After a Fashion
A postcard from prison? Wish you were here!
THE ROCK You'd have to live under a rock to not know I'd been arrested last week. What a nightmare! The hideous mug shot plastered all over the newspaper, television, and Internet was mortifying; I had indeed been in bed when the authorities showed up, and the photo looked like it. While they say the camera does not lie, it certainly can distort the truth. The loud banging on the metal front door accompanied by shouts of, "Stephen, we want to talk to you!" should have made me move faster, but while I was hurrying to get dressed, a different sound started – that of what sounded like a battering ram slamming against my door. Boom! Boom! Boom! I was frozen with fear, and after about 10 big booms, the front door came flying off, splintering the frame and bending the door. "Wait!" I yelled, "I'm coming down!" So I made my descent, not unlike Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond in the final scene of Sunset Boulevard as she faced the news cameras. I, instead, faced automatic weapons and Tasers all aimed at my sleep-deprived body. With my arms raised, I surrendered, and as I was cuffed and taken outside, there was another whole slew of authorities outside – maybe 15 altogether, including the Investigations battalion chief himself. Dear God, it wasn't as if I were Bonnie & Clyde or that I had accepted an AIG bonus. My eventual ride to Central Booking was uneventful. Then the fun started. The booking officer was a skinny rat-faced creature whose obnoxiousness was underscored when he told me it wasn't necessary to spell my name for him since he had an "ejuh-Kaa-shun." I saw a nurse who helped me with my medications, and then I sat in the holding area among so many cheerful, attractive friends (I mean, inmates) before I was allowed to see a counselor. I explained that I was indeed terminally ill and was handed a contract stating that I wouldn't commit suicide there. I did indeed sign the document but chuckled to myself wondering what would happen if I broke the contract and committed suicide. Would they press charges against me? Could I be convicted and sentenced for breaking the contract? What would my punishment be for that? Amazingly, attorney Mark McCrimmon was already waiting for me and arranged for my personal bond, but I wasn't in the clear yet. Fortunately "dinner" was served, and it was a true culinary delight. Arriving in what appeared to be a used paper bag, it consisted of a plastic bag with four slices of white bread, another plastic bag with two slices of gray bologna, two slices of wet American cheese, and two unmarked packets of what appeared to be mustard (but I was too afraid to find out for sure) and an assortment of delectable hors d'oeuvres, including pretzels, cheese and peanut-butter crackers, and banana "flavored" cookies. We dined like kings, I tell you. But then came the ultimate humiliation: what I like to call the prison playsuit. I prayed that it wasn't as filthy as it looked and that I wouldn't get crabs or lice from it. But the worst part (aside from those deeply unflattering horizontal stripes) was that the ensemble was a size 2X. Now, there have been times in my life when I did wear a 2X or even 3X, but those days are a distant memory. I've worked so hard to remain svelte that it's as if there were a nasty hidden agenda in making me wear such a deplorable outfit. I tried to modernize the outfit by rolling the cuffs of the "pants" up to capri length, wishing I had a wide, obi-like sash to tie around my waist. The guy behind the counter snickered when I asked where the accessories closet was. I tried carefully to explain the importance of accessories and pointed out his badge as an example, but then he tossed me a pair of damp pink rubber thongs that farted with every step I took. Mortifying. Fortunately, I only had to walk as far as the "psych watch" cells, where I had the luxury of a private cell, smartly designed in gray and royal blue. It was relatively quiet, but I was distressed to find everything in there bolted to the walls and the floor. So much for rearranging my little crib. I was given a blanket (which was not bolted to the floor), so I curled up on my little vinyl mattress and covered my head to try and get some sleep. No sooner had that occurred when a booming voice ordered me to pack up and get ready to leave. Christ, I'd hardly gotten there. I pulled myself together quickly, was allowed to change back into my street clothes, and soon was sitting on the curb at 10th and San Antonio, with only my prescriptions to keep me company until someone arrived to pick me up. I was worn out. I went home to take a bath. A really long, hot one. But no amount of bathing could wash all that dirt off. You'd need a bathroom as big as Grand Central Station.
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