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 of 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 pretty 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 pretty much hell. We wore what we could find, and that particular 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 number of 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. All of a sudden, 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 was allowed to leave with our van and go “home.” Only a bit of dialog was “enjoyed” on the way to jail.
“Why have I been arrested?”
“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.
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.
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 a 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 cops 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.