Friday, March 15, 2013

The Wisdom of Stabby Marie

The first tearful phone call was followed by a barrage of others in which I found out that my brother had attempted to secure my release only to be told I was to stay put at least until the next morning because they were attempting to flush Tucker out.  I knew that wouldn’t happen and wished they would understand that it was fruitless. I resigned myself to spending the night.  One of the other ladies in the cell said she’d overheard my phone call and said she was being held for the same thing, organized crime. After we talked, we discovered that both our husbands knew each other and she knew even less than I did about what was going on.  The difference between us however was that they came and got her and she got to see the judge because they’d managed to nab her husband.

The other “lady” in the tank with me was scratching her weave with the 2 fingernails left on her hand.  She stared at me and said, “Honey don’t worry bout nothin.  You’ll be out in the mornin, your folks’ll getcha.”
I stared at her and said, “Thank you but no one I know has enough money to get me out except the man that put me here. Who knows when I’ll get out.”

"Honey if you have to depend on a man, you're fucked.  You better figure out how to do it yourself or you'll be fucked for the rest of your life.  In more ways than one!!" she chuckled and scratched her head again and stared under her fingernails.  I wondered what exactly she was looking for under those 2 long red fingernails. 

The door opened and we were bid to come and get our supper.  I don’t even remember what it was except there was an orange on the tray.  I know I didn’t eat anything and the cell mate asked for my orange and I gave it freely. I started thinking, You gonna eat yo cornbreaaaadddd? I almost laughed but didn't want her to think I was making fun or had lost my shit. I pulled out my mat after that and laid down determined not to cry anymore.  My cell mate followed my lead and proceeded to tell me about how she’d gone out for cigarettes and had been pulled over and arrested on an old warrant.  She showed me her scars from stab wounds she’d gotten from her ex old man and regaled me with tales of domestic abuse.  We both eventually fell asleep. 

More phone calls from me the next morning found that one call to another back to one yielded that Tucker had come up with the money to bail me out, had sent it via carrier pigeon to the bail bondsman and that someone from that office would come and get me eventually.  We were taken out of the cell long enough to see the judge where I told them I definitely wanted a lawyer and signed my arraignment papers.  We were taken back and fed breakfast and Stabby Marie was let out shortly after that and I had the luxurious suite all to myself.  I finally felt free enough to use the facilities in the corner blocked by the half wall and willed myself not to call my parents and run up their phone bill any further.  I tried to wash my face and hands and then laid back down. 

There was no clock. I had no clue as to the time.  I thought if I get lunch then I’ll know that it’s midday and I’ll call after that. I had nothing but time to think, my mind was a game of ping pong back and forth from one thought to the next.  I had time to plan and scheme and time for my anger to grow.  I was charged with organized crime.  I had no part in it but I’ll get a lawyer and I’ll figure it out.  Of course it’ll have to be a public defender because I obviously have nothing.  I was so relieved that Tucker had done what I knew he’d do and sent the money to get me out and simultaneously furious because he had to get me out in the first place.  The time crawled.  Watching a clock may make time drag but not having an indicator of what time it is at all is maddening.  I laid on the bench, I laid on the mat, I tried to put my hair up with no implements.  I washed my hands and face again, I tried to make the mat stay on the bench, I napped but soon figured that I knew even less about the time when I slept because I had no way of measuring it and so I played with the phone and again willed myself not to call the parentals.  I knew it had to be after lunch when suddenly the door opened and the jailer called out my name as if the room were full to capacity with femme fatales and I got up and just looked at her.

“Get your mat and come on.” She walked away as I scrambled to grab the huge mat and drag it out.  The jailer droned, “Place the mat here, here are your things,” she handed me the box full of my stuff, “Go in the bathroom and get changed and hurry.”

I threw the box into the bathroom, shut the door behind me and shrugged out of the accursed striped jumpsuit. I got my bra back on and pulled my makeup bag out of my purse.  I was trying desperately to look like I hadn't just been sprung from county.  I scraped my hair into a twist and clipped it. I got the rest of my clothes back on in time to hear the jailer rapping on the door and calling, “Hurry up!! I have to feed and if you don’t come on, you’ll be here for 3 more hours.”

I opened the door at that moment and smiled brightly.  “All ready!” I said.  She stared at me expressionless, extremely unimpressed with my transformation.  I signed paperwork and walked out into the lobby.  I powered up my phone and saw a young man that looked like he was waiting for someone.  I asked him if he was from the bond office and then got in his car with him. He asked where to and I indicated my office so that I could get my car.  As we drove, I called.  I called my parents.  I called the rest of the people in that I knew had had a hand in the phone relay that ultimately got me released.  I called to check on my kids and told them I’d be to get them shortly.  Harlow said she wanted to stay put one more night, oblivious to the goings on.  I assented and we arrived at my car.  I thanked the young man and then got in my car and searched for my cigarettes.  I lit one and inhaled so deeply I got a head rush.  I kept the tears at bay and put it in gear and headed toward my son.  I picked up my son and my brother didn’t have much to say and I just didn’t have any words except thank you for him.  Freddy hugged me so tight and asked me what had happened. I told him not to worry about it and that I’d handle it.

“It was all those checks, wasn’t it?” He looked at me with murder in his face. 

“You don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of all of this.”

“No, Mom you won’t do anything about it.  You won’t do anything, you’ll just stay with him and let him do whatever he wants.  You always do.”

I started crying.  “Freddy you don’t know what all is involved this time.  Just stay out of it and I’ll do what I need to do.”

Freddy just sat there fuming and finally said, “I’ll kill him.” My heart was filled with terror and sadness and frustration.

“You can’t do anything.  I promise you, I’ll handle this.  Two more months or so and you’ll be off to school and you won’t have to deal with him at all anymore.” He said nothing and stared out the window.

It never failed that he’d add fuel to the fire of my turmoil.  It was just his way.  I loved him and reviled him all at the same time but knew he was right. Everything he was feeling was right and I was the ultimate let down.  He had no one to trust and respect and it was my fault.

We pulled into the driveway at home and I told him to feed the animals so that I could shower.  I still had not called Tucker.  I knew he wouldn’t be at home since he was wanted. I showered and crawled into bed.  My phone rang and it was him.  I debated not answering but gave in before it went to voice mail.

“Hey, baby.” His voice was tentative and filled with suck ass. 

“Hi.” I said nothing else and left it to him to fill the silence.

“Are you okay?”

“How do you think I am Tucker? I spent 26 hours in county jail because of you and your bullshit.  My parents know, the kids’ other grandmother knows, my brother knows, Freddy knows.  No amount of your tap dancing is going to let you coming out of this looking like a shiny penny.”

“Just stay with me baby and I’ll make this all go away, I promise you.  You had nothing to with it and that Ranger is just trying to ruin everything between us so you’ll turn on me.”

“Well maybe he’s not a total dumbass then.” I shot it out before I even thought about it.

His voice took on an edge then, “Maybe you should just let me handle everything baby and then you’ll be fine. I can’t clear you if you’re not with me.”

I knew then what was happening. It dawned on me as if the sun were rising on my blind stupidity.  I was stuck and had to trust him to do what he’d said he’d do or I was fucked. OR I  could get a lawyer and pack all this shit up and try to start over with nothing.  Whatever I was going to do I felt like I had only that moment to make the decision.  I was tired and broken and I had Freddy’s voice ringing in my head and I didn’t know if I’d still have a job on Monday. I finally acquiesced and said, “Okay.”

I could hear the breath whoosh out of him over the phone. He told me he was “away” for a little longer until he had the money for his own bail together so he could walk in and out of the jail.  He wanted me to meet him somewhere and bring him some clothes and I suddenly felt like a gun moll.  I just thought to myself, Do what he needs and get to work Monday and figure it out.  I agreed once again to do what he wanted and told him it’d be the next day and that I was exhausted. He told me that was fine and that he loved me. He apologized again and told me I was “the most perfect thing in my life and that I can do anything if you’re by my side.”  

All I could think was fuck you. I told him I loved him too and hung up.  I rolled over in my bed and turned on the TV. I looked at the cable TV, the house, the big bathroom, the huge bedroom. I wondered if I'd still have any of this in a month, a week or a year.  I thought about Stabby Marie and what she'd said about depending on a man. I wondered how long I was stuck in this life and how I’d break free.  All I knew at that moment was that I would break free, I had to.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

The Rangers were waiting outside and one took my purse and the other took me by the arm.  I looked up and said, “Please, don’t cuff me here.  If I have a chance at keeping my job, please give it to me.”
He looked sympathetic and let go of my arm and told me to follow them to the car.  “Sit in the front seat but we’ll have to stop and cuff you when we get out the gate.”

I nodded and off we went. When we reached the gate, he stopped the car and came around and got me out and cuffed me with my hands in the front. He sat me back in the front seat with the obligatory hand on my head. 

He then systematically began to try and “work” me.  He tried to convince me that talking to him would be better than trying to talk the Ranger that had been at our house.  Let’s call him Ranger Rick. He told me he’d be sympathetic and understanding etc. etc.  I laughed at him.  He asked what I thought was so funny. 
I said, “This,” motioning at the air with my cuffed hands. “All this is ridiculous. I’m not a criminal and I didn’t do anything wrong. I got to work, I come home and take care of my kids.”

He looked at me and asked, “You are the only one in this entire case that does then.”
I laughed again. I looked over at him, “I’m probably the only one that doesn’t belong in this spot, I’ll tell you that.”

“Including your husband?” he immediately shot back.

I lifted my cuffed hands and shook my index finger at him, “Nice try Ranger man.”

He remained silent and then used his radio to convey to Ranger Rick that we were approaching the county line.  He pulled over AT the county line and we waited.  Ranger Rick pulled up and they got me out of the car.  They patted me down right there on the side of the road and then transferred me to Rick’s custody.  He greeted me convivially as if we were pals and going out for a movie and dinner.  I glared at him with disgust and he was the one laughing then.

He seated me in his truck and came around to take me to the county jail.  He got in and set down his cowboy hat in the back seat and took off down the highway. 

“How you doing, today?” he looked expectantly at me as if I were going to actually tell him anything other than I was having one of the shittier days in my existence. 

I chose to ignore the question and told him that I needed to see that my children were looked after and that my daughter was out of pocket and my son was at home alone.  He said, “I know, I talked to him earlier when I was looking for your husband. You have a very polite young man there.”

I looked over and thought, Fuck YOU, but instead said, “Thank you. Can I please call him?” He dialed my home number and handed me his phone. 
“Hello.” Freddy came through loud and clear and I said, “Honey, it’s Mom and I need you to listen and pay attention.”

“Okay mom.” I could hear the fear in his voice and perhaps he had picked up on the fear in mine.
“You need to call your Uncle Wayne and have him come get you. I’m not coming home for a while and it’s going to be late.”

Ranger Rick interrupted and said, “You won’t be home until at LEAST tomorrow.”
I glared yet again for all the good it was doing me. “Just call him honey and then you all go and make sure Harlow can stay with Brandy and her mom. Can you do all that for me?”

“Yes ma’am.  Are you okay Mom? What’s going on?”

“I can’t explain right now; just do what I ask and make sure the animals are all fed before you leave.”
“Yes ma’am….love you.” The last part broke me a little.  I had maintained my righteous indignation at the entire situation until that moment. I teared up and told him I loved him too.

I gave Ranger Rick his phone back and thanked him.  He started questioning as to Tucker’s whereabouts. 
“Your guess is as good as mine.  My bet is you won’t find him til he’s ready for you to find him.”

He sounded irritated and asked why I would say something like that.  “Well half the time, I don’t even know where he is and I sleep with him.”

The irritation died then and was replaced with what could only be smugness.  “Oh we’ll find him. He’ll come to get you out and then we’ll get him.”

I started to say, How stupid do you think he is? But the truth was I didn’t care if they ever found him.  I knew that he’d be the only person that would be able to pull the money out of his ass to get me out.  I thought frantically about how to contact him, if I’d actually get that one phone call, how long I’d be locked up, etc.

We pulled up to the county jail in front of a large overhead door that slowly began to roll up.  He pulled inside and the door shut behind us effectively shutting out the sunlight.  I almost began to sob then but I contained myself not willing to let this smug jackass watch me turn into a blubbering mess.  He got me out and marched me inside where he uncuffed me and sat me on a bench in front of a window. 

I sat there miserably wondering what was going to happen next.  I was told to step up to the window. I asked the woman behind the desk there if I could make any calls.  She said there was a payphone in the holding cell and if I needed numbers I should get them out of my phone then.  She handed me a piece of paper and a pen and I dug my Blackberry out of my purse.  I quickly texted Tucker and told him I had been arrested, that my bond was $25,000 and that they were determined to keep me overnight.  He texted back while I was writing phone numbers down and the woman glanced a couple times but didn’t stop me.  He asked if I could see the judge that day and I texted back no and that they wouldn’t release me. 

The woman snapped, “Times up!” and grabbed my phone and purse.  She instructed me to put all my jewelry and anything I had in my pockets into a plastic property bag.  She listed everything and had me sign. She walked me into a small room at the end of the hall and threw my purse and bag into a plastic tub, gave me a striped jumpsuit and told me to take everything except my panties off and put it all in the tub.  I had to strip in a tiny room with this strange woman watching me from less than two feet between us.  I shrugged into the jumpsuit and was given sandals.  She walked me out to the end of the hall and fingerprinted me, took my mug shot and ushered me into a cell with a ponderous mat. I had to wrestle it into the cell and then found myself staring at two other women when I entered the cell and I felt utterly defeated.

I dragged the mat into the corner of the room and sat down hard on the floor.  I began to think about who I could call collect from a jail phone and then I just started to cry.  All the bravado was gone and I didn’t care that these two other women were staring at me.  I wasn’t worried about whether they’d think I was tough or not. I just cried until I had the hiccups.  I started trying to call every number I could think of and finally I heard my dad’s voice on the other end of the line. 

He said, “Hello!” sounding worried and anxious.

I broke down again… “Daddy, I’m in jail.”