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Three steps towards Hell, part 1 by thadeusz


April 29, 2020.

Life was great: I had just turned 18 and I had obtained a scholarship to go to a well known College, far from home and against the wishes of my parents who wanted me to stay in their shop and help them as young shopkeeper. Most important: I was in love with Mira, a wonderful 17 years old who was also ready to go (early) to college.

That’s when a dreadful epidemic more or less exploded in my country. The government imposed a curfew from 7pm to 6am. It also ordered all of us to remain housebound to avoid contagion, but I was in love and this love was new. So one evening, when my girlfriend called me and asked when and where we could meet, I suggested that we could meet in security under a bridge in the center of the city where we lived.

Around midnight, Mira and me met at the place I had suggested. She immediately started by giving me a passionate kiss, which was of course contrary to the confinement law. We started to do what young lovers do … usually. Unluckily, two police agents arrived a little bit later. The eldest one asked me:
"What is your name and how old are you ?"
"My name is Johan Virlet and I am 18."
"Is this young lady your sister ? or does she live with you, in your house ?"
"No, she is my best beloved and live in another part of the city."
The policeman turned towards my girlfriend and asked her the same question he had asked me.
She replied politely:
"My name is Mira Johnson and I am 17 and a half. But I must go home: my father is the assistant mayor and he would be anxious if you kept me."
The policeman let Mira go ! He did not know that "Johnson" was not her name and that her father was not the assistant mayor. I kept quiet and the two policemen took me to the police station where I was booked. I was told that considering the situation I would be presented immediately, the next morning, to a judge and that I was not entitled, at this stage, to have a lawyer.

I was locked in a dirty and uncomfortable cell. The cell was made of high metal walls, but the front wall was provided with a big grid enabling the guard to observe all my movements. The bottom wall had a tiny window on top and lower than that, a long wooden board serving as bed. There was no cushion and no cover. Luckily, I had my very long blond mane: I used my hair to form a cushion on the plank that served as bed and I slept peacefully on it, with my clothes. Besides my long mane, I was also proud of my young whiskers with nicely cut points. In these days, I had also a neat beard because Mira wanted me to have one: I had developed a nicely cut beard forming an elegant blond collar around my head.

The next morning, I was brought very early in front of a judge who asked me:
"Tell this court your name and age."
"Virlet Johan, 18 years old since two weeks, your Honor"
In fact I did not know if the Judge had to be called like that, but it seemed to me that this was the best approach : showing him a respect which in fact I did not have for him !
Then boomed the following statement:
"You are accused to have broken the sanitary confinement law and the curfew decision. How do you plead: guilty or not guilty ?"
I knew that the policemen could testify against me, so I assumed that the best for me was to plead guilty, which I did. The judge reacted immediately.
"In this case, I will immediately give my verdict. You are guilty of a violation of a sanity law imposed by our government. Hence I sentence you to three months in jail."
Wow, that was a lot more than I had foreseen. But the judge went on:
"But since it is the first time you behaved like that, and since you pleaded guilty, I make it, for this time, a 3 months suspended sentence. You are free and can go now, but don’t do it again. You are putting other citizens’ health and your own in great danger."

That’s how I left the court and joined Mira for the rest of the day. There was nothing else to do than love since the schools were closed and the exams had been canceled.

Three weeks later, I was walking in the main street with two of my friends. We were tired of this confinement and, with other friends, we had decided to organize some common sporting activities. The others were gone, but we remained chatting. Suddenly, we realized that it was 8 pm ! We started to run towards our homes and this movement attracted the attention of two policemen I did not know. They succeeded to capture one of my friends. I came back in order to help him, but the cops arrested both of us. They booked us and locked us in two separate cells with large grids in front. The next morning, very early, one of them, an old policeman, came and fetched my friend telling him:
"You are going to be judged now because you broke the curfew and the sanitary confinement law. Be honest and tell the truth: the judge might let you go or simply give you a 3 months suspended sentence."

My friend looked at me, but the eldest policeman told him loudly (so I could hear it): "Your friend’s case is very different. He will be judged later, but you must tell the judge the whole truth. This includes giving the name of the third guy in your late group. You must also tell the judge honestly why you were not confined in your respective homes. This is a good advice I am giving you."
My friend looked at me with despair in his eyes, raised his shoulders and the policemen handcuffed him in his back, something they had not done with me. They then took him to court.

Two hours later my friend was back, still handcuffed, and he was crying. He told me rapidly through the grid:
"I had to say that we were out to do some sport, I mentioned football, but the judge told me that this sport was forbidden now. I also told the judge that this was your idea, it was my only way out. I could not do otherwise. I also gave the judge name of our third late companion, but I told him I did not know the others well enough. The police are going to arrest the third one now. We are going to be tried together in a few days."
He had lied to the judge, trying to save his skin, when he said it was my idea. I looked at him with disgust. All this seemed to be very bad for me, but there was nothing I could do except wait in my small cell. I was of course furious: playing football, which was forbidden, was NOT my idea, but … I had accepted to play with the others. Now I had to pay for that !

Our third companion was arrested in the afternoon, probably booked as we had been, and then brought to another cell in the same waiting hall ! He seemed very confused by what was happening to him.

There was a guard in the room who told us to remain silent and to concentrate on our future trial. He advised all of us to plead guilty, since the facts were obvious, and to present our apologies to the judge. Later he brought each of us a metal bowl with some dreadful food in it and a metallic jug with some water. Around 10 pm he turned the lights off and we were left with our thoughts. This lasted a full week: I had been deprived of my watch and of my phone, but I was still able to count the days. My huge mane continued to serve as cushion each night on the plank placed in my cell. I tried to keep calm by dreaming of Mira and her great kiss.

Every morning the guard gave each of us several pieces of dry bread and a jug of water and said:
"That’s for your health. You won’t have more until tomorrow."
The guard seemed to like saying that ! I hated him for saying that, especially with that tone of joy and his joyful look when he said so !

After 7 days in our tiny cells, with no possibility to change our clothes nor to wash properly, we were taken, very early, to another room of the same building: the court. It was the same judge as the first time ! Obviously he recognized me ! He spoke first in a paternal voice for the three of us:
"There is no reason to ask you whether you plead guilty or not: the police evidence and the testimony given by one of you proves that you chose to violate the curfew and the confinement laws. I must thus give my verdict and my sentence. The three of you are guilty of all charges."
He then turned to my two comrades and said:
"In your cases, it was a first time. So I sentence you the three months in prison but I make it a suspended sentence. To this, I add a 7 days sentence which you just served in the Sheriff’s jail. Since you have now served time, you will have a police record ! Try to keep it clean of any other sentence. Let this be a good lesson."
The judge focussed then on me and said:
"In your case the situation is different. It is the second time you appear in MY COURT for the same motive. You are thus a recidivist. Anything to say before I sentence you ?
"Your Honor, I sincerely apologize for breaking, unknowingly, these important laws. I promise to respect them in the future. I have a scholarship for one of the major Colleges, please let me go there: this is a unique possibility for me."
"You should have thought about it before breaking the law. Since you are a confessed recidivist, I give you 6 months to be served immediately in the County prison, plus 7 days which have been served in the Sheriff’s jail. Moreover, your suspended sentence is no longer suspended. The 3 months of suspended sentence becomes effective as of this instant. And this is real prison time now, without parole. You will thus leave immediately my court room and start to serve your 9 months detention time in the County Prison. Moreover, I give the Director of this institution full authority to give you Additional Detention Time should your bad behaviour continue and thus require more time in prison in order to enable you to become a better citizen."
He turned then towards a guard and told him:
"Prepare him as usual and let this boy be transported immediately to the County Prison."
I wanted to say something about an appeal, but the judge did not let me speak.

One of the guards got hold of me, under the horrified looks of my friends, and handcuffed me with my hands in my back. To this he added shackles on my ankles with a small chain only letting me walk in a very unusual and uncomfortable way. The guard then pushed me out of the courtroom and into a big courtyard where a police van was waiting. I was finally pushed inside the van where I discovered several tiny cells and I was locked in one of them, waiting for my transportation to the prison. I still wanted to appeal the sentence but I did not know how to do it.




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