I thought that for my first ever blog post, it would prudent and wise and awesome to write about my short tenure in the Columbus, Ohio prison system. Part One of Several. Enjoy!
An elderly couple walked in the front doors. They crossed the empty lobby, their shoes echoing off the shiny marble floors, and got in line between the rope barriers. Then they kept walking up to the front window because no one was in line between the rope barriers. A dark-skinned man in a trench coat was standing in front of a vending machine and he bent down to collect his items. He walked out through the front door, saying ‘Take it easy’ to the young gentleman seated by the door. ‘Take care,’ the young gentleman offered in return. The young gentleman was dressed in a tan cargo overcoat, an old pair of blue jeans and a pair of beat up boots. His hair was cropped short, he smelled a little funky and the whiskers on his face were messy from not shaving. He held a cautious, reserved smile and began to whistle a Creedence tune. He heard the phone in his pocket go off. “Hey, you hear?” he said. He kept the phone to his ear as he walked out of the lobby and onto the sidewalk. “You see me? Yeah, I see you.” He stood on the sidewalk and watched a black two-door pull up. The concrete and glass façade loomed tall behind him, the falling streaks of drizzling rain caught in the yellow spotlights that were pointed up at the front of the building. It was dark and he shivered because the rain was cold and he stepped off the curb to walk to the car. ‘Franklin County Corrections Center’ hung high above the doors behind him. He got in the car. “Thanks for coming to get me.” “No problem.” “Dude, what a fucking ordeal.” “Yeah, I want to hear the story.”
I was at Stoobe’s on Sunday, watching the Giants beat the 49er’s for the NFC Championship title. I was there myself since you had bailed to go to your girlfriend’s sister’s, and I still know nobody else in Columbus. So there I sat at the bar, drinking beer and watching football and scribbling in my journal. The game ended, I still didn’t feel that drunk, and I took a couple shots of whiskey. I don’t remember what time I left the bar, but the plan had been to watch some TV shows, Louie, in particular, at the apartment while I finished the PBR’s in the fridge. I had even procured a paperclip from the bartender for the means of scraping resin from my bowl. Then my cheek was against the cold side of cop car, my legs were spread and these very uncomfortable bracelets that I could hear clanking were slapped on my wrists and pulled very tight. Then they pulled me by my hands so that those bracelets bruised my poor wrists and tossed me into the back seat. I looked out the window and saw my bedroom window. I was in a police car in front of the empty lot next to my little brick apartment building. The two arresting officers climbed in then and I tried to plead, saying that was my apartment, look, right there that’s my apartment. But they would none of this young gentleman’s pleas. I was pretty angered that they had really just arrested me because I knew I had done nothing wrong to anyone, had caused not the slightest trouble to anyone. But looking back I don’t know why they had stopped me to begin with. Like I said, I can’t remember leaving Stoobe’s or the half block walk I had almost finished back to my apartment. Police in Columbus don’t normally stop people for being drunk, there’s just too many drunk people and plenty more worrisome individuals to cite people for a few drunk stumbles. So either injustice was served and this young gentleman was stopped for a few stumbled steps, or my feet were all over the place and my half a block stroll had become a half hour meander, but I doubt the latter. The other possibility is that I had provoked the cops in some manner or another as they drove by. There had been in my head for some time the idea that I had never been arrested. I’d been picked up once before, I’d received handfuls of citations and tickets, even the odd warrant at one point, but I’d never been arrested. This manifested itself as some unsightly, unconscious wish to be arrested, a consciously repressed desire to able to say that, yes, I’d been to jail once. Another notch on my belt, another experience to log in the adventures, another accolade to pin with pride on my lapel. So I may have provoked the cops. I may have done something stupid to provoke the cops. I may intentionally done something incredibly filthy moronic and idiotic to provoke the cops. This young gentleman may have been shouting profanities from the sidewalk, may have been throwing middle fingers and obscenely waving insulting gestures as the cop car drove by. But, as the saying goes, if you’re piss drunk and can’t remember, then nothing embarrassing happened and there’s no need for shame. “That’s definitely not a saying.” “Yes it is.” “I know for a fact I’ve never heard that. No one’s ever heard that.” “Hey, um, story here.” Of the arresting officers, one was a younger guy, 20-something and a fresh face, and the other officer was an older woman with faded red hair and lines of hardened seriousness running down her cheeks, and around her eyes, and dry lines of fed-up anger across her brow. I don’t remember much of what they said to me, or I to them, but when they told me I was being arrested for possession of bath salts I flipped the angry switch. What, that’s bullshit! I bought them right around the corner. You can’t be serious, I bought them from the store, they’re not illegal, you can’t arrest me for something I legally purchased, I didn’t even use them! They are illegal, they told me. Then I went off on the woman officer, I was drunk and angry and I needed to vent. She was the easy target. You dried up old cunt! Fuck you you angry old bitch! Fuck you. I tired myself out and tried to get comfortable in the back seat. It felt like we sat for hours while the officers ran my information, and chatted with the other four officers that had arrived for back-up, the necessary reinforcements required to retain one little, light-skinned, young gentleman. In the back of a squad car you can’t really sit comfortably, not with handcuffs your back. It you try to sit back in the seat the handcuffs dig into your wrists and it is just unbearable, especially with the cuffs so tight that they hurt without the additional pressure. So I had to sit sideways, leaning forward so that my hands wouldn’t be pressed against the cushions. I could see my bedroom window and the handcuffs bruised my wrists. The back of my hand is still half numb, tingles when I touch the bump, still…. I’m guessing the cuffs pinched a nerve. I sat with my forehead against the window and I could see my bedroom window as we pulled away.