Month: May 2019

The Vomit Story

Introducing: Puke Man and Gag Gal

Me: “Hey, Dad, I think the cheese in the fridge has gone off. “

Father: “Gu-u-uuuuuph

Me: “Ma. Maggot!”

Mother: “Bluuuuuuuuuuurk.”

I tried to do this at least weekly as one of my paybacks for all the years of torment I suffered. They both had dentures, and at the drop of a hat, they would pop them out gagging. Gross, but funny as shit.

Dinner was often a dichotomy

OMG Fish Jello
OMG Fish Jello

Mother was a cook of a unique nature; some of her food was amazing, but she also had no problem serving us the vilest of swill. She could take perfectly good ground beef and turn it into a hard, dry, brick, and label it ‘meatloaf.’ Her stew was a marvel of canned veg, insipid “broth” and meat so dry and gristly that chewing a single piece was exhausting. I can’t even begin to describe the trauma that was her soup, and what she could do to a fish was unmentionable. Expect more stories of failed dinners and misadventures with dentures later.

Much of her food looked like dog sick, and I was amazed that my folks could eat it when the most innocuous thing would make them gag.

And Finally: The Story

Ralph and Tiger
Kittens are fantastic, and cats are assholes

One evening, when I was in my late teens, we were sitting at the table after having been presented with some inedible meal. At the time, we had two cats; Ralph and Tiger. Awesome cats. Anyway, during dinner, one of the cats comes into the dining room and starts chucking. Cats (and dogs) can’t ever just quietly puke. They have to build up to a crescendo of vomit via a series of violent retches.

By the second retch, forks were down, and the gagging commenced. All dentures remained firmly in place when the vomit hit the floor. I found this extremely disappointing, so I commented;

Me: “Is that a lizard in there? Is it moving?” (laughs)

That was enough for more gagging and the revolting sucking, clicking sound of dentures expelled into hands. Mission accomplished. The chuckle turned into a full-on laugh, which earned me a death glare.

But wait! There’s More!™

The second cat noticed the pile of warm vomit and decided to “re-eat it,” sending both parents into full vomit mode, chucking into their napkins. By now, I was in tears laughing.

The second cat wasn’t pleased with the re-eaten vomit and barfed that up, prompting both parents to spew in their dinner plates. By now, I was hysterical. When the original cat started puking again, I completely lost it and devolved into uncontrollable hysteria. My mom, mid-vomit, yelled at me to ‘fuck off’ and tossed one of her dentures at me, which skittered across the floor where one of the cats grabbed it and ran off with it like a prey.

The spectacle was just too much. Still hysterical, I left my parents to vomit in peace and escaped to my shed (my sheet metal fortress of solitude), sparked up a joint, cracked open a beer, lamented my family, and laughed and laughed.

The Summer Job That Tried to Kill Me

Hard Work Can Kill You

My Father was a Highrise construction worker. An unsafe profession that paid well but took a toll on the body and mind. When I was 8 or 9, he fell three stories off a building and broke his back. He should have spent the rest of his life paralyzed. Instead, he was back to work within two months. A couple of years after that, he witnessed a beheading on the job. He was never quite the same after that.

Hollywood-Young-Circle
Hollywood Young Circle the building next to the arrow that wanted me dead.

One summer, I reckon I was sixteen or so, I was invited to take a summer job working a bank building on Young Circle in Hollywood, Florida. I was at the time, always thin, but I was strong like an ox and recklessly fearless.

Orientation

On my first day on the job, I was given a talking to by the Foremen and my Father. The foremen looked dubiously at the kid in front of him, long hair, low cut hip hugger jeans-wearing some random concert tee-shirt. He began.

Foreman: “You need to be strong in this job. We can’t have anyone to baby, Will’s son, or not. Now see if you can pick up one of those sheets of plywood and bring it over here.”

They were clad with fiberglass, an inch thick, and weighed about 50ish pounds. I grabbed two and walked them over.

Me: “There you go.”

Satisfied with my show, the foremen went on to describe the job. Before he began, my Pop interjected.

Father: “If you tell your mother any of this, you are done. Nothing! Not a word!”

With this ominous warning, the foreman began,

Foreman: “Look, kid, it’s important to be careful on this job site. Lots of men get hurt here, and I don’t want you to be one of them. Your father got blown off the building, and if he didn’t have a safety line, he would have gone splat. A man was carrying a glass sheet that broke, cut him from shoulder to knee. One hundred twenty stitches set him right. We’ve had more accidents on this job than most men see in a dozen jobs.”

Me: “Gotcha. Don’t bust my ass. Don’t die. Keep quiet.”

They weren’t kidding about the carnage

vulcan_hand_signal
Artist rendition of the aftermath of an idiot using a knife.

In the first week or so, I learned the ropes and got to witness more than a few accidents. Some of them were nasty. One incident I can never unsee was a guy using a box cutter knife to cut some rubber or something. He held the material down and pulled the knife toward his hand.

I think he misjudged how sharp the knife was because when it got to his hand, it kept going. His hand was split open from finger web to palm. I put a tourniquet on him, and the “accident siren” went off.

That damn thing was going off all the time.

Working the roof was hell.

We were close to the beach, and upon the top floor, the wind was pretty intense. Everyone soaked in sweat from the heat. Top floor work was hellish.

One day I was tethered to the building handing down these large plywood sheets to a guy on a scaffold. We were framing out the lower floor walls. My anchor rope was 20 feet long (so I could get to the pile of wood), attached to my safety harness. I was using a rig of cable to help support the 4 x 8 sheet of wood as I lowered it down.

Most of the morning was without incident until someone got careless. I was standing on the roof edge, rope rig in place, ready to kneel. Little did I know, but some asshole was carrying a 12 foot 4×4 on his shoulder behind me. For whatever reason, he swung it around and knocked me face-first off of the roof. Now I don’t remember a thing after this, but I was filled in on what happened later.

I flew out about 6 feet, missing the scaffold my partner was using (had I hit him, he would have fallen too). Holding on to the rope rig as hard as I could as the tether played out, tightened and slammed me into a column on the floor below. I was or almost was unconscious, the rope rig somehow got snared on my hand and boot, and the plywood didn’t drop on the group of workers on the ground.

I was battered and bruised with a couple of cracked ribs, but relatively unscathed. My “cred” when up hugely though, by not losing the wood and being “tough.”

There is no way you could get hurt

shoring-jack
Shoring Jack

Ribs taped up, they put me on light duty work, sweeping, emptying rubbish bins, sorting nails and such. I couldn’t get hurt, the foreman assured me, even thinking this is an invitation for fate to fuck you up, in my opinion.

A couple of days after the “incident,” my father (who was in charge of the columns and shoring and I were talking about my next job; ironically checking each jack on each floor for slippage and safety nails.

The contraption pictured is a shoring jack. While the real concrete columns cure and harden, each floor will have dozens of these to help support the building. The angle things holding the Jack-up are supposed to have a safety nail driven in them to keep the shoring from accidentally collapsing. The rig was made of 4×4 wood and weighed a ton.

I rested my hand where you see the arrow, and my Pop leaned against the other side. I hadn’t even started the “job,” The job was being explained to me when Fate saw the opportunity, and since THIS jack didn’t have the safety nails in place, the top 4×4 slid down to the small wood where my hand was. The noise was a cracking, squishing sound. The funny thing about getting badly damaged, initially; there is no pain. My Pop grabbed the jack before it could fall and do any further damage, and we looked to free my hand. After further review, this was a bad idea when a decent amount of blood started oozing from my the side of my hand.

That damn accident siren

The siren sounded, and someone called the paramedics. I stood there with a now swelling and painful hand. Men clustered around me, and I couldn’t cry or scream or do anything “unmanly” as this was the age of “toxic masculinity” and real men “sucked it up.” I stood silently and waited. A brigade of firefighters and medics showed up. A big production commenced as they cut away the area crushing my hand, wrapped it up, and with backboard and neck brace, in place we departed. An ambulance ride and a day in the hospital left me with a broken wrist, compression fractures, and something called compartment syndrome, which required several long cuts along my hand. I was sent home with pain killers and a prognosis of two months of recovery.

The best summer ever

An on-the-job accident meant that I would get paid regardless of work. I got a few hundred bucks each week (for nothing) and spent the summer at the beach, drinking, fornicating, and generally having a blast. In hindsight, this was the start of my “rough patch.” More on that later.

God, though, must have been pissed off because fate had set its evil eye on my penis. (to be continued)

My Brain Broke

To make a long story short, the cumulative effects of my life; Abuse, “The Rough Patch,” Accidents, Traumas, my Penance, and pretty much everything you will read about here has broken me. The story of my decline, how we discovered my disability and treated it, is for another story or two, but here are the basics.

A laundry list

In short, I have :

  • C-PTSD
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Previous undiagnosed ADHD
  • Prone to fits of rage (I have a doctor’s note to be a raging asshole)
  • To quote my Psychologist “behavioral abnormalities” (which I “think” is shorthand for “You’re an Asshole.)”
  • and my favorite; “You might be on the spectrum, if not then really close.” (this must be a massive surprise for the Adaptation folks -insert wry grin here.)

Concentrating is very hard and exhausting for me. I pretty much cannot do simple math anymore.

I take drugs for my issues, and I take medications for side effects of these drugs. These can sometimes leave me in various states of mania, stoned, raging, or unable to stay conscious. Some days I can’t get out of my tracks and therefore accomplish nothing.

So if I skip a week (or six) between posts, now you know why.

The good news is that I have over 30 draft posts ready to share with you when I can. The bad news is that it takes days to write a single post and it must be proofread and edited by Kerry before finally posting for you all to see.

House Elf?

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you will instantly know Dobby the House Elf. Here in case, you forgot, or you are a godless heathen that knows not of Harry Potter, this is Dobby.

When It became evident that even simple math was an issue for me and there was no way I could get a steady job doing anything, my wife stepped up to the plate and became not only a Realtor but an Insurance Agent. My life was reduced to housework, naps, and attending to the children. I have become a House Elf.

My wife also blogs about our life so if you want to read her thoughts on all this mess, you can read them here: Life in the Cuckoos Nest.

Fuck Fish

… in which Mr. John tells the whole story of Adaptation’s “Fuck Fish” scene

One of the most asked questions about “the movie” is the “Fuck Fish” scene. It’s been a band name, a song, several memes, and it is a long-ass story and not the brief scene you get in the movie.

The clip from Adaptation

“Done with Fish”

The whole story

When I was 21ish and at the tail end of “The Rough Patch” (more about that later). I was looking for something wholesome to fill my hours, after bouncing around a few things that didn’t work out, I landed on marine fish collecting. Why? Well, my love of all things aquatic started in my childhood, and living on the coast in South Florida, I spent a ton of my youth enjoying the beach, fishing, boating, and the sea. My folks had a great love of aquariums and passed that on to me. It seemed a perfect fit.

The library saves the day

Way back then, we didn’t have the luxury of the interwebs, so I spent my time in the Library studying and learning. I stumbled across this book (see below), which turned out to be perfect. This man, Bob Straughan, outlined everything needed to start a fish collecting venture. Still, flush with cash from “The Rough Patch,” I bought everything I needed and, pockets lighter, I went out to one of the spots mentioned in the book, netted up some fish, and had a grand old-time.

An obsession begins

The Marine Collectors Guide
The Marine Collectors Guide

Armed with a few buckets of fish, I dropped into one of the local pet shops and walked out with about a hundred bucks and the promise that they would buy anything I brought them. I had found my thing. Clean, wholesome, adventurous, and decent money to boot. That I was getting carved and golden brown was a nice bonus too.

I spent months diving. Always alone and with nothing but a mask, fins, and snorkel. Yes, it was dangerous, but to me, that was a large part of the attraction. I was hurt regularly. Waves crashing me into barnacle-covered rocks, and if something could sting me, it would. You haven’t lived until you’ve sat on Fire Coral. One day while collecting Sea Horses, I stepped on a stingray. I still carry the scar that took 20 stitches to close. Generally, though, if I saw something like a shark or barracuda, I would leave it be, and it would return the favor.

As my “career” continued, I bought a fish tank after a fish tank to store my stock, and business was booming. Things were great.

Darkness falls. Bad things happen

-Me
patch-reef
Patch Reef in the early ’80s

Success breeds arrogance

With each victory, I took more and more risks. Someone told me of a plateau about fifty feet wide that was covered with stunning patch reefs, caves, and meadows of Seagrass. To reach it, though. I had to swim out about a quarter of a mile into the Ocean. I just had to go. When I reached the spot, below me, about twenty feet down, there was the plateau as mind-blowingly beautiful as I’d expected. Beyond it was an abyss that dropped, for all I knew, forever. There were so many fish I didn’t know where to start. By this time, I could hold my breath like 5 or 6 minutes. Usually, this was plenty of time to swim down, snag a few fish, swim back to the surface, and deposit the critters in the oversized life ring I had equipped with a diving flag and nets.

Nurse_shark-at-large
Nurse Shark Cruising and Chilling

Collecting Tropical Fish Today

Presently, what I did would not be possible. To conserve our amazing Florida coral reefs, nearly everywhere I hunted, the National Park has protected fish. This watery wonderland will be preserved for future generations (well until climate change kills the reef and drowns most of Florida). Fishing and Lobstering are permitted, but the collection of ornamental fish is strongly regulated. If you get to South Florida, carve some time out for a visit.

When I went out, I usually scouted about to make sure things were safe and look for prey. I had noticed a couple of Nurse Sharks cruising around, but they are typically harmless unless you mess with them, so I had no concerns. You will see in the photo there is an overhang/cave of sorts next to the nurse shark. I had looked into a few of these and found a gold mine of Jackknife Fish. At the time, each Jackknife Fish was a 20-dollar bill, and there was at least 50 swimming upside down in a six-by-five overhang. There was nothing else in the small cave. It was perfect.

With great excitement, I rose to the surface, gathered enough breath for a big dive, and shot back down. My gear consisted of a weight belt, a sharpened “poke stick” made of a lead pipe, my net, a mesh bag for the fish, and my wetsuit.

Gleefully, I started scooping up the fish. I knelt on the sand and instantly knew I was fucked.

Sand doesn’t move.

Jackknife Fish

What happened next was so fast and yet seemed to take an eternity. At first, I felt this incredibly painful crushing on my leg, and when I looked down, I saw a five-ish foot Nurse Shark gnawing with raspy teeth through my wet suit into my flesh. Sharks tend to spin when they are trying to kill their prey (or protect themselves), and this one was no different. It began twisting its body, alternately slamming me into the rock on the roof and the sand on the floor. I knew this was where I would die. As the cave filled with my blood and all the air I was holding in my lungs, I started beating it about the head and eyes;

Amazingly, it just let go. I had just enough peace of mind left to un-clip my weight belt and push-off the seafloor to the surface. Somehow I made it to my dive ring, paddled to the shore without a “real shark,” smelling the blood, and drove myself to the hospital. My leg looked like raw hamburger. I was battered and bruised.

Apparently, it is easy being green

slippery-dick
Yes, it’s called a Slippery Dick. Stop giggling.
molly_miller
Molly Miller, the clown of the aquarium

I took several months off to heal and re-energize myself, bought all new equipment, and decided to give diving another go. Picking a particularly safe area where the worst thing that could happen is a scrape or an odd cut, I headed back out. The water was crystal clear and only five feet deep. I was after two, easy to catch, fish, the Slippery Dick and the Molly Miller, (who names these fish?!) each worth only a dollar, but money wasn’t the motive, getting my “sea balls” back was.

I poked around some (with a new and improved poke stick), caught a few fish, and then noticed a slightly larger hole and thought I could “go for it” and look about for a “real” fish.

Well, fuck me if this asshole didn’t pop out of the hole. The Green Moray can grow to six feet and weigh as much as 50 pounds. Human attacks are very uncommon, but when they happen, they can be severe.

moray-eel
Hi, my name is Asshole. I am a Moray Eel.

We stared each other down. I thought it was just an exciting encounter for a moment, and we would go our different ways. However, as usual, Darkness falls, etc. and it shot out of the hole, snatched my mask off, and cut the fuck out of my face. It then promptly retreated into its dastardly lair. Fucker.

Here it comes.

At this point, I hauled my ass out of the water streaming obscenities, ripped off all my gear, left it where it fell, and said: “Fuck this. Fuck the ocean. Fuck Fish. I am never diving, swimming, or anything to do with the sea.”

fuck-fish
One of my favorite memes

For 35 or so years, I never set foot in the ocean. Well, I have gone in twice, but that is another story. I rarely eat fish. Fuck Fish.

Now, this isn’t the end of “fish” in my life; the tale will continue with “The Day I Met God,” however, that’s for another day.

Le Carnaval des Animaux’ (The Carnival of the Animals) : The Aquarium by Camille Saint-Saëns.

It was either this or “Under the Sea” which it too “Nemo”

Don’t Damn Me

… in which Mr. John wrestles with credibility issues

Throughout my life, I have had some issues with credibility. With my lifestyle and the crazy situations, I found/find myself in my stories are so fantastic, so random, so unlikely that some people have difficulty believing me.

Stories like The Pink Shirt are OK if a person has a few such incidents during a lifetime. When there are one hundred or more? The “Stink Eye” often makes an appearance.

Let’s Hear From A Couple of our Main Cast

If I didn’t witness half of them for myself, I would think most of your stories were bullshit.

Will Laroche

Near the entrance to the Seminole reservation in Hollywood, Florida, there is a large wooden sculpture of a Seminole man wrestling a bowlegged, bucktoothed alligator. Laroche told me once that his father had been the model for the Seminole wrestler. I found this improbable since the Laroche’s have no Indian blood at all, but Laroche explained that the sculptor had been a friend of his father’s and had asked him to pose because he thought the elder Laroche possessed a quintessential Seminole build. I still found the story improbable, so I asked Laroche about it several other times, including once when we were on the phone and I knew his father was in the room with him. I had counted on his father to act as a sort of lie detector, but instead, the two of them launched into a discussion of whether the carved Seminole was life-size or larger than life-size, and whether it had a penis, and what the scale of the penis implied about Laroche’s father’s penis. This was not what I was hoping would happen, so I dropped the topic and never brought it up again.

Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief

Susan had the “Stink Eye.”

The Original Crazy White Man

When Will Laroche came to Florida in the late ’50s, a sculptor approached him. The man needed a tall model with a decent bod and large hands to pose with a plaster alligator. Money for just standing around was too much of a temptation for an ex Northeastern Crabber/Fisherman learning the ropes of High rise Construction. All he needed to persuade him was the promise that his face would be changed. Immortality, of sorts, would be his.

Seminole Indian Village
Defunct Indian Village With Offending Statue

The result rested in all its bizarre glory at the Indian Village for years. Every damn time we drove past it, I would hear the story — Every. Damn. Time. They even made a postcard out of the damn thing.

The statue was his “15 minutes” and in the eyes of a child, “a giant man kicking an alligators ass” was what a Dad should be.

When interviewing for The Orchid Thief, Susan would often give me “that look.” I was sure it was code for; “This guy is so full of shit,” which is what we shall call “The Stink Eye.” Frankly, I was amused. In this particular instance, I saw that she had dug her heels in, convinced that it was a manufactured story and brought it up several times, in an effort, I presume, to trip me up and prove the “lie.”

Hard Rock
This abomination of nature stands at the site of the original Indian Village

Chatting with the old man one day, I mentioned that Susan thought the statue story was bullshit, which pissed him off to no end. It was apparently “OK” for her to call me a liar, but to question him, that was unforgivable. I, honestly, begged him not to go on Orlean.

“Just let it go Pop.”

Letting go was not a real thing in my house, and the old guy gave me that “hold my beer” look and launched into it. I played color to his commentary, and the conversation ended as written by Orlean. In case of anyone wondering, we estimated the statue’s penis at some 15 inches.

The Orchid Thief Published

My old man had his penis in a book. Virtually, but still, it was his dick.

At first, he wasn’t amused. Throwing gas on the fire, I suggested that he send Susan a Polaroid of the actual member. Looking back on it, I think I might have invented the “Dick Pic.” (Sorry.) In the end, he came around and during a recital of the tale, ended it with pride that his dick was in a bestselling novel.

Years later, as he was dying, we talked about my life and what I had done and seen and reminiscing, he reminded me that there was something he had accomplished that I never had; Yep, someone wrote about his penis in a bestselling novel.

Point?

The point is that this is all true. Everything happened.

Old Axl and friends pretty much sum up what I feel when folks doubt or hate on my stories. Furthermore, they are spot on here:

I know you don’t want to hear me crying An I know you don’t want to hear me deny That your satisfaction lies in your illusions But your delusions are yours an not mine We take for granted that we know the whole story We judge a book by it’s cover and read what we want Between selected lines.

AXL ROSE, SLASH AND DAVE LANK

‘Cause silence isn’t golden When I’m holding it inside ‘Cause I’ve been where I have been An I’ve seen what I have seen I put the pen to the paper ‘Cause it’s all a part of me

AXL ROSE, SLASH AND DAVE LANK

There are so many things about my life that I hate, that disgust me, and when out of context, make me look like some Hellspawn. This said I wouldn’t change a single moment of my life because every tragedy and every triumph I have had in my life has brought me to now. I have the best wife a man could imagine and two brilliant children who have the brains and intelligence to change the world if they choose.

Listen, Learn, Make a Choice.

I realize I am a dinosaur, and my relevance to a 21st Century born is minimal. The world of most of these stories is dead and gone (which for the most part is a good thing).

As you read these posts, I hope they make you think and perhaps see things from a different perspective. See what I have done to cope with a life many are not blessed (or cursed) to have. I hope my choices help steer you in how you deal with tragedy or triumph. My way wasn’t always the right way; it’s just what happened. A mistake isn’t a mistake if you learn from it.

Guns N’ Roses – Don’t Damn Me

Don’t damn me when I speak a piece of my mind

Jail Sucks

… in which Mr. John spend the night in jail in a bright pink shirt

I present a humorous, crude, and disgusting, sad, and ironic story. With all the sketchy, illegal and immoral things I had done up until this point in my life. I ended up going to jail for the stupidest reason in the history of the planet, in a pink dress shirt.

Setting the scene

Shortly before Hurricane Andrew, a rock flew up from the expressway and cracked my windshield. The police stopped me, issued a ticket and a summons for court. As luck would have it, the court date was a week after the hurricane, and by then, I was homeless and forgot about the ticket and the crack in my windshield. It wasn’t a priority in my life at that time, oddly enough. I was living out of my van with Donna. The van was severely damaged; there was a hole in the side, it was battered with dents and scrapes, and had a perfectly circular hole on the other side of the window from a tree limb.

Even if we had the money available, which we did not, there was no one around to fix the damage. We spent our days working our way north from Homestead (to see if my father, and our apartment, had survived the storm), begging, doing tree work, standing in aid lines and doing the odd roofing job. There was a curfew in place, and after dark, you couldn’t (nor wanted to) be on the street. Life was hell. We wore what we could find, and that evening I looked like a complete tool wearing a long sleeve pink dress shirt, cut off jean shorts, and flip flops.

Enter a couple of dickheads

One evening we cut it close and were heading “home” to our overpass, where a few the homeless had taken roost. It had just turned dark when I saw the flashing red lights, and I knew we were in the shit for breaking curfew. I chatted with the dickheads, law enforcement officers, explaining to them that we were caught in the food line and had to panhandle for gas money to get to our overpass. Initially, they were sympathetic to our situation and said we could go just as soon as they had run my license.

I was Public Enemy #470,000

Donna and I were chatting in the van, while the arseholes I mentioned earlier were checking what they needed to check. Suddenly, they sprang from their car guns and flashlights at the ready to apprehend what a bystander could only assume was a murderer or a rapist. I was arrested (not very delicately) and tossed in the back of the police car. No rights read, no telling me my crime, Nothing. Donna could leave with our van and go “home.” Only a bit of dialog was “enjoyed” on the way to jail.

“Why have I been arrested?”

“Shut up.”

“The fuck? You HAVE to tell me why I am here, and you HAVE to inform me of my rights.”

“You have the right to shut up, fugitive, or I’ll add obstruction and anything else I can think of to your crimes, do you understand asshole?”

“Not really, but you guys are the boss.”

In an uncharacteristic flash of self-restraint, I shut up.

The indignity continues at booking

At booking, the things you would expect happened did, fingerprints, mugshot, paperwork, and waiting, lots of waiting. What I didn’t expect was being heckled by “Miami’s Finest.”

“The guys in holding are gonna love you in that pretty pink shirt.”

“You’re going to be here for a long time. I bet a fag like you will love it.”

The booking officer was kind and told them to shut up and get out. He explained why they detained me. I was stunned. At this point, I didn’t know whether to go postal, cry, or start screaming.

Holding (it’s not like TV)

On TV, you see folks in a jail holding cell, maybe alone, maybe with a few other guys, but the reality is so very different. Hundreds of men in one large room. The toilet was a trough; there were some bunk beds for those brave enough or stupid enough to sleep, and the stink, an unreal, gut-heaving stench.

I’ve been in enough rough situations to know that you are safest in a corner, back to the wall, and as high as you can get, and as luck would have it, there was a top bunk in the corner of the room, free. Once I settled in, I started to take in the sights. Aside from the stench, there was the noise, screaming, moaning, talking, feet stamping, and banging metal. It was disturbing and made it impossible to listen to or even think as it was so overwhelming.

With sight and smell covered, now we turn to vision.

Oh-my-god.

You had several naked men running around. One guy lay naked, prone on the floor while other men urinated on him. Folks were crying, fighting, and a few were even masturbating. A female impersonating prostitute was entertaining someone a few bunks over from me. I could go on, but you get the idea. It was gross, repulsive, and represented some of the lowest behaviors to which one could sink.

Dealing with your jailhouse neighbors

There was no sleeping for me. I spent the night on high alert. Thankfully, I was only bothered once when a guy clambered up onto my bunk.

“Can I be your friend?”

“No. You can, though, get the fuck off my bunk before I take your eyes out with my fingers.”

“You are tough for a guy in a pink shirt. I like you.”

“One. Don’t make me get to three. Then you lose both your eyes and your dick.”

“You’re fucking crazy.”

He departed, and I spent the rest of the night “chilling.” When “breakfast” came by, I remained in my corner. Men were battling over slop like starving rabid pigs. I had to pee so bad I thought I would burst a kidney.

The arraignment

At one point, they started herding small groups out of the hellhole for a visit with the judge. When they called my name, I eased over to have a pee (thank god) and paid for it the small price of some yelling and name-calling. My relived bladder (and I) saluted the guard with the middle finger and was then handcuffed and chained at the feet in a conga line of crims. Like animals, we marched to our judicial destiny. As I sat and waited, I was relieved to see Donna waiting in the gallery for me. One after another, the judge questioned and sent most of the men back to jail hell to await their trial.

After an eternity, it was my turn. I was ordered to stand up in front of the judge. Both cops were in attendance, looking smug and self-important.

The judge studied the papers intently. He then grunted, looked up at the cops and said;

“What the hell is wrong with you two? Did either of you see that his court date was a week after the hurricane? Did he not tell you he was homeless? What exactly was he supposed to do?”

The police officers were unprepared for this turn of events and started saying how I was “uncooperative” and “obstructing” their duty. They also said they had added tickets for various infractions, including (I shit you not) “Obstructing the sidewalk.”

“You two are to meet with me in my chambers when we finish here.”

He then turned to me.

“Mr. Laroche, I apologize for your treatment in this situation. The City of Miami deeply regrets this. All changes are dropped and expunged, and any tickets pending dismissed. When you leave, you will have post-arraignment papers. When you get back on your feet again, please fix your vehicle. Until then, if you get stopped again, show the law enforcement officers those papers. You may go.”

Life is grand

Donna and I went back “home.” I was extremely chuffed over the outcome of my nights’ festivities, nasty as they were. I had won, and that was all that mattered. I slept for the rest of the day and all that night. Sadly, when I woke up, post-Andrew life was still shit but much better than jail.

I learned a valuable lesson that day, which would come in handy later, but that is another story (or three).

The moral of the story is: Stay out of Jail, it Sucks.

Judas Priest – Breaking The Law

‘Breaking the law, breaking the law’

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