Skip ahead 19 years, on a beautiful mid-July twilight in downtown San Diego, and there I was again … only this time FIVE city-issued 9mms were sighted dead at my head.
OBVIOUSLY I knew I would be arrested, but I had no idea they’d come DEEP, and I mean deep.
Something on the order of 10 civilian-dressed officers surrounded my Ford, stopping me as I turned the corner. It just seemed like an over-reaction. I’d later learn my then wife concocted a completely false scenario about my having threatened to kill her (the police termed it, again later, a “misunderstanding”), alleging I was on my way to smoke her while she worked. No less than three agencies responded, evacuating her place of employment, complete with helicopters, news reporters, and other macho bullshit. It was ALL OVER the news. Fuck.
So there I was. Sitting in my truck. Resigned. Waiting for the cop to reach in and arrest me. He was a young-ish, white dude. HIS HANDS WERE SHAKING as he leveled the barrel at me, slowly walking toward my window. Okay, big guy, don’t make any sudden moves, he unsteadily spoke. At this point I didn’t know about the evacuation and the seed planted that I was armed. Instinctively, as soon as the cars surrounded my truck, I rolled my window down and placed both hands on the door’s pane. That intuitional reaction probably saved my life. Dude’s hands were shaking, cocked. He released his right hand from the piece, explaining he’d slowly reach in and pop my door. He couldn’t find the lever. His hand was shaking too badly.
If you allow me, I said calmly, I’ll open the door for you. He backed away, returning his hand to the gun. He nodded. Seconds later I was in an unmarked sedan … to the ever-loving delight of local residents near Balboa Park. One detective sat with me in the back. The other drove. Good cop. Bad Cop.
I purposely said nothing. The good cop began to engage me with small talk about where I was living (I rented a flat through a buddy – kind of a condo type situation … it was owned by an ICE agent, and the place was COVERED in weapons and coppery). The only thing I said was that they were welcome to search the entire place.
Interrogation down at the station. Said nothing. Wouldn’t even drink the soda offered (didn’t want to give ‘em my DNA). A few details here and there, and they brought me out for the walk of shame … parading me in front of a horde of cameras strategically placed around the car. Guilty or not, at the time I was presumed innocent, my life was officially ruined. Destroyed. No trial. No due process. Gone. Done. Over. Great system, eh.
Taken to county jail downtown, and just before I was shoved in, the bad cop asks, WHERE IS THE GUN? Did you ditch it? Did you throw it in the bushes? I just don’t want a kid to get it!
What gun? I haven’t owned a gun for years, I cried.
Woman fuzz at the counter reads the charges, Twenty one counts.
TWENTY ONE COUNTS, I exasperatedly repeated.
Yes, she rolled her eyes.
Does that mean twenty one different people? I asked.
Sir, do wish to hurt yourself? Are you feeling suicidal? she asked as though she was offering salsa with my omelet.
What? No. Can I make a call?
Turn to your right, go down the hall, she motioned.
Did the preliminary junk, fingerprinting and all that.
Suddenly I was fitted with a blue bracelet. Had my photograph and a barcode. An officer escorted me down the hall. A smallish officer came running after me, asking the escorting officer to stop immediately. He sounded worried. They mumbled cop speak to one another. A knife. The little cop slashed off my bracelet. He attached a yellow band.
I hope this is all a big misunderstanding, he spoke out of nowhere. Otherwise, if not, I hope you burn in hell, he spat.
I continued to my cell. Alone. Phone. Concha. OH MY GOD. You’re all over the news. They said you tried to kill her; you were going to kill her. They evacuated the entire place, she screamed.
You know I would never do that, I answered. Why would I ever hurt Silly Willy’s mother?
Hey this is no time to talk about that. I know you were not there because you were with me and LPoS having lunch, she recounted. I’d also been to a local carwash to have the truck cleaned. Later that would be used against me as another charge! Hahahahaha. I am a bit of neat freak, and I have to have my shit clean at all times. All times. Cops thought I was trying to destroy evidence. Ugh. Could not win. But at least I had an alibi for where I was (the car wash place had video of my fat ass at the time of when I was supposedly on my way to kill). Whew.
Hours and hours and hours later, I was brought to Bailey near the border. A fucking wretched shit hole of a place. The smell alone would deter anyone from anything. Human dreck. Impossible to put into words. A nightmare. Death magnetic. Awful. Was given a roll of linen, a uniform, and taken to a larger tank full of men. Shoved into the day room, a large room for television viewing. All the other men were in their modules, little fish bowls in a dorm setting. As I entered, they pounded on the plastic glass, chanting my last name. Above my head was a recap of the day’s events as they related to me … via the local news. I was on display on the idiot box AND now in person, right in front of them. I twisted my head and tried to loosen up. I figured I would have to fight pretty soon. Put the bed roll down and stood up, taking a look around. The men smiled at me, menacingly. Some tried to look hard; others could clearly see the fear and anxiety on my face.
My last name, as if to remove any doubt, came from the speakers. Usually they just say your last name, but with me they added MISTER … just to fuck with me. Hahahahaha. Looking back, it was kind of funny. But at the time I could only gulp in terror. The voice said to go up the stairs and into that module. I walked across the floor, and I made my way up to the mod. The door electronically buzzed me in.
There, about fifty men, give or take, gathered to welcome me. Like some stupid-ass Summer camp. Hahahahaha. They were so nice. So generous. Paisas were the first to come to me. A PARENT OF A FORMER STUDENT walked up to me, and he put out his hand. He told me I was a good man, and he and his family were praying for me. He gave me an apple. Another paisa gave me a coffee cup. Another made my bed. I was placed in a middle rack, and yet another paisa made the sign of the cross over the dude sleeping beneath me. I laughed. Over the next few months, they’d share this experience with me … and the bonds we formed were very strong.
I was in the worst of the worst tank. The absolute SCUM of society. I don’t care what stories you hear, what movies you watch: these were the monsters of humanity. Real life monsters. Rapists. Jumping out of the bushes, taking kids type shit. Killers. Serial killers. Gardner would’ve been right at home. Westerfield would’ve been here (and I shared his officers on a medical escort – another story). Thugs. Gangbangers. Career criminals. Kill you over a wrong look. Crazy, demonic dudes. Of the fellows I communed with, I got the least amount of time … by a long, long stretch. Most of these guys came back from court in GREEN jumpsuits – that means they got LIFE for whatever they did. LIFE. Hundreds and hundreds of years.
I made the best of it.
Concha sent me books to read. She brought LPoS down to visit EVERY weekend.
The guys took a liking to me, and made me the official starting quarterback for our impromptu sock football games – fat as I was, I still had a canon for an arm. I played for both sides. All time QB. Funny how those times made us laugh and laugh. Dudes took it SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO seriously. Fuckers would get beat up for missing a pass I planted right in their hands. Hahahahaha. I felt bad when a dude came back with a bloody nose. I told him NOT to drop the sock. Hahahaha. Told him as soon as he turned, the “ball” would be right there for him, and I wouldn’t look his way. Hahahaha. I rule. Hahahaha. He goes to the post, turns, and like clockwork, my pass is at his abdomen. Drops it. Fight. Hahahahaha. He comes back to the huddle, and he BEGS me not to call his number. Oh my god I laughed so hard. We all did. I called his number. They laughed even harder. He told me HE would kick my ass if I threw his way again. Hahahahaha. I did, and he dropped it of course, and chased me all over the little “field.” Everyone started just tackling one another, and the deputies got real nervous at all these fools pounding others to the ground. Alarm sounded, and we all laughed as we were shouted at over the loud speakers – laughed as we lay face down on the pavement. Hahahaha. Fighting, football, and so forth took the edge off the great pain.
Everyone who wrote me, I wrote back. This became a herculean task. They gave us golf pencils, the little gold ones. No sharpeners. And the pencils were in high demand. I had to scrounge for paper. No place to write. So I did what I had to do. If you got a letter from me, you won’t ever know what I had to go through to get it to you. Hahahahaha. Damn. I was so touched by the effort to write me, I felt it a moral duty to write you back … no matter the personal cost. Again, you will NEVER understand what it took.
Hated by society, loved by the dregs.
And I mean it.