February 5th, 2002.
I woke up, showered, put on a button down shirt, long-sleeved of course to fool the world, tie and khakis. I ate the last piece of my birthday cake for breakfast, and shot 2 of my last 4 bags for dessert. My roommate Tim and I had planned on making a run down to Opa Locka after my plea hearing. Lightning shot through my brain, claps of thunder deafened me from the inside out. I grabbed the shit sitting on my dresser, my money clip that held my ID and last $100. I grabbed my syringe, the last 2 bags of dope, and a bottle of water from the fridge. I thought about how I was going to sneak my supplies into the Federal courthouse of West Palm Beach. The first drops of rain spit onto my conscience.
9/11 made security a bit tighter, but I was confident the needle in my shoe would make it through, as would the bags taped inside my boxer briefs. After getting through the checkpoint, the winds pick up, gale force in intensity, swirling around, slamming thoughts off my skull-why didn’t you just shoot up in the parking lot? Or is it something more, the game, proving to yourself you can get over on anyone?
I see my lawyer Dave, a public defender who I have only talked to over the phone. He introduces himself, and as we shake hands, a loud concussion rumbles, causing me to reach up and touch my forehead…Making sure your skull is intact?
“Michael, this is a straightforward hearing. You will plead guilty per the plea bargain, but there may be some resistance on the part of the prosecution regarding your OR bond.”
I swear the earth shook, the thunder’s din milliseconds after the jagged lines of light sliced my vision into fragments. The storm, now a hurricane, is making landfall.
“What type of resistance Dave? Like Austria and the Nazis or the South trying to break from the Union?”
“Mike, you have moved numerous times, never once telling your pre-trial supervisor. There is the 9 missed urine tests, you are lucky they didn’t issue a bench warrant.”
“And all of this legal speak means?”
“You might be going to jail today.”
Time to hit the storm shelter. No time to evacuate Michael.
“I will be back Dave, I am not feeling well.”
“We are next on the docket Mike, hurry up!”
I go into the bathroom stall, empty the 2 bags into the cap from my water bottle, add some purified water, tear off a bit of my cigarette filter, and draw up what I hope will not be my last rush for the foreseeable future. Having just done 2 about 30 minutes ago, I know this is a mistake. It is too much, and it is a gaffe I am embracing. Would it be such a big deal to die now, fulfill the prophecies of my pre-30 demise? And seriously, how could I live with myself knowing I didn’t do my last two bags?
The heavens unleash, sheets of biting rain slap reality into focus. The dream of freedom is fleeting, I push down the plunger and loosen the belt, allowing the blood to flow, the heroin to cocoon me in safety, one last warm embrace, one last goodbye. My eyes close, my mouth opens as my lips form a convoluted smile, and a hushed moan falls to the floor. Minutes slide by, and I hear someone come into the bathroom. It’s Dave.
“Mike, are you in here, it’s time! We have to go now.”
Reality. A snapped tree limb rips through the wall of my chemical pleasure, a guided missile from God, 140 mph winds throw me into the present.
“Yeah, one second Dave. I am coming.”
At least this is what I thought I said, or intended to say. Tim, a reporter and author filled in all the gaps, since my recollection is… vague. According to him, I merely grunted an elongated Yeah.
I follow Dave into the courtroom, floating, perhaps riding the currents of the hurricane’s wind. We sit down at a table, I peer to my right, looking at the prosecutor, and another lady with blond, loosely curled hair to her shoulder, who seems dimly familiar to me. As I drift in and out of consciousness, I try to place her. Meanwhile, this old man, who must be a mile away, is rambling on and on about how I should be indicted on grand larceny in addition to my distribution charge.
I lean over and whisper into my attorney’s ear.
“Dave, who the fuck does this guy think he is?”
“Jesus, how high are you, that’s the judge.”
“What did the defendant say?”
“Nothing your honor.”
“It sounded like he cursed. I will not tolerate such disrespect in my courtroom Mr. Janflone.”
“Not now Mike.”
“What was that Mr. Janflone?”
“I apologize for my client, he is just very nervous.”
“He seems to be very high counselor.”
The judge continues with his diatribe, explaining a guilty plea results in me forfeiting numerous rights, gun ownership, voting, right turns on red, free speech, and so other things I don’t remember. Then he spouts off about grand larceny some more, attempting to get another charge added. The severe drop in barometric pressure has unleashed a headache. Maybe I am wishing the lightning truly existed, improvised, act of nature shock treatment. Then I feel wetness on my chin, and a sharp jolt in my ribs.
According to Tim, I nodded out during the latter half of the judge’s soliloquy, it was not rain soaking my chin, but drool, not flying debris striking me in my side, but Dave’s elbow. All of this a ridiculous circus, with the elderly judge playing the role of head clown, I mean ring leader, PT Barnum with a gavel. Does any child really like clowns? Or is it as we grow up that we see just how freakish they really are, adding bits and pieces of generalizations, in an attempt to justify our fears. Shambles the pirate clown is an alcoholic with a cocaine problem, his big foam nose a clever repository for blow, complete with a hidden straw that is always in his nostril. Every time he squeaks his nose, a bump is inhaled. Meanwhile the tilt-o-whirl operator eyes up the kids, a pervert who will one day be trampled by Tom, an elephant with a lineage dating back to Hannibal. Tom wonders how he got here, his ancestors regal warriors, until he just snaps and exacts justice.
Justice…is blind, it’s black and white. Never gray. And then it hits me, the semi-attractive blond is my pre-trial officer. The eye is above me. It is calm, a circle of crystal blue sky, unwanted clarity.