In the morning I am greeted by a world that does not believe in my innocence. I am woken sharply because there is a strict schedule to be kept. I am fed by rough employees of the State. The men who have to take care of me must resort to exasperated miming to make their point come across to me. But this is just the start of my humiliation.
I am forced to bathe with no privacy. In the room where all of the men wash themselves, derisive comments echo from the tiled floor and walls in a different language, but I do not have to know English to know that they are displaying such animosity because I am French. In my hurry to leave the room full of angry, violent criminals, I pass a row of mottled, chipped mirrors and catch a glimpse of my reflection. I wonder who is staring back at me. Though I have only been in this prison for less than two days, there is a visible physical change being made in me.
My slate gray eyes are sunken into my head, with purple crescent moon shadows under them. My dark blonde hair is matted and unkempt. I look pale and wan. Seeing the transformation that has overcome me resulting from such strain and poor care of myself, I am now even more hasty to be rid of the place.
Back in my cell an hour later, I sit on the cot like a dead person because in prison I have nothing to do but sit. My thoughts drift like pollen through a light summer wind to a time before this nightmare. I think of my chateau in Marseilles. I think of my American townhouse and how much I would have liked to invite Royale to see it. I think of childhood summers playing in the country and of recent winters walking the streets in this very city. I remember the first time I heard Royale sing and I remember with a stab of hatred the man who accompanied her on the piano. I know there is no music in prison, and I grin to think of how much that will torture LaCrosse.
It is late morning by the time Hammers arrives. He is accompanied by the bespectacled man Johns and a different translator. Johns is carrying a heavy-looking typewriter and the translator is carrying a small desk. It takes ten minutes and several trips for Johns and the other man to bring three chairs and another desk, while Hammers just stands there. The men take their seats in the hallway just outside my cell. Johns sits at the typewriter and tinkers with it until it is ready to be used. I ask what he is doing with the typewriter. They tell me he is going to copy down everything that I say.
They all look at me expectantly and I can tell that no one among them believes in my innocence. I hope that my narrative will change their minds.
Hammers clears his throat and says that we had better get going. He tells me to start at the beginning of my story. He does not specify a certain time when I should start, but I know where to begin anyway. The whole thing started the first time I stepped through the double doors of the Ruby Roulette. In my mind, I take off my hat, push the doors open, and cross the threshold into another world inside my memory.
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