Deep in the Bowels of the Eureka Police Department

The reason as to why I was there is less important than the fact that I was there ... or at least outside of there.  But there I was, nonetheless.  Right outside the Eureka, California building that houses the Eureka Police Department.  It's a nondescript brick building that looks like it was built in the '80s.  As I stood outside its doors, I hesitated.  Going in filled me with a small sense of dread.  If you had my past, you'd feel the same.

I was tempted to go to the front desk and say, "I'm here to report a murder." Humboldt is no stranger to this kind of confession.  It's how the world learned of Wayne Adam Ford.  I didn't do it, though.  I went in, stated my business and then had a seat in the empty lobby. 

I waited just a few minutes until a woman came and got me.  "Follow me," she instructed.

She led me through halls that were lined with photographs of police officers.  Some I recognized.  Some were before my time here.  Eventually the halls became more sparse, and I was at my destination.

It was a cold room with a high ceiling.  Its walls, unlike the rest of the building, were red brick.  It gave it an almost medieval in feel.  What was against the far wall made it even moreso.

There were three cells with thick metal doors.  In the upper center of each door was a single window with a metal pane that could be pulled across it.  Each door had a little color-coded symbol on it.  The doors looked like they could withstand a bomb blast.

"Do you want to look inside them?" the woman asked.

I walked over to the first cell. 

"Don't let the door close behind you," she warned.

I wasn't going in.  I feared the worst if that happened.  I peered through the window, though.  The walls of the cell were the same red brick as the rest of the room.  This was a given.  Since it was a cell, though, the brick took on a different feel.  The cell itself was small.  There was a bed attached to the wall and a steel sink and toilet.  The only comfort in the room was a roll of toilet paper on the sink.

"It looks like a home for Hannibal Lecter," I commented.  A million ideas were running through my head.  I would be using these in a story sometime.

"We don't use them much," the woman told me.  "We'll often just use them to hold someone here for questioning, or if we have a juvenile we'll keep them in there until their parents get here.  Scares them a little bit.  Their parents usually get here pretty quick."

"Oh, I can imagine," I said.  I had been in that situation one too many times.  A lot of parents freakin' fly to the police station once they learn their kids are there.

My business finished, I left the building and sat in my car across the street, right under a sign that said, "Parking for Police Business Only."  I looked one last time at the building I have passed hundreds of times in the past.  I wondered what dark business had happened in those three cells.  The Holy Trinity of the police department.  What violations had occurred?  What blood had been spilled?  Now that the police could easily transport people to the jail downtown, the cells would only have to be used for "special" occasions.  Special occasions, indeed.

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