The parking lot is empty; its perimeters are indistinguishable at this late hour and recede into darkness beyond my vision. Before me is a great, featureless wall of concrete, pale against the dark sky — a cement-block prison. No guards, no wires, no alarms. I enter without ceremony on a “good-will” mission.
The space within is a single, large, dimly-lit rectangle. Iron bars stretch from floor to ceiling here and there in an almost decorative fashion, without actually forming cells or enclosures of any kind. Gray-clad men of teen- and middle age fill the space — collectively, they stand very still, very calm, with hands in pockets and heads bowed. They are listless, swaying slightly in place, though they seem to note my arrival in a bleak and disinterested manner. At this moment, I realize that my scarf is missing, and I understand, to my sadness and disappointment, that one of the men has taken it. As I glance about, not one among them seems to have moved, but neither will any of them meet my eye. Each man stares at his scuffed black shoes.
Once again, I stand outside the prison, alone in the dark and empty parking lot. This time, my arms spill with scarves. I’ve brought one for each of the men within, and for the man who took my scarf, I’ve chosen one in particular — it is a length of deep, dark blue with the black silhouettes of flying birds scattered over it.
Passing through the prison’s blank facade and its purposeless iron bars, I stand amidst the men. They are slightly more animated, curious about the scarves. The birded-blue scarf passes from my hands without my knowledge. But, once my arms are emptied, my own previously stolen scarf gently encircles my neck again.