“Come back here.”
The guard motions with her wand. Her hair is pulled back so tightly that her face stretches like a taut balloon.
“Who, me?” I look around to see if she’s talking to someone else. I shrug at my friend Heather as I walk back out through the metal detector.
“Raise your arms,” she says and moves the wand up and down my back. No beep.
She scans my front. Mid-chest, the wand starts beeping. She waves across my chest again. “Under-wires?”
“You can’t wear that in there.”
“I said you can’t wear that in there. You need to take it off.”
“But they let me in the last time.”
She glares. “I said… you can’t wear it in there.”
As I turn to look at Heather, the guard points her wand at her.
“You, come back here.”
“Me?” Heather asks.
“Um hmm,” the guard nods her head once, with her wrist on her hip, the wand sticking out to the side.
Once Heather approaches, the guard commands, “Take off your jacket.”
Heather gives me a what-the-fuck look. When she removes her black jacket, the guard moves her wand up and down Heather’s back and front and then zooms in mid-chest.
“You too?” she asks, lifting her left eyebrow.
Heather responds, “Well, yeah, but it’s the same bra I wore last time.”
“Well, you can’t wear that in there.”
“Are you serious?” Heather asks.
The guard just looks.
“Excuse me,” I interrupt. “We’re lawyers and we’re here to see our client. They’ve let us in before…”
The guard turns her eyes on me. “I said you can’t wear them in there.”
I look at Heather and say, “Should we take them off in the bathroom?”
“Yeah, let’s just take them off,” says Heather.
“You,” the guard says pointing at me, “can get away with it.” Turning to Heather, she says, “But not you.”
We both look down on our chests. And then at each others’.
“And you,” the guard continues, pointing her wand at Heather, “you need to get another shirt. No sleeveless tops allowed.”
We all look at Heather’s top.
“But I have a jacket I’m wearing on top of it,” Heather says.
The guard stares back. “I said no sleeveless tops.”
“So what are you saying, that I need to take off both the bra and the top?”
The guard smirks. “You can get another shirt at the Friendship House.”
“What’s the Friendship House?”
“At the end of the parking lot,” she says as she turns her back on us.
Heather and I look at each other, sigh, put our jackets and shoes back on, re-pack our purses, pick up our three-ring binders and redwelds, and retrieve all the forms we had submitted to the guard at the desk. We walk past the line of people who had been standing behind us in the queue and push past the double doors. Back out in the scorching heat, we trek across the parking lot.
“Maybe there’s something in my car,” Heather mumbles. We reach the car, and Heather unloads her Audi trunk. She pulls out the box of knick knacks, a black plastic container of tools, a grey blanket, a lawn chair, an umbrella, two frisbees, and a dodgeball. She rummages in the corner and emerges with a crumpled navy blue Speedo swimsuit.
“Awesome! My mom’s swimsuit!” she says. “I’ll wear this instead of the bra.”
“Ok… I hope it’s clean.”
She brings it to her nose and sniffs.
“What are you going to do about the sleeveless top?”
Our eyes veer across the parking lot. There’s a trailer about 30 meters away with a “Welcome” sign splashed across the front.
“Do you think that’s what she was talking about?”
We walk over and up the steps.
There’s an obese lady sitting behind a desk, knitting.
“Hi, is this the Friendship House?”
“Uhh, we need a shirt because I’m wearing a sleeveless top.”
“Over there,” the lady says, pointing her head toward to a box in the corner.
In the left corner of the trailer, there is a big cardboard box. We walk over and see a mound of shirts. Flannel, striped, paisleys, electric blue, hot pink. Heather digs into the pile and pulls out a bright yellow polo top. She holds it up against her torso.
“What do you think?”
The shirt is the color of McDonald’s golden arches. It runs down past her butt, almost half the length of her skirt. It is large enough to fit a football player. It is wrinkled and has a brown stain the size of a spatula.
She runs into the bathroom and comes out with her new yellow top over her black pencil skirt, black pantyhose, and her black pumps. I can see the blue of her mom’s swimsuit through the sleeve large enough to be a collar. I then run into the bathroom, remove my bra, and dress back in my blouse and suit jacket.
We stop by the car to drop off our clothing. Then, we head back across the parking lot toward the prison and straighten our postures to present ourselves to the client.