Here’s the second part to Alex’s mini-story, posted up a while ago.

A police officer met them at the gate. He was tall, with a beige expression and a hat tilted low over his brow.

‘Come on, boy. Quick about it.’

What a strange thing to say. Alex tried to speed up, but ended up just kind of stumbling, and god knows he didn’t want to look too eager to spend the next three years in this colour-forsaken place. The driver remained at the gate, his hand held aloft and wearing curious expression. Perhaps it was pity. But then again, with that beard, it was hard to tell. Alex waved back anyway, figuring that the driver might just be the last friend he’d make for a while.

The officer steered Alex by the shoulder through what proved to be the first set of doors—the grey exterior opened out into a light, air-conditioned hall-way, barred by a second set of doors, glass this time, behind which a woman was cosied at a large metal desk.

‘When we enter the lobby,’ the policeman told him. ‘I’m going to take off your cuffs, and ask you to remove your clothes. It is important that you cooperate. Do you understand?’

‘Yes,’ Alex replied. ‘Do I get to keep the jumpsuit after, though? I’ve grown kinda attached to it.’ He grinned.

The officer rolled his eyes. ‘Best keep your chat to yourself, kid. It won’t be appreciated where you’re going.’

The second set of doors opened, and Alex was shoved through into the lobby. A light hung from the ceiling, casting a glaring orange hue about the room; it must have been broken because it was flickering. Alex wondered for a moment if it was on purpose, to set off all the epileptic kids. Juvie was crowded, after all. There had to be some way of thinning the herd, so to speak.

The officer handed the woman at the desk some papers, and with a huff, as though it were a great inconvenience, the woman stamped them.

‘Alex Connor, is that right?’

‘Sure is. What’s your name? I’ll be sixteen next week, you know.’

‘That’s nice for you.’ The woman stamped another piece of paper, flicking the first one aside without even looking up. Her face was bathed in the orange glow; she looked like an amber traffic light.

A loud clanging noise echoed from behind a doorway; Alex strained on his tiptoes, peering over the woman’s shoulder. It sounded like someone—many someones—running. There was a thump, and then a yell.

‘Wrists,’ the officer said flatly. Alex offered him his wrists, and the cuffs fell loose. ‘Now, clothes off.’

‘Please,’ Alex grumbled, undoing his suit buttons. ‘It doesn’t hurt to say please.’

The officer only laughed. Soon enough, Alex was standing in his underwear, shivering, his bare toes wiggling on the cold linoleum floor.

‘Hold still.’ The officer removed some gloves from his pocket, pulled them on, and proceeded to pat Alex down. Up his legs, between them. Over his hips, along his sides. Up and down his arms. Goosebumps speckled Alex’s skin. A flush tinged his cheeks.

‘You’re skinny,’ the officer observed.

 ‘I know,’ Alex whispered back.