Musings of a Detainee


Megan Freeman, Editor-in-Chief

Former Editor-in-Chief Megan Freeman received a detention slip for leaving school after her AP Biology test. Apparently you are supposed to return to school after those things. Who knew? In an attempt to turn this negative situation into a positive one, she now presents to you an insider’s perspective of the detention room.

Monday, June 4, 2012. I wait outside the room of my detainment, my pulse quickened by a mixture of nerves and excitement. I extract my phone from the pocket of my sweatshirt (which, I note, I should not have to wear in June) and check the time. 3:02 p.m. Three minutes before detention starts. Briefly, I recall a scene from a teen movie in which a girl, upon questioning as to why she is early for her punishment, replies, “Well, I’d hate to miss a minute of being detained.” What movie was that? I wonder. Mean Girls? Easy A?

Suddenly I am interrupted from my musings by two sophomore boys dressed in darkly colored garb, who brush past me and through the door with an air of purpose. This is not their first trip to detention and their mischievous smirks tell me it will not be their last. Following their lead, I enter the room and sign in on a sheet of paper. I select a desk in the back so I have a full view of my fellow troublemakers. The three of us take our books and papers and begin to work, or at least pretend to work.

Minutes pass in silence, interrupted periodically by the croak of the door as a new detainee sweeps in and settles down. Ms. Eldridge nods curtly as each enters, then returns to her computer screen. She appears to be reading an article about architecture of some sort, but I can’t be sure.

More minutes pass. I return to pondering the teen movie quotation. Was it John Tucker Must Die? Yeah, that’s it. The scene where Brittany Snow walks in on John Tucker’s little brother singing, “I Want You to Want Me.” Penn Badgley, that’s his name. He looked much better with his short hair like when he played Woodchuck/Lobster Todd in Easy A.

Again, my musings are interrupted—detainees seem to have a way of doing that—by a new boy barging through the door. He begins to chat with a few others in the front row before Eldridge tells him to shut it. The boy only grins. He is no stranger here.

“Where’s your homework?” she asks, noting his empty hands.

The boy pauses, his face deadpan, and stares blankly at her for a few seconds. “What’s homework?” he responds, and settles in a desk next to the other chatty boys. He takes a phone out of his pocket and has barely unlocked the screen before Eldridge snaps at him.

“Put that away!”

The boy looks back nonchalantly.

“Put what away?”

Eldridge holds up a sign and taps it with a pen. It reads, in large, boldfaced font: NO TALKING. NO SLEEPING. NO EATING OR DRINKING. NO ELECTRONICS OF ANY KIND.

The boy raises his hand, the beginnings of a protestation forming on his lips, but Eldridge shuts him down.

“We’ve discussed the ‘why’ question many times.”

Defeated, he sinks lower into his seat and stares into space.

Fifteen more minutes pass without disturbance. I entertain myself by reading the titles of the books on the shelf to my right and trying to deduce what the plots might be. “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen,” I decide, must be a thrilling murder mystery revolving around the chase and capture of the notorious serial killer Freddie “Fifteen” Watson, who got his nickname from the number of fingers he has. His parents must have been full siblings, leaving him with severe congenital malformations, and the trauma of growing up being teased for his disfigured appearance finally made him snap. Set against the rollicking jazz-age background of 1920s Chicago, “Fifteen” goes on a murderous rampage, mauling his victims until they are as scarred and mutilated as his broken soul. A wisecracking ex-cop vigilante with hankering for danger is the only one who can track the lunatic down, and in a dramatic showdown, “Fifteen” is shot as he crouches over the body of his latest victim, licking the blood off his numerous fingers.

A boy sticks his head up through the open window from the outside and screeches like a howler monkey, startling me from my game. Again with the musing-interrupting! Unable to determine the perpetrator, the class resumes its torpor. The rest of the hour passes uneventfully, and I am almost disappointed when Eldridge calls my name and tells me I can go. All in all, not a bad way to spend my last Monday ever at Miramonte High School.