After I rattled the cell bars and called out, a taciturn jailor — I assumed he was the jailor — traipsed down the outside corridor to bring me a breakfast bowl of rice soup with chicken pieces. I sipped a little. Quite spicy, yet tasty.
Seemed like I would be treated civilly, if ignored.
Mid-morning found me sweltering from the heat. My bucket needed replacing, if only to remove the warm stench of my previous night’s excesses, and the breakfast soup — which had flushed through my system quicker than Epsom salts. I called out while continuing to attack the cell bars, but no-one came.
I had privacy, granted, apart from a few bloated cockroaches that emerged from my mattress at regular intervals to inspect my bucket, but my preference would have been contact with another human. And a bottle of ice-cold water.
Where the hell were my rescuers? Bloody deserters.
With lunchtime arriving and passing, and my shirt damp and sticky, I resigned myself to being sweated into submission. It wouldn’t be difficult. My view consisted of a blank wall opposite my cell, with no windows in sight. No cool breeze, no other prisoners, and no visitors, either.
Apart from the roaches.
Their indecision on where to go, and what to do reminded me of many stunned souls who walked the beach alongside me searching for their lost ones. Images that made me sit back on my mattress and pray for guidance and salvation.
By mid-afternoon, I’d taken off my shirt, used up my images, and was at my lowest ebb when Angelique visited me.
Papa, I’m here.
I looked up, but she wasn’t here, merely a hot haze above my head. I blinked, but it didn’t clear.
Jane is with me.
I screwed up my eyes, tried to focus. ‘What? Angelique? Jane?’ Another voice.
Papa, it’s Jane. Save him, Papa. Save him.
Papa? She called me Papa! I shook my head. ‘I don’t understand.’
They’ve taken him, Papa.
‘Taken him? What do you mean?’
Hospital. Go there.
Then a mixture of voices inside my head, and Angelique telling me to shut them out. Close your mind, Papa. Close, quickly.
I must have blacked out because when I came to, no-one was with me. But I remembered Jane calling me Papa. Was that for real? Or was she just calling me Papa, like Angelique? And how could I help her if I was stuck in this hell-hole?
I was saved from another bout of unease when the corridor door opened and the sound of boots tramped down towards me. The jailor had returned, accompanied by another man dressed in a well-presented army uniform.
All bells and whistles. A bloody big-wig?
When he reached my cell door, he looked me up and down, inclined his head at my obvious disarray — or possibly my stressed-out scowl — and motioned to the jailor to open up.
‘Come with me,’ he said in accentuated English. Three small words that filled my mind with joy and hope. Then he turned on his heels and strode back along the corridor.
Thank you, Angelique, I whispered to myself as I gathered up my shirt and put it back on. The jailor led me back upstairs and, still without a word, handed me over to a police sergeant who glared at me. I felt like a silent pawn in a mindless game of charades.
I had no idea what was happening — whether I was being set free, or worse, being held captive elsewhere. The army officer had disappeared, and the police sergeant emanated animosity at my presence in his domain.
I sensed that his hostility extended to the army officer. Maybe a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, the sergeant escorted me back to the original, and empty, meeting room, where he motioned me to a chair, by a table that had a water jug and glass on it.
Water. About bloody time.
I sat alone and drank my fill until the sunset prayer — al-maghrib — had come and gone. By then, I needed my bucket, and I ventured across to the door and tested the handle. It opened, and I peered out.
The sergeant was sitting at his desk reading a newspaper. I couldn’t see anyone else, so I stepped out, trudged up to him, and coughed. He glanced at me, put down his paper, and folded his arms.
‘Halo,’ I said, hoping my Indonesian was adequate. ‘Kloset?’
He gestured to the hallway. ‘Go,’ he said.
For a moment I stood still, but as it seemed I had free rein to wander around, I turned away and looked for the WC. It was next to the entrance — an opaque glass door that also offered me an exit.
Could I escape?
I was in and out of the WC without drawing breath, or so it seemed. Barring my way, though, was the Army officer who gestured me back to the front desk.