It was on Monday when Jordan called me in the afternoon like he had been doing every day. I was planning to go down to Morgan City the next day to visit with Shane again at the clinic.
He sounded low.
“Hi Jordan, how are you?”
“I’m okay I guess. How are you?”
There was a pause and he continued, “So I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
My hands trembled and my heart started beating very fast.
I swallowed, “What is it?”
“I called the clinic today and they informed me that the assault charges against Shane were still being held up and investigated and he was basically arrested this morning and booked into Morgan City Jail and will be there until a court date is set. His bail is set at eighty thousand.”
I had to sit down and held my phone with both hands because they were shaking so much.
I swallowed and fought my emotions.
I tried to say something but my throat felt like paper.
“Anna, are you there?”
With a scratchy voice I replied, “Yes, I’m here.”
“Anna, I’m so sorry, I don’t know what to do right now. I’m in shock that the nurse actually upheld the charges and that they booked him.”
“Do you know if we can see him?”
“I don’t know, I have to call the jail.”
I really was speechless at the news but deep inside I had been afraid that exactly that would happen.
Jordan’s voice was soft, “Anna, I….I don’t know what to do. We can’t bail him out, we don’t have that kind of money.”I thought about my finances but even though I had money, I didn’t have 80,000 dollars.
“I don’t either. I want to call the jail to find out if I can talk to Shane. Then I’ll call you back.”
I finished up with Jordan and just sat in my kitchen for a moment, just breathing. I was in shock and I was very scared for Shane.
“Morgan City Correctional Facility, this is Officer Berinet, how can I assist you?”“Okay, ma’am, could you hold for just a moment?”
“Hi, my name is Anna Ashworth. I’m calling to speak to an inmate named Shane Lenalier.”
“Hi, my name is Anna Ashworth. I’m calling to speak to an inmate named Shane Lenalier.”
Soothing classical music came on while I was on hold.
My hands were shaking, my heart was racing.It took a few moments until the Officer came back on, “Ma'am?”
“So, yes, we do have Mr. Lenalier here. He was brought over from the hospital this morning. Is there anything you need to know?”
“I’m his girlfriend and I want to know if I can talk to him or see him?”
“Visiting hours are on Saturday from ten to four and Sunday from ten to two.”
I thought quickly about this, it was only Monday now.
“Can I talk to him at least?”
I felt the knot in my throat now and I had to keep it together.
“I can transfer you to his warden. Can you hold again?”
Again the music came on and again I waited impatiently.
It took a little bit longer now and finally a female voice came on, “Hello?”“Okay, I have to get him from his cell and it may take a moment, if you could hold please.”
“Hi, my name is Anna Ashworth, I wanted to see about talking to my boyfriend Shane Lenalier.”
“Hi, my name is Anna Ashworth, I wanted to see about talking to my boyfriend Shane Lenalier.”
And I held again and I thought of Shane and how he was getting to the phone. I wondered if they let him have his crutches and his braces or if he had the wheelchair still. Then again, the wheelchair was from the hospital and so I didn’t know how he was getting around.
I waited for at least five minutes or longer and my hands were literally sweating now.
The phone line crackled, the music stopped and I heard Shane’s voice, “Hello?”
My heart skipped a beat and I swallowed, “Shane, it’s Anna.”
He sounded like he was out of breath, “Anna….hey.”
There was a small pause and he took the word again, “I’m sorry it took a few minutes.”
He was taking an audible breath and continued, “I had to get to the phone.”
“Jordan called me and told me what happened.”
He didn’t say anything else and it was awkward because I didn’t know what to say to him. I was devastated.
I started insecurely, “Shane, I’m so shocked and scared.”
I felt my voice tremble but I needed to hold it together.
Shane sounded weak, “I know. I’m sorry. I’ve to stay here until I get a court date. She’s upholding the charges.”
“Why is she doing this Shane?”
“I don’t know, there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t have a lawyer.”
I felt my eyes tear up at the conversation we were having. Shane sounded sad and I felt so much pain.“Shane, I’ll come down there on Saturday. They said visiting hours are Saturday and Sunday.”
He took a deep breath on the other end, “Yeah, I can’t wait to see you. I miss you Anna. I…I don’t know….if…”
He paused and I could hear him take another deep breath before he continued with a trembling voice, “I don’t know if….I can do this but they’re making sure I don’t get any stupid ideas. I can’t have my braces or my crutches. I’m in a cell on my bed pretty much the whole time.”
“Are they helping you with things?”
“Yeah, they are. I’m still on suicidal watch.”
“Shane, you can’t do anything stupid. I’m here for you and I want this nightmare to stop soon. I love you so much. This is killing me…”
“Me too…I think of you every second and you’re the only reason I’m holding on Anna. I need you so much, more than you’ll ever know.”
His voice trembled and he was breathing audible. God, how much I wanted to hold him and be there for him. I kept from crying, I wanted to be strong for him and it was exhausting.
Shane said, “I love you so much.”
I heard a voice in the background and then Shane saying, “Okay.”
Then he spoke to me, “I’ve to finish up.”
I took a deep breath, “Okay.”
I wasn’t going to make a scene but kept my composure.
“You need to stay strong for me, hang in there. I’ll come down on Saturday, I’ll be there at noon. I love you Shane.”
My tears wanted to push through and I fought with all my might against them. I didn’t want to cry on the phone with him.
“Okay, I can’t wait to see you.”
“I love you baby.”
“I love you too Anna. Don’t ever forget that. Bye.”
We finished up, I pushed the End Call button and I broke down and cried.
When I finally had calmed down some I called Jordan. I told him about my conversation with Shane and we planned to meet on Saturday. Jordan said he would also like to see Shane but he wanted me to have time by myself with him first. So he would come visit with Shane after me.
My week was a blur. I went to work and I told Nadine and Ray everything that had happened. They were shocked and devastated just like I was.
We were sitting in the office, Ray behind his desk, “I know people and I may can get him a lawyer.”
I sat on the couch with Nadine next to me, her arm around my shoulders.
Ray asked again, “What is his bail again?”
I answered softly, “Eighty thousand.”
Ray just nodded but didn’t say anything else about the bail.
Nadine pulled me closer, “Anna, honey…I’m so sorry about all of this.”I nodded and she looked at me and asked softly, “You really love this boy?”
I looked up at her, “More than I ever loved any other guy. He’s special to me. We have this extraordinary bond I can’t explain, it goes so deep somehow. It’s like I always knew he was out there somewhere but it took this long for me to find him just like this, the way he is and the way he is perfect to me even with his background and his disability. I know if he did assault the nurse it wasn’t because he’s a bad person but it was because he was frustrated and scared. He had been trying his hardest to make it this far with everything that has happened to him and he’s tired and exhausted from life somehow but I think together we can make it and I want to help him. It’s been difficult for him to keep it together and I guess he snapped. I know that doesn’t make it right but if he has to go back to prison it’s going to break him. He has spent six years in there already but he was still able to walk and keep up with everyone else. He can’t do that anymore and is really at anyone’s mercy now.”
Ray nodded behind his desk, “Yeah, if they lock him up again it’ll be a different ballgame for sure.”
I nodded silently.
My evening at the club went by but even doing my private dance requests I had to pretend and put on a happy face to make the dance enjoyable to the guests who had booked me. It was difficult, Shane was on my mind every moment of the night.
Saturday came around and I was up at nine and ate breakfast and got ready. I wanted to leave for Morgan City by ten and be at the jail around eleven. Traffic wasn’t bad and I made it down Interstate 10 and onto Highway 90 to Morgan City without any problems.
I had the address to the jail from Jordan and now followed the directions he had given me. I did know my way around Morgan City now having been there so many times in the last couple of weeks. I knew my way around downtown and I knew my way out to Jordan’s trailer. The jail was on the outskirts of Morgan City and I ended up driving down a country road for a little while until I reached my destination.
In regular distances I saw signs on the side of the road about not picking up any hitchhikers in this area. The Morgan City Correctional Facility wasn’t very big but the perimeter was secured by several levels of barb wire fences, at least twelve feet high and in some areas also a wall. The outside perimeter was lined with two watch towers obviously staffed with guards keeping an eye on the surrounding areas. I had to park outside the fence aside at least two dozen other cars already parked there.
I grabbed my purse and walked across the concrete parking lot. Looking up at the fences and the building I saw cameras everywhere. At the main entrance I got in line with several other people who were getting thoroughly checked from head to toe with a pat down and a walk through a metal detector. I heard the guards explain that bags and purses were not allowed and visitors can either leave those items there at the gate in a locker or take their things back to their cars. I decided to take my purse back to my car and eventually stood behind three other women again lined up and waiting to get checked out.
Despite the situation the guards were friendly and when it was my turn they greeted me nicely. I didn’t say much because I didn’t feel the situation was worth smiling. I wore shorts, flip flops and a tank top. My pat down didn’t really take long but I think it could have been done even quicker but the guard was young and had a big smile on his face nonetheless as he checked me out.“Thank you, you’re good to go. Enjoy the visit.”
I only nodded, again not feeling that this was a cheery situation. I followed the other visitors through a type of fenced in tunnel, on top of us and on the side of us. We could only go straight and in one direction.
We came to the main building and a large arrow pointed to the left where we had to line up again at a reception desk. I felt like I was getting checked into prison myself, I was almost expecting to be put in a prison suit around the corner. Instead I had to check in, fill out some paper work and also tell them who I was here to see.
We were then guided into a large room with plain tables and chairs spread throughout the room. I saw some people were already sitting at the tables with their family member inmate. Around the room prison guards heavily armed were lined up on the walls and the only other door to the room. Coming in from the heat outside into this air-conditioned room I had chills on my legs and arms. Only narrow windows up on the top of the walls brought some light in but the wires and bars on the window kept most light out anyways and so artificial cool white lamps were buzzing above us. In all fours corners of the ceiling I spotted a camera.
I didn’t know where to sit and looked around the room trying to find a free table. There was nothing, every table had someone at it. Along the wall I saw some chairs lined up and I realized that was the only place I had left to sit, no table. People were talking softly in the room, all I could make out was mumbling and words here and there.
I saw the guards look at me and watch as I found a chair away from everyone and took a seat. I felt horrible, being watched like this. I knew they were checking me out and I realized my clothing choice had been very poorly and not thought through on my part at all. I should have worn jeans and a less revealing shirt. Instead I sat there like I was on a beach vacation and felt utterly stupid. I hadn’t even thought about my clothes in the morning. It was a very hot day, humidity was at almost 100 % and so I wore as little clothes as possible. Now I felt like a deer surrounded by wolves.
I looked over at the other door where I saw an inmate come in and meet his visitors at a table on the other side of the room. After a moment another inmate came out and then one actually finished his visit and went back out through the door.
I kept my eyes on the door waiting for Shane wondering how he would get around. All the prisoners were wearing a pair of plain khaki pants and a plain dark green T-Shirt, some had sliders on their feet, some flip flops and one guy was even barefooted.
Finally Shane came through the door and my heart was racing in my chest as I spotted him and saw him look around the room for me. His eyes met mine and he started to make his way over. He was in his braces and on his crutches. He had his braces strapped over the khakis and his feet were in his boots. He slowly made his way over. Some people were looking up from their conversations and looked at Shane and watched him make his way through the room.My heart wanted to pop out of my chest as I watched my boyfriend approach.
He kept his head down, his eyes on his feet until he reached me and then looked up, smiled shyly and said, “Hey.”I stood up and I actually didn’t know if I was allowed to kiss him or not.
I looked quickly at the guards around us for some kind of sign but decided not to do anything.
Shane stepped closer and said again, “Hey.”
As I looked at him I was nervous and didn’t know what to say and what to do. I really wanted to hug him and fall into his arms but that wasn’t an option.
I looked down at his legs and Shane followed my eyes and explained, “Especially for this visit and for you.”
I looked up at him and he smiled, but I saw sadness in his eyes. He looked tired.
I turned to the chairs, and stuttered, “There was no table available so I…”
I stopped talking, feeling silly.
Shane made his way to the chairs and mumbled, “It’s all right, just sit down.”
I did as told and watched him lower himself onto the chair next to me and sliding his arms out of his crutches and leaning them on the empty chair next to him, then unlocking his braces.I watched him silently and then he looked up at me and stated softly, “It’s good to see you.”
I felt lost for words. I felt a knot in my throat and I felt insecure at how to act and what to say.
Shane took my hand in his and leaned a bit closer, “How are you Anna?”
I took a deep breath, swallowed and tried to smile.
With a scratchy voice I answered, “I’m…I don’t know…”
I felt insecure and I really wanted to be better for Shane.
He was understanding, “It’s weird to be in here, isn’t it?”
I nodded and said lowly, “I’m sorry Shane….I just…I’ve never been in a place like this.”
He nodded and smiled still, “It’s all right. I get it, it sucks.”
He paused for a moment and then pulled my hand over to his thigh and held it on the leather cuff around his thigh.
Our eyes met and he said softly, “I was glad when they brought my braces to me. For a moment I thought they would make me wheel out here in an ugly prison wheel chair.”
My hand trembled feeling the leather of the cuff strapped around his thigh.
I asked still with a scratchy voice, “Do you not always have them?”
He shook his head, “No, not when I’m in my cell. Same with the crutches, only when I get to go outside they bring them to me and watch me strap them on and all.”
“But what about in your cell? How do you get around?”
He looked down and smiled still, “Not really at all. I stay on my bed, everything is in reach, not that there is much there. I have a toilet and it’s at the foot end of the bed, I can slide down to it. I have to ask them for a catheter when it’s time and they bring it and I have to cath right then and there in front of them. I don’t get to keep none of that stuff in my cell.”He laughed lowly, “Well, I guess it would be possible to strangle myself with a catheter.”
I was surprised at his comment and sadly looked at him.
He added, “I’m just kidding….but no, I don’t have anything in my cell. It’s pretty boring. I have a small radio and some magazines and books. I don’t read, never did…”
He laughed again and I asked him, “So what do you do?”
“I sleep mostly or lay there and stare at the ceiling. I get to go outside into the yard once a day and I’m allowed to eat dinner in the mess hall, so I get to hang with other dudes a bit. I would have never thought that I would actually look forward to seeing these babies every time they bring them to me.”
He looked down at his legs and smiled.
He then turned serious and looked back up at me, “But enough about me, how are you Anna?”
I gazed at him for a moment and then asked softly, “Shane, are you okay in here?”
He nodded, “Yeah, it’s an all right place, better than other places or Angola, a lot better. I’m okay.”
I was still amazed at his calm endeavor, “Are you not angry or sad?”
His dark eyes bored into me, “I’m very sad and I’m scared as hell of what’s going to happen. I miss you and everything else on the outside. I’m bored and have way too much time to think. I miss my braces and crutches so I can walk around and I think about how you and I were and it helps me make it through the day and night but it’s very hard. Just seeing you right now…”
He looked down and swallowed when he looked up again, “It hurts like hell…”
I felt my eyes get blurry and I really didn’t know what to say to him. I had nothing good to tell him. We couldn’t bail him out, we didn’t have a lawyer. We were all just making it day by day, living our lives on the outside and worrying about Shane and his fate. But I loved him so much still and looking at him, into his eyes, at his legs in the braces and everything about him drove me crazy still and I missed him so much.That’s all I could say, “I miss you a lot Shane and I hope things will work out.”
He nodded with another shy smile, “Me too…and yes, I miss you more than anything.”
We sat quietly for a moment. Shane still held my hand on his thigh with his warm hand around mine.It was awkward and it was sad.
He looked down at our hands and I did too. He rubbed his thumb over the back of my hand. We both looked up at each other at the same time.
He said softly, “Anna, I really hope I’ll get out of this. If I won’t, I don’t want you to wait around for me.”
I cut him off, “Don’t talk like that…”
I didn’t have anything else though because even though I didn’t want him to talk like that I also was worried and I had no idea how serious this was for him.
I felt my vision blurry at the thoughts and even though I opened my mouth to speak I couldn’t.
We were silent again.
Eventually I told him, “Jordan and Scott are probably coming to see you today as well. Jordan said he would let me visit you first and then he would come later.”Shane nodded, “Cool. Are you going back to New Orleans again today? You do have to work tonight, right?”
“I’ll probably drive back down but I don’t know yet if I’ll go to work.”
“You should go so it’ll keep your mind off all this crap.”
I looked at him, “It doesn’t matter what I do and where I’m at, you’re all I think about.”
Shane nodded, “I’m glad about that but you should try to stay busy and stuff.”
I shook my head with tears in my eyes, “It doesn’t matter what I do Shane...”
He sighed, “Well, just try to stay busy.”
He rubbed the back of my hand again and I looked down at his legs.After a moment he stated, “I’m glad they let me wear my braces to come out and see you.”
I smiled without looking up, “I’m glad too.”
He laughed lowly and squeezed my hand, “I hope you still like them.”
I glanced up from under my bangs and answered almost whispering, “Like them? I love them and I love you in them.”
Pulling my hand slightly he made me look up at him, and he grinned, “Good. That’s what I needed to hear.”
I knew he was trying to lighten up the gloomy situation and he almost succeeded.
I loved him so much and I wanted to be happy with him but now everything looked so bad for us.
I said softly, “I wish I could kiss you right now.”
He still smiled, “I wish I could do a lot of stuff right now.”
We kept our eyes on each other for a few moments.
After a few more minutes a guard came up, “Shane, you need to finish up, okay.”
My heart was beating fast at the outlook of having to finish our visit.
Again just like at the hospital Shane didn’t fight the policy, but spoke to me softly, trying to make me feel better, “You can come down again next Saturday maybe?”“Of course I’ll come again.”
“I get to make a phone call on Wednesday, I’ll call you.”
I nodded and I tried to keep my tears from flowing.
“Anna, I love you, okay. Hang in there for me. Stay busy and the week will go by in a heartbeat.”
I was amazed how he tried to comfort me and how strong he was or at least made it look like he was.
I nodded obediently like a little kid, “Okay.”
But then a tear rolled out of my eye and I couldn’t stop it and Shane saw it.
He watched me for a moment and lowered his eyes.
“Don’t cry Anna.”
He now squeezed my hand once more and then let it go. He turned to get his crutches.I felt my whole body tremble again at seeing my boyfriend about to get up and leave me behind.
He slid his arms into his crutches and pulled himself up from the chair, with a small jerk his braces locked. I stood up almost in a panic.
We stood close and looked at each other.
“I love you Anna. I’ll see you next week.”
My voice was barely audible, “I love you.”
I couldn’t say anything else, a knot in my throat kept me from talking.
Shane then leaned over some and I realized he wanted to kiss me.
I moved closer and he said, “Give me a little kiss.”
I looked around him to the guards and he hushed, “Don’t worry about them. They won’t do anything about it.”
I moved up to his face, my tears were running and moistened our lips as we kissed quickly, our eyes closed trying to take it all in for a split second. His lips were warm and I wanted to stay on them with my lips but I couldn’t and we detached.
I touched his arm softly with my hand as he said once more, “I love you, don’t cry.”
Even though he told me not to cry I very obviously saw his eyes glistening too.
“I love you Shane.”
He then smiled at me once more and he turned around to go. I watched him slowly make his way toward the door he had come in through. He held his crutches tight and set one foot after the next, slowly making it through the room and his feet in the boots slightly dragging on the linoleum floor.
Tears were now running out of my eyes as I saw Shane disappear through the door. I turned around and walked toward the exit door. In passing one of the guards looked at me as I wiped over my face.I almost wanted to say something like, “What are you looking at?” Of course I didn’t.
I walked back the way I came in, signed out at the reception, and was led out of the building and to the exit through the fence.
The sky was covered with dark clouds now, rain in the forecast all weekend. It was hot and humid though, my skin was moist just from walking to my car.
I scanned over the parking lot to see if maybe Jordan or Scott was around but I didn’t see their vehicles. I got in my car and I cried and I cursed to myself at the situation Shane and I were in.
I texted Jordan that I was done with my visit.It didn’t take long and he replied, “I’m planning on being there at around two. Are you coming over to the house?”
I debated for a moment and then decided to just go back home. I didn’t feel good, I wanted to still go to work and get my mind off this situation.
Jordan sent me a sad emoticon, “Okay, I understand. Jenny says Hi. When are you coming back down here?”
“I’ll come back next Saturday to see Shane again.”
I finished texting with Jordan and as much as I wanted to be around Shane’s family I also needed some distance.
The situation really got to me, I felt helpless and scared. Somehow it seemed I had no control over anything anymore. There was a possibility that Shane could go back to prison, possibly finishing his sentence at the Louisiana State Prison and with that I really had no idea how we would keep going. It was beyond my imagination how this would work out. The drive to the prison from New Orleans was over 100 miles.
I sat in my car for a few moments and eventually made my way back out onto the main road, quickly on my way back to New Orleans.
It started raining lightly on my way and just as I got to Metairie rain was pouring down heavily. On the news they had predicted a severe hurricane season. Apparently there was a lot of storm activity out on the Atlantic. I was hoping we would dodge more severe weather though.
At home I straightened up my apartment some and then relaxed on the couch, listening to the rain outside and even dozing off some. I really missed Shane and I just couldn’t even believe what we were going through right now. It seemed absolutely unreal how all of this had turned from somewhat okay to this situation, my boyfriend in jail waiting for a court date that may end up with him finishing his prison sentence. I knew from the beginning I had had this unexplainable fear of losing Shane somehow. I didn’t know why I had felt this way and I had kept pushing this away but it had kept coming back through. And now here I was sitting without my boyfriend who I loved so very much, not able to be with him anymore. I cried a few more tears over this but then got ready for work.
Work was all right, we had a very busy night; it was Saturday after all. The city was overrun by tourists but as annoying as they were and acted sometimes, we definitely needed them. I had a few private dances and even though I gave it my all and got tipped graciously the only thing on my mind was my boyfriend, the only man I really cared about.
Nadine and Ray tried to be supportive and kept checking on me and making sure I was okay. I held up well enough and made it through my shift. I was on my way home at three o’clock in the morning.
I made it through Sunday in a daze and my mind was drifting off more often than not. Monday and Tuesday I spent with friends, again trying to keep my mind off everything that was going on.
All week I was following the news of a hurricane possibly making landfall over the coming weekend. The National Weather Service was in the K’s of the alphabet and they named it Katrina.