Monday, September 8, 2008

The Continuing Saga of Those Locked Up

"Chow Time."


"Chow Time."

Where am I?

"If you wanna eat some breakfast, stand at your door so I can let you out."

Oh yeah. I'm in jail. Who's saying that? Hmmm there must be an intercom in here somewhere. Oh there it is, right above the bed. Ok let me put my shoes back on, which is really easy since they took my laces. Man it's hard to walk in Chucks with no laces. Ugh I'm so freakin thirsty. That sandwich they gave me last night was awful. And those chips were salty. I'm so thirsty. How come they didn't give me something to drink with that? Well at least I'm not around that Mexican who couldn't stop coughing. And I have a blanket and this lopsided gym mat. Lord, you're still worthy.

Those were my first thoughts when I woke up early Sunday morning. As I hobbled out of my cell, I glanced back at the tiny rectangular window and noticed it was still dark. That means he had to be about 5AM, maybe earlier. I knocked out pretty quick once I got in cell B13. Fernando, my cell mate, introduced himself to me. He doesn't know English. He had an extra blanket and mat on the metal bed inside the cell. Since I had no choice but to sleep on the floor, he offered me both. I declined the mat but accepted the blanket to use as a pillow. I suppose I slept pretty good. As good as I could. Like I said, I completly knocked out.

Hobble hobble hobble stumble down the stairs and grab a seat on one of the metal picnic tables. I was still pretty tired and my eyes weren't fully awake yet. When the guard and his little inmate helpers showed up outside the cell block, the 30 some odd other prisoners got up and moved to the back wall. I really had no choice but to do the same. They all came in and we filed passed them and were handed a blueberry muffin. "Well that's cool I guess. Blueberry muffins are my fave." They also gave us a small 8oz plastic cup and put four two liter pitchers of water on the tables, one on each. We weren't allowed to move from the back wall until the door to the cell block closed, and once it did, everyone made a mad dash for the tables so they could sit and eat. I poured my self some water and tried my hardest not to just chug it all. Still a little hungry from the night before, I very nearly inhaled my muffin then chugged the rest of the water. My celly, which I soon discovered is the proper jail terminolgy for cellmate, handed me his cup which was still half full. I gratefully accepted and gave him a nod of thanks.

Back to the cell. A little bit of laborious small talk with the limited english speaking celly. Fall back asleep.

"Shower time. Stand by your door if you wanna take a shower."

The guard on the intercom interrupted my sleep again. Without even realizing it, I was back downstairs waiting against the wall with a clean orange jumpsuit, a towel, and a tiny bar of soap waiting for the guard and trustees to walk out. Thankfully this wasn't one of the jails with community showers. (However I have still recieved one too many drop the soap jokes from people after I got out.)

I waited a few minutes before I put my stuff on the floor by the shower to indicate that I had it next. When it was my turn, I showered quicker than I ever had. I didn't wash my hair though. I know how my hair is when I didn't have anything in it and I wasn't happy about most likely spending who knows how many days with a huge mexican afro.

Back to the cell. More laborious small talk. Back to sleep.

"Stand by your door. You have court."

Again the voice interuppted my sleep. This was getting annoying. My shoes are back on and I'm going downstairs. About 7 other inmates are walking out of their cells waiting for the impromptu court. We're herded out of the cell block and back into the freezing cold holding cell from the night before. By this time it's anywhere from 8 and 10 AM. The guard explains to us that we aren't allowed to talk or use the restroom. The judge will be in shortly to read us our charges and hear our plea. We can either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. We are not to ask questions or talk back or smart off. Since a judge is there, it is a court setting and he has the power to find us in contempt of court and we would get three days in jail for that, in addition to any other time that we elect to sit out.

Sitting across from me is a tall Mexican who I'm guessing had some strong Native American blood in him. He reminded me of a lighter version of the Indian from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

In spite of our warning, the other people in the cell began talking to each other. The obligatory "What are you in for?" was tossed around and the room was divided between traffic violations and drug related incidents.

Joel, the aformention Mexican, is listening intently and fidgeting a little. He says quietly, "Man you guys got it lucky. I'm in here for murder."

Immedietly the cell goes quiet and Joel tells the story of him, his girl, his buddy, and his girl hanging out at another friend's house. I didn't catch the full story but it's something to the affect of Joel and his friend found out that some random dude was hitting his girlfriend and the two of them felt like they needed to give him a talking to. They go to "talk" to him and he pulls out a bat and just starts swinging. This is after the two girlfriends get in his face and say things like, "You wanna hit a girl? well hit f---ing me! Hit f---ing me!" You get the idea.

Bat-dude is swinging his bat and Raul, Joel's friend, pulls out a knife and stabs him. Joel and Raul leave and somehow or another are brought in. Bat-dude died from the stab wound and both guys are charged with his murder. As icing on the cake, their respective girlfriends are charged as accessories to the crime.

Joel didn't tell this whole story. Somewhere in the middle of the story, Raul comes in and fills in all the gaps with more cussing than I care to censor. Raul looks like an extra from Blood In Blood Out, covered in tats with a bald head and the typical Mexican Thug Accent.

Joel is concerned for his two daughters. He didn't know Candace, his GF, was arrested also, and wants to know what happened to his girls. Raul keeps talking about how it was self defense and how he was telling the cop that bat-dude was swinging and what would the cop f---ing do if some f---ing dude was coming at him with a bat. Joel is asking about his daughters. Raul says, "I got this dude. You didn't have nuthin to do with it. I'll take it all." How noble.

We stand before the judge. He reads us our rights and I realize Officer Culbreath never Miranda-ed me when he arrested me. One by one he calls us to take a step forward and he informs us of our charges and asks for our plea. For an old white guy who looked like he was interrupted from his Sunday golf game, the guy spoke excellent Spanish. I chalked it up to him saying pretty much the same Spanish phrases on a daily basis.

As soon as I saw the lights flashing behind me I decided that I was going to sit out my warrants. I almost knew I was going to get arrested and I resolved to suck it up and sit it out. Much to the chagrin of nearly everyone who cares about me, I denied my one phone call during the booking process. It was late on a Saturday night. I didn't want and of my family dealing with the stress of trying to get me out as soon as possible. I didn't want them to be running around all over the place calling this lawyer and that bond's men trying to figure out how I could make it home the same night. I figured the less they knew the better.

That's why when the judge called my name (pronounced it Esparaza) I pleaded guilty. He handed me my paperwork, which I signed, then I returned to the holding cell.

Eventually Joel and Raul came back in. Joel is still obviously concerned about his daughters and the 1million dollar bail hanging over his head. Raul comes in practically boasting. He raises his hands half way up and says, "A million dollars foo! They got us for a million dollars." It was as if he was proud that his bond was definetly higher than any other in the jail house.

Once everyone had stood before the judge, we were all told to return to our cell if we had one. So back I go. Remove the Chucks. Walk up the stairs. Lay down. More laborious small talk with Fernando. Within minutes I'm out like a light again.

"Chow Time. If you want lunch stand at your door so I can let you out."

Geez that's really starting to get annoying.

To be continued...

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