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George Pollock

State Kid
Issue 36
A Citizen's Arrest

The clock on the wall in Carson's office said 10:32 P.M.


No Captain O'Toole.
Then again, Billy didn't really think he would come. He had bet that a father's need to
protect his daughter, coupled with a fear of scandal, would outweigh a police officer's
obligation to pounce on suspicious vibrations from the juvenile prison. It had been a long
shot at best -- just like everything else.
On the other hand, no assault force had shown up. If O'Toole had set one in motion,
which would have been the police-officerly thing to do, black shirts would have been all
over the place already. Maybe Captain O'Toole was just late. Billy seized upon that
prayerful thought as no less likely than what had already taken place since five o'clock.
Five and a half hours before, Billy had been in the cell with Stansky, staring at death.
Since then, he had done a life-saving deal with Stansky, seized Granite City School,
organized inmates into something more than a rabble, lined up surreptitious support and
retrieved Joy and Vera from their East Side hiding place -- all while planning an
ambitious media event.
All in all, not a bad night's work -- even with a failed baiting of Captain O'Toole.
It was as if the Fates, bemused by Billy Stone's disrespect for destiny, were enjoying
seeing how far the cheeky kid would go. Even for eternal seers, how far he had already
gone this night had to have been something that did not happen every century. And the
night was still young.
Director Carson had been blissfully asleep for about a half hour-- he retired at exactly 10
P.M every night -- unaware that his school was now in the hands of the inmates. While
Carson slept, Billy made preparations for the morning. He went over assignments and
contingency plans. Throughout the prison, in one-hour shifts, he posted his most trusted
loyalists as sentries.
Their orders? Report any inmate straying one inch from plan.
The prison was quiet. Vera and Joy yawned. Billy had set up three bunks in Carson's
office for himself and the two girls. They were about to get in them when they heard a car
pull up at the front entrance... a car door opening, then closing with a little click ...
footsteps crunching on the gravel driveway.
Billy doused the office lights. He alerted the “welcoming committee,” which had been
posted near the front entrance. Fingering revolvers, the inmates strained to hear. In the
darkness, they stared at the door.
“Who is there?” Billy said with authority.
No reply and not a sound.
“Repeat. Who is there?”
“O'Toole,” said a voice.
“My father!” Vera whispered. “Oh, my God. I don't want to see him!”
“Shush. You won't have to. Just stay where you are and keep down.”
Billy whispered a few quick words to the inmates by the door.
“Oh, Captain O'Toole,” Billy said, deepening his voice. “Yes, hold on. We'll get the
door.”
Billy unlocked the door, stepped aside and the welcoming committee charged through the
doorway, knocking Captain O'Toole off his feet. The inmates handcuffed the captain's
hands behind his back.
“What ... what ... what are you doing?”
Billy appeared in the doorway and flicked on the entrance light.
“Ah, Captain O'Toole, you're in civvies and an unmarked car. So, this is not official
police business. Good, well, from one civilian to another, let me introduce myself. I am
Billy Stone. Vera and I are good friends.”
The captain, now on his feet, strained to break free from the inmates' hold.
“You ... you... where is my daughter?”

“Gag him.”
It was quickly done.
Billy approached the enraged captain. “The Police Department's drug unit, which you
command, is out of control, lawless and criminal. You permit and condone it, Captain
O'Toole. That makes you a common criminal. Lock him up.”
The inmates took him away.
The welcoming committee bumped chests like rams in mating season. Billy slapped their
backs. “I tell you, when you guys get out of here, you should go into law enforcement.
You guys are good. Thank you all. Nice practice run-through for tomorrow.”
***
Billy returned to the office, to a near-hysterical Vera.
“What happened? Where's my Dad?”
“He's in a cell, Vera. He's not hurt and he's not going to get hurt.”
“A cell? Like a criminal? Can you imagine how he feels?”
“Yes, Vera, I can imagine.”
“What if my father and I just left?”
“Not a good idea, Vera. Not yet, anyway.”
“Why not?”
“Within an hour, there would be a slaughter. Can you give me tonight?”
Vera plunked herself on the couch. She folded her arms with a heavy sigh and sat there,
never taking her eyes off Billy. Joy sat beside her and put an arm around her. Then Vera
tossed back her long black hair, got up and went into Billy's arms. The two held each
other, Vera burying her face in Billy's shoulder. Joy looked away. Billy kissed Vera on the
forehead.
“I can't leave you,” Vera said. “You're not a vampire slayer, are you?”
“Maybe, maybe not.”
He led her over to her cot and she took to it. He bent down and kissed her on the
forehead. “Now, beautiful dark maiden, lay thee down and sleep. Thou art all to me.”
Pulling the blanket over her shoulders, Vera said, “Thou art full of crap. Good night.”
Billy went to Joy and took her hands in his and they stood in the dark facing each other.
Billy said, “Well, here we are, in prison. Have you noticed that we seem to get together in
the strangest places and in the strangest ways? Remember that night when you ran away
with me on my bike. I never pedaled a bike so far, so fast. I have never seen a whiter
moon. I will never forget your entertainment at Mr. Caulfield's.”
“Billy, I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”
“Joy, that's all in the past. It's tonight and tomorrow that counts.”
“I see you and Vera together,” Joy said, too softly for Vera to hear. “I want you to know
that ... that I dream that some day you and I .... Would you ... do you think ....”
“Yes, dear Joy.”
Billy led Joy over to her cot. He kissed her on the forehead. “Sleep well.”
Joy squeezed Billy's hand and she was off.
Billy tiptoed out of the office, closing the door quietly behind him.
***
He went to the cell where Captain O'Toole was being held. When the captain saw him, he
strained against his chains. His face contorted with rage.
“I'd like to talk with you, Captain O'Toole. If you're willing to talk quietly and
reasonably, I'll take off your gag. Do you agree? Indicate yes or no with your head.”
Captain O'Toole only glared.
“I'm sorry you feel that way, Captain. But maybe it is just as well. There is much that you
need to hear. Let me start with Julio de Cruz. A few days ago he was stabbed to death
with a copper spike. But he shouldn't even have been here. He was innocent. He was set
up by your drug unit just the way they set up a lot of others from the East Side. Also, the
police department is saying I killed Julio. I didn't. A new inmate named Roger Stansky
killed him. He has escaped.”
Billy opened a manila folder and took out a sheet of paper.
“I got a visit from Lt. Gordon McIver and Sgt Michael Milberry the other day. They were
trying to get me to confess to killing Julio. What I gave them was this statement. They
left without it. In addition to naming the real killer of Julio, the statement names two dirty
officers under your command. I have all the evidence needed to put them both in jail.”
Billy reached through the bars and tucked the statement in the captain's shirt pocket.
“Read it when you have a moment. It's going to be released to the press tomorrow
morning. Also, and I know that this will come as a surprise to you, I am innocent of all
the charges against me. They are pure fabrications.”
Billy held up a copy of his Factual Report.
“Here is what really happened.” He put the copy through the bars. When the captain
made no move to take the volume, Billy let it fall to the floor inside the cell. “I think
you'll find it quite an informative read.”
The captain pulled furiously at his chains. His eyes bulged. His face turned red. He tried
to say something but, with the gag, all that came out were unintelligible muffled sounds.
Billy bent down and looked the captain in the eye, close-up.
“Vera is safe, but she is not yet ready to return home.”
The captain pointed to his gag.
“You want to say something?”

He nodded.
“Can you behave?”
He nodded again. Billy had an inmate guard remove the gag.
“I don't believe a word you say,” the captain said, without raising his voice. “Where is my
daughter?”
“I can't tell you, Captain, but I can tell you this: she is safe and unharmed.”
The captain gave Billy a look to kill.
“What did you do to her? If you so much as harmed a hair ...”
“I said she is safe and unharmed. I give you my word on that.”
“Your word? You think I place any value on your word?”
“My word is as good as yours.”
“What's going on here? Where's the staff? What are inmates doing roaming the hallways
late at night?”
“Captain, I'm hungry. I'm going to get something from the kitchen. Can I bring you a
sandwich? Something to drink? Cup of coffee?”
The captain looked away.
“Be right back.”
***
Billy returned with a tray of ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit, milk, and a pitcher of hot
coffee and pulled up a chair in the hallway outside Captain O'Toole's cell. He had a
couple of inmate guards remove the captain's restraints. Billy took a big bite out of a
sandwich and then a long slug of cold milk, draining the glass.
“You know, Captain, I never knew my father, and my mother is a psycho. I grew up in
foster homes. In every single one, I always got up from meals hungry -- no seconds and
one little glass of milk. I used to get up at night and steal food. I always got caught and
punished, but it was better than being hungry.”
He poured himself another glass of milk and drank it down.
“Ah. That's so cold, so incredibly delicious. Captain, you are about to witness a half
gallon of milk disappear before your very eyes. Please, help yourself to a sandwich. Cup
of coffee? Shall I pour you a cup while it's still hot?”
Captain O'Toole shook his head.
“You know what I have always dreamed about, Captain? I always dreamed about being in
a family, having a mother and father who loved me and knowing that they would never
leave me. But every morning of every day of my life, I woke up alone in the world with
nobody, not even an uncle or an aunt. I never went through a whole night without
crying.”
He chomped at his sandwich.
“But you know what?” Billy said, talking with his mouth full. “I'm not going to cry
tonight. I'm just not going to do that on the last night of my life. When the police storm
the place, I'll get shot full of holes, but I'll only be dead. I won't be alone any more or in
prison, just dead. Funny, I won't live long enough to get my driver's license. I wouldn't
have any problem with that if I deserved it. But I don't. I never hurt anybody. I never
touched Joy Stojak. I never did anything that you could call bad. But here I am.”
Captain O'Toole looked at the tray of food.
Billy passed a sandwich through the bars and the captain took it.
“Coffee? Milk?”
“Coffee.”
“Sugar and cream?”
“Black, one sugar.”
Billy passed the steaming coffee through the bars and waited for it to be thrown in his
face. Instead, the captain took a sip and then a bite of the sandwich.
“What's going on here?” the captain said.
“Oh, just innocent kids with cocaine planted on them by rogue police officers ... vicious,
sadistic guards ... a director who uses violent gangs to maintain control ... disturbed
inmates who need treatment, not abuse ...prisoners abandoned in solitary. Other than that,
nothing much.”
The captain took a sip of coffee.
“And you know what's strange? The whole world thinks this is okay. Why is that,
Captain? I think it's because we're all a bunch of state kids and poor East Side cast-offs
with zero political clout. But here is the good news. Even scum can tolerate injustice for
so long before sweeping it away. That process began today at approximately 5:15 P.M.”
“An uprising?”
“Yes.”
“You're all finished.”
“In the movies, this is the part where I give you a simple choice -- stand against injustice
or for it. But since this is not a movie, I'm asking you to be neutral, until you have all the
facts.”
“You will never get away with it. I agree with this much, though: this will be your last
night on earth.”
“If so, I'm ready to go. But I promise you this: whether I live or die, the truth is coming
out. Read that statement in your pocket and that book on the floor. I think you'll find them
educational.”
“What are you, a Nazi?”
“You know, Captain, if you were to see the injustice here and stand up against it -- well, it
would make a much better movie. Good night.”