James Valvis

Big Alabama And The Police Station

       Big Alabama gets arrested for striking a teacher and they put my sister into a policeman’s office because they don’t want a 16-year-old female in a cell with the gangsters, drunks, and perverts.

       So Alabama’s locked up in there and they’ve even given her a pack of smokes, anything to calm her, since she’s been telling the cops to eat her raw.
She sits in the seat for a while, smoking Kools, staring at the “pig shit” on the walls, pictures, commendations, awards, stuff Big Alabama hates, until her eyes land on the metal filing cabinets. Big Alabama blows a couple of tiny smoke rings and then rumbles over to the files and opens one, opens another, then opens every last drawer.

       She figures her file and the files of her friends are in there somewhere, and if they haven’t a file the cops can’t charge them, so she takes her Bic and starts burning them all, every last file.

       It’s not long before fire and smoke is everywhere and a minute later the sprinklers start drowning the room and now everything is wet and smoky and my sister is cursing because she’s soaked.

       Four cops rush in. One starts putting out the fire while the other three go for my sister and normally, out on the streets, Big Alabama laughs at those kinds of numbers, but these guys are enormous and trained and hold clubs, though it still takes half an hour before my sister can be wrestled out of the room and chucked in the cell with the thieves, druggies, and pimps.

       They stare at my dripping wet sister and smell the smoke wafting throughout the police station. They smile and shake their big heads, and when Big Alabama orders them to toss her a dry cigarette there isn’t a criminal who doesn’t offer her one.


James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2012) and the forthcoming WHAT EXACTLY IS A VALVIS? (Night Ballet Press). His poems or stories have appeared in journals such as Anderbo, Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Baltimore Review, Confrontation, Hanging Loose, Juked, Nimrod, River Styx, Rosebud, Vestal Review, and many others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction was chosen for the 2013 Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier and present full-time writer, he lives near Seattle.