That’s a fellow author said to me the other day. Of course, she didn’t mean it literally, (I hope), although she had a point. Some of the things we do to our characters is just plain mean. Then again, some of those characters have it coming.
I was telling her about Scott, one of the antagonists in The Deception. Let’s face it. Scott isn’t the nicest guy on the planet. He’s a married man who’s put himself out as a single guy, and his actions will hurt a lot of people, especially Carrie, my leading lady. Once she and her friends figure out that Scott’s stories aren’t adding up she ditches him, and I’d planned on writing him out of the story at that point. Then another author told me, no, I couldn’t just write him off so quickly. She explained that readers would expect him to be punished for what he did, and they’d be disappointed if he were able to simply walk away.
As I explained to my friend, I decided to take her advice. Later on in the book Scott is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, and he’ll get his comeuppance in the form of a strip search. I told her that I went online and read testimonials by real people who’ve had the experience, and I based Scott’s story on those real-life accounts. That’s when she looked at me and said, “You novel writer’s are evil.” What can I say? She wrote a memoir, and I write fiction. Here’s the except. You be the judge.
* * *
Scott let out a sigh. He was trapped in a nightmare he couldn’t wake up from. They arrived at the jail and once again he was taken into another small room for questioning. The door opened and a thirty-something blonde woman entered, taking her seat across the table from him.
“Finally, a friendly face.”
“Hello there, Scott. My name is Deputy U.S. Marshall Diane Hall, and I’ll be taking care of your booking. After we’re finished, Billie Hughes, with the Phoenix FBI office, wants to talk with you.”
She handed Scott over to two male deputies. Once again, he was taken away be photographed and fingerprinted. When they finished he was escorted into another room.
“Okay,” said one of the deputies. “I want you to slowly and carefully remove each item of your clothing, one at a time, and hand it over so we can inspect it.”
“It’s routine, sir. Take off the shirt, then your shorts, and your shoes and socks.”
Scott did as he was told. When he was done, he was standing in his underwear.
“Did you not hear me, buddy? Remove your drawers and hand them over.”
“What? Then I’ll be standing here naked.”
“That’s why we call it a strip search.”
Scott removed his underwear and handed it over. As he stood naked, one of the deputies looked inside his mouth, ears, and armpits before looking down to closely inspect his genitals.
“Don’t you dare touch me!” Scott felt both embarrassed and humiliated.
“I’m not going to touch you, however, you’re going to lift it up so I can have a look underneath.”
Scott had no choice but to comply. It was a horrible experience. Once the deputy was finally finished the other picked up a flashlight.
“All right, spread your legs, bend over and grab your ankles. You’ll remain in that position until I tell you that you can move.”
“What! Are you kidding me? Why are you doing this? I’ve been accused of a non-violent crime.”
“Sorry, it’s routine. You’re going into the general jail population. We have to search you for contraband.”
Scott bent over. For the first time in his life, he knew the feeling of being violated. It was the most humiliating experience of his life and the deputy seemed to be taking an unusually long time. When they finally finished, they led him to a shower. They watched him while he showered, and handed him an orange jail suit with a pair of open-toed rubber shoes when he was done. As soon as he was dressed, he was taken to an interview room, where Billie Hughes was waiting. As he took his seat, she opened her folder, removed a photo, and pushed it across the table toward him.
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