County Blues (Part 1)

by Greg Olmeda


Doing drugs ain't easy when there's cops around

I can't feel my wrists from the tightness of the cuffs.

"Um, excuse me officer, could you loosen my cuffs please? You're cutting off my circulation and my hands feel numb."

His response sums up his concern,

"So you can get all Houdini on me? Deal with it, you skinny strung out prick."

See that? That's the problem with cops these days. They assume too much. Who says I'm skinny because I'm strung out? Maybe I'm just a vegan. Or he's jealous of my amazing metabolism. Just because I'm skinny doesnt mean I'm... Ok fine, I'm gourd to the gills. I'm on one. Im on one fucking tough. Not gonna lie. On his sleeve happens to be three chevron patches, one swipe for every five years on the force. He's a sergeant and has probably seen it all. There's no lying to this fucker. He shoves my head against the hood of his crown-vic to frisk me.

"I'm not gonna poke myself with anything sharp now am I? If I do, I'm fuckin you up."

"No sir nothing of the sort."

I hesitate to tell the truth but there's no avoiding it, "My needles are capped, sir." His pudgy Anglo hands fondle the outside of my pockets.

"Once again, if I prick myself, I'm fucking you up, then I'm throwing you in the cell with the queers."

Slowly reaching into my pockets he pulls out his prize.

"Bingo," he says. "Well at least you won't be with the queers."


On the way to jail we speed down Sepulveda towards the Pacific booking station. I was relieved to be heading there, as opposed to the dreaded Culver City station, where planting drugs, racist profiling, false charges and beating the shit out of people for no reason are all on the station's short list of successes. Not to mention their knact for avoiding lawsuits.

But "Pac, abbreviated by those who've attended, is far more laid back - perhaps on account of being so close to the beach. There, when you ask for toilet paper, they don't wait till you're about to shit your pants before providing. I find this promptness to be a universal indicator of how cool or uncool a night in jail can be. Or multiple nights, in my case. Since I was arrested on a Friday, I spent the entire weekend in the substation until court resumed on Monday. Which means, fuck. Not that I noticed much. I was coming off more drugs than I had fingers to count with so needless to say when I hit my bunk, I slept until Monday morning. I awake to the sound of shouting,

"Omega, wake the fuck up and grab your breakfast, you got court". The CO stands at the gate with a sack breakfast.

Breakfast. When was my last breakfast? Or lunch. Or dinner for that matter? My stomach churns, feeling as though it had turned inside out and began to eat itself. I slept through all of the chow calls. I'd imagine other inmates attempted to rattle me for grub but tossed up their hands after up a few unsuccessful tries. Looking around my cell what started off as twelve empty beds on Friday gave way to a derelict party of sorts. Most of the chums were seemingly acquainted by now, looking at me as though I were an alien and wondering how I could possibly sleep the entire time, yet jealous all the same for having passed it in the unconfounded land of dreams.

I hop off my mattress and head to the bars, announcing the last 3 digits of my wristband. Rubbing the redness from my eyes, he hands me a sack of food through the bars and asks me if I'm ready to go. Remembering that I hadn't peed in three days, I hit the steel to squeak one off before the bus ride. Holding my breakfast behind my back, I grab my bits with my spare extremity and unleash a pathetically short-lived stream of opaque yellow piss that just sorta dribbled back towards my dick. I was dizzy from dehydration. I reach into my sack and pound a box of OJ "from concentrate" then toss it to the floor, indicating to the guard I was ready to be shackled.

He cuffs me next to a homeless drunk they clearly plucked off the street for being nothing more than an eye sore. Man he smelled like shit and piss. Shuffling towards the garage the county bus sat idling, the smell of diesel graciously overpowering the stench of my buddy next to me. As we board I think about how many times I've sat in these seats. Staring at steel where windows should be, or staring at graffiti written in peanut butter. How these shitty hard seats made me harder. How tired I was of being shackled next to people that smell of piss and shit. We take off towards LAX courthouse. On the way, I look up and say,

"God, throw me a bone here."

But he made me bark first.

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