Drunk Tank

By Dick Johnson

Carl awoke. His head hurt and the light was bright. His memory flooded back to him, and he realized where he was.

He was in his underwear, and lying on a concrete bunk in a room with almost zero features. There were fluorescent lights in mesh glass above, grey rubber walls, a steel door with a tiny mesh window and a big hole in the floor with a steel grate built in.

It was the drunk tank of the jail, and he was freezing. He had a hangover, but the cold had awakened him from his passed out state and he was now hyper awake from the chill.

He remembered. He had gotten into a bar fight and stabbed a guy. What was he going to do now? Why had he done that?

“He deserved it!” He whispered. “The bastard should have left me alone. He’ll know better next time, I’ll tell you that!”

 But it occurred to him that the man might be dead.

“Good. Fuck Him. He should have mind his own business.” He whispered.

 But, his thoughts ran. If he’s dead, then I’m in big trouble. I better get my shit straight.

“No! Fuck it! It was self-defense. He came at me with his friends. I pulled my knife and told him to back off. But, he came anyway and he said “I got a knife too. What are you gonna do with that?” 

“So, I fuckin showed him what I was going to do with it. I showed the mother fucker about 10 times what I was going to do with it. He shoulda left me alone.” He said quietly as he paced around.

He noticed that one wall looked like a smoked two way glass window. He figured it was the control room. They were watching him. Fucking cops.

I gotta figure shit out. I can’t say the guy deserved it, even though the fucker did.

“He shoulda left me alone.” He whispered.

He walked over to the door and peaked through the little mesh window. It was dirty from slobber, and greasy foreheads, but he could see a hallway, and some cabinets. 

Why am I in the rubber room?

He’s dead. The fucker’s dead, and they are keeping it from me.   

 “Good. Fuck Him.” He whispered again.

They think I’m crazy or going to hurt myself.

“I ain’t gonna hurt myself!” He yelled at the smoky glass window.

He walked over to the hole in the floor and turned his back to the control room. He lowered the front of his underwear and urinated into the hole. It took a while. Then it popped into his head that there might be a sexy woman cop in the control room watching him.

So, he turned around and shook his tiny penis at the glass, then snapped his undies back in place. He laughed at the thought of his tiny penis flopping at her.

“It won’t hurt her much.” He whispered, and laughed.

What happened?

He recalled the events of the night before. He was at the bar, and that guy started running his mouth.

 I should have beaten him with a beer mug. I wouldn’t be here now if I’d just beat him.

He paced back and forth from one end of the cell to the other, past the shit hole in the floor. Nine steps out from the concrete bunk and nine steps back; over and over, back and forth, like a beast in a cage.

“I’m cold!” He yelled. His voice deadened by the rubber walls.

He walked back and sat down on the little 6 inch high concrete bunk and leaned against the rubberized wall. It was hard. But soft enough to prevent cutting if a person beat their head against it.

Then, that chick came in the bar.

She was going to give me a ride home but she wasn’t leaving just yet. Then she disappeared.

He stood up and paced back and forth again.

Then, the guy told me I had to leave. It was closing time.

“Who is he to tell me shit? He ain’t in charge. I’m tired of people telling me what to do.” He said. Carl’s mind raced around like rat in a maze, looking for something to settle on.

He paced again, but stopped at the door and peered through the window. He looked one way for a bit, then turned and watched the other way. It was the same as before. He turned and paced again, his bare feet slapping on the gray concrete floor.

“Fuck him.” he whispered.

Then, I got in his face and he said

“Let’s take it outside.”

What kind of pansy wants to take it outside? I’ll drop him right there, I don’t care. So, we went outside and that’s when I saw he had friends with him.  I was about to get jumped. So, I pulled my knife, and he threatened me. That’s when I gutted him, like a fish.

“Fuck him, it was self-defense. He deserved it.” He whispered.

He went and sat back down on the concrete bunk. He placed his head in his hands, and sat there shaking his head, like he’d run into a dead end.

“What the fuck?” He said quietly. “God what have I done?”

“I stabbed him. Why did I stab him? Why didn’t I just run away? Why didn’t I just beat his ass” He whispered.

He started to weep a little.

“God why did I do that?” He said quietly.

He sat back and banged his head gently against the rubber wall.

“Why the fuck?” He asked. He banged his head gently again.

Then, he sat quietly and looked at the ceiling; just staring and waiting for an answer. It suddenly became clear.

“Because he was an asshole, that’s why! Fuck him, he shoulda left me alone.” He chuckled. And started pacing again.

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