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Twisting all the bad things into good

Nov 10, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 15: I'm Not Here. This Isn't Happening

I think,'My bed will comfort me,
and sleep will ease my misery",
but then you shatter me with with dreams
and terrify me with visions.
I would rather be strangled-
rather die than suffer like this.
I hate my life and don't want to go on living.
Oh, leave me alone for my few remaining days.
 JOB 7:13-16


            After the dirty needle full of heroin just missed my jugular, I stood there in shock and fear with my hand over the puncture. Even though being stabbed by the hooker was only the second time I had tried heroin, I felt the heartbreak of knowing that I was still going to die a junkie's death. This is not how I was supposed to die. If I made it out of this room alive, it would just be a matter of time before I felt the death sentence of an incurable disease start to destroy me. There was no doubt that once I would feel my body start to deteriorate, I would either purposely overdose on pills or just Jackson Pollack the bathroom wall with my brains. I would take things into my own hands like Hemingway did with his shotgun 3 weeks before his 62nd birthday, when he realized that his mind was deteriorating. I often thought that when the day came that I knew my mind was going and would never return, pulling a Hemingway would be the best option for both myself and the people who would be responsible for changing my diaper. Until the hooker condemned me to death, I never considered that I would be faced with such a decision in my mid 30's. I wanted to blame this nameless hooker. I wanted to blame my cousin. I couldn't blame anyone. I knew it was my fault. My addiction brought me to this place. I had been the cause of all of my problems in my life, so why would my death be any different? For the first time in months, I did not want to die.

           It seemed like the whole Philadelphia Police Department was outside within minutes, or maybe even seconds since keeping track of time was no longer one of my concerns or abilities. Basically, it was no time before this shit hole was surrounded like Nakatomi Plaza back when Bruce Willis still had hair. The pimp and my cousin, realizing this was bad for both of them, came up with a plan.  I don't remember the details of this plan, except that I had to stay there while my cousin went out to calm the situation. He assured me everything would be okay before he left, but I no longer believed him. As soon as he walked outside, above all the mayhem, I hear my mom and my aunt screaming at my cousin about how he could get me involved in this kind of situation and that I was a good kid and did not belong there. Pimp Daddy tells me it's not up to my cousin, or the cops, or anyone but him, if I am going to leave there with my life intact. Then I hear my mom. I hear her voice as clearly as I hear her tears. She was on a bullhorn, begging me to come outside. She was saying that she didn't care why I was there and to just please come out and she wouldn't be mad. She said she would get me help and everything will be fine if I just come out. It was obvious that she thought I had my cousin take me there so I could score some drugs and then somehow got caught up in this deal gone wrong. She did her best not to cry as she said she could not handle losing me the day after she lost my father.

            If this sounds like the ultimate guilt trip, it was. It was not my mother initiating this guilt trip though. If anyone set an itinerary, it was me. I was a strung out travel agent who despised my one and only customer. Without knowing it, this trip had been in the works for years. I had been saving up guilt like hard earned cash to cover my expenses. I would finally leave on Friday, September 2nd of 2010. It was either morning or afternoon when I drove myself to the airport, dropped me off, and waved good bye, not knowing that if  and when I returned, I would never, I could never, be the same person that departed. The pilot was Captain Crazy and the plane ran on fumes from my fears. The destination was an all inclusive Sandals of sadism and psychosis that was filled with ghosts of guilt. If there was to be a return phantom flight, there was no telling who the pilot may be. The more important concern was being able to get home without crashing in the ocean.  

            Behind me was a window. I couldn't turn around or move without risking being shot by the cops outside or the thugs inside. Then I hear a woman's voice in the room say something like,"Jimmy, why won't you come outside?" I turned my head to see who it was. It was my 87 year old grandmother who had just wandered inside like some sweet, but senile hostage negotiator. I was in total disbelief, as was fat boy and the 2 Bone Thugs. I remember suddenly not being scared for myself anymore, or maybe I was just too stunned to be scared. Somehow I knew that me and the Ghetto Boys were all on the same page. None of us wanted an innocent grandmother to get caught up in... this whole... whatever the hell was going on, we didn't want her to get hurt. Suddenly, I was as cool as that guy on Burn Notice. Maybe it was the heroin pulsing though my veins that took off any edge I was feeling during this standoff that had everyone at a stand still except my grandmother. I didn't want to hurt her feelings. I was feeling guilty enough over my father's death so I knew that I didn't want to be responsible for his mom's death only a day later. I wanted to be as respectful as possible when I asked her to get the fuck out of there. I addressed her as if I was a teenager whose parents went out of town and left her in charge, and she keeps embarrassing me by walking into my room while I'm smoking pot and getting drunk with 2 girls I'm hoping will hook up with me or each other. "Grandmom, what are you doing? You can't be in here. You have to go, ok?" She said everyone wanted me to come outside. I said that I could not go outside, so she asked what I was doing. Again, like a teenager whose rep is being ruined by the second, I say,"It's ok, grandmom, I'm just hanging out with some friends". She seemed surprised and asked,"Friends?" I said,"Yes, grandmom, these are my friends, you have to go". She looked at "my friends" and they all immediately played along, smiling at her and nodding their heads. One thug gave her a slight wave. Putting aside my surprise and appreciation for this unsolicited display of the Get Along Gang's  softer side, I pleaded with her to go. "Grandmom, please go outside and tell my mom that everything is okay and I'll be out as soon as I can." Doing all I could without shoving her, I turned her towards the door and sent her on her way.
            So this pimp, who did not seem rattled in the least, drops any kind of gangsta facade and starts telling me that if I want to make it out of this room, I have to come back in a few days and make some coke or heroin delivery for him. I tell him "sure, whatever, no problem", whatever I have to say to get out of here and catch the next flight to Florida. He asks me how Thursday sounds. Instead of lying, I tell him, " I can't do it on Thursday. Thursday is my father's funeral ". In a very warm gesture, he says,"I'm sorry to hear about your pops." I tell him I appreciate that. "How about after the funeral?" he asks. Without hesitation, I tell him that will work. He smiles and says, "You know, I like you". I say,"Thanks, man. I like you too. You're pretty cool ". He tells me he doesn't know why my cousin brought me here. I tell him I don't either. Like some prisoner on Scared Straight, he tells me that I'm not cut out for this kind of shit and that I should want no part of it. I figured it was pretty damn obvious that I had been Scared Straight since the moment I walked in the door. After his pimp pep talk, he wants to know if he is correct to expect to never see my ass around there again. He is correct, but I lie. I tell him,"Not after Thursday". We both grin, acknowledging my quick answer to his trick question. Behind my smile, I'm thinking of how clever I was under such duress. I'm also wondering if this street smart criminal is stupid enough to think that I would really return to this Godforsaken Hellhole. He looks at me as if he's sizing me up for something very important, as if he is second guessing letting me leave. "You want a slice of pizza?", he asks. Trying to hide my pent up nervous energy like someone finally being asked out by someone they always loved., but felt was out of their league, I enthusiastically reply,"Yeah, sure, that sounds pretty good".

            My cousin returns to see me eating a slice of pepperoni pizza. He is visibly confused by this. Pimpin' Ain't Easy tells my cousin that we worked out some shit. So did my cousin. He came up with some story to explain why a police officer was hanging out with known criminals in a known hangout for drugs and prostitutes. Sounds great, except for the one unknown in the equation. Me. He couldn't think of any explanation of what I was doing there that would not incriminate him, and as a result, he would naturally have to break my thumb before we could leave. Wait, what? As logical as that seems, I questioned the necessity of  having to inflict this excruciating pain. Even though I can not even fathom what the delusional reasoning behind having my favorite finger broken was, it must have made sense in the moment because I understood it had to be done. I put my right hand on the table. I was not thinking clear enough to let him break the thumb on my left hand. Maybe it was  the 6 year addiction to sex drive obliterating pain pills, but I did not realize that being infected by that hallucinatory HIV infected needle meant never having sex again. I'd be stuck jerking myself off until I eventually killed myself. Try that without the use of your thumb. This righty might be forced into becoming a southpaw in his final days. My cousin pulled out his blackjack. He lined it up with my thumb, but I kept pulling it away when he started his upswing. He told me to stop being a pussy after the 4th or 5th time. I was beyond arguing over name calling. I told myself that having my hitchhiker broken was not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. After all, I had been injected with a deadly virus with no cure so it was just a matter of time until I spotted my first lesion and then filled my mouth with a shotgun or shitload of pills. This thought gave me a bright idea. I asked Pimp Daddy if I could have some heroin to snort in order to help numb the pain....and get high. He obliged. I indulged. I put my thumb on the table. I looked away. I screamed in pain. I snorted some more heroin. I was ready to leave. I had to spend the night in jail . Wait, what?
            My cousin said that I had to spend the night in jail, and he would get me out in the morning. Whatever this plan was that he concocted, it sucked. I was told that all I had to do was keep quiet and get through the night. I started going off about how I was the only one who didn't do anything wrong and that I never wanted to be there in the first place, not to mention I had my thumb broken and had been stuck with a dirty needle. My cousin said there was no way around it. Even the pimp and thugs could not believe this bullshit. One of them said,"Yo, that's fucked up!"

             To a country music fan, I was Patsy Cline. To a conspiracy theorist who snickers at the Warren Commission, I would be recognized as the biggest patsy since Oswald. I was taking the fall for something that I have given up on trying to make sense of.  My cousin walks me out like some lit up and lefthanded lone gunman. It was nothing but mayhem all the way to the closest cop car. In those moments, I would have rather seen Jack Ruby approach me with his gun than seen my mom do the same with her tears.
           The next thing I remember was being the only white guy in a long line of violent criminals being lead towards the entrance of  a small building with one huge holding cell. I couldn't help but wonder why I had been taken to an all African American jail. I was nothing but a snowflake in the night. I wouldn't go so far as to say that being the only white guy was as comforting as a Snuggie, but that is not what scared me. What really scared me was that everyone of them seemed to be the biggest powerhouse to ever step foot in the big house, and I don't mean the one where the Michigan Wolverines play football. I had spent the night in Palm Beach County Jail on a couple occasions, and even though I had considerably better nights at Fantasy Fest, the Palm Beach Jail was definitely a step up from this clink. When I say a step up, I mean from here to the moon. I never felt the least bit of fear in the Palm Beach jail. Maybe it was because I knew the second anyone even talked to me, I was going to punch them in the throat. Maybe I should have been scared, but since I was the only person who spoke English, I would have had no idea if my murder was being planned.  For some reason, the holding cell was in a small building on the 50 yard line of a  football field. As I was being lead to certain death, a guard called me. Luckily, despite my delusional fear, I still recognized my own name. Nobody seemed to have a problem with me stepping out of line and walking over to talk to him. He told me my cousin was doing his best to get me out as soon as possible. He just had to do some paperwork first, which I'm sure was going to exonerate him from any kind of wrongdoing. Again, I was told to keep my mouth shut and all I needed to do was make it to the morning. Constable Comfort then directed me to one of those big ice dispensers like they have in hotels next to the overpriced soda machines. He knew I was confused by his suggestion that I "better go ice down". Then, completely lacking any kind of bedside manner, he told me that I had a few minutes before he had to put me in the one cell that held all the murderers and rapists, so I should dump some ice down the back of my jeans to numb my ass because there was basically no way that I would not be raped at least everybody... if not everybody. Best bet was that after fighting off these felonious fanny fuckers for about 15 seconds, I would be passed around like a blunt at a Snoop Dogg/Cypress Hill double bill. Completely hopeless, I used the scooper to pour the ice down the back of my jeans. Since I can't stand tight jeans and I wear boxers, the ice cubes fell right past my as yet undefiled virgin ass and down my legs that were shaking even before the ice. I walked back to the guard. I told him that there had to be some other option that would avoid having my rump ransacked like an electronics store after the Rodney King verdict. Maybe as a favor to my cousin, this guard could see that I got my own cell, or maybe he could make up an excuse to put me in solitary confinement, or maybe he could just shoot me somewhere on my body that would cause the least amount of pain, like that little area right between my fucking eyes. Anything but an ass annihilation. To each their own, but for me, same sex sodomy is always option Z. He said my only other option was to make a run for it. He said I probably would never make it, and if spotted, I would be shot and killed. It was either that or face the possibility of playing Jodie Foster's role in a prison rendition of The Accused. He said he knew it was a tough choice, but I had to make it in the next 5 minutes. So I had 5 minutes to choose between "bang bang, you're dead" or "gangbanged by actual gangbangers". Faster than you can say "salad toss", I said, "I'll run for it".

            Pimps, pushers, prostitutes, polluted police. All alliteration aside, welcome to my nightmare. I know that this is what all this nonsense seems like. If I had not been suffering from insomnia, I would have thought that I fell asleep while watching an episode of The Shield. Even 13 months later, though some details are hazy, it still astounds me that over 6 delusional days, I can remember exactly what was said and what I was thinking on so many occasions. Not only did it seem real at the time, but 2 days later,  I was still so convinced this happened that I would tell my family that I would never hang out with my cousins again, and later that same day, I would incoherently ramble on about Philadelphia Police corruption to a real life Boca Raton Police Officer.


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  2. It was just a hallucination. Never actually happened.