
“Good. There is no talking unless you are asked a direct question. Is that understood?”
“Do what you are told and it will go easy on you. If you disobey, or don’t follow directions, you’ll be punished. Do you understand?”
Devon nodded again. He tried to swallow but his mouth was dry. This place was scary.
“Sit over there, Row four, chair six. That is your place.”
Devon nodded and walked over to the seat.
“Hands folded on the desk. Eyes to the front.”
Devon did as he was told. This is not good, he remembered his father always saying. He was right.
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