I remember taking refuge at the main train station of the city. I could not have been on the streets for more than ten days by then, but I learned the ropes on quite a few subjects already. You need a steep learning curve out there.
Then something new happened. A sweep by the police. Not the railway police mind you, but the city police. I did not know, but apparently I was already visibly homeless and I got hunt down and picked up. I protested and got thrown into a concrete pillar and then onto the ground. I protested even more and got smacked to the back of my head. Then I went silent. They handcuffed me. I had no idea what would happen next.
After they went through my pockets which were empty, they lifted me up and walked me to the back of the station. There were three vans parked out there. They opened one up, lifted me up so I could get into it, pushed me in eventually and slammed the door behind me.
My head was sore. I could feel a bruise on my cheekbone. The cuffs hurt. I found a place to sit. The smell in the van was awful. There were five of us. It smelled like piss. I set down next to a guy I already met earlier. His name was Michael. He was a law university drop-out, doing heroine. I tried to stay away from him during nights, because he was bad company then. But during daytime he was friendly. He smiled. “You too, huh.” I nodded.
After a while the door of the van opened and another one was brought in. This one I knew too. David. He was some sort of boss. People would flock around him all the time. We had not yet met. I tried to avoid him. Was scared of him. I avoided eye-contact now, but he did not appreciate that. “Hey, you. What’s your name? You’re the new girl, right? Look at me. What’s your name?”
“Shut the fuck up!” An officer was sitting in the driver seat of the van. He did not want us to talk. David stopped asking me questions.
I was scared. I shook all over. The cuffs started to really hurt. I felt like I would shit myself. Or throw up. What was going to happen? Why did they pick me up? I did not know where to put my eyes. How to keep breathing this awful smell. Where would they take me? Was I going to juvenile? What were they waiting for?
It was cold in the van despite six of us sitting there, seven if you counted the officer in the front. There was shuffling of feet. Rustling of coats. Breathing. A lot of breathing. A slim and smelly, black boy all of a sudden wept. Without a sound. Tears and breathing. I stopped shivering. I was thirsty.
The slim black boy pissed himself. “Jesus, Juni! What the fuck!” David yelled out. The officer looked into the van from up front. He shouted at the boy named Juni. Juni braced himself for the worst. The officer came to the back of the van, dragged Juni out. He took off the handcuffs, then he robbed Juni of his coat and threw it onto the puddle of piss. Stepped on it a few times. Juni was standing outside, crying still and not going anywhere. The officer kicked the coat out of the van, stepped out himself and closed the door again. I heard him yell at Juni. Then he came and sat in the front seat of the van again.
And we all waited. Sometimes I heard the doors of the other vans go. Open. Close. Must have been hours. But then again, I was only seventeen and very much afraid. It might have been only fifteen minutes.
Another officer came into the van. The engine started and we drove off.