You enter through a door in the back where a big sign says All Prisoners Must Be Shackled. New prisoners are admitted at seven in the evening. There are seven men waiting by the door tonight. Five are white and two are brown. The youngest might be 20, the oldest 60. Four have plastic grocery bags with their personal effects, and one has a brown paper bag. Another cradles his belongings in his arms. The youngest man has no personal effects that I can see.
One man waits by the door for a moment and then strolls over to a car across the street. There is a woman in the driver’s seat, and he says something to her but she doesn’t look at him or speak to him. The man opens the back door of the car and snaps his fingers. A dog jumps out and nuzzles his hand. The dog and the man walk off around the block, the man lighting a cigarette as he goes.
Brian Doyle is editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies. He recently wrote A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance.