Monday, November 10, 2008

A Night At The Opera, Part One

I had a rough October, with issues from the past having caught up with me. The state of Indiana had some legal issues with me, some that ultimately were never resolved, though the impetus of these issues came from an era of unstable decisions several years ago. That said, things didn't get cleared up, and eventually, the State of Indiana decided they were very interested in seeing me...thus leading to an ugly Sunday in October when a few local officials were ringing my doorbell:

"Hi sir, it looks like your car out front might have been damaged last night - can you come out and check it? We just noticed it passing by..."

Stupidly, I bought this one, and came out wearing only shorts and socks...

"Nope, looks fine to me, thanks for checking though..."

Officer Friendly suddenly took a different tack:

"Have you ever been in Indiana, like a couple years ago, maybe [name omitted] County down there?"

Shit. All I could do was shake my head "no" and try to get back into the house.

"Are you sure you were never in Indiana, maybe got taken in for anything? If not, we can go to the station and clear up the mistake..."

I knew it wasn't a mistake...panic mode. I cooperated...

"Ok, well let me run in and get a shirt on, and a jacket..."

"No you can't go back in there...we'll get a shirt for you."

The "bad cop" out of the good cop/bad cop pairing was now blocking my front door, with all the subtlety of a freight train. I knew I was toast, and that it would be a long long week. I also knew right away, I was destined to be extradited to Indiana, and just admitted that I did have a legal run-in down in southern Indiana a few years ago. It was too late to keep denying things, computer records don't make mistakes! Yeah right!

They put me in their car, didn't read me Miranda rights, and off we went.After a night in the local holding pen, I was whisked off to the place I fear the most... Cook County Jail. I would have castrated myself right then and there to bargain my way out of spending even one night in a place that is normally referred to as "the worst place in the country". Unfortunately, there was nothing I could say or do to avoid being shipped there while waiting for officials from southern Indiana to pick me up. I figured, fine. Those folks will come for me in the afternoon, I'll be out of Cook County in less than a day, assuming the Indiana folks were to send someone to pick me up immediately. Or so I thought. Off to Cook County I went, and was soon sitting in a large room waiting for a hearing which allowed me the right to fight extradition - something I wanted to summarily waive, so the Indiana folks could pick me up and rescue me from this hell hole. At 6:30 in the morning, there I sat in this large room, waiting for my 11am hearing. Nothing beats trying to sleep, in a panic, on hard benches for 4 hours. Around 7:30 am, a friend of mine, who happened to be a Cook County Officer, had heard I'd be there, and he took me aside to talk. He was always a dear friend from my dart/bar days, and it was nice to see a friendly face. He, in an eerily stoic way, directed me into a side room. Nevertheless, it was nice to see a familiar face, after having dealt with harsh, faceless soldiers of justice.

"What happened?" he innocently asked.

I explained things, and that I was just hoping to not have to spend the night in this place, and that ideally the Indiana people would be here in hours to retrieve me. Then my heart sunk as he started to speak, with an element of resignation.

"Well, they have 30 days to come get you, so you may be here for a while."

The panic meter went beyond the red zone in my torso. All I could do was nod, ask if he could help keep me "safe" while there, which drew the "I can't help ya, buddy" response. I was hopelessly alone. Alone amidst a labrynth of cinder blocked walls, cold cement floors, graffiti, screaming, roaches, and uncertainty. After a relative eternity (first of many to come), I was given my moment in front of the judge to say I would be waiving my right to fight extradition. Hell, I could be fine in a small, southern Indiana county jail, the sooner I got down there, the better. Unfortunately, after the news about potentially being trapped here for a month, I didn't know how soon was "sooner". By 11:30, I was already beginning the process of being processed. I was stuck into a group of 200 people who were also due for being processed into the system, all of which were destined to spend at least one hellish night there. All 200 of us were loudly ordered through various stations along the process, and were held in caged "bullpens", which had room to seat 50 at most. Hours at a time would go by, being stuffed with others in these bullpens, forced to stand, for lack of room to even sit on the floor. Most of the fellow incoming deadbeats were really dangerous types, reciting gang tales and the like. Some were too dope-sick to stand up. I almost fainted twice from the lack of oxygen, water, and sheer fatigue. Little did I know that we'd be shuttled through 15 of these bullpens over the next 14 hours, and that I wouldn't eat anything or lie down in a cell's bunk until 2:30am. Thus, the night at the opera continued, and little did I realize that my adventures there would last another 3 days. Stay tuned.

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