A Vacation to Remember – VaMurimi
I had just walked in the door, when I heard the phone ringing. My housemates were all on spring break. I was the unlucky one: I had a job. I dropped my books and grabbed the phone.
“Will you accept a collect call from Stevi?” said the operator in a thick Southern accent. Stevi was one of my housemates (Stevi was short for Stephanie).
“Yes,” I replied, expecting to hear that she and my other housemates were lying on Florida beach basking in the sun. “Well, I guess you want to know about the weather here in Toronto?” I said sarcastically.
I then heard a frantic voice on the phone say, “Thank God someone is there: we’re not in Florida, we are in jail in Ware County, Georgia, and we need money now.” I collected myself for a moment as Stevi went on to explain what had happened. “We stopped in this little town just before the Florida state line to pick up a hitchhiker. We got back on the highway and there was a roadblock. The hitchhiker was really nervous and tried to run into the woods. Within seconds the cops pulled out their guns, handcuffed us and put us in the back seat of the cop car. Then the cop who had grabbed the hitchhiker slammed him face down on the roadside, searched his pocket and pulled out a bag of weed. He held it up and said, ‘Bingo, y’all ain’t going nowhere.'” Stevi’s voice was trembling as she told me to send $250.00 bail money by telegraph. She said that they were holding her in the Ware County Women’s Jail but she would be transferred to the County Farm in three days if the bail didn’t get there. I listened carefully and wrote down the instructions. Stevi said, “Please send the money soon, and send the plane fare from Jacksonville to Toronto, another $200.00. We just want to get out of here.”
I sent the money from CNCP to the Ware County Women’s Jail as instructed and went back to the house to wait for a phone call. I even tried to call the jail at least 10 times over the next 3 days. I kept getting a put on hold by some clerk whose English was barely understandable. Finally 3 days after the money was wired, the phone rang. It was Stevi. I could barely hear what she was saying. “We are going to be coming in to Toronto on Eastern flight 120 at 10:25 tonight.” She was sobbing.
I said, “Are you alright?” and she said she would be once they got home. Stevi had had no idea what was in store for her while she was a guest of the county.
I waited anxiously at the Eastern baggage for the arrival of flight 120. It was about 10:45 when the first passengers came into the baggage area. I saw what appeared to be her, she waved frantically as she neared the baggage area. They came running out of the crowd. I hardly recognized my two housemates: they were wearing the ugliest baseball caps I had ever seen, with Jacksonville emblazoned on them. Then Stevi grabbed me and simultaneously gave me a back-breaking hug. She said, “Let’s get out of here, I just want to go home.”
I picked up their bags and we headed toward the parking lot. When we got to the car Stevi reached up and pulled off the cap revealing a clean-shaven scalp. Stevi broke down as she rubbed her hand over head and said, “Look at what they did to me, look at what they did, what the hell am I going to do?” She broke down and started to cry almost uncontrollably. I was in shock, she just stared into the car mirror as tears ran down her face. All I could think about was hearing what the hell had happened in that Georgia jail.
Before we pulled into the driveway, she put her hat back on, still crying. I couldn’t wait to hear what had happened. As soon as we got inside, she ran into the bathroom. A few seconds later, I heard Stevi call, “Come here,” then I heard more crying. I knocked on the door and saw her standing naked in front on the full length mirror. She was completely hairless, including her eyebrows and crotch. “Oh God, look at me!” screamed Stevi. “I can’t believe what they did.”
“Let me tell you what happened,” said Stevi as she pulled on her terrycloth robe and sat on the edge of the bathtub. “The first two days they just kept us locked up in a cell by ourselves. The sheriff’s deputies were not too bad, they fed us and let me call you. On the third day, we we’re transported to the Women’s Jail, and that was where they did this,” she said, rubbing her smooth scalp, “and this,” as she reached down to her crotch. “The sheriff’s deputies brought us to the rear entrance of this dirt gray stone building. We were taken into the infirmary.
“‘Take off your goddamned clothes,’ the matron shouted.
“I was terrified,” she said.
“Then she yelled, ‘What are y’all deaf? Take your clothes off, all of ’em.’ Two other matrons took our clothes away and everything else we had, told us to sit and wait for the nurse. After 10 minutes the nurse came in with a deputy sheriff. That redneck just glared at us sitting on the steel bench, fucking pervert. Then the nurse came in and said, ‘Y’all picked the wrong place to get picked up,’ and slid a rubber glove over her hand. Then she nodded to the first matron. ‘Search her, and process her.’ Then she turned to me and said, ‘Y’all got to go through processing, even if somebody gets you out tomorrow. Now, let’s get going.’
“The matron pulled back a white curtain and said, ‘Bend over.’ As I bent over she shoved her hand into my crotch with her fucking thumb in my asshole, probing as deeply as she could. She said, ‘Well the nurse who searched me had hands like a sailor,’ and I could see that redneck cop staring through the window. That’s when I said, ‘That cop watched the whole thing.’
“The nurse went over to her desk, and rang a bell. We sat back on the steel bench, afraid to even speak to each other. She said, ‘I just kept thinking about the movie Midnight Express and shivering.’ Two other guards came in spoke to the nurse. Then she said, ‘Take her upstairs with this gal, they can do two at a time.’ Then she handed us these ugly orange jumpsuits. ‘Here y’all put these on and put all your property in the baskets.’ Then we were handcuffed to each other and led down the hall, and up the stairs, by the guards.
“That’s were they did this,” she said as she reached up and rubbed her scalp. “The guards opened a heavy steel door and pushed the two of us into a room where two men in white jackets stood behind two barber chairs. ‘O.K. both of you in the chairs, these guys are gonna give you a jailhouse trim.’ Then they pushed me into the chair. I watched as the girl who was with me got slowly into the chair next to me. One guard said, ‘She knows what to do, she’s been here before, ain’t she?’ The barber nodded his head and fastened a towel around her neck. ‘She ain’t gonna be no trouble,’ he said, and then he started running the clippers from her skinny white neck up to her forehead. The barber was clipping her hair down to fuzz.” Stevi said, “I couldn’t believe that she was just sitting there while the barber was clipping off all her hair and they were going to try to do the same thing to me.
“The other guard looked at me and said, ‘You’re next, gal,’ and I just started screaming. I wasn’t going to let them do that to me, no fucking way. She grabbed my arms and held me in the chair as the barber said, ‘You ain’t gonna need this at the farm,’ and laughed as he held up my hair. I looked at the girl who had come with me from the nurses, in the other chair. Her head was almost bald now, as the barber clipped off the last mousy brown stubble. She just sat silently as more and more white scalp replaced the brown fuzz then the fuzz was shaven off.
“Then I felt a strong hand forcing my chin to my chest and all of the sudden the cold steel clippers came to life. My body was rigid, I could feel all the nerves in my body stiffen and tense as the hands holding me clenched, forcing me to look at my lap. I screamed when I saw a pile of my hair piling up on my lap. ‘My hair, not my hair!’ I screamed. ‘Shit, you can’t do this,’ I yelled, as the guard held me down in the chair. She said ‘Watch your language, bitch,’ as she held up a long lock of my hair.
“You remember how long my hair was, don’t you?” Stevi said as she started to sob and run her hand over her scalp. I said softly, yes, I remembered Stevi’s red hair hanging down her back. “‘Give her the Special Haircut,’ she said to the barber. ‘Shave this gal’s head bald.’ The barber just continued running the clippers all across my head. All I remember was seeing all my red hair on my lap and screaming. The clippers were getting warmer and warmer as they crossed my head. I can still feel the buzzing in my ears. The clipping must have taken about 15 minutes. When the guard released my neck I looked up at the mirror, I saw my face, red locks still sticking to my forehead and my tear-soaked cheeks. My head had a red shadow, all my hair was on the floor. The guards and the barbers really got off on seeing me just scream helplessly. Then just when I thought it was over, the barber put lather on my head and shaved my head with a straight razor, while the guard held my head up straight and just smiled. The other girl had been taken into the hall as the barber was finishing my haircut.
“One guard, the one who held me down, examined my hair in my lap, and reached into the pile and handed me this: ‘Hey, remember Ware County!'” Stevi said as she held up a two-foot red tendril next to her shaven scalp and broke into tears again.
“When the barber finished,” she said as she rubbed her scalp, “that same sheriff that busted us came in to the room. ‘The gal from Canada is to be released, they sent her bail by wire, she ain’t goin to the farm.’ The guard took me downstairs. The nurse opened the door and looking straight at my shaven head, said, ‘Well ain’t that a pity, but rules are rules. You can get your property and you’re free to go.’ Then she had me sign my bail release and here I am.”
I was still in shock and had been since arriving at the airport. I reached over, put my arm around her shoulder and whispered into her naked ear as I ran my hand over her scalp, “Relax, it will grow back. In the meantime bald is beautiful.”