“You Are Under Arrest”. By Henry Regehr

An old friend from college days was now professor of English at a small college in the States. It was the early seventies, and he was teaching a class of sophomores when, suddenly, two local police officers walked briskly into the classroom. One officer stayed at the door, hand on his side arm, the sergeant marched to the front of the room, and announced in clear tones to the surprized professor that he was now under arrest. The big, muscled cop turned Jack against the wall, had him spread-eagled, frisked him, then roughly and quickly he was hand-cuffed. Without further words, the cops briskly led Jack out of the room, down the hall and past startled students and staff, and finally put him into the back seat of the patrol car, turned on the lights and siren, and left the campus.  

There was a period of stunned silence in the classroom. Then the students erupted into alarmed questions and loud arguments against the arbitrary power of arrest by officials. A leader soon emerged in the group, and plans were made for arranging bail and calls to the local press and television stations. A student movement was quickly activated in this small college which had so far been immune from radicalization. The hallway was now crowded with anxious students and staff. What was this professor involved with outside of college? What could he possibly have done to deserve arrest?  

After half an hour of confusion, the college president walked slowly and thoughtfully into the classroom. He looked concerned and tense. He moved to the front of the class and looked at the notes Jack had written on the board. Slowly a smile spread across his face. He had seen the reference to Franz Kafka, and, from his own knowledge of this young professor, things became clear to him. He pointed to the board and the name of the German author. With his other hand he hushed the crowd that had gathered, said nothing, and left the room. The embarrassed students were finally able to relax and rethink the events of the day. 

Jack was taken to the local police station where the officers laughed raucously about their latest arrest. They reached for the key to unlock the handcuffs and could not find it. It took several minutes to locate another key, unlock the cuffs, and set him free to continue his academic career and plan, and arrange for, another demonstration of creative teaching by enlisting the help of willing participants. 

  1. Allan Kroeker

    Henry,

    This is a terrifically well told story! It triggered a warp-speed time trip back 5 and 6 decades and the name sprung to mind: Jack Dueck. I looked him up and learned that he had passed away in 2014, and found this tribute by Cal Redekop (with a quote from Rudy Wiebe): https://canadianmennonite.org/articles/carpe-diem.

    Interesting how Cal’s story opens with the punch line and closes with its ramifications. Yours works the opposite way, dropping us into the center of the drama, hooking us and reeling us in to the last sentence finally revealing the caper and retroactively casting light on everything that went before (and substituting Kafka for Solzhenitsyn is brilliant).

    I met Jack when I was a kid at Camp Arnes and though I didn’t know the expression, it seemed that they broke the mold after he came along. Meeting him again in the 70’s, he said, “Keep the joy.”

    Kudos!

    1. henryadminlogin

      Thank you Allan. Jack was an imaginative story-teller and entertained people at great length with historical narratives. He was a loyal friend and I still miss him.
      Rudy Wiebe, Jack’s very special friend, is down with Parkinson’s as well, and is much further advanced than I am.
      Wish you well, Allan.
      With love,
      Henry

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