The Insidious adventures of JT Hilltop
(Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the van to come)
It was my first day in my new digs, a guest suite in the local detention center of Aiken County South Carolina. I remembered having detention in high school, a form of punishment for any of a variety of mischievous infractions. This however, was quite a different detention. I was given my very own guest room totally unadorned. I suppose you could say it was decorated in minimalist style, complete with four bare walls, a stainless steel toilet and sink, a pamphlet thin mattress on a wooden platform with a polyester sheet and Government issue wool blanket, and…..well actually, that was it. My new living arrangements for the next thirty days. So here I am, this young suave New Yorker, locked up somewhere in the deep south where I feared I may never be heard from again. The pace in this city, I think I heard it called Grandmaville, or Grannyville or some shit was anything but urgent. Great, I thought to myself, here I am in Petticoat fucking Junction. Theres Uncle Joe he’s a movin’ kinda slow! “Yikes,” I thought, “Not a familiar face anywhere and not a single person left to turn to.” Thirty days in this hell hole with no beer, no weed, not even a fucking TV to help pass the time. Just me, myself and….and a band of hillbilly cops. Actually, I wasn’t completely alone.
Along with yours truly, and against their wills as well were five “block” mates each sizing me up. I could tell they were wondering what skyscraper it was that I crawled out from under. I was certain I detected a mix of urban admiration and good ole boy Yankee hatred. Instinctively I understood the importance of establishing the “upper hand”. I had heard some of the other….ah “Inn” mates call the guards by the term “turn-key”. So it was time to establish my dominance with my jailors while developing my “street credentials” with my new roomies. I determined that a perfect place to start was right this very moment by showing these local yokel criminals how we do it up north. So in my toughest NYC voice I let out an authoritative directive. “Ay Oh, Turn-key”. I need to make a phone call.” I had attempted to inject just the perfect modicum of distain and rebellion as was necessary to achieve my goal. An awkward silence befell the cellblock, as a burly mean looking police officer began to stare at me with such a deadpan sarcastic glare, I almost felt jealous. I’m from New York, where sarcasm is a second language and he had just read me a cynical short story without even uttering a single word. I began to wonder if I was taking the proper approach, or if I should rethink my options. It was then that this komodo dragon in uniform began to saunter in my direction with a slow and deliberate pace that screamed “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” The oily haired officer got his face as close to mine as humanly possible, and just stared at me a moment. I could feel his smoky foul breath dancing across my cheeks and I felt the lashes of his eyes as they blinked. Little hard eye hairs that could successfully brush a longhaired afghan hound. I had a sudden and humbling movie memory penetrate my tough NYC exterior and turn me into shimmering mass of spineless amoeba. “Suey, let me hear you scream suey!” Before my ‘Deliverance’, I attempted to coax myself back from my baseless paranoia. Oh Hell, stop thinking like that and get your shit together tough guy. You faced bigger opponents in Spanish Harlem just three days ago. You have spent countless hours in a Pagan Motorcycles Club bar. You have faced off with New York City detectives. (not very successful with the detectives, but stood up none the less. Well maybe stood up was not the right term) I gave my head a hair clearing shake, swallowed hard and began to feel like I was back in charge again. Apparently, none of this mattered to sergeant Komodo dragon. He began to speak, and I swore the voice was the same voice I recalled from that scene in the movie. “Say what boy?…. Did I hear you say turn-key you long haired New Yoke piece o’ shit?” I couldn’t help but detect a certain note of arrogance and alarming distain in his voice. But alas it was too late, the drama had begun. I sensed that any second now, the proverbial pig shit was headed directly in the vortex of the rotary oscillator. And the fan was humming! The two of us stared each other down for a minute and the silence began to burn loud in my ears. Then as if right on cue a big shit eating “who the fuck do you think your dealing with” kind of grin broke out on his upper lip and quickly spread across his jaw until it took over his entire face. Now I am staring directly into this shit eating Cheshire smile and I can sense that it is a smile with some very serious implications. I had to think quick to get out of this predicament, to ease the tensions with my captor, while not losing face with my new room mates. But let me back up a bit and explain how I even got here in the first place.