I’d heard prisoners were getting vaccinated, so I decided to get arrested.
I wasn’t the only one. A temporary station was set up at the old Maytag repair center—they weren’t busy. Five people ahead of me, out front, each on a 12-inch blue circle with a pair of white feet and the words, “Please stand here.” It was all very orderly.
Thirty minutes later, I was inside. “Offense,” the Maytag repairman, wearing a blue uniform and black-billed cap, asked. His embroidered oval patch read, ‘Ol Lonely.
Ol’ Lonely sighed, his jowls flapping, the red bow-tie around his neck jumping up and down. “More specific?”
Something with needles. “Heroin.”
“That’ll be $100.”
I gave the man a crisp Benjamin my Dad fronted me. He wanted me to visit, but I wasn’t allowed in the nursing home until I was vaccinated. We hadn’t had the best of relationships, but I wanted to show up for him, for once.
Ol’ Lonely harrumphed, checked a box, and handed me a sheet of paper. “Back there.” He tilted his head to a dark corner.
Behind a curtain, a woman in a pink-ironed housedress and white eyelet apron tapped powder into a spoon and snapped a lighter to life. Her embroidered oval patch read, “Ol’ Lady.”
“Wait a minute. I actually have to shoot up?” I stood up to leave, but a long-eared basset hound wearing a flannel sweater blocked my exit. His embroidered patch read, Newton. Newton’s snarl turned into a howl, a howl that sounded much like a police siren.
Because it was. The back door blew open with a flash of light, silhouetting another blue-uniformed man with the same ballooning belly, but this one holding a police baton. He dragged me into the alley and battered me over the head. “Get outta here,” he said and got in his cruiser, snapped off the flashing lights.
“Wait. Where are you going?” I asked. I could already feel a knot the size of a dog bone growing above my eye. I was too dizzy to stand up. “Aren’t you going to arrest me?”
The cop threw the car in reverse and rolled to a stop inches from my legs splayed on the ground. He cranked down his window, leaned out. “Your Dad said to remind you there are no shortcuts in life, son.”
Dad. I should have known.
Kim Steutermann Rogers was the inaugural fellow at Storyknife Writers Retreat in Alaska. She was recognized for “Notable Travel Writing 2019” in Best American Travel Writing, and has been published in Audubon, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Terrain, Zoomorphic, Brevity Blog, and Hippocampus with work forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal and National Geographic. She lives with her husband and dog on a speck of an island in the Pacific Ocean. Read more of her work at kimsrogers.com and follow her on social media at @kimsrogers.