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“Excuse me, sergeant. I’m Dr. Paul Ochs. I was told ---”

“I’m not a sergeant and you can shut up!”   There were several giggles down the line and one fat officer just shook his head. My jaw tightened and my fingernails dug into my palms but self-preservation kept me silent.
“Now get your clothes off!” We stripped and held our clothes close to us. “Drop the clothes on the floor and take one step back. As your name is called step forward.”  After our names had moved us all forward we were told to open our mouths, then bend over and spread our cheeks. Gloved hands probed our mouths and ears and armpits and assholes for contraband. One guy had two joints in cellophane in his mouth and another had two airline bottles of vodka in his rectum. 

After our hair was buzzed onto the floor we were led to a shower. The last time I’d had a group shower was at the Tangerine Bowl. We lost 28-7 but I caught the only touchdown pass.

We were powdered for lice and given two pair of pants, two shirts, and a pair of paper shower shoes. These uniforms were optional but shoes, underwear and socks had to be purchased at the commissary.

“You won’t be needing these anymore,” a skinny acne faced guard said with a twisted smile as he took my New Balance running shoes  “Who wears size eleven?” He threw them to a man behind the intake desk. I knew I’d never see them again.

Only months ago I’d been in an institution where I was in charge. All that had changed when the Texas Rangers had come calling with their warrant. What had the warrant said? Dr. Paul Randall Ochs is charged with deception by execution of a false document. They had it all wrong. They didn’t understand. I was not that person. Now I was subject to the whims and rules of peach-fuzzed boy and pimply-faced girl guards half my age and intelligence.

Now I had a new identity. 9567245 was on my photo ID. Not Dr. Ochs, not even Ochs, but 9567245. That was who I was.

As we left processing the metal barred door slid shut behind us.  The layers of pale yellow paint were chipped. Clang! Thud! I realized I was sweating. I’d never been claustrophobic but now, naked, holding my clothes, I felt panic rising from my gut. Rivulets of sweat ran down my chest, converging just below my belly button, and dripped off the end of my penis. I was doing time. The panic rose to my throat and consumed me. I couldn’t control this. I was helpless.



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