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Without being read his rights or accused of a crime, Zeitoun is taken into a utility closet, where he is forced to strip naked and allow a soldier to search his rectum for contraband items. He is locked with the other three men in an outdoor cell, which remind Zeitoun of the images he’s seen of Guantánamo Bay. The cell is crowded and has no furniture, only a filthy cement floor. The men are served pork ribs for dinner, which Nasser and Zeitoun cannot eat. Although Nasser and Zeitoun do not have water to perform the necessary ablutions before praying, they do so anyway, using gravel for symbolic ablutions to cleanse themselves. The men must sleep on the ground, each taking a turn leaning on a pole in the middle of the cell.
Zeitoun, suffering from an infected splinter in his foot, requests a doctor but his pleas are ignored. He eventually lances the infection and removes the splinter using a shard of glass from a bottle Tabasco sauce from his MRE. Soon after, he begins to suffer from kidney pain. On Friday, September 9, Zeitoun and most of the other prisoners are transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison in St. Gabriel. There, Zeitoun and Nasser are separated from Todd and Ronnie and held in the highest-security unit.
Zeitoun continues to beg for a phone call, knowing that Kathy will obtain a lawyer and begin the process of his release if he can just speak to her. However, the staff of the prison explain that he is not being held under FEMA's jurisdiction and therefore the prison’s standard operating rules do not apply to him. One of the guards enrages Zeitoun by insinuating that he is having sex with Nasser, his cellmate.
Four more prisoners, all African-American, are added to Zeitoun and Nasser’s cell for one night. Each says he was arrested for looting while engaging in ordinary activities. Zeitoun requests medical attention for his kidney and remembers his time as a sailor. After being torpedoed by an Iranian submarine, Zeitoun decided to quit sailing and settle in America.
After being separated from Nasser and placed in his own cell, Zeitoun begins to despair that he will never be released. He is routinely strip-searched. In all of this time, he has not been formally charged with a crime and is still being denied a phone call.