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I had to sit through a few other court cases before it was time for my case to go before the judge. They were all misdemeanor charges mostly. Until you got to mine that is. The judge banged his gavel and called my name. “The state of Maine vs. Matthew Taylor. Case #04280.”
I stood up beside my court appointed lawyer and said, “Here your honor.”
“Mr. Taylor,” the judge said, “ how do you plead to the charges against you of grand theft auto?” “Not guilty, your honor,” I said. “Then how do you explain this picture?”
When I'm there they show a photo of me in the act. “That isn’t me, your honor. Yes it looks like me. He’s wearing the same clothes as me but lots of kids around here wear those clothes. We go to a private school and have to follow a dress code and uniform. That could be anyone from my school.”
“I suppose it could,” said the judge “but how do you explain the fact that your fingerprints are on the gun?” I tried to explain to them about the little black boxes with the red ribbons and the mysterious phone calls but it just wasn’t working.The judge wanted to make an example out of me I guess. They sentenced me to 5 years. I was still a minor so I wasn’t sent into a regular prison. Instead I would serve my time at a juvenile detention center that was nearby. It was basically a jail except there were only kids not adults. They put me on a bus with about 20 other guys around me. There were also 5 cops on the bus to guard us prisoners. The ride was quiet except for the occasional sound of metal clanking from someone rubbing their wrists where the handcuffs were cutting into their skin. The bus turned right and we pulled into the juvenile detention center. There were a bunch of inmates looking at us through the fence as we pulled in. Some hollered at us, trying to scare us or intimidate us I guess. Others just laughed and smiled like the sight of someone else having the same fate as them made them happy. The guards hurried us along inside.
When I got there they took all of my stuff then gave me clothes to change into. I laughed at the irony of it. I was used to wearing a uniform at school but this uniform meant something entirely different. I never thought that I would be wishing to put on my school uniform and head out the door to go to school. If only that were the case. Instead I was stuck here at this detention center serving a sentence for a crime I didn’t even commit. They walked me to my cell where I saw my cell mate. He seemed to be about 15 years old, was about 5’ 7 , thin, had shoulder length brown hair and was clearly a video gamer judging by the few posters he had above his bed. “Well at least that’s one thing we will have in common,” I said to myself. It seemed as if he was sleeping so I didn't bother him. I was tired from all that had happened that day, so I decided to try and get some sleep too.I woke up in the middle of the night to my cell mate reading a book and I asked him, “What is that you’re reading?” He looked at me surprised.
” This book here? Why this book is called The Soup Chronicles. Have you read it?” “The Soup Chronicles?” I asked “Nope, I can’t say that I’ve read that one.” I didn't even say anything after that because how dumb it sounded.
“Hey, what’s your name?” he asked. I said,”Mathew.” “Well welcome to Juvy Matthew. My name is John and it looks like we’re going to be stuck together for awhile.” “What did they get you in here for?” he asked nosely I thought. At first I didn’t want to tell him. After all I didn’t even do the crime I was doing time for. Feeling my hesitation he went first.
“ I’m in here for robbing a bank.” John said. “Well at least that’s what they said I did. I’m innocent you know.
“Yeah, me too” I said turning over in my bed so my back was to him. I was Trying to avoid any further conversation right now. I just wasn’t in the mood. I had to try to find a way to prove my innocence but how. I layed back, closed my eyes and went back to sleep dreaming of my freedom.
I woke up the next morning to the alarm bells ringing and the guards yelling at us to get up. I jumped out of bed and stood still at the foot of my bed with my arms at my side like I saw all of the other kids doing. The guards slowly walked up and down the hall slapping their hands with their batons to keep us in line I guess. We lined up and the guard led us all to the dining hall.
In the dining hall I was told to sit at a table with 4 other boys. I knew the first boy at my table, it was My cell mate John who I had met last night. John spoke up “ Guys, I would like you all to meet my new cell mate Matthew. He arrived here on yesterday’s bus for a crime he didn’t even commit. Does that sound familiar to you guys?” John said smiling and laughing. He winked at me and said,
“I’m just messing with you Matt. Come here and sit next to me. I’ll introduce you to the guys.” Slowly he started introducing the boys around the table.
“This here is Sam.” John said, pointing to a dark-haired boy of Asian descent. “Sam here is 14. His parents sent him here to try and control his temper. You see Sam angers quite easily so you want to watch how you talk to him. The last kid that didn’t agree with him got beat down with a hockey stick and had to stay in the hospital for over a week.”
Sam spoke up now, “ It’s really quite simple,” Sam said “ I treat others with the same amount of respect that they show to me. If they don’t respect me why should I respect them? Besides that kid had it coming. I warned him three times to back off and leave me alone. He didn’t want to listen so I took care of things my way. Problem solved, well for me at least.” Sam continued reaching his hand out to shake mine. I was hesitant at first, then I slowly reached out my hand and shook his. “See that wasn’t so hard now was it? If you show me respect, I’ll show you respect and we won’t have any problems now will we?” He smiled at me then went back to eating his breakfast.
The next boy I was introduced to was Brody. Brody was my age, 13, but he was very small for his age. I was his height back when I was in fifth grade. Brody had sandy blonde hair which he styled into a mohawk perhaps to give him the appearance of looking taller. He had blue eyes and a nice enough looking smile. “This little guy here is Brody,” John said, “ He was my cell mate until they moved him because we were too loud.” Brody spoke up, “ It’s not my fault you suck at playing Rocket League John. I told you which buttons to push but you just weren’t listening to me.” “Yeah, yeah” John said. “ Brody and I used to sneak out together and play video games at night when everyone was asleep. We got a little too loud one night and the guards busted us. They split us up after that but we still occasionally find ways to play together don’t we Brody-man?” John said as the two boys smirked and gave each other a high five. I asked, “ we get video game time in here? I love video games. That is until I got stuck living one in real life.” “Living a video game in real life? What do you mean?” Brody asked. “Yeah” John said “ You never did tell me last night what they put you in here for.” Just then the bell rang indicating that breakfast was over. “Guess you will have to tell us at lunch,” John said before he got up to get in line with the others. The guards were handing out chore assignments for the day and handed each of us a card with a specific chore on it that we were to take care of that day.