A young teen is sentenced to juvenile jail. He and his cellmate, an abused 11-year old boy, are forced to wear diapers while locked in their cell. Despite episodes of embarrassing diaper wetting, the boys forge a strong friendship in jail and decide to become brothers. Will they be able to stay together when they’re released?
“Josh Taylor, I hereby find you guilty of second-degree shoplifting. The security camera clearly shows you pocketing the headlight. Is there anything you want to say before I announce your sentence?”
I was 13-years old when I heard those words from the juvenile judge. Ten days earlier, I had been detained by the security officer at a discount store for stealing a lithium headlight for my new bicycle.
The police came to the store, arrested me and took me to the police station. After being fingerprinted and photographed, I was locked in a juvenile holding cell until my parents could pick me up. What a terrifying experience! I was barely a teenager and I was in jail for the first time in my life.
I always thought jails had bars or thick metal doors, but the holding cell had a clear plastic door and window. The cop said the plastic was unbreakable and stronger than steel. He was right, too. After he left, I kicked the door hard. It didn’t break. It didn’t even crack.
After an hour in that plastic cell, my parents arrived at the police station and took custody of me. My mother had tears in her eyes and my father was angry.
When we got home, dad spanked my bare bottom. After the spanking, I felt a sense of relief. My punishment was over. Only later did I realize that I would have to appear in juvenile court for more punishment.
“I’m sorry I took the headlight,” I said to the judge, as tears welled up in my eyes. “I don’t know why I did it, but I promise I’ll never steal again. Please don’t send me to jail. My dad has already spanked me for taking the light.”
The judge sighed. I think he hated having to sentence me—a first-time offender from a good family—to juvenile jail, but he had no choice. Three years ago, our county supervisors had passed a new ordinance called the Shock Therapy Program. The ordinance was intended to “shock” boys who committed misdemeanor crimes such as theft or vandalism.
All convicted offenders were required to spend time in juvenile jail. When school was in session, all jail sentences were served only on weekends. During summer school vacation, a boy had to start serving his jail time on the very same day he was sentenced.
First-time offenders were required to spend two days in juvenile jail. This was called the First Shock. Since it was summer, I was facing the prospect of an immediate two-day jail sentence.
A second conviction resulted in a Second Shock sentence of four days in juvenile jail. A third offense meant a Third Shock penalty of six days in jail.
There was no Fourth Shock. If a boy committed a fourth crime or a violent crime, he was sent to the State Training School for Boys, which was a prison for boys. The minimum sentence was one year. Violent offenders usually stayed in the boy prison until their 18th birthday.
The Shock Therapy Program was intended to “shock” boys into leading crime-free lives after spending time in jail. All offenders between the ages of 9 and 17 served their time in the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) located north of town.
The JDC was actually the old city jail. The first floor had been refurbished and modernized to accommodate youthful offenders. The second floor still had the original jail cells, which were used as punishment cells.
When school was in session, the JDC operated only on weekends from 7:00 PM Friday until 7:00 PM Sunday. During summer school vacation, the JDC was open seven days a week, but kept the same 7:00 PM entrance and exit times. It was a hot Wednesday afternoon in July when I stood before the judge.
“Josh, I understand that you’ve been punished at home, but I’m required by county ordinance to sentence you to two days in the Juvenile Detention Center,” said the judge. “You are hereby ordered to report to the JDC by 7:00 PM tonight. Your release date will be 7:00 PM Friday. You can pick up your confinement papers from the court clerk. You’ll need those papers when you report to the intake officer at the JDC. This procedure is adjourned.”
Tears trickled down my face as my parents rushed to embrace me. Except for the spanking, mom and dad had been very supportive throughout my ordeal. Now they were helpless. So was the attorney they hired. In less than five hours, I was going to be locked up in juvenile jail.
The Long Goodbye
“It’s 6:30,” said dad after supper. “We better leave now. Josh, is there anything you need to bring with you?”
“I don’t think so,” I said, as my voice cracked with emotion. “I read the confinement papers and the jail provides everything.”
“It’s not a jail,” said mom. How she hated that word! “It’s a youth center and other boys your age will be there. I’m sure the center will have lots of recreational activities to keep you busy.”
Mom made it sound like I was going to summer camp. It was summer, but I knew the JDC was neither a camp nor an activity program. It was a jail for boys and in 30 minutes, I was going to be in that jail for two whole days. The very idea of being locked up terrified me.
I considered running away, but I knew what would happen when I was caught. According to the confinement papers, I would have to serve 10 days in jail for failure to appear. I couldn’t imagine being locked up in a jail cell for over a week.
It was a silent 15-minute drive to the detention center. What can you say during such a sad outing? Dad parked the car near the intake door, we exited the car, and my parents gave me a final loving hug.
“We’ll be waiting for you right here when you get out,” said my dad. He wiped away tears from his eyes. I had never seen him cry before and it scared me. His crying proved to be contagious, and mom and I quickly joined in. It was the saddest, most emotional moment of my life. Worst of all, it was entirely my fault.
Dad finally pushed the button next to the intake door. A bell sounded and a few seconds later, the steel and glass door creaked opened. I looked back at my parents, gave them a final tearful wave, and entered the intake area. I jumped when the guard slammed the door shut and locked it. Oh, God, I’m in jail. This can’t be happening to me.
Once inside the intake room, I handed my confinement papers to the guard. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest as he slowly read the papers. He also compared my face to the attached arrest photo from the police station.
“Josh, I see you’ll be staying with us for two days,” said the guard. He spoke calmly, almost like a motel clerk during check-in. “I need you to take off your clothes and put them in this bag. They’ll be returned to you when you’re released.”
I took off my shoes and shocks, and deposited them in the bag. Next came my t-shirt and my shorts.
“Underpants, too,” said the guard, as he gave me a gentle pat on my butt. “You have to be naked so I can search you everywhere for contraband.”
My face burned with shame as I peeled off my underpants and put them in the bag. I was naked in front of a complete stranger. I quickly covered up my genital area with my hands.
The guard ran his hands through my hair. Then I opened my mouth for inspection. The final act was the most humiliating. The guard put on a blue vinyl glove, made me bend over, and pull my butt cheeks apart. Then he inspected my butt hole with a probing finger. God, I felt so abused! My most private part was being invaded by a horrid blue finger.
"You passed inspection,"said the guard, as he peeled off the glove. “You’d be amazed what boys try to hide down there.” He patted my bare bottom like I was a little boy. “Let’s get you some clothes, then I’ll take you to your cell. All ten cells are occupied, so you’ll be sharing a cell with a younger boy. He’s been here twice before, so he knows the routine.”
The guard opened up a wire cage and handed me various items of jail clothing. An orange t-shirt with the words “JDC INMATE” emblazoned in black letters on the back. Orange shorts. Orange shower shoes. Gray socks. He also gave me a bed sheet, a blanket and a thin pillow.
Then came the real shocker. He handed me a white diaper. It was a pull-on type of diaper, the same style of diaper that a toddler would wear.
“Is this a diaper?” I asked in disbelief. “Do I have to wear this thing? I’m not a bed wetter.”
“It is a diaper and you are required to wear one at all times,” said the guard. “It’s merely a precaution. Serving time in juvenile jail can be a stressful situation and some boys lose bladder control. All inmates in this facility wear diapers instead of underpants. You’ll get used to it. You might even enjoy wearing a diaper.”
“I doubt it,” I muttered, as I pulled on the diaper. I looked down and cautiously touched the front of my diaper. It felt so thick, nothing at all like my cotton underpants. Then I reached back and felt the embarrassing diaper padding on my butt. The guard watched in silence as I struggled with the strange sensation of being in a diaper again.
“Now put on your other clothes!” said the guard. “I need to get you locked in your cell.”
Locked in your cell. Those words brought me back to reality. I was going to be locked in a jail cell. I quickly dressed in my orange jail clothes, almost forgetting about the diaper.
A door with bars separated the intake area from the cells. After the guard unlocked the door, we entered a corridor lined with ten cells. As we walked down the corridor, I glanced nervously into the cells. Each cell had two bunks, but only one boy. Some of the boys were shirtless, but all were wearing orange shorts over their diapers.
At the very end of the corridor, the guard unlocked cell door 10 and motioned for me to enter. I was paralyzed with fear, unable to move. He gently pushed me into the cell and closed the door. CLANG! Then I heard the distinctive sound of the door being locked. CLICK!
As long as I live, I’ll never forget those sounds. A CLANG and a CLICK, and my freedom was gone. I was locked in a jail cell.
Two Strangers in a Cell
My whole body was trembling as I did a visual tour of my new home. The cell door had steel wire mesh instead of bars. I pushed on the door. It was locked and didn’t budge. Then I pushed on the wire mesh. It was remarkably strong and didn’t flex at all. There was no escaping my reality now. I was a prisoner in a jail cell.
The cell was dismally small. Two bunk beds, one above the other, were attached to one wall. A metal table and seat were attached to the same wall at the foot of the bunks. A stainless steel toilet and wash basin were opposite the cell door. There was nothing else in the cell. What a barren joyless place to live!
There was a glazed-over window above the wash basin. The narrow window allowed light to enter the cell, but the glazing made it impossible to see through it. Bars—real jail bars—covered the inside of the window. Those bars appeared to be a holdover from the days when this place was a city jail.
A boy was sleeping in the top bunk, so I sat down quietly on the bottom bunk. I looked around again and when I saw the bars on the window, something snapped inside me. I started crying. I never felt so lonely and miserable in my life.
I tried to stop crying, but I couldn’t. Every time I saw those window bars, a new wave of sorrow washed over me. I wanted to go home, but I couldn’t. I was locked up in a jail cell.
All of a sudden, the boy in the upper bunk hopped down and sat next to me. He put his arm around my shoulders and started talking.
“It’s going to be okay,” he said. “I know you’re feeling bad and it’s okay to cry. I cried when I was in jail the first time. My name is Caleb Smith. What’s your name?”
“I’m Josh Taylor,” I said between sobs. “I’m sorry I woke you up, but I’ve never been in juvenile jail before. God, I hate this place. I want to go home.”
“You didn’t wake me,” said Caleb. “When the guard opened the door, I saw that you were bigger than me. I was afraid you might do sex stuff to me, so I just pretended to be asleep. When you started crying, I knew you were harmless.”
My tears finally stopped and I took a good look at Caleb. He was wearing only his diaper. His other clothes were on the floor. He wasn’t very big, so I can see why he might be afraid of me. He was 11-years old, but he could have easily passed for a younger boy. His hair was brown, the same as mine, but his dark brown eyes were a complete contrast to my blue eyes.
“How come you’re not wearing your other clothes?” I asked.
“It’s hot and stuffy in here, so it’s more comfortable in my diaper,” said Caleb. “You might as well take off your clothes, too. The guards won’t let you go naked, but as long as you have your diaper on, they won’t bother you. Besides, it’s kind of fun wearing a diaper.”
Caleb seemed happy enough in his diaper, so I started undressing. Shoes. Socks. Shirt. Shorts. I felt ridiculous in only my diaper, but I had to admit, it was comfortable.
“How long have you been in here?” I asked, as I sat back down on my bunk. Caleb quickly put his arm around my shoulders again. I was touched by his concern for me. We were complete strangers, but he seemed to really care about my well-being.
“Four days. This is my Third Shock, so my sentence was six days. I’ve only got two more days to go. I get out Friday night.”
“I get out Friday night, too,” I said. “This is my First Shock, so the judge gave me two days. I stole a bike headlight.”
“Really?” asked Caleb. “I stole a whole bike. Someone stole my bike, so I went to the park and stole one, too. The cops caught me and locked me in a weird plastic cell until my mom picked me up.”
“Hey, I was locked in a plastic cell, too,” I said. “The cop said the plastic was unbreakable. He was right, too. I kicked the door hard and it didn’t break. It didn’t even crack.”
“I did the same thing,” said Caleb with a big grin on his face. “Most people kick butts. We kick cells. I kicked the wires on this door, too. They’re unbreakable. There’s no way to escape.”
Caleb stopped talking briefly when the guard peered through our wire mesh door. He later told me that the guards do cell checks every 15 minutes until lights out. After that, the cell checks were every 30 minutes. After the guard left, Caleb resumed talking.
“When my mom came to the police station, she spanked my bare butt in that plastic cell. The cops thought it was funny. After the judge sentenced me to jail, she spanked my bare butt again, but this time, she used a wooden spoon. I still have the spank marks to prove it. Does your mom spank you?”
“My mom doesn’t spank me, but my dad does,” I said. “After I got released by the police, dad spanked my bare bottom with his hand. I’ve never been spanked with a spoon. That must really hurt.”
On and on we talked—two full hours. Caleb kept his arm around my shoulders the whole time. The talking and his hug had a therapeutic effect on me, and I calmed down.
We talked about our lives and I quickly discovered that we came from radically different backgrounds. Caleb lived with his mother and her boyfriend in Trackland. That’s a slang term for the area around the railroad tracks. It’s a very bad neighborhood—drugs, prostitution, robberies and the occasional murder.
Caleb said his mother was a dancer in a gentlemen’s club. I didn’t know what kind of club that was, so he explained it to me in graphic detail. What an education I got! I learned about G-strings, and pole and lap dancing. He also told me that his mother got raped when she was 19-years old. Caleb was the offspring of that rape.
“That’s why she hates me so much. I look like the guy who raped her.”
I told Caleb about my life in Paradise Point. It’s a new subdivision that sits on a hill overlooking the city.
“I know that place,” said Caleb. “We call it Snob Hill because only rich people live up there and they’re snobs. They think they’re better than everybody else.”
“We’re not rich,” I said defensively. “My parents are teachers and they don’t earn that much money. I’m not a snob either. I’m just like you. We both stole things. We both got spanked. Now we’re both in jail. That makes us equal.”
At 9:00 PM, a bell sounded. It was time for showers, one cell at a time. Caleb explained the procedure.
“When they open the door, wear your diaper and shoes to the shower room. You get five minutes. After you go back to the cell, put your shirt, shorts, socks and shoes outside the cell. We’re only allowed to wear diapers at night. If you wet yourself, it’s no big deal. We get clean diapers in the morning after breakfast. The first time I was in jail, I was scared and I wet my diaper both nights.”
The shower room was tiny—only two shower heads—so I knew why we took showers one cell at a time. As I showered, I looked at Caleb’s butt. He wasn’t kidding about the spanking. I could see numerous black and blue marks on his wet butt cheeks. I also noticed some nasty-looking red welts across his back.
“My mom hit me with a curtain rod after she spanked me the last time,” Caleb explained. “It really hurt and I was bleeding.”
What a brutal home life he must have! I wanted to pick him up and hug him, but naked boys in the shower room aren’t allowed to touch each other. The no-contact rule was enforced by a guard standing just outside the showers. It was creepy having a guard watch us take our showers. Maybe he was a pervert who liked seeing naked boys.
After our showers, we put on our diapers and walked back to our cell. We put our orange jail clothes, socks and shoes outside the cell, then the guard locked our door for the night. Caleb said we would stay locked up until 9:00 the next morning. That meant 12 hours in our cell wearing only our diapers.
After lockup, we sat on my bunk and talked some more. There’s not much to do in jail except talk. Once again, Caleb put his arm around my shoulders. I still couldn’t believe how caring and concerned he was for me. He wasn’t a bad person at all.
“Tomorrow morning, we get an hour in the rec room,” said Caleb. “They have books and magazines in there, and you can bring one of each to your cell. I never bring any because I don’t read very well. I’m pretty stupid.”
“You’re not stupid,” I said. “Tomorrow, you choose what you want to read and I’ll help you read it. After we get out of jail, I want you to visit my house. My parents are teachers and they can help you, too.”
“They can’t help me,” said Caleb. “I’m too stupid. Mom says I’m going to be a jailbird all my life. She can’t wait for me to get sent to the boy prison. Then I’ll be out of her life for a year or more.”
I was appalled. I couldn’t believe he had such low expectations. He was only 11-years old. Just then, the lights went out in our cell.
“It’s 9:30,” said Caleb. “Lights-out time. They come back on at 7:00 in the morning.” He gave me a final hug, then climbed up to his bunk. “If you start to feel bad, I’ll come back down. Maybe we can try that reading thing in the morning. I like you. For a Snob Hill kid, you’re pretty nice.”
“For a Trackland kid, you’re pretty nice, too,” I said, smiling for the first time. “After you choose a book and magazine tomorrow, I’m going to prove to you that you’re not stupid.”
I flopped down on my bunk and closed my eyes. Nothing happened. I couldn’t sleep. The mattress was uncomfortable and the cell was stuffy. A thousand thoughts were racing through my mind.
I can’t believe I’m locked in jail and wearing a diaper. God, I’ve screwed up my whole life. Mom and dad will never trust me again. Maybe they won’t want me anymore. They might ask the judge to send me to the boy prison until I turn 18. I couldn’t stand being in a prison cell for five years. I wonder if they wear diapers in the boy prison.
When I opened my eyes, the window bars were silhouetted against the outside lights. How I hated those bars! They were a constant reminder that I was in jail. Those bars seemed to be taunting me.
Ha, ha! You’re behind bars and you can’t go home.
A new wave of sorrow swept over me. Tears trickled down my face. I muffled my crying in the pillow, but I felt alone and desperate again. I couldn’t live behind bars anymore. I had to escape from this cell and I knew how to do it.
I waited until after the guard shined his flashlight through the wire mesh door. That gave me 30 minutes until the next cell check. After he left, I took the bed sheet off my bunk and climbed up on top of the wash basin. I twisted the sheet into a crude rope and tied one end to a window bar. I made a noose in the other end.
I was strangely calm as I put the noose around my neck. All I had to do was jump off the wash basin. I’d either break my neck or strangle myself. In either case, I’d be free from jail bars forever.
“Don’t do that, you stupid shit!” shouted Caleb. He hopped down from his bunk and grabbed my legs so I couldn’t jump off the wash basin. “I knew you’d do something stupid. I just knew it. That’s why I stayed awake. Take that stupid thing off your neck!”
“Let go of me!” I said, as I burst into tears. “I can’t stand those bars anymore.”
“What did you expect?” asked Caleb. “You’re in jail and jails have bars. This is your life right now. You’re a jailbird, just like me. Get used to it, you Snob Hill wimp!”
His words stung. He was so kind and caring before lights out. Now he was chewing me out. I tried to free my legs, but Caleb wouldn’t let go. Then he started talking about my parents.
“How do you think your parents would feel if you killed yourself? They might kill themselves, too. Is that what you want? Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about your parents!”
God, what a tongue lashing! I felt ashamed. Caleb was two years younger than me, but at that moment, he was much wiser. I removed the noose from my neck and untied the sheet from the window bar. Caleb let go of my legs and started talking again.
“Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re putting both mattresses on the floor. I’m going to sleep right next to you and put my arm over you so you can’t do anything stupid.”
So that’s how I spent my first night in jail—sleeping on the cell floor next to Caleb. He was snuggled up next to me with his arm slung over my body. It worked, too. I felt safe and secure next to him. Jail is a lonely place, but his close presence got me through the night.
When I woke up the next morning, I felt better. Caleb was still asleep and his arm was still slung over me. Now I faced another problem. I needed to pee. I didn’t want to wake up Caleb by moving his arm, so I peed in my diaper. The warmth felt wonderful. I never thought wetting a diaper would feel good, but it did.
A bell sounded at 7:00 AM and the cell lights came back on. Caleb looked at me through sleepy eyes and smiled.
“Hey, we made it through the night,” he said. “One more night and we’ll be out of this stupid jail. How do you feel?”
“I feel good,” I said. “Thanks for helping me last night. I’m sorry I acted like such a baby.”
“You are a baby,” said Caleb with a big grin on his face. “You’re wearing a diaper like a baby, aren’t you? All you Snob Hill kids are babies. Did you pee your diaper like a baby, too?”
“Not during the night, but I had to go this morning. I didn’t want to wake you, so I just wet my diaper. I’m glad I didn’t have to poop. How about you? Are you wet?”
“Yep,” said Caleb. “I wet it during the night. I was afraid to move my arm and wake you, so I just peed in my diaper. It felt good. I guess I’m a baby, too. That’s what happens when I sleep next to a wimpy Snob Hill kid. I become a wimpy Snob Hill baby.”
I laughed at his comments. Deep down, I knew the real reason why we both wet our diapers. We cared about each other and didn’t want to bother the other person. We were becoming friends.
Escape Plan for Caleb
Around 7:30, a guard handed us our breakfast trays through the narrow food slot that was built into the wire mesh cell door. That’s when I learned that we had to stay locked up in our cell for all meals. Even worse, my butt was itching because of my wet diaper.
Each tray had a cereal box, a slice of bread with margarine, a carton of milk, an orange juice box, and a plastic spoon. After our long night, we were starved and we devoured our food in minutes. It tasted good and I could have eaten more, but in jail, they don’t offer seconds.
Around 8:00, the same guard came back with a two-level utility cart. He ordered us to hand him our trays through the food slot. He tossed the trays into the upper bin. Then he ordered us to strip off our diapers and hand them to him through the same food slot. For sanitary reasons, the guard was wearing blue vinyl gloves.
“My goodness, it looks like we have some wet babies in their little playpen,” said the guard, as he examined our soaking wet diapers before tossing them into the lower bin.
We didn’t respond to the guard’s taunting, but I was seething with anger. Comparing us to babies and calling our cell a playpen was so insulting. The guard was lucky our cell door was locked. Otherwise, I would have tossed my pee-filled diaper in his face.
The guard made us bend over so he could inspect our bare behinds. Once he was satisfied that we were poop-free, he handed us two clean diapers through the food slot.
We washed our private parts with our jail-issued washcloths. We didn’t want to smell like pee all day. Since the jail didn’t provide any towels—we only got towels in the shower room—we stayed naked for awhile, letting the air dry our bodies.
“We’re not supposed to be naked in our cell,” said a worried-looking Caleb, as he glanced at the wire mesh door. “If the guard sees us, we’ll get locked in the punishment cells.”
Caleb was referring to the second floor cells. They were part of the old city jail. When they built the Juvenile Detention Center, they only modernized the first floor cells. The upper cells still had the original cell door bars. According to the intake officer, the maximum time in a punishment cell was six hours.
“We’re already locked up in a wire mesh cell,” I said. “What difference does it make if we get locked up behind bars? It’s still jail. I’m staying naked until I’m completely dry. Screw the guard! He’s a pervert.”
Caleb looked at me in shocked disbelief. For the first time, he was seeing my stubborn feisty side. Jail no longer terrified me. It made me angry and defiant. I didn’t care if my cell door had wire mesh or steel bars.
“I’m staying naked, too,” said Caleb with a big grin on his face. “Screw the guard!”
After our private parts were dry, we still felt defiant, so we stayed naked and did some exercises that I do at home—push-ups, toe touches, sit-ups and several others. We finished with jumping jacks, which caused our wieners to flop around. We cracked up laughing.
The guard did a cell check as we were doing our nude exercises, but he didn’t say a word. He just stared at us through the wire mesh door. Maybe he liked seeing naked boys. Just as he was leaving, I stuck my hand through the food slot and gave him the finger. Once again, he didn’t say a word.
“Goodbye, you chicken shit pervert!” I shouted through the wire mesh door.
“Hey, you were right,” said Caleb, as he laughed at my comment. “He was too chicken to lock us up in the punishment cells.”
After 15 minutes of naked exercises, we finally put on our diapers. I never thought I’d say this, but it felt great to be in a clean dry diaper.
Our orange jail clothes remained outside the cell door. We’d get them back when it was time for the rec room at 9:00. Caleb explained the daily schedule.
“We get two hours in the rec room—one hour in the morning and one hour after supper. In the afternoon, we get one hour in the exercise yard. Then around 9:00, we get our showers. It’s the same thing every day. Jail is really boring and there’s nothing to do in this cell.”
I did the math. Not counting the brief time we spent in the shower room, we would be locked in our cell for 21 hours a day. That’s an awfully long time to be locked in a wire mesh cage. We couldn’t have any visitors or make any phone calls either. The jail didn’t allow that. It was a short-term Shock Therapy facility designed to “shock” us out of our criminal ways.
Caleb had spent the first four days of his sentence alone in his cell. 11-years old, locked alone in a cell for 21 hours a day, and no visitors. He’s one tough little boy to survive that. I felt sorry for him. I wanted to help him, but I didn’t know what to do. Mom and dad might have some ideas, but I had no way to contact them.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my focus had shifted away from my problems to the massive problems that Caleb was facing. This was his Third Shock—six days in jail. There was no Fourth Shock. His next crime would land him in the State Training School for Boys—the boy prison—for a year or more. I didn’t want that to happen, but I was locked up and helpless.
In most counties, Caleb would have gotten probation, community service or counseling. In our county, he got jail. Thank you, county supervisors! You locked an 11-year old boy in jail to shock him. You keep that boy in a cell 21 hours a day. Now he’s one mistake away from prison. Don’t be shocked if you turn him into a career criminal! Screw your stupid Shock Therapy Program!
I was getting angrier by the minute. I climbed up on the wash basin, grabbed the window bars and shook them as hard as I could. They rattled slightly, but didn’t budge. Damn those bars! They were keeping me from talking with my parents. Caleb thought I was losing control again and he grabbed me around my legs.
“Don’t worry!” I said. “I’m not going crazy. I just hate these fucking bars. God damn these bars! God damn this fucking cell! God damn this whole fucking jail!”
“Hey, I never heard you swear before,” said Caleb with a grin on his face. Then he imitated me. He climbed up and grabbed the window bars, shook them, and started swearing. On and on he went, using every cuss word he knew. What an ear-curdling vocabulary he has!
I cracked up laughing. I couldn’t help it. What a sight! A cute little boy in a diaper, shaking the bars and cursing them. My laughter was contagious and Caleb joined in. Tears trickled down our faces. When we finally stopped, I picked him up and hugged him.
“I’m so glad I met you,” I told him. “You’re the most amazing boy I’ve ever met. You’re tough, funny, and caring. God, I wish you could be my brother.”
Then it hit me. That’s the solution to the problem. Caleb will become part of our family. He’ll be my brother. I’ll make sure he doesn’t commit another crime and get sent to the boy prison. It’s the perfect way for him to escape his past life.
“Caleb, how would you like to live with my family after we get out of jail?” I asked. “You don’t have to, but I would love to have you as my brother. We could have lots of fun together.”
“Really?” asked Caleb. “You want me to be your brother?” Tears started trickling down his face. “You’re the first person who…”
Caleb choked up. He put his arms around my neck and started crying. I was shocked. A tough little boy from Trackland was sobbing uncontrollably. His whole body shook. I gently patted his diapered bottom, trying to comfort him.
I have no idea how long I hugged Caleb. It didn’t matter. Time is all we had in jail.
“I’m sorry I made you cry,” I said, “but I really do want you to be my brother. That’s why I was so angry earlier. I wanted to speak with my parents about you, but I can’t get out of this stupid cell. God, I hate those damned bars on the window.”
“How are you going to do this?” asked Caleb, after he recovered his composure. “My mom hates me, but she likes the money she gets from the government. She won’t let me go because she’ll lose the money.”
I assumed he was talking about some government-funded welfare program for mothers with children.
“That’s simple,” I said. “We won’t tell the government you’re living with us. That way, your mom keeps getting the money and we get you. As soon as we get out of jail on Friday, I’ll ask my parents to talk with your mom. They can work out the details.”
“Your parents might not want me,” said a still-skeptical Caleb. “This is my third time in jail for stealing. They might not want a thief and a jailbird in their house.”
“Hey, I’m a thief and a jailbird, too, and they want me home,” I said. “Besides, once they find out you saved my life, they’ll love you forever. Just wait and see!”
The bell rang at 9:00. It was time for the rec room. That perverted guard came to our cell door, but instead of unlocking it, he uttered a sinister warning through the wire mesh.
“The next time I see you nude in your cell or the next time you make an obscene gesture at me, I’ll lock you naked in the punishment cells. We’ve got a big thick paddle up there. I’ll paddle your bare fannies until they’re bloody red. You won’t be able to sit down for a week without screaming in pain.”
Holy cow! Did the guard’s menacing words scare me! I almost wet my diaper. Caleb was terrified, too. Tears started to trickle down his face.
“I’m sorry I gave you the finger,” I said meekly. “I won’t do it again. We’ll eep our diapers on, too. We won’t stay naked in our cell anymore. Please don’t paddle us!”
The guard stared at us for several more seconds through the wire mesh door. God, that was so scary. He finally unlocked our cell door and let us put on our orange jail clothes over our diapers. Then we headed down the corridor with many other boys.
Caleb was still teary-eyed as we walked to the rec room, so I put my arm around his shoulders. A few minutes ago, he became my brother. What did I do as his big brother? I almost got him locked in a punishment cell. I almost got him paddled.
If I can’t keep Caleb out of trouble while we’re in jail, how can I expect to keep him out of trouble when we’re released? That short walk to the rec room was a life-changing moment for me. I had to become a better brother.
I read somewhere that there are two kinds of time in jail—hard time and easy time. Hard time means time passes slowly. Easy time means time passes quickly. For me, hard time was the first night in my cell. Easy time began when we hit the recreation room—the rec room.
The rec room was a well-lit room at one end of the cell corridor. It was separated from the cells by a door with bars. The other end of the corridor also had a barred door, which separated the cells from the intake room. Bars to the left of me, bars to the right of me, bars in my cell. God, I was so tired of seeing jail bars.
The rec room looked almost like a school classroom except for the bars—more jail bars!—on the windows. The room had books and magazines along the north side. On the south side, there were cupboards, which contained board games, playing cards, puzzles, and paper tablets and ballpoint pens for writing or drawing.
After the guard locked everyone in the rec room, Caleb and I grabbed a table for ourselves and looked around. I counted nine other boys. They were all bigger and older than me, probably 15- to 17-years old. I felt intimidated by their size. I can only imagine how Caleb felt. He was by far the youngest and smallest.
Caleb and I played several lively games of checkers. We had fun and time passed quickly. When the bell rang, we had five minutes to choose one book and one magazine to take back to our cell. Caleb chose the book Tom Sawyer and a Boys’ Life magazine.
When the guard wasn’t looking, I swiped a ballpoint pen and stuck it between my butt cheeks. A pen was considered contraband because it could be used as a weapon. I knew I was taking a risk. If I had been caught, I would have been locked in a punishment cell for six hours. That nasty guard would probably have paddled my bare bottom, too.
After a quick pat-down search by the guard—the stolen pen escaped detection—he unlocked the barred door and led all the boys back to their cells. Once he locked our cell door, we quickly stripped off our orange jail clothes and wore only our diapers again. It seemed perfectly natural to be in a diaper. In fact, I was beginning to enjoy it.
I retrieved the ballpoint pen from between my butt cheeks and rinsed it off. It was time for me to be a better brother. It was time for me to help Caleb with his reading skills.
Meet the Teacher
Back in our cell, I had Caleb read one paragraph from Boys’ Life. He had no problems with one-syllable words, but words with two or more syllables gave him problems. He had to sound them out syllable by syllable.
Once he struggled through the paragraph, I tore off six sheets of toilet paper. On each sheet, I printed a word from the paragraph that had two or more syllables.
“What’s that word?” I asked, as I held up one of my homemade flash cards. He struggled to read each word. After going through all six cards, I said: “It’s time for recess.”
I read one chapter aloud from Tom Sawyer for our recess. Caleb sat next to me as I read. He had seen a movie version of the book on TV, but the text was too archaic and complicated for him to read.
“Recess is over,” I said, after I finished reading the first chapter. “Time for school again.”
Once again, we went through the flash cards one by one. He recognized the words somewhat faster than before. Then I had him read the same paragraph from Boys’ Life. He didn’t struggle quite as much.
“OK, time for recess again,” I said. We sat side-by-side in our diapers and I read the second chapter of Tom Sawyer.
All morning, we did our school sessions. By the time the guard gave us our lunch trays at 12:00, Caleb had mastered that first paragraph and those six new words.
“See how easy it is to read!” I said, as we sat side-by-side in our diapers and ate our cold turkey sandwiches. “Now you don’t have to sound out those words. You recognize them as soon as you see them. That’s what reading is all about—recognizing words. You learned quickly. You’re pretty smart for a Trackland kid.”
Caleb looked at me and grinned. What a beautiful smile! No way in hell was he going back to his mother!
Fun and Games
After the guard took our trays away, we stayed locked up until 1:30. Then we put on our orange jail clothes over our diapers and got an hour in the exercise yard.
The cement yard was surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire. It had four basketball hoops, but they were being used by the older boys. Caleb and I walked around the perimeter several times. After being locked in our tiny cell, it felt wonderful to exercise our legs.
At 2:30, we were locked in our cell again. After eagerly stripping down to our diapers, we resumed our school sessions with a new paragraph and new words. This went on all afternoon. Caleb enjoyed school and he loved each chapter of Tom Sawyer that I read at recess time.
The saddest part of the book was the picture of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn visiting Muff Potter in jail. It reminded Caleb of our situation.
“If we were locked in that jail, Tom and Huck could visit us every day. We could play checkers with them through the bars. After we got out of jail, we could go swimming with them. I wish we could swim now. I’m tired of being locked up all the time. I want to be free like Huck.”
Caleb’s fondness for the Huck Finn character didn’t surprise me. Both boys had similar backgrounds. Huck had a bad home life with his drunken father. Caleb had a bad home life with his abusive mother. Huck couldn’t read or write. Caleb struggled to read. Huck was a bad boy with a heart of gold. Caleb was a convicted “criminal” with a tender caring side.
From time to time, we interrupted our sessions to play a game that I invented. I rolled up our socks into a ball and we played basketball. The wash basin was the basket. If one of us missed the basin completely, the other would shout: “Air ball!” A couple of times, our sock ball bounced into the toilet. “Water ball!”
At 5:00, a guard interrupted our basketball game by bringing two supper trays—peanut butter sandwiches, baby carrots, fruit cups, and milk. I couldn’t believe it was that late. We had been having so much fun that time seemed to fly by. That’s the secret to surviving in jail. Keep busy!
At 6:00, our cell was unlocked and we went to the rec room for an hour of checkers. Then we were locked in our cell again. After we stripped down to our diapers, we resumed our school sessions. We also invented another new game—dodge sock ball.
“I like being in jail with you,” said Caleb, after we finished playing dodge sock ball. “You make everything fun in here.”
“I never thought I’d have fun in jail, that’s for sure,” I said. “Maybe we should ask the guard if we can stay in jail for an extra day or two.”
“What?” asked Caleb. “You want to stay in jail?”
I cracked up laughing. My naive little brother actually believed that I wanted to stay locked up in a jail cell.
Shortly after 9:00, a guard unlocked our cell door. I quickly slipped the ballpoint pen inside the toilet paper roll. The pen was considered contraband and had it been discovered, I would have been locked up the next day in a punishment cell for six hours.
We went to the shower room in our diapers and shower shoes. In the showers, I noticed that Caleb’s spank marks on his butt and those nasty red welts on his back were still visible. I couldn’t believe the guard didn’t report this abuse to the police. He probably didn’t care.
After our showers, we walked back to our cell, and put our orange clothes, shoes and socks outside the cell. After the guard locked us up for the night, I got out the stack of toilet paper flash cards. One by one, Caleb read them all perfectly. Then he read the paragraphs in Boys’ Life without hesitation.
“Wow! That’s amazing,” I said. “You read everything perfectly. You’re really smart. Do me a favor and stop calling yourself stupid! You’re definitely not stupid.” I put my arm around his shoulders. “I’m really proud of you. I can’t wait for you to meet my parents. They’re going to love you.”
At 9:30, the cell lights went out. Caleb insisted that we put the mattresses on the floor again. My little protector wanted to make sure that I made it through the night “without doing something stupid.”
“I can’t believe I’m getting out of jail tomorrow,” said Caleb, as he lay next to me in his diaper. “It’s seems like I’ve been locked in this cell forever. I’m so scared. What if your mom and dad don’t like me? What if they don’t want me? I’ll have to run away and live like Huck Finn. You can be Tom Sawyer and come visit me. That might be fun.”
“You won’t have to run away,” I said. “I’ll make sure my parents take you home. Remember, we’re brothers now. If they want me to come home, they have to take you, too. Once they find out you saved my life, they’re going to love you. Just think! Tomorrow night, we’ll be sleeping in my room instead of this crappy jail cell. We’ll be wearing pajamas instead of diapers, too.”
“Good night, Josh. I love you.” He put his arm across my body to protect me again.
“I love you, too, Caleb,” I said, as my eyes misted over. What a sweet boy!
I couldn’t get to sleep right away. I was thinking about tomorrow. Doubts began to tumble through my mind.
What if his mother won’t give up custody? What if my parents don’t want another kid? I should have talked to them first. What if my parents don’t want me anymore? Maybe they’ll send me to live with relatives. Would my relatives want Caleb? What happens if he has to go back to his mother? He’d be devastated and so would I. God, what have I done?
Countdown to Freedom
The countdown to our release began with the 7:00 AM bell. I immediately realized that something was wrong. My diaper was soaking wet. I had wet myself during the night and didn’t even realize it. My doubts from last night must have triggered the wetting. At least I hoped so. I didn’t want to go home as a bed wetter.
“This is your fault,” said Caleb, after he stood up and showed me his pee-filled diaper. “You tossed and turned a lot last night. Every time you woke me up, I had to pee. I’m soaked.”
“Sorry about that,” I said. “I’m wet, too.” I stood up and patted the front of my wet diaper. “I had a lot on my mind when I went to bed and I peed myself during the night. I didn’t even know I did it. It’s a good thing our diapers didn’t leak. We could have drowned.”
Caleb laughed at my witticism, then wiggled his pee-filled diaper crotch back and forth between his legs. I did the same thing. We both cracked up laughing.
Our breakfast was the same as yesterday. That’s one thing about jail. It’s the same routine day after day. Rec room. Cell. Exercise yard. Cell. Rec room. Cell. Shower room. Cell. We got out of our cell four times a day. We got locked in our cell four times a day.
At 8:00, our breakfast trays were taken away and we were given clean diapers. It was the same guard as yesterday, but he was nice today. He didn’t tease us about our wet diapers and call us babies. He also didn’t make us bend over for a butt inspection.
We scrubbed our private parts with our washcloths, then put on our diapers. We didn’t air-dry our bodies or do any naked exercises. We didn’t want the guard to get angry again. We were afraid he would lock us naked in the punishment cells and paddle our bare behinds.
“How many spanks do you give boys when they’re in the punishment cells?” asked Caleb after the guard unlocked our cell door at 9:00 for the rec room. “Do you use a long paddle or a round one? My mom has spanked me lots of times with a ping-pong paddle.”
“We don’t hit boys in this facility and we don’t have a paddle,” said the guard. “It’s against the rules to physically harm any boy.”
“You told us yesterday that you were going to lock us naked in the punishment cells and spank us with a paddle,” said Caleb.
“I was trying to scare you,” said the guard with a wry smile. “It seems to have worked, too. You boys weren’t naked in your cell today. You followed the rules and stayed out of trouble. I hope you’ll do the same after you’re released tonight.”
The guard paused for a few seconds to let his words sink in.
“Don’t forget, boys! This is a Shock Therapy facility. Our goal is to shock, scare and humiliate you. We want you to hate this place and never come back. We hope that a few days in jail now will keep you from spending years in prison later.”
I couldn’t believe it. The guard intentionally humiliated us yesterday when he teased us about our wet diapers. He wanted to see how we would react to his Shock Therapy taunting. We didn’t handle it very well. We stayed defiantly naked in our cell. Then I gave him the finger and called him a chicken shit pervert.
Later on, he threatened to spank our bare behinds with a paddle. His threat worked, too. I caved in and apologized like a scared little boy. Please don’t paddle us! I bet the guard had a good laugh at my pathetic pleading.
“I’m glad I didn’t have to lock you boys in the punishment cells,” said the guard. “Those cells are horrible. They don’t have any toilets in them. You would have been forced to use your diapers. Six hours behind bars in a wet messy diaper would not have been fun.”
As we walked to the rec room, I looked up at the punishment cells. I could see the cell door bars, but because of the steep angle, I couldn’t see inside the cells. Did they have toilets or not? I had a feeling the guard was trying to scare us with another Shock Therapy lie. The jail wouldn’t make boys poop in their diapers, would they?
Once in the rec room, Caleb and I played checkers for an hour. After we got locked in our cell, we stripped down to our diapers, but we didn’t do much school. Our impending release made it hard to concentrate. We did go through the flash cards a couple of times. Caleb had perfect recall. I could tell he was smart.
Mostly, we played basketball and dodge ball with our rolled-up sock ball. I also finished reading Tom Sawyer. Caleb loved the book and I knew why. Tom and Huck were completely free. We were just the opposite. We were locked in a jail cell and forced to wear diapers.
After lunch and our one hour in the exercise yard, we talked a lot in our cell. Caleb really opened up about his life. Some of the things he told me were horrific. I was appalled and wrote down each item on a sheet of toilet paper. My parents needed to read these sheets before they confronted his mother in the parking lot.
We had supper at 5:00, then around 5:30, a guard unlocked our cell door for the final time. He told us to strip naked. After we took off our diapers, he told us to use the toilet. We didn’t have to poop, so we just stood side-by-side and peed. It’s hard to pee when you’re naked and someone is watching you from behind.
After peeing, the guard returned our original non-jail clothes to us and allowed us to get dressed. How great it felt to wear underpants instead of a diaper!
The guard confiscated all jail property—shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, washcloths, food trays, and our book and magazine. He tossed our personal hygiene items into our release bags. There wasn’t much. Jail-issued toothpaste, toothbrush, plastic comb, soap, and the diapers.
I stuffed my homemade flash cards into my release bag, but I kept my notes about Caleb’s abuse in my pocket. For the first time in two days, I had pockets again. The orange jail shorts didn’t have any. I also pocketed the ballpoint pen that I swiped from the rec room.
The guard led us through the barred door that led to the intake room. Then he put us in a holding cell that had bars for a door. He called it a release cell. The cell kept us—outgoing prisoners—separate from any incoming prisoners.
“If you need to pee again, use the diapers in your release bags,” said the guard, as he closed the cell door and locked it. One final lock-up, this time behind bars instead of wire mesh.
The release cell, which was near the intake door, had metal benches along two of the walls. There was nothing else in the cell. No window. No toilet. It was obviously part of the old city jail. I wondered how many other men and boys had been locked behind these bars, waiting to be released.
“This is my third time in this release cell,” said Caleb, as he put his hands on the cell door bars and shook them. “These bars make it seem like a real jail, don’t they? Now you’re a real jailbird like me.”
“I’m a real jailbird, that’s for sure,” I said. “I’ve been locked up in a plastic cell, a wire mesh cell and now a cell with jail bars for a door.”
I put my hands on the cell door bars and shook them. It felt weird to be locked behind bars. I think they put boys in this cell on purpose. It’s one final shock—one hour behind bars in a real jail cell.
“This cell is like a punishment cell,” I said, as I rattled the steel bars one more time. “I’m glad we didn’t get locked in those cells.”
“Me, too!” said Caleb. “Those cells don’t have any toilets in them. I don’t mind wetting my diaper, but I sure wouldn’t want to poop in it. Every time I sat down, I’d get poop on my butt. That would have been so gross.”
“Look on the bright side!” I said. “If we had been locked up in the punishment cells, we could have reached through the bars and thrown our wet messy diapers in the guard’s face.”
Caleb cracked up laughing. Nothing like a little diaper humor to lighten the mood when you’re locked up behind bars!
Around 6:30, we heard a bell ring. The guard unlocked the intake door and a boy entered the jail. CLANG! CLICK! The door was closed and locked. The next time we heard those sounds, we would be on the other side—the good side—of that jail door.
The boy was around my age and he was fighting back tears. I could tell instantly that he was a First Shock boy serving a two-day sentence. He glanced at us in our cell. He probably thought he was going to be locked up behind bars, too.
From our cell, Caleb and I had ringside seats as the boy stripped naked and was searched by the guard. How humiliating for him to be searched like that in front of us! When I was strip searched, there were no boys in the release cell. Then came the issuance of jail clothes and a diaper. It was all so depressingly familiar.
The guard took the boy to his cell while we remained locked in our cell. We watched the atomic wall clock tick down to our release time. That’s when Caleb dropped a bombshell on me.
“My mom probably won’t be here,” he said. “She didn’t bring me here. I had to walk.”
“That’s over five miles,” I said in astonished disbelief. What a lonely walk that must have been! I can’t imagine any boy walking five miles just to go to jail. The temptation to run away would be overwhelming.
“My parents need to talk with your mom,” I said in panic. “We can’t just take you to our place without telling her. I thought we could all meet in the parking lot. What’s her phone number?”
I took out the pen that I swiped from the rec room and quickly wrote down the number. I was feeling desperate. My escape plan for Caleb was starting to unravel.
“I’ll have my parents call her when we get out of this cell,” I said.
I looked at the clock. It was 6:55. Five more minutes to go. I was nervous and scared. Doubts began tumbling through my mind, just like last night.
What if we can’t reach Caleb’s mother by phone? Would my parents take him home without her permission? What if my parents don’t want another boy in their house? What if they don’t want me?
At exactly 7:00 PM, the guard unlocked our cell door, then unlocked the intake door. He pushed the creaking door open, causing a bell to ring. I guess the bell rings every time the door is opened or when the outside button is pushed.
“Okay, boys, you’re free to leave,” said the guard. “I’ve already signed your confinement papers and I’ll return them to the juvenile judge. I hope I never see you here again.”
My heart was thumping in my chest as we exited the jail. Tears started trickling down my face. Please, God, let me parents be here! I’ll never steal again.
Free at Last
When Caleb and I exited the door, my parents were parked in the exact same spot as when they brought me to jail. I remembered dad’s words: “We’ll be waiting for you right here when you get out.” I was overwhelmed. They were here. They still wanted me. They still loved me.
My parents came flying out of the car, hugged me, and we all had a good cry. This time, it was tears of joy, not sadness. I wanted to say how sorry I was, but I couldn’t get the words out. I was so overcome with emotion.
“Let’s get you home where you belong,” said dad. He put his arm around my shoulders.
“Dad, I can’t leave right now,” I said, as I wiped away my tears. “I want you to meet someone.”
Caleb was still standing next to the door, looking like a lost little boy. His mother hadn’t shown up, just as he predicted.
“Mom and dad, I want you to meet Caleb Smith. We were in the same cell together. He helped me to survive in jail and he’s my best friend. I promised him that he could live with us. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk to you about this beforehand, but I didn’t have a phone and I couldn’t get out of the cell. I tried.”
“He really did,” said Caleb. “He tried to rip the bars off the window. I tried, too, but those bars wouldn’t come off. We couldn’t escape.”
My parents were temporarily at a loss for words. They brought one boy to jail. Now there were two boys wanting to go home with them.
“It’s nice to meet you, Caleb,” said dad, as his innate courtesy kicked in. He shook Caleb’s hand, then glared at me. “Josh, you shouldn’t make promises like that. You know we can’t take him home. That’s kidnapping.”
“Caleb, where are your parents?” mom asked, as she knelt down to his level. “Do you want me to call them? Maybe they had car trouble. We’ll stay here with you until they arrive.”
“I’ve got his mother’s phone number,” I said, “but before you call her, read these notes. They’re a list of all the bad things she’s done to him. It’s horrible. Her boyfriend is even worse. He’s a child molester. Look at the sex things that he does to Caleb.” I handed mom the sheets of toilet paper notes. She hesitated briefly, then gingerly took the thin sheets.
My parents were visibly shaken by what they read. Dad’s face got red and mom teared up. It was a lengthy list, but the first five items were the most outrageous.
(1) She hits him with curtain rods and wooden spoons. He’s got spank marks on his butt and red stripes on his back.
(2) She punched him in the face and he got a chipped tooth.
(3) Sometimes she locks him in the closet and makes him use a plastic bucket for a toilet.
(4) Her boyfriend takes naked pictures of him and posts them on the internet.
(5) Her boyfriend does sex things to him in his butt.
“We better call the police,” said dad. “They know best how to handle this kind of situation.”
“God damn it! Do something yourself! Don’t be such fucking wimps!” I shouted. “Caleb, lift up your shirt and show them your back!”
My parents were visibly shocked by my foul-mouthed language. They were even more shocked when they saw those nasty-looking welts across Caleb’s back.
“She hit him with a curtain rod and he was bleeding,” I said. “Please, just call her! Tell her that he has to live with us or else you’ll call the police! I’m not going home until he’s safe with us. He’s my brother now. If you don’t want both of us, we’ll go to a homeless shelter and live by ourselves.”
My parents faced a dilemma. As teachers, they’re required to contact the police whenever they suspect a student is a victim of abuse or neglect. This wasn’t school. This was the juvenile jail parking lot.
“I’ll call her,” said mom, as she whipped out her cell phone. Her jaws were clenched. I could tell she was angry. I’ve seen that look before when I misbehave.
“Hello, Mrs. Smith. My name is Ann Taylor. I’m standing outside the youth center with my son and your son. They lived together in the same room.”
Mom still called the juvenile jail a youth center. She couldn’t accept the fact that I was in jail. I lived in a room, not a cell. After exchanging a few pleasantries, mom got to the heart of the matter with Caleb’s mother.
“I just saw those dreadful welts on your son’s back. I’ve also got a list of things that you and your boyfriend have apparently been doing to your son. They’re pretty disgusting. I can’t believe any mother would allow such abuse.”
I could only hear mom’s side of the conversation. Too bad she didn’t put it on speakerphone.
“Mrs. Smith, we don’t use words like that. If you can’t talk like a civilized person, we’re going to the police station right now. When they see those welts, the chipped tooth, and the black and blue marks, you and your perverted boyfriend will be in serious trouble.”
I listened in awe as mom ripped into Caleb’s mother. When I was younger, her words could reduce me to tears in less than a minute.
“It’s your damn choice,” said mom. Wow! She used the damn word. That’s a first. “Either he comes home with us or he goes with us to the police station. I’m not going to stand here all frigging night and argue with you.” Wow! She used an f word. Way to go, mom!
“He’s standing right here,” said mom. “Caleb, your mother wants to speak with you. Do you want to talk to her? You don’t have to.”
“It’s okay,” said Caleb. He took the phone. “Hi, mom. I don’t want to live with you anymore. I hate you and I hope you die tonight. Goodbye.”
Those were the most chilling words I ever heard. So calm. So emotionless. Everybody fell silent. It felt like time had stopped. Once mom got over her shock, she started talking again.
“Mrs. Smith, you heard your son. Now it’s your choice. Do we take him to our home or to the police station?”
Mom remained silent for a long time. God, what was Caleb’s mother saying? Turn on the speakerphone, mom!
“Thank you, Mrs. Smith,” said mom with feigned politeness. “You’ve made the right decision. We’ll have our attorney contact you in the next few days to work out the details.” She turned off the phone and put it in her purse.
“Caleb, I have good news,” said mom. She lifted the boy into her arms. “No one is ever going to hurt you again. You’re going to live with us.”
“Really? You really want me?” He put his arms around mom’s neck and started crying. He sobbed uncontrollably, the same way he did when I asked him to be my brother. For the next several minutes, there wasn’t a dry eye in our family.
Once we got our emotions under control, mom gently handed Caleb to me.
“Let’s go home, little brother! You’re going to be a Snob Hill kid now. I hope you’re tough enough to survive up there.”
Caleb looked at me through his tear-filled eyes and smiled.
Getting to know Caleb
When we came home, Caleb needed to use the bathroom, so I showed him where it was. Then my parents and I had a hurried conversation in the kitchen.
“Josh, I know you’ve been through a lot,” said mom. “Do you feel like talking about it tonight or would you rather wait?”
“Let’s talk about it tomorrow,” I said. “I didn’t sleep very well in my cell last night. I was worried about today. I’m sorry I swore at you and forced you to take Caleb home, but I couldn’t abandon him. He’s really important to me. I’ll tell you how important tomorrow. My brain is really tired of jail stuff right now.”
Mom and dad honored my request. When Caleb emerged from the bathroom, we went to the patio, where mom served us chocolate cake and ice cream. It was a beautiful evening and being summer, it was still light out. It felt so good to be free. No cell door clicks and clangs. No ringing bells. Just peace and quiet.
“So, Caleb,” asked mom, “how old are you?”
“I’m 11,” he replied. “My birthday was on July 6th.”
Today was July 11th. I did the math.
“What?” I asked. “You mean you had your birthday in that cell all by yourself? Oh, my God! I’m so sorry. I wish I could have been in there with you and given you a gift.”
“It’s okay,” said Caleb. “Mom says I’m a criminal and don’t deserve gifts. She says I’m going to be a jailbird all my life.”
My parents and I looked at each other in awkward silence. He was only 10-years old when he walked over five miles to get to the jail. Then the following day, he had a birthday all alone in a jail cell. My face burned with anger. I’d love to lock his god-awful mother in that cell and let her starve to death. Then I’d like to cut off the boyfriend’s wiener and stuff it down his throat.
Strangely enough, Caleb’s birthday situation didn’t seem to bother him. He said it in that same emotionless voice that he used when he said goodbye to his mother on the phone. The only time he cries is when he gets good news. He’s emotionally scarred.
“So, Caleb,” asked dad, as he changed the subject, “what grade will you be in?”
“I’ll be in the sixth grade,” he said. “I almost didn’t pass the fifth grade. I don’t read very well. In our cell, Josh read Tom Sawyer to me and I learned to read some big words. He’s a good teacher. If you guys want to help me read better, that would be okay with me.”
“We’d love to,” said mom. “Just think! You and Josh will be going to the same middle school. He’ll be in the eighth grade. You guys can ride your bikes together to school.”
“I don’t have a bike,” said Caleb. “Mine got stolen. I tried to steal another one, but I got caught and they put me in jail. That’s where I met Josh. He’s my best friend. He’s my only friend right now.”
“You’re my best friend, too.” I said. Then an idea for a gift popped into my mind. “When we talk about everything tomorrow, I’ve got a birthday present for you. You’ll like it, but I can’t talk about it now because it’s a surprise.”
My dad made one last attempt to find out more about Caleb.
“I know you live with your mother,” said dad. “I take that back. You used to live with your mother, but now you live with us. Where does your father live? Do you ever see him? Does he know what’s going on at your place?”
“I don’t have a dad,” Caleb responded. “My mom got raped and that’s how I got born.”
My parents looked at each other in embarrassed silence. Whatever else you can say about Caleb, he’s brutally honest. Just be careful what you ask him! I finally ended their embarrassment.
“Can Caleb and I go swimming now? We didn’t get much exercise in jail. We were mostly locked in our cell. I’ve got some old swimming trunks that might fit him.”
So that’s how we ended our first night at home—swimming and playing in the pool for over an hour. It was fun to be a normal kid again. No cares. No worries. Just fun. I think my parents were happy to see us laughing and having fun, too.
After swimming, we took a shower together while mom went to the storage room and found a pair of my old pajamas. They were too big for Caleb, but it didn’t matter. We slept in our diapers.
After our door was closed, we peeled off our pajamas and retrieved our diapers from our release bags. I didn’t want to wake up in a wet bed on my first morning home. Caleb wore his diaper because he was used to it and it was more comfortable than my too-big pajamas.
“I can’t believe I’m really living with you,” said Caleb, as he lay next to me in bed. “Boy, you were really brave in the parking lot. You shouted and swore at your parents. I hope your dad doesn’t spank you for doing that. Spankings scare me.”
“Don’t worry about it! A spanking won’t kill me. I’m just glad you’re living with us. Just think! Two days ago, we were strangers in a jail cell. Tonight we’re brothers in my bed. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad the judge sent me to jail. I always wanted a brother and I finally found one in jail. What a strange place to find a brother!”
“I’m glad you were in jail, too,” said Caleb. “You’re the nicest boy I’ve ever met. Can I tell you a secret? When you asked me to be your brother, I didn’t think you could really make it happen. You’re just a kid like me. I figured your parents wouldn’t want me or something would go wrong.”
“Me, too,” I said. “I think that’s why I wet my diaper last night in jail. I didn’t sleep very well because I was worried about today. God, I hope I don’t wet myself tonight. I don’t want to wear a diaper every night. My friends would tease me if they found out.”
“I won’t tease you,” said Caleb. “If you have to wear a diaper, I’ll wear one, too. I don’t mind. I got used to diapers in jail. If you wet yourself, I’ll wet my diaper, too. We’ll be diaper brothers.”
“Good night, little diaper brother,” I said. “I love you.”
“I love you more,” said Caleb. He snuggled up next to me and put his arm across my body. I probably didn’t need his protection anymore, but I loved him for doing it.
Confessions of a Diaper Boy
It felt wonderful to be in my own bed again. I slept soundly and when I woke up, my diaper was dry. I was ecstatic. I wasn’t a bed wetter after all. Caleb was also dry. No more sleeping in diapers for the jailbird brothers!
After we got out of bed, I decided to stay in my diaper for breakfast. I wanted my parents to see what I was forced to wear in jail. I told Caleb he could get dressed, but he declined.
“I’ll stay in my diaper, too. Remember last night? We’re diaper brothers.”
The surprised look on my parents’ faces when they saw us in only our diapers was priceless. It almost made up for the embarrassment I was feeling. My father started to say something, but I interrupted him.
“Dad, this is what we wore in jail. They wouldn’t let us wear underpants. When we were out of our cell, we wore our orange jail shorts over the diapers. In our cell, we just wore diapers. It was too hot and stuffy to wear anything else. Let’s have breakfast first, then I’ll talk about the other jail stuff.”
My parents probably thought that I had gone stir crazy, but they asked no questions. After we finished breakfast, I stood up and started talking.
“I’m standing up because I want you to see my diaper. I know I embarrassed you guys when I got arrested and put in jail. So now it’s my turn to be embarrassed. I’ll stay in this diaper all day if you want.”
My parents smiled slightly, but remained silent. What can you say to a 13-year old boy in a diaper?
“I’ve got a lot to say about jail. Mom, I know you don’t like that word, but that’s what the Juvenile Detention Center is. It’s a jail for boys. Caleb and I spent 21 hours a day locked in a tiny jail cell. When I talk about it, I’ll probably use some bad words, just like I did last night in the parking lot. Dad, you can spank me later if you want. Just don’t spank me in front of Caleb! Spankings scare him.”
“There won’t be any more spankings,” said dad. “You’re a teenager now and too old for that type of punishment. I’m sorry I spanked you after your arrest. I shouldn’t have done that. I was angry and I overreacted. Your time in the detention center was punishment enough.”
No more spankings and an apology! Who is that man? He looks like my dad, but he must be an alien from outer space.
“Caleb, this is for you. Thanks for helping me survive in jail. When I got locked in that cell, I was depressed and miserable. You sat next to me, put your arm around my shoulders, and started talking. I was a complete stranger and you could have ignored me. Instead, you chose to make me feel better. I’ll never forget that. You’re the kindest, most caring boy I’ve ever met.”
My words came out effortlessly because I was speaking from the heart.
“After lights out, you saved me. When you saw that bed sheet around my neck, you grabbed my legs and stopped me from hanging myself. Mom and dad, I was seconds away from killing myself. That’s how depressed I was in that damned jail cell. I thought my life was ruined and I really wanted to die. If not for Caleb, I’d be dead right now. He saved my life.”
Tears started trickling down my parents’ faces. Until that moment, I don’t think they realized how suicidal I was in jail or how important Caleb was to my survival. Mom pulled Caleb onto her lap and hugged him with both arms. He looked a little embarrassed sitting on her lap in only his diaper.
“After you saved my life, you really chewed me out. You called me a stupid shit and a wimp. I guess they call that tough love. Then you told me to stop thinking about myself and start thinking about my parents. You said if I killed myself, they might kill themselves, too. God, did you shock me when you said that!”
I paused briefly. My suicide attempt brought back horrid memories.
“After your tongue lashing, we put our mattresses on the cell floor and you slept next to me all night. You kept your arm on top of me to make sure that I didn’t do anything suicidal. Mom and dad, that’s why I was so desperate and foul-mouthed in the parking lot. Caleb saved my life in jail. I couldn’t let him go back to his god-awful mother and her shit-for-brains boyfriend.”
I expected my parents to scold me about my crude language, but they remained silent.
“Caleb, I know somebody stole your bike, so this is the surprise that I mentioned yesterday. I got a new bike for my birthday and I want you to have it. It’s your birthday present from me. I’ll keep my old bike. I don’t need a new bike to be happy. I just need you to be my friend. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had and now you’re my brother, too.”
I had originally planned to give Caleb my old bike. I’m not sure why I changed my mind. It just felt like the right thing to do.
“Mom and dad, this is for you. When I said goodbye to you outside the jail, that was the worst moment of my life. You looked so sad and depressed. God, I’m sorry I put you through that. Once I was locked up, I missed you desperately. I wanted to come home so badly, but I couldn’t. The cell door was locked and those bars on the window…”
My voice choked up at this point. Thinking about those window bars brought back dreadful memories. After a few seconds, I recovered my composure.
“When I was locked in that cell, I realized how important you are to me. I don’t need bikes or headlights to be happy. I just need you and your love. Thanks for loving me throughout this whole mess. That was my biggest fear when I got out of jail. I was afraid you wouldn’t be waiting for me. I was afraid you wouldn’t want me anymore.”
“Josh, we’ll always love you,” said mom between sobs, “You made a mistake and you paid a terrible price. It’s over with.”
“It’s not over,” I said. “Mom, I have a confession to make. For the past couple of years, I’ve been taking money from your purse. It’s just a dollar at a time, but it adds up. Probably $20 or so. While I was in jail, I thought about this a lot. I was stealing from my parents, the people who love me the most. I didn’t need the money, but I stole it anyway. God, I feel so guilty now. It won’t happen again, but I want to pay you back.”
“Josh, I appreciate your honesty,” said mom, as she wiped away her tears. “It’s such a small amount of money that…”
“Mom, please let me finish. I want to say everything now because I might not feel so brave later on. I get $10 a week for my allowance. I want you to keep half of it for the next four weeks. That should cover the money I stole. Give the other half to Caleb. He’ll need the money to buy things for his new bike.”
At this point, dad intervened.
“Josh, that’s very generous of you, but now that Caleb is living with us, he’ll be getting his own allowance money. In fact, today is Saturday—allowance day.” He opened his wallet and handed Caleb a $10 bill. Then he gave me a $5 bill. “Josh, your allowance will be $5 for three more weeks. Once the stolen money is paid off, it’ll go back to $10. Let’s not talk about this anymore.”
“Is this money really mine?” asked Caleb. He held the $10 bill in the palm of his hand like it was a snake ready to bite him.
“Of course,” said dad. “It’s your weekly allowance money. Didn’t you get an allowance at home?”
“Sometimes my mom gave me a dollar if she had a good night at the club and men stuck lots of money in her G-string. Her boyfriend also gave me a dollar after he did sex things to me back here.” He patted the seat of his shorts.
An awkward silence ensued. Nice going, dad! Ask Caleb a question and he’ll give you a very explicit answer. I ended the embarrassing silence by speaking again. I was emotionally drained, but I had to get everything off my chest.
The Spanking Request
“Mom, I’ve got one more thing to say. Stealing money from you was a terrible thing to do. Even though I’m giving up part of my allowance money to pay for it, I still feel guilty. It’s gnawing away at me and it won’t go away.”
I took a deep breath, then continued on with a strange request.
“Mom, I think I deserve a spanking. I stole the money from you, so you’re the one who should spank me. I want to get spanked on my bare bottom, too, just like dad does it. Let’s go to my room and get it over with right now! I promise I won’t get mad.”
It seemed unreal to ask mom for a spanking, especially a spanking on my bare bottom. She had never spanked me before. Mom was quick to respond.
“Josh, I can’t take away your guilt with a spanking. Your guilty conscience is actually a good thing. You’ve learned from your mistake. That’s what growing up is all about. You made a bad choice taking money from me. You made a good choice by confessing. Over time, your guilt will fade away.”
Then mom surprised me. She pulled down my diaper in the back and gave me a hard spank on my bare bottom. SMACK! Boy, did that sting! It embarrassed me, too. I quickly pulled up the diaper.
“Feel any better after that spank?” I shook my head. “See what I mean? I can’t spank away your guilt. Now I want you to go to your room, take off that silly diaper, get dressed, and take Caleb out for a ride on his new bike. Hurry up before I change my mind and give you another spank!”
“I can’t believe you wanted a spanking,” said Caleb, after we entered my room. “You’re lucky that wasn’t my mom. You wouldn’t feel like sitting on a bike seat right now, that’s for sure.”
“I stole money from mom, so I deserve to get spanked by her,” I said, as we took off our diapers and changed into our clothes. “If I stole money from dad’s wallet, he’d be giving me a red sore butt right now. I can’t believe mom won’t spank me.”
“Oh, boohoo, boohoo!” said Caleb. “Your mom loves you and doesn’t want to spank you. You should be happy, not complaining. If you lived with my mom, you’d have a red sore butt every week.”
Nothing like a little tough love from my new brother to put my life in perspective!
In the garage, I had to show Caleb how to shift gears on his new bike. It was his first one with a derailleur. Then we hopped on our bikes and went for a long ride. It felt wonderful to be totally free. We explored the neighborhood and I showed him the middle school that we would be attending together.
“Don’t tell the kids in school that we were in jail,” I said. “If they find out, they might not want to be friends. Being in jail is a bad thing in Paradise Point. We’re probably the only Snob Hill kids who’ve ever been locked up.”
Caleb looked at me and grinned. He was one of us now, a Snob Hill kid.
While we were riding, mom went on a shopping spree for
Caleb. She bought him a whole new wardrobe—underpants, socks, shoes, shirts, shorts, pajamas, swim trunks, and a jacket. After their acerbic cell phone conversation on Friday night, mom had no desire to get Caleb’s clothes from his mother. A visit to her might trigger another “shootout at the OK corral.” That’s what my dad teasingly called their verbal confrontation over the phone.
When Caleb and I returned home from our bike ride, mom had already put away the new clothes in the guest room. She showed him where everything was.
“Caleb, this is your room now. Welcome to the family!”
Back in Diapers
As I write this story, Caleb has become an integral part of our family. He’s turned out to be a remarkably cheerful, friendly and chatty boy. There is a downside to his chattiness. He’s too talkative about his past. Now all my friends and relatives know that we were in jail together. I was hoping to keep that part of my life a secret.
So far, I’ve only lost one friend. When I went to my friend’s house, his parents wouldn’t let me come in. They told me to leave and not come back. That was so sad. The family has known me since kindergarten. Now they’ve completely rejected me, all because I was in jail.
All my other friends and their families have been more forgiving and they’ve welcomed me back. Best of all, they’ve welcomed Caleb, too. When they learn about his past life—my chatty little brother isn’t afraid to talk about it—they’re amazed at his resilience.
My parents have fallen in love with Caleb and want to officially adopt him. Caleb’s mother is willing to give up custody to us, but she wants a cash settlement to cover her “expenses.” What a money-grubbing creep she is!
Our lawyer and the lawyer for Caleb’s mother are now negotiating the amount of the settlement and a non-disclosure agreement. Once she accepts the settlement, she waives all rights to her son and our family agrees not to report her past abuse of Caleb to the police.
The legal stuff may take several more weeks, but it doesn’t matter. Caleb is already part of our family. He now calls my parents “mom and dad,” and they call him “son.”
Naturally, Caleb and I have become brothers. We still have different last names, but we developed a brotherly bond in jail and it’s gotten stronger since our release. My parents have become his parents, so that makes them our parents.
Our mom and dad are teachers, and in the evening, they help Caleb with his reading skills. He’s smart and he’s making outstanding progress. Once in a while, he’ll get frustrated and utter a swear word. He can’t help it. That’s the way he was brought up. It’s funny to watch our parents grimace when he does that. Fortunately, they’re very understanding and in their gentle caring way, they’re trying to clean up his language. Good luck with that!
So far, Caleb and I have stayed out of trouble. No stealing. In fact, we don’t even think about doing anything illegal. My arrest, spanking and jail time scared the heck out of me. Caleb finally has a loving family and an allowance, so he’s no longer tempted to steal.
We did get into trouble one afternoon, but it wasn’t law-breaking trouble. Mom happened to come home early from shopping and saw us swimming naked in the pool. We were pretending to be Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn swimming in the Mississippi River. It wasn’t our first time to go skinny dipping, but it was the first time that Aunt Polly (aka mom) caught us.
“Mom, kids always swam naked in the old days,” said Caleb. “It’s in that Tom Sawyer book.”
Caleb’s literary argument fell on deaf ears, so he tried a different tactic.
“Mom, I was in jail for six days and I didn’t get much sunshine. I almost got that cricket disease. That’s why I’m naked now. I want to get sunshine all over my body. You don’t want me to get crickets, do you?”
“Crickets?” asked mom. “What are you talking about?” Then a big smile spread across her face. “Oh, you mean rickets.”
As a teacher, mom knew that rickets was a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. She also knew vitamin D was the “sunshine” vitamin. Exposure to sunlight caused a person’s body to produce the vitamin. Although he got the name wrong—crickets instead of rickets—Caleb had somehow picked up a little knowledge about vitamin D, sunshine and rickets.
“I certainly don’t want you to get crickets or rickets,” said mom, as she suppressed her laughter. When she told this story at suppertime, dad laughed so hard that he had tears rolling down his face. Pretty soon, all four of us were convulsed with laughter.
Back at the pool, mom was trying to figure out how to punish her two naked sons. She was afraid to send us to our rooms. She knows I was suicidal in my jail cell. She was terrified it might happen again if I was a prisoner in my room. An idea finally popped into her head.
“I’ve got the perfect punishment for you guys. Wait right here!”
We were naked. Where did she expect us to go?
Mom retrieved our old jail diapers from the storage room. She’s a bit of a pack rat, but I couldn’t believe she saved those diapers. Anyway, she forced us to wear those diapers and nothing else until supper. Surprisingly, she didn’t scold us. All she said was:
“If you’re going to swim naked like little boys, you’re going to wear diapers like little boys, too. You can wear your diapers in the patio area around the pool. You’ll get plenty of sunshine on your bodies and you won’t have to worry about crickets or rickets.”
Mom wouldn’t let us use the toilet, so we had to pee in our diapers. By suppertime, our diapers were soaking wet. I felt silly sloshing around in a pee-filled diaper, but Caleb thought it was fun.
“Now you can’t make me wear this diaper anymore,” said Caleb. He wiggled his pee-filled diaper crotch back and forth between his legs. “It’s all wet and yucky.”
“I can always buy more diapers,” said mom, smiling slyly. “Maybe I’ll buy diapers with fastening tapes. It might be fun to diaper you guys like babies whenever I catch you swimming naked.”
I looked at mom in open-mouthed surprise. Was she serious about diapers or was she bluffing? Then I looked at Caleb. He had a big grin on his face.
I had a feeling that in a few days, little Huck Finn would be skinny dipping in the Mississippi River again. I wondered if Tom Sawyer would be brave enough to join him. He probably will. After all, Tom and Huck are brothers now.
Our Return to Jail
On the last Monday in August, the Juvenile Detention Center held an open house. It does this every year when it makes the transition back to a weekend-only jail.
In previous years, our family never attended the open house. This year was different. Our parents were intensely curious about the jail and decided to attend. Caleb and I could have stayed home, but we chose to go with them.
Dad parked the car in the exact same spot as before, but everything else was different. The intake door was open, not locked. Once we stepped inside, we were greeted by a county supervisor sitting at a table. He was one of the five supervisors who voted to convert the old city jail into a detention center for boys.
“Welcome, folks!” said the supervisor, as he handed dad a brochure. “Feel free to look around the detention center as long as you want. If you have any questions about the Shock Therapy program, please don’t hesitate to ask! It’s been a very successful program.”
“I know all about your program,” said Caleb. “I’m a Third Shock boy. My brother is a First Shock boy. He tried to kill himself because of you. I hate you and I hope you drop dead in this jail.”
Talk about an awkward silence! The supervisor looked at our parents, unsure how to react to such a calm yet venomous remark. Mom and dad were similarly stunned. Up until that moment, Caleb had never expressed any sentiment about the jail. No anger. No bitterness.
“Let’s show mom and dad the release cell,” I said to Caleb, as I put my arm around his shoulders and led him away from the supervisor. Our parents mumbled an apology, then followed us over to the cell.
“This is where we spent our last hour in jail,” said Caleb. “This stupid cell doesn’t even have a toilet in it. The guard told us to pee in our diapers if we had to go.”
Caleb and I went into the cell, and pulled the barred door shut. CLANG! Happily, we didn’t have to hear a lock-up CLICK this time.
“How do we look behind bars?” I asked. “Do we look like jailbirds? Mom, you should take a video of us in this cell with your phone. You could post it on YouTube and call it Bad Boys Behind Bars. Just don’t put our real names on the video.”
Mom was not amused. A video of us behind bars in a jail cell was the last thing she wanted to record.
“We saw a naked boy get searched over there,” said Caleb, as he pointed through the bars at the wire supply cage. “The guard stuck his finger in the boy’s butt hole. I got searched the same way, then I had to put on a diaper.”
Our parents were visibly shaken by Caleb’s words and by the sight of us behind bars in a cell. This wasn’t the activity-filled youth center that they envisioned. It was a grim jail complete with steel bars and degrading strip searches.
We exited the cell and went over to a table displaying items of jail clothing—orange t-shirts, orange shorts, and orange shower shoes. Almost lost in the sea of orange was a white diaper.
“This is the kind of diaper that we wore in jail,” said Caleb. He picked it up and showed it to mom. “Remember when you made us wear these diapers in the patio area? I felt like I was in jail again.”
Mom’s face turned bright red. Way to go, Caleb! Embarrass mom and make her feel guilty!
The barred door that separated the intake room from the cells was open, so we trekked down the corridor. All the cell doors were open.
When we reached cell 10, we entered the wire mesh cell. Caleb climbed up to the upper bunk while I pulled the cell door shut. I wanted our parents to experience what it felt like to be in a jail cell.
“This was my bunk when Josh got locked up here,” said Caleb, as he dangled his legs back and forth from the upper bunk. “We talked a lot down there on his bunk, but we slept on the floor. Josh hated those jail bars on the window.”
“Oh, my goodness!” said mom. “I can’t believe how tiny and cramped this place is. Our walk-in closet is almost as big. What did you boys do in this horrid little place?”
“We did school stuff,” I said. “I made flashcards for Caleb. I also read the Tom Sawyer book out loud. When we got tired of school, we rolled our socks into a ball, and played basketball and dodge ball. That was fun, but our socks got wet in the toilet.”
“We had lots of fun one morning,” said Caleb with a grin on his face. “We did naked exercises. The guard watched us through the wire mesh door. Then Josh gave him the finger and called him a chicken shit pervert. That was so funny. We almost got locked up in the punishment cells.”
WHAP! Dad gave me a swat on my seat. He doesn’t spank me anymore, but I still get an occasional swat for childish behavior.
“This is where Josh tried to hang himself,” said Caleb, after he climbed up on top of the wash basin and put his hand on a window bar. “I grabbed his legs before he…”
“That’s enough, Caleb,” said mom, as tears started to trickle down her face. “We already know what happened in here.”
“It’s okay, mom,” said Caleb, as he hopped down from the wash basin and gave her a hug around the waist. “I saved Josh’s life one time. You guys are saving my life every day by letting me live with you.”
Dad was quick to react to Caleb’s remark. He picked him up for some one-on-one face time.
“Let’s get one thing straight, young man! We’re not letting you live with us. We want you to live with us. You’re our son and we love you so much. I can’t imagine our lives without you.”
“Thanks, dad,” said Caleb. He hugged dad around the neck, then leaned back. “You know what? This is exactly what happened last month in this cell. Josh picked me up and asked me to be his brother. That made me so happy and I cried like you guys are doing now.”
It was our parents’ idea to come to the open house, but their tears told me they regretted their decision and were ready to leave. Caleb, however, was anxious to show them his other former cells. What a strange little boy! He hated the county supervisor, but he loved being a jail tour guide.
“I was in this cell for two days because I stole a flashlight,” said Caleb, after he entered cell 7 and pulled the wire mesh door shut. “It was my first time in jail and I was scared. I wet my diaper both nights. When Josh was locked up, he wet his diaper by accident, too. He was afraid you guys wouldn’t want me.”
Thanks, chatty little brother! I was hoping to keep my diaper wetting in jail a secret.
“I was in this cell for four days because I stole a Swiss army knife,” said Caleb, after he pulled the wire mesh door shut in cell 3. “I didn’t wet my diaper this time because I wasn’t scared anymore. I was just bored. I was all alone in this cell and there wasn’t anything to do.”
Seeing Caleb behind those wire mesh cell doors gave me the creeps. He looked so small and helpless. Now I know why mom didn’t want to record a video of us behind bars in the release cell. As Caleb talked, I added up his jail time.
First Shock: two days. Second Shock: four days. Third Shock: six days. 12 days in jail for Caleb—zero days in jail for his abusive mother and her molesting boyfriend. What a wonderful system of justice we have!
The stairway leading to the second floor punishment cells was roped off, so we weren’t able to visit them. I’ll never know if those cells have toilets or not.
“I can’t believe they have cells like that for juveniles,” said dad, as he looked up at the bars of the punishment cell doors. “It looks like an adult prison up there. That’s utterly ridiculous. Josh, I understand why you hate bars so much. They’re everywhere in this place.”
Our last stop was the rec room. As soon as we entered, Caleb scampered off and started rummaging through the bookshelves. I knew what he was looking for—the Tom Sawyer book.
“This room looks like a classroom except for the bars on the windows,” said mom, as she did a quick visual tour of the rec room. “This is the only nice place in the whole jail.”
Miracle of miracles! Mom finally admitted that the detention center was a jail, not a youth center.
“Look, mom!” said an excited Caleb. “Here’s the picture of Tom Sawyer and his friends swimming naked. I told you that boys always swam naked in the old days. Why can’t we swim naked, too?”
Mom lapsed into silence as she examined the book. I expected her to threaten us with diapers again, but when she finally spoke, she surprised us.
“Caleb, I know why this book is so important to you. You and Josh were locked up in this horrible jail. Tom and Huck were free, and that’s what you wanted. You wanted freedom.”
Mom fell silent again. She looked at dad. He nodded his head. What was that about?
“Your father and I had a conversation a few days ago. He felt that you two deserved some extra freedom. I didn’t agree with him at the time, but now that I’ve seen this horrid place, I’ve changed my mind. I hereby proclaim our swimming pool to be the Mississippi River. From now on, you both can swim bare like Tom and Huck.”
“Really?” asked Caleb. “We can swim naked and you won’t make us wear diapers?”
“No diaper punishment,” said mom. “You lost your freedom in jail. Now we’re giving you some extra freedom to make up for it. Enjoy your new freedom, but don’t abuse it. When you come into the house to use the bathroom, we expect you to wear towels.”
Another miracle! Our parents were going to let us go skinny dipping. The Shock Therapy program really does work…on parents!
“Thanks for coming, folks!” said the county supervisor as we exited the jail.
Mom and dad nodded their heads, but didn’t say anything. As Caleb exited the door, he did something totally out of character. He gave the supervisor a one-finger salute. I was stunned. My normally friendly little brother made an obscene gesture with his middle finger.
WHAP! Dad swatted Caleb’s seat.
“Don’t you ever do that again!” said dad. Then he spoke to the supervisor. “I apologize for his behavior. We shouldn’t have brought him back to this atrocious place. It’s obviously triggered some bad memories for him.”
Caleb was silent as we followed our parents to the car. The swat, his first from dad, hurt his feelings more than his bottom. I put my arm around his shoulders and whispered in his ear:
“Way to go, little brother! Welcome to dad’s SWAT team!”
Caleb looked at me and grinned. Then he rubbed the seat of his shorts in mock pain and whispered back:
“I need to cool off my butt. Let’s swim naked when we get home.”
We entered the car and dad drove away. Caleb and I didn’t look back. Our jail days were behind us. Our bare pool days were in front of us. Tom and Huck were finally free.
This story is dedicated to my brother Caleb.
When I first started to write this story, I intended to write about my experiences in juvenile jail. As I wrote, the focus of the story shifted to my experiences with Caleb. He became the central figure of this story. Pretty soon, he’ll be able to read the story on his own. Little brother, these last paragraphs are for you.
Caleb, your whole life has been a living hell. You’ve been abused, beaten and molested repeatedly over the years. I don’t know how you survived such treatment and became such a nice person. You could have become angry and bitter. Instead, you’re invariably cheerful and happy. Your sunny disposition continues to amaze me.
When I first met you in jail, I was terrified and depressed. I thought my life was ruined and I wanted to die. You saved my life and gave me a reason to live. I’m so lucky to have you as my brother and my friend. You’re truly amazing and I love you dearly.
Note: For those of you who enjoyed the story and would like to see photos from the recently updated story, go to the website wattpad.com. Enter the new title Shocked Straight or the pen name viking-writer on the website’s search engine.