Seven years ago I woke up (read: came to) in a jail cell. I had a foggy and faint memory of how I had gotten there. In the milliseconds before I opened my eyes I was wishing that it had been all a dream- that when I open my eyes I would really be home. But that didn’t happen. I wasn’t home. I was in a Pasco county jail cell.
The guy next to me had shoulder length curly hair and it was matted with his own dried vomit. The guy on the other side of me was using the toilet paper roll as a pillow-which meant that there was probably a toilet on the other side of that short brick wall.
The man across from me and very few teeth. He had hands like baseball mitts. I don’t mean the big outfielders mitts, I mean the old-style early 1900s baseball mitts- the kind that just look like giant leather five finger gloves. He had these huge swollen, calloused, black stained hands. All I could figure was that he was a mason or road worker who refused to wear gloves. I mean I would be surprised if he had any sensation at all in those things. Me? I had short messy black hair. Swollen red eyes, and not a lot else going for me. The one thing we all had in common were denim jumpsuits with the word INMATE down the leg and a cold zipper pressing on our bare skin and chafing our necks.
We also wore denim slip on shoes. There were definitely lefts and rights, but not necessarily pairs.
Breakfast was a piece of white bread, hard-boiled egg, half pint of milk in a small carton, a small box of cornflakes all wrapped up together in a plastic bag All of those plastic bags were inside a larger plastic bag that was basically put inside the room for us.
The man who had been resting on our toilet paper, quite inconsiderately, showed what a rebel he was by pouring his cornflakes all over the ground. It was quite funny how four drunks in a drunk tank daintily and carefully began cracking their hard-boiled eggs along the bench we had all been sitting on. All four hardluck drunks then began to peel the eggs and put the shells in our respective plastic bags. It seemed that concrete hands over there, had had dexterity after all.
Oh yeah, there was another younger college kid there. But his mom came and paid the $500 to bail him out. All I kept thinking was, “what a waste of money.”
The story, of course, gets better. Seven years to the day I have never had a drink. I’ve also never had a cigarette. I smoke some wonderful cigars, however. And that’s different. Yes it is.
I love to remember that fun night in the drunk tank. I love to remember all the war stories from my drunken days. They’re laughable now.