On the blue gray wall of the jail cell, someone has covered “I Heart Beatles + Elvis + 420″ and I’m wondering whose grandpa who had been arrested, partly to keep my mind off my own quandary. When they cuffed me up and led me to the cop car, the officer kept yelling “That’s over 50 grams! It’s over 50!” I had no idea what that meant, except that I was now in certifiable deep shit.
The detectives came to talk to me after a few hours. There wasn’t much to clarify; it was a setup, but they wanted to know whose coke it was. I told him it was mine. The cop playing the hard ass put his hand on the desk and said “Look we know it was your buddy’s who drove you. Or the one in the passenger. Just tell us and we can let you off easy.”
I know two things, though: 1.) Cops can lie and 2.) Only a punk bitch would hoist their own crime on someone else. So, I go, look, I’m sorry to disappoint, but they just gave me a ride.
“I hope you’re okay with 10 years, then.”
As they’re walking me back to the holding cell I see Ghost on one knee, explaining to the other detective how he pissed his pants during the arrest. I can hear the fear in his voice, and feel the onset of dread in my spine. Few things are less reassuring than seeing a potential codefendant drenched in their own piss and talking frightened to the police.
I don’t sleep at all that night and not just because I’m lying on a cement bench. My life, I figured, was over; now I’m just thinking how many years I could feasibly do without wanting to hang myself.
I’m replaying the night in my head: the 10 cop cars in the parking lot, doing bumps before, the cops shouting on the street about there being Xanax, too. And the undercover, who I met a week earlier, although it was a meeting months in the making. Bigs introduced me to the undercover and he’d be meaning to for a while and I kept putting him off, under the pretense that he wanted some xannies and “probably some powder.” That’s why I initially didn’t think it a setup. I excused a lot of his bullshit behavior, too. For all his bluster about adhering to some nebulous g-code he was the biggest fucking rat of them all.
I shoulda just gone to that “cash me outside” girls concert tonight, I’m thinking.
The next day a guy from the county wac out in my cell after his preliminary hearing. He went to the joint or so ago for getting caught with a bunch of coke. He’s telling me what to expect, how Ghost and the other guy we were with are gonna be codefendants but not allowed to talk to each other here in the precinct. He leaves me with the obvious advice of a good lawyer.
The detect call me back out later that night. I tell em’ I want a lawyer before we proceed. They say “look we already know everything.” Apparently Ghost told em’ all about my drug-dealing activities and probably embellished em, too. He confessed Ghost was his alias (which I always thought the gayest street name I’d ever heard) and told them of drug deals I’d done that he knew of, and the dealers I copped from. Also, that all of the xannies found at the scene of the crime were mine, when I had no idea they were even there.
The next morning, they arranged me on delivery of cocaine 50-449 grams and delivering of alprazolam. The other guy in custody goes “what the fuck are you doing man, man?” as we walked into the transport man. So I tell him the story as we’re headed down to the Wayne county jail.
“Yeah, well one of our boys was crying about it in the holding cell with me, was begging to talk to the detectives.” “Black or Arab?” I ask
“Black!” That was Ghost’s faggot fucking friend who wouldn’t shut up on the way down there. What’s crazy is that I’m the only one who never fronted about being gangster or “about dat life” while all those that did are singing to the police like they’re trying to make the billboard hot 100.
Like a lot of the buildings in Detroit, Woc is dirty and condemned, a 13 story lawsuit. The registration process is the worst, mostly standing around for 7 hours. Since I told the medical staff I was a debilitating alcoholic with a Xanax problem, they mercifully gave me a Librium, which allowed me to sleep for the first time in 3 days.
In quarantine the rock consists of six pairs of bunk beds, a shower, two toilets and two barely functioning sinks. I was the only white person, but I didn’t get much attention as the resident white boy until the third day since I had been sleeping so much due to the Librium. Then, one night we were playing cards, and still having a bald spot shaved into the side of my head, they started tearing into me.
Fair enough, I thought. But I’m not gonna sit idly by when one guy starts smelling his fingers, saying he can still smell his girl. I advise him to sit his girl down for a talk, because she probably has a yeast infection. Everyone’s rolling with a few expectations so everything’s copacetic for another day.
However, I’m the only one that gets meds, and a few guys always bother me for some. I promptly say no. Finally, one dude that’s been mean muggin’ me the whole time we’ve been here goes “alright, white boy, you ain’t sharing your drugs, fuck you then” and he rips off this shirt and squares up to me. Look, I’ve never been one eager to fight. In fact, I’ve lost about 80% of the fights I’ve been in. But in this situation, fighting is unavoidable unless I wanna be branded a bitch for the remainder of my time in jail.
Now everyone’s hooting and hollering, seeing what I’m gonna do. I rip my shirt off and square up.
He swings at my head but I’ve got my hands up, blocking it. Then, he hits me in the stomach, hard. Once, twice, but he’s dropped his hands, so I swing at and connect with his dumb fucking face. He staggers backward; I see tears welling up in his eyes.
“Fuck it, I’m done,” he said.
I’m met with a roar of approval. The biggest dude on the rock, black as Wesley snipers, lightly punches me on the shoulder. “As far as I’m concerned, you hood-approved. You ain’t a snitch and you ain’t a bitch.”
“You know whatchu gonna mark on the census? African American.” Emphasizing each syllable.
I’m glad I had earned a modicum of street cred, but now is time to face the biggest challenge thus far – calling my parents. So when I finally muster up the courage to call my old man, I’m relieved to find out he already knows my predicament, so I can forgo any awkward, lengthy explanation. Still, he’s not happy. “You graduated from U of M and you’re selling cocaine?!”
Touche. I’ve really no response for him.
“I’ll get you a lawyer, but I’m not bailing you out.” Sounds like a deal to me.
After a week, they move me over to Dickerson in Hamtramck. It’s a lot cleaner, you can look outside, you get your own cell, and most inmates are the on some pretty ass charges and just wanna go home. It’s the cotton candy of jails.
Eventually I met with my lawyer. He wore a homburg and what I could tell was a very expensive suit. He wasn’t Jewish, though, which was my only misgiving. He explained that it all comes down to the 50 grams. He said he’d order the drugs to be sent to the lab for an official confirmation of the weight, because if it comes back under 50, I’ll get probation. As it stood, my guidelines started at 51 months but he could get me a deal for a year and a half, probably.
I had court a few days later. The prosecutors first after was three years and I started freaking out. My lawyer reassured me he wasn’t going to do anything until the lab results were back, which would take 8-10 weeks.
So I spend my next 2 months in a limbo, not knowing my fate, while still being locked up. The main thing about jail is that it is boring. I read, a lot… “The game of thrones” series twice; a bunch of Niven, and Jerry Pournell, Elmore Leonard and Thomas Pynchon; and most significantly Jordan Peterson’s “12 steps for life”, which really resonated. If I could summarize it, it would go something like this ”People cause themselves misery by being disorganized and irresponsible. By holding yourself accountable, you can steadily towards long lasting goals that will make you happy. Heaven and hell may not exist is the afterlife, but they are certainly conditions people experience. Since life is already suffering, one should establish a little piece of heaven here on earth, by taking care yourself.” Profound, huh?
I had the Hayle’s encyclopedia of card games, so most of my time was spent and playing new card games; hearts, spades, golf, euchre… but the best one was (is) pinochle. I could draw an extended metaphor on how pinochle mirrors life, but I’ll forbear from boring you guys. I’ll just say that every hand is different (unique amongst card games) it’s alternatively fast paced and slow and deliberate; and you need to think, not just which card to play, but count which cards have been played and by whom.
At night, I jerked off into a sock. By the end it resembled an iron fist more than anything. I figured it was less than carrying a cum dropping tissue 50 feet to the toilet in a pod in a pod of 60-70 guys.
While I’d still give jail 0 out of 5 stars – would not recommend – it wasn’t torture, either. If anyone can read, play cards and masturbate for an indeterminate period of time.
As the deadline for the lab results neared, I got increasingly nervous. What if the prosecutor wouldn’t move from 3 years? It’s not like there was any question of my guilt, I sold two fucking ounces of coke to the police. My boy skeet started messing with me: “All the judge is gonna hear when she sees you is “I sell drugs, fuck hoes, rock ice, throwin’ up gang signs, mob life!””
I know it’s a cliché that people turn to religion when they get locked up, and I’m not gonna deny that I didn’t succumb to the temptation.
I was literally praying, “Jesus, could you do like an eightball or two for me? I swear I’ll go to church again.” Hoping that it will come back under 50 grams. Unfortunately, Jesus doesn’t do drugs.
I got 18 months.