Whats A Nice Guy Like You Doing In A Jail Like This? pt1

rewrite

Welcome to South Carolina, take your handcuffs off and stay awhile, hear?

A rewrite to JT Hilltops great American novel “Zen and The Art of Culinary Maintenance”

Here I was on the first day as I moved into my new digs, a guest suite in the local detention center of Aiken County South Carolina. I remembered having detention in high school. Often! It’s a form of scholastic punishment for any of a variety of mischievous and normally mundane infractions. Detention in my high school was even nicknamed “Brig” to accentuate the feeling of being locked away. This however, was quite a different form of detention. Instead of sitting in a room with the other shenanigan producing student inmates forced to pretend we were working on homework after school I was given my very own guest suite. It wasn’t an especially large room in fact I’ve seen studio apartments ten time the size and this particular living arrangement came fully furnished yet 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. That was the extent of the furnishings, all the comforts of home for a down and out hermit. Whatever the case it was to be 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. There’s Uncle Joe he’s a movin’ kinda slow!” Somewhere between Mayberry and Hootersville. “Jesus shit,” 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, it was kind of a low life criminal condo.
Along with yours truly, and against their wills as well, were five “block” mates each with their very own sardine can housing unit and each sizing up this long haired city boy. I could tell they were wondering what skyscraper it was that I crawled out from under. I was relatively certain I detected a mix of urban admiration and good ole boy Yankee hatred, but I may have been setting their intelligence bar higher than I should have. Having been in the wrong bar at the wrong time on occasion I instinctively I understood the importance of establishing the “upper hand”. I had heard some of the other detainees, let’s call them “Inn” mates, refer to the guards as“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 in the big city. So in my toughest NYC voice I let out an authoritative directive. “Ay Oh, Turn-key. Yea you in the uniform over thar, I need to make my phone call.” I had attempted to inject just the perfect modicum of disdain and rebellion as was necessary to achieve my goal of upmanship. An awkward silence befell the cellblock and I‘m not 100% sure but I believe I felt a slight wind from the eyes of my roomies opening wide in astonished disbelief. I was half expecting Barney Fife to come take me to a phone but instead 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 taught in kindergarten and is a second language. This dude had such killer swagger in his walk he 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 technique. It was then that this komodo dragon in uniform began to saunter quickly 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 cleaned under his fingernails if he had the gumption to appear clean. 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’ became a reality I attempted to coax myself back from my baseless paranoia and re-establish control. 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’ve 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, more like whimpered through a face full of mace as I dropped to my knee’s, but I did get a kiss my ass pig in which my friends found impressive a few days later from the safety of our hometown bar. 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 impressed Sergeant Komodo Dragon. He began to speak, and I swore the voice was the same voice I recalled from that scene in Deliverance. “Say what boy?…. Did I hear you say turn-key you long haired New Yoke piece o’ shit? Are y‘all gonna tell me y‘all came alla way from da big apple jess at git an ass kicking here in Aikon County?” I couldn’t help but detect a certain note of arrogance and alarming disdain 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 a darkly ominous Dixie tune! The two of us stared each other down for a minute and the silence raised to a tense ear shattering level that damn near burnt my ears. Then as if right on cue a big shit eating “who the fuck does you think your dealing with” sardonic grin broke out on his upper lip, quickly spread across his jaw until cynicism took over his entire face. He gave my solar plexus a formal introduction to his police baton with a shit kicker smile of an exclamation point. Now I am staring directly into this shit eating evil Cheshire Cat’s angry eyes and what’s most obvious is that it’s giving off some very serious vibe implications. I had to think quick to get out of this predicament, to ease the tensions and repair the relationship with my captor while not losing face with my new room mates. Something big and potentially life altering was about to go down. But let me back up a bit and explain how I even came to be here in the first place.

Busted, Disgusted, and Can’t Be Trusted (the consequence)

Be wise and don’t wise of to a southern cop. Especially if he’s your jailor

The Brutal Truth
This was no Sunday stroll these two backwoods hooligans planned to take me on. As I was escorted down one corridor I noticed a cigarette machine with a paperback book on top. Thinking I may need some reading material over the next who knows how many days, I grabbed the book as we went passed without the goon squad seeing it. We made many turns and I was confused about where I was until we stopped at a door that said “Interrogation Room” If I was confused before, I was completely perplexed now. Not sure what interrogating planned but I h they had a nervous feeling about their interpretation of the word interrogate. As it turned out, having nothing to interrogate was the plan. Jimbo opened the door and led me inside. It was a relatively empty room. Four chairs, three on one side of a small wood table, and one lonely chair on the other. It was apparent which one was mine and Jimbo led me right over to it and signaled for me to sit down. Nervously, I sat. It was Billy who spoke as Jimbo moved the other chairs and the table to the corner. “Boy, we need to git an unnerstandin’ tween us here. Firstly, I done never wanna here ya call any of us law officers turn-key again. That get through all that hair into yer brain boy?” With serious alarm I shook my head yes. I was in a very precarious position and was quickly weighing my best options. He stared at me with razor eyes and said “I caint hear you boy, I asked if yew understood!” I sheepishly let out a soft ”yessir.” I was taken aback at how wimpy it sounded. Even the echoing on the near empty room was scoffing at me. Jimbo lifted his right foot up in the air and brought it down hard. He kicked me with his “County issue” stiff leather boot. He had reached up higher than I would have thought he could manage with his roly poly body and landed the heel of that boot directly in the muscle portion of my left bicep. Both me and the chair were caught off guard (pun intended) and went sailing across the floor in search of the wall. My head hit something hard, and I knew I had found the target. A flash of pain and a second of darkness warned me a major headache would accompany me later. Jimbo walked over to my shaking body and got about an inch away from my ear. “He asked you if you got that boy? You lose yer tongue or sumpin?” He didn’t need to scream so loud, what with me being a half inch away and all, but he did feel a need to cover my ear in spit as he yelled. Now I was at a horrible disadvantage and needed to react quick to win these guys over and get out of here. I looked him in the eye and said clearly “Yes sir, I got it. I will not call you turn-key ever again.” It took about all the strength I could muster to say it. Billy was picking me up and Jimbo assisted the chair. “Now that’s much better boy” Billy was now speaking with an air of superiority that he enjoyed immensely. “Sit back down now boy, we don’t want you falling off your chair agin y‘all might hurt yerseff” Big bad Jimbo leaned down to my dry ear and began to talk in a half whisper. “Let me tell ya how this is gonna go here yankee boy. We dun like no strangers comin roun here causin no trouble. We don like you, but y’all gonna be here a while so you need to git the rules straight. Theys pretty simple. Rule one, we are always in charge and you nevah nevah talk back to any one of us.” I was nodding my head in agreement, but before I could get a word out, Billy Boy had whacked my left calf with his baton so hard I felt fire surging up my leg and go numb in seconds. First pins and needles then my calf was throbbing. Jimbo looked over on the floor saw the book that took flight when me and the chair went airborne. With a mocking disgusted look he picked it up. “Boy, now what the Hell is this? Lookie here Billy, hippie boy done stole someone’s book.” He shook his head like the condescending asshole he was, “ Now see , hairbag, this is just the kind of thing we wants to avoid. Where’n the hell y’all get this?” I gently shook my head trying to think of an answer that would appease him, but to no avail. “Nevernin boy, it ain’t matter no how.” He placed the book up to my temple, pulled back his baton to hit the book so hard my head snapped back. A new pain shot through my head. Throbbing, burning, and pounding like I had never experienced before. The chair and I both tumbled to the ground again. Billy walked over to where I had fallen, and stepped hard on my calf. “Is this the spot where you hurt yaseff boy?” I felt throbbing all over, in my leg, my head, and now in my stomach. When I looked up Jimbo was standing over me with his baton by his side and a sadistic smile on his face. I felt nausea whirling up and feared if I puked it would just piss them off more. It snuck up into my mouth and I clenched it shut and swallowed. It was even worse than the mornings year old oatmeal. I was having trouble breathing which is when I realized I had just been whacked in the stomach with his baton. Now my solar plexus and ribs ha joined in the misery. My head was spinning and my eyes had teared up and I everything looked blurry. Jimbo picked me up and locked my arms behind me. Billy took the book I had found, and placed on my temple again, and whacked the book again. He moved the book to various places on my face and continued the beatings. “See boy, you did us a favor with this here book y’all stole. Ain’t gonna be no marks on yer face, but I bet its gonna hurt for a long time comin’ You ain‘t gonna steal no more books, are ya?.” Jimbo sat me down in the chair, or should I say threw me into the chair where I collapsed in pain and exhaustion. I could hardly breathe, and barely speak. I looked up through the tears in my eyes and watched them parading around with ugly satisfied looks on both of their faces. The beatings continued for what seemed like an hour, but was more likely only five or ten minutes. They applied the book and baton combination to various body parts, mostly concentrating on my face and arms. It was accompanied with their hideous sadistic laughter. They were seriously enjoying it but I was beginning to fade in and out of consciousness and began numbing up. I swallowed another mouthful of vomit for fear of worse beatings. My entire body was throbbing and aching, and Billy got right in my face again. “So I think we have us an unnerstandin’ here, right boy?” He pointed the baton to my face and smacked it with his other hand. The hard wood made a direct hit to my nose and I could immediately feel blood trickling down my face. It took every ounce of strength to just nod yes. Satisfied, Billy stood up and smiled at Jimbo. “I think he unnerstans Jimbo. Maybe we should get this nice young law breaker something to drink, he looks like he has a mighty thirst. Maybe you better fill out a report bout how he got into a fight with another inmate. Use Chester this time” They both laughed. Billy left the room and Jimbo picked up the paperback and handed it to me. “Keep it son, you earned it. Now don’t y’all go nowhere ya hear me?” I looked up at him but everything was still blurry. I knew he was very close because I could smell his stale smoke breath. He grabbed my pony tail and lifted me off the chair, put his forearm to my chest and flung me as hard as he could into the wall. I collapsed and just laid on the floor, not sure if I couldn’t move or just didn’t want to. He threw what I hoped was a clean handkerchief at me and told me to clean myself up. I heard the door close and sensed I was alone. I think I cried as the blood from my nose was thinned out with tears.
After abut a half an hour I scrambled to stand up but fell again. I couldn’t put any pressure on left leg without feeling intense pain. I managed to climb onto the chair and rubbed my leg. My head and face took turns pounding out a tribal beat. I could actually feel the blood coursing through my veins as though my defense system was an ER on full alert. Blood to the injured areas, STAT! Blood rushing to my injure face, my swollen forehead, and my still throbbing leg. I was breathing hard and the dried blood on my nose made it more difficult. My ribs and my stomach hurt. I had been worked over real good, like Cool Hand Luke. Now a puddle of crying beat up excuse of a man was sure his street creds were all but over.
The door opened up and it was Jimbo again. “C’mon boy, it’s time to take you home.” He walked up close and stepped hard on my foot with his fat ass digging in his leather heel. A twist for good measure then a sarcastic smile and wink. Billy walked in with a bottle of water and threw it at me. “See boy, we takes good care of our crimy-nals in these parts. I sure hopes we got us a good unerstanding now.“ They each got on one side of me and basically carried me out of the interrogation room and back down some more corridors until we reached the general population of the jail. I was hobbling along limping and bent over like a captured animal. It was as if they were parading me around all proud of how tough they were to beat up a prisoner and making a statement to the others about who is in charge. They walked me to my cell and tossed me towards my bed. I plopped down on my mattress. They left and I just laid down and started to re-live the beating. Everything hurt. My face felt swollen and my spirit had been broken. I was barely conscience of my surroundings, but I heard noises all around me. After about a half hour, I fell asleep and dreamed. I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. I dreamed I was going to a big mansion somewhere in the sky, and wondered if I was dying. The song “Spirit in the Sky” played over and over in the dream. I was in and out of lucidity for the rest of the day and night. Tomorrow would be another day

Busted, Disgusted, and Can’t Be Trusted

“Shit Out Of Luck, South Carolina, 1979”
I couldn’t waste time worrying about tomorrow, I had to deal with right now. I was being taken to my room for the night and it wasn’t going to be pleasant. First came the strip search, which the guards seemed to take a special perverted delight in making rude comments about my naked body. Maybe they were playing some sort of cop intimidation game, or perhaps they really did dig it. Whatever, it made me very uncomfortable and I was especially intimidated when a deep voice bellowed, “Okay boy, now bend on over and spread your cheeks”. Reluctantly I complied to a new round of rude crude and lewd remarks which totally emasculated me, whether as a by product or by design. Feeling oddly dirty, even after being hosed down, a young guard handed me a towel and an orange jumpsuit. I could tell he was not a willing participant and thought it might be a good chance to create an ally, but he was unreceptive to my questions, like “where am I going,” or “what’s gonna happen to me.” I was a bit surprised at how meekly I asked this guard, but he just avoided eye contact and paid me no mind. “C’mon, dry off, git dressed and foller me son.” I obliged, still feeling dirty and not very dapper in my oversized orange jumpsuit with large white letters. ACDC. It wasn’t a rock band. It stood for Aikon County Detention Center. So here I was, dressed in the height of convict fashion following a young guard who had just handed me the thinnest mattress in history, as well as an itchy wool blanket all rolled up like a sleeping bag. “This is your bed.” He informed me. I tucked it under my arm and followed as the guard walked down the hall, through a series of bars and gates. I had my bed tucked under my arm, and my tail tucked between my legs.
The last gate we went through opened up into a sort of Cineplex of jail cells, and I could see many prisoners sticking their heads between the bars to try and get a look at the new arrival. I could hear shouts, mostly things like “Here come some fresh meat,” or “check out this long haired girl,” and other such nonsense that added profoundly to my discomfort. A voice somewhere off in the distance let out a very loud directive. “Alla Y’all Shut up!!! Its time for lights out.” The young guard walked me down a hallway of jail cells, and it looked like a dormitory of bars. He stopped about halfway down the hall, turned and unlocked a set of bars. “Go on ahead in boy” . It was a relatively big room with a stainless steel sort of picnic table and chair to the left, and to the right on the wall was two shower heads but no stalls. “All the way to the back on the left” down a short narrow corridor I saw a room on the end with an open door. I went in, and saw a board flush up against the wall, and a stainless steel toilet and sink. I remember thinking to myself “ I’m going to be seeing a lot of stainless steel here in this joint”. The young guard spoke to me for the final time. “Put yer mattress on there, you will git yer breakfast under the door in the morning, and your cell will open up to the common room at 10AM. Lunch is served around 12 noon, and 6 PM its back in to your personal cell. Every Wednesday the canteen cart comes around so you can buy candy and cigarettes if you have any money. Church is on Sunday Morning at 10AM sharp in the chapel. You will get one clean towel every day, and a clean jumpsuit once a week. Enjoy your stay.” The last part was added with a touch of sarcasm, and the rest of the “speech” seemed to be by rote, like he has said it a million times. But why did he give me the rundown on the entire place. After all I was leaving tomorrow. Wasn’t I? I began to worry again. How the fuck did I get myself into this God damn nightmare? I unrolled my makeshift bed, laid down, and stared at the ceiling. Completely exhausted from an extremely trying day, I fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up to a school cafeteria type of tray scratching along the floor. It was being passed through a rectangular cut out at the bottom of a cell door that was my overnight home. I was somewhat disoriented, the entire thing seeming rather surreal, as if it were happening to either someone else or in a dream. But it wasn’t a dream, and it was happening to me. I looked at the tray which consisted of a bowl of what I could only assume was oatmeal, a small dish of fruit cocktail , and some toast that I had no doubt had ceased being anything remotely close to actual toast hours ago. A very grim reminder that this is a real situation here. I had to do something, had to act and get myself back in control. Was Max coming back? Did Sandy just order him to move on without me? Or more likely, was Max and Sandy both beginning to feel the pains and discomforts of drug withdrawal? That was the most worrisome and most likely of outcomes. They either found some drugs out on the streets of Aikon County South Carolina, or they forged on ahead to the next methadone clinic on their route and turned me into a distant memory. I now knew that I had to take matters into my own hands. I was alone now, too embarrassed or too proud to call my family for help. Again! Too stubborn to just give in call someone, anyone for help. Not only that, I was aware that I had only one phone call, and I needed to make it count. Phone call! That’s it! I get one phone call. Shit man, I better makes this call count. Who to call though, that was the problem. I remembered a girlfriend I had while I was living in Myrtle Beach a few years ago. Rebecca. I could call Rebecca. Surely she would remember her Yankee lover and be willing to help me out. Why she even had a brother who was working a chain gang, so surely she would be sympathetic. So that’s it. I will call Rebecca, and she will rescue me from this hick hell hole. Now I just need to get to a phone. My mind was working overtime devising a plan to escape this nightmare. I was already thinking what I should do, track down Max and Sandy and kick their asses, or head back to New York and regroup. But first things first. I need to make the call.
I managed to eat about three quarters of the hideous representation of oatmeal and all of the fruit cocktail. I opted out of the born again toast. I now had some nourishment in my stomach, and it was time to get the ball rolling here. I had heard some of the other “Inn” mates call the guards by the term “turnkey” 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 had a sudden and humbling memory penetrate my tough NYC exterior and turn me into shimmering mass of spineless amoeba. . “Suey, let me hear you scream suey!” 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 piece of 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. “Hey Billy, we got us a real rebel Yankee here what wants to make his phone call.” The silence continued in the most uneasy pause I had ever experienced. After being stared at by a smile for what seemed like ten minutes, an even bigger almost obese guard came walking over with a look so serious I damn near wet myself. His stare was deadly. When he finally spoke, his voice did not match his body or his demeanor. He had a high pitched almost feminine voice. “Well Gawd Dang Jimbo, by all means lets give this boy his call, just as soon as we git his Yankee ass back from the room.” The two of these grease ball cops smiled at some kind of sick inside joke, and Jimbo opened my cell. “Put yaw hans behine you boy, youse comin’ wit us fer a spell.” His Cheshire shit eating grin was in overdrive now and it made me somewhat uncomfortable. They cuffed my hands behind my back and walked me out of the cell, down the corridor and through a few hallways until we stopped at a big wooden door that said Interrogation Room, ACDC. I thought to myself, so this is where they must be where Boss Hog and John Boy are taking me. Jesus when will this fucking nightmare end?