Some Great Fiction – Home-field advantage: Jail by Eaton Rapids Joe

The processing of the stranded demonstrators proceeded slowly.

The first snag was when Sinclair alerted on a woman pushing a baby stroller, complete with a baby.

The woman smiled smugly, certain that she wasn’t going to jail. Her smile disappeared as the Chief called Ingham County Child Protective Services. Then, realizing that this would not be the only woman who had been ferrying incendiary devices in her baby stroller, the Chief called in Child Protective Services from all the surrounding counties.

If the women thought that their babies would protect them, they were sadly mistaken. The Chief added a note to her file to add “Child Endangerment” to the charges.

Psylla caught it all on camera.

Another complication was deciding how to split up the people who were arrested.

Kenneth Vandenberg, The Sheriff of Jackson County made the Chief’s life easier when he volunteered to take all of the demonstrators from the Chicago area.

Vandenberg was a large, soft-spoken man with a very difficult job. Jackson County is on I-94 which is the freeway that connects Detroit and Chicago. Slightly less than an hour outside of Detroit, it is a frequent target of Detroit residents who think hick towns will be easier pickings. Most of those opportunists are not candidates for Mensa and many of them are caught.

The other thing that made Jackson County a tough county is that it is home to the largest prison in Michigan. Communities that host prisons often collect families with a chip on their shoulder and “graduates” of the prison who have not compelling reason to move to other communities.

One of the factors that made Vandenberg successful was his jailhouse warden, Cindy Stepanic.

Cindy was a tough as nails, had a sense of humor and knew the quirky way prisoners think without it completely warping her personality.

Vandenberg called Stepanic on his cellphone. “Hey, Cindy, I need to give you a heads-up on some over-flow we are getting from Lansing.”

“How many?” Stepanic asked.

“Don’t know yet. But plan on getting both men and women” Vandenberg said.

They talked through a few details regarding the mechanics of the transfer, then Vandenberg ended the conversation with “…and Cindy, don’t let them get too comfortable. Some of these demonstrators were carrying signs declaring ‘Open season on Cops’.”

“The other thing you need to know is there are over thirty, known fatalities and over one-hundred-fifty unaccounted for. But keep that under your hat because it is a moving number.”

Stepanic knew better than to ask for clarification. Every organization develops its own ‘code’ for communicating. The term ‘…don’t let them get too comfortable…’ allowed the Sheriff plausible deniability in the event the message were intercepted or if Stepanic’s decisions were second-guessed later on by the courts.

Jails are a closed ecosystem, just like any island. Small inputs from outside the ecosystem often have large, sometimes catastrophic consequences over time. This was not lost on Stepanic.

Stepanic drove into the Jail, even though it was a Sunday and she was supposedly off work. This was not unusual. Her work was her life.

She found Sgt. Horton catching up on paperwork in the office. Among other things, Horton was her main go-to guy for computer work and regulations had a way of doubling Horton’s workload every five years.

Stepanic outlined her concerns. “We are getting a bunch of rioters from Chicago and we need to keep a lid on them.”

Sgt. Horton seemed unconcerned. “We will do what we always do. How bad can they be?”

Stepanic shook her head. “From what I am hearing, they got paid $1000 a night to raise hell.”

That got Horton’s attention. “Say again?”

“Yup, you heard right; A thousand bucks a night. Apparently, these men from Chicago are so bad-ass that they are getting paid five times as much as the men they are hiring from Detroit” Stepanic said. “In fact, from what I heard they were going to stop hiring demonstrators from Detroit because they can’t cut it.”

These were fabrications intended for the trustee emptying waste-paper baskets in the office. His ears were spinning around to the point where it seemed them might unscrew themselves and fall on the floor. *

Cops, as a rule, have radar that extends 360 degrees. Cops who work in jails and prisons have a double-wrap, it extends 720 degrees. Sgt. Horton could see the reflection of the trustee in the wire-reinforced window opposite his desk and he figured out the conversation was for his benefit.

He decided to play along.

“You have a point” Horton conceded. “Used to be the guys from Detroit were tough. Do you remember ‘Little Jimmy Wilson’?” he asked.

Little Jimmy was 6’-8”, weighed 350 and had fists like anvils.

Stepanic shook her head in dismay. “I am glad Little Jimmy and Tiny Hanks were never here at the same time.”

“Yeah, that was back when kids from Detroit were tough and would fight at the drop-of-a-hat. I sure am glad they aren’t like that now.” Stepanic said.

The trustee quietly let himself out.

Horton had to admire Stepanic’s style. The jail was in the red for budget and taking on prisoners from other jurisdictions was profitable. It was even more profitable when they were in solitary since the billing rate was three times that for general population.

Stepanic’s short conversation virtually guaranteed the punks from Chicago were going to get in fights with the Detroit inmates and spend a lot of their time in solitary.


Frank went into the kid’s room.

He normally didn’t do follow-up on patients but he had 9 hours invested in this ‘John Doe’. Frank had been just about to clock-out when the car lurched to a stop outside the Emergency Room ambulance doors..

By Frank’s standards, the surgery was a rousing success. The kid did not die on the table.

The story was that the kid had been at a demonstration and been hit by a car.

Frank wasn’t born yesterday. Vehicle/pedestrian accidents can crush hips but they don’t leave the rest of the body unscathed. They also don’t scatter bone fragments and chunks of lead and copper through the core of the body.

“I am the doctor who stitched you back together ‘John’ ” Frank said.

“How bad is it?” the kid asked.

“I don’t candy-coat things. I deal in truth. Why don’t we start with your real name?” Frank said bluntly.

The kid looked away.

“How bad is it?” the kid asked again.

“Unless there are some advances in regrowing nerves, you will never walk again” Frank said.

“Your lower bowel was shredded. There wasn’t enough of your lower bowel left for me to re-attach to your rectum so you will be crapping into a bag until you find a surgeon who is willing to risk reattaching” Frank continued mercilessly.

Frank had always had a calloused bedside manner. The recent troubles had grown callouses on his callouses. His outlook on life had not improved with this particular, stubborn kid.

“You are lucky to be alive. You missed the Golden Hour. We could have done more if you had been able to get to the hospital quicker.” Frank drilled him. Based on the condition of the raw flesh, dried and oxidized, the kid had been shot almost two hours before he hit the E-room. Whoever brought him in kept him alive with fluid extenders and O2. Frank was surprised the kid was not brain-damaged.

“Anything else?” the kid asked, bitterly.

“Yeah, you don’t have to worry about sending your kids to college. I had to remove your testicles while debriding traumatized tissue” Frank said.

“Are you sure you don’t want to tell my your name? You need your family at a time like this” Frank said.

“My name is Draik Anderson” the kid said.

* This is where the story departs from “fiction” and becomes “fantasy”. Jails are short-term incarcerations and rarely/never have inmates doing trustee work. Also, no warden would ever encourage fights because guards get hurt breaking them up. In normal times it would never happen.