At the Sunrise Inn
All of our friends and more would converge at the Sunrise Inn on Saturday nights for Revolution 101 classes that we held for the Augusta College (AC) students. Which consisted of reading materials on the requisite scavenged phone line wooden spool center table (before they started selling the knock-offs at Ikea), all-night music on the turntable, and lectures on the youth revolt, lasting about an hour, or until the pink or green tab set in. Then, the kids were on their own, and the adventures began.
I remember riding my Triumph 650 with Sue and two others on the bike (four?), I think on mushrooms that night, busting into a wedding reception, claiming to be friends of the family and eating and drinking our brains out until discovered. We pulled over on the way back when Sue had a huge epiphany that, my god, there’s four of us on this bike! Bad karma! Sheeeiiittt! And got off and walked home. Goofy things like that.
While the guys were always nervous about getting drafted, I was evidently spared due to my bust in Chattsworth (I had developed back-up plans to go to the Bahamas or Canada if necessarythank you, Chattsworth).
The residents of Monte Sano were somewhat inter-changeable. Raymond would move in, out, back in, and out again. He had this closet with a blue light, where he organized the most amazing little self-sufficiency cubicle, kind of like a space capsule, where he would go when the trip got too heavy. We discouraged Herb from moving in, although we’d would have loved it if Phyllis had moved out of her mom’s house. There was some guy who crashed a few times, was always dressed in a greek toga when he tripped, saying “peace brother”, and watching while we cleaned, cooked, constructed or whatever the next day (or when we got around to it). That’s when we arrived at the decision that egalitarian distribution was not too good an idea, no matter who said it (get a job, you bourgeois poser).
When Charlotte moved in to Monte Sano, I came in from a certain kind of mental wilderness. I remember thinking, this was my first (almost-adult) love. First, she had a great body; I’d indulge in that young love like a morphine addict in a pool of minced poppies. Second, she believed in me. Third, she was funny as hell, and we were always laughing. While I was fearful for her safety, she was fearless of her own.
She could be shades of Lauren Bacall or mountain woman. A few years later when we rendezvoused in Portland, she had this red and blue/green-flowered 1940s dress that cut off right below her knees. Once, we were camping in the mountains in Southern California at the beginning of the fall. We had to break into an old summer cabin to escape a freak cold front. While I was out walking the next day, looking for wood for the fireplace, Charlotte was sitting on the stoop of the house when a ranger drove by. She was sharpening an ax. She looked at the ranger like, don’t bother me, I’m sharpening an ax. She told him we were watching the cabin for the Joneses. He kept on driving. She was money.
Charlotte didn’t get along with Frank and some of the boys, although she loved Raymond and the Bryans and a few of her friends who came over. Frank was always coming in with a new theory of life and organizing. Frank would blurt out, you know, Guerdjieff believed, that if we visualize the police, and, you know, neutralize them with a, you know, sufi jiujitsu spiritual trance in the fourth dimension, they will reform themselves, he’d say, giggling his brains out on some pharmaceutical. Oh shut up, Frank, Charlotte would say. Herbie would always drop by with a deal we couldn’t resist (usually a bust); Char would laugh get real, Herb. McNamara was always staring at her breastsfuckin’ A, choice bazongas, my man, he’d proclaim, thinking she didn’t hear him; she’d walk away. And so on. She held her own.
There we were, one glorious Saturday night in January, 1972, my 21st birthday, crankin’ “Who’s Next” to 10 (we won’t get fooled again!), the party’s on, Charlotte by my side, a time of growth and independence, changing the world, and maybe even changing Augusta. All the gang was there. I was feelin’ my oats. 21. On top of the hill, Augusta, on top of the world. Just as I’m about to drift off in brain marsh (a freakish and frightening place, and Lord only knows why I went there; the two minutes of bliss were always overruled by four hours of mental torture); a yell goes up. All of a sudden, someone hollers PIGS!, It’s Kent! and people started bailing out the doors, windows, up the stairs and out through the roof. Buck Kent is raiding. With the whole damned army. Like field mice running from 78 hungry cats finally escaping from the house of an old crazy dead woman, we flee.
So, these were the kinds of run-ins I initially had with Buck. I usually made myself scarce. I don’t remember much about how it went down, but one day Kent planted an ounce on Andy Best, loveable Andy the bass player. He was railroaded through court and sent to prison for a year. Wrong place, wrong time. Now they were starting to piss me off.
Then, some guy from Texas, Dan, I think, showed up, a newcomer. He wasn’t there long. After my legal travails (later on that), he booked it back to Texas. But he and I started planning an investigation that would take another three years to come full circle. He had skills none of my other friends did. Mainly, he could concentrate on something for more than 20 minutes. We were gonna get these mother-fuckers. They were busting our friends. Busting up our concerts. Busting in on pot parties. And, as we found out, they were doing something much worse.
There was an even darker side to what we called “Disgusta”. There was a black dude named Schoolboy who sold scag on Broad. Skanky guy, we’d cross the street rather than walk by and get propositioned and hear his jive. Downtown was already depressing enough in the early 70s. It did have the one head shop for 120 miles, though. There was a also a long-hair redneck biker named Bubba Holtzclaw, always waiting for a big load coming in. Rip off artist, and like Schoolboy, dangerous. Him and his low-life friends would try to break up rallies. These assholes not only sold drugs on the street, they had protection.
Turns out the police were supplying the assholes. They were using Schoolboy and others to distribute heroin. Dan and I met a former dealer in hiding one night. He had actually been busted, his stuff confiscated, threatened to never talk about what happened, given a plane ticket, and left town. The dude wouldn’t be a witness. We heard some verifying tales from Allen Markwalter, a young Woody Allen-lookalike with a jewish afro who dealt.
Now we had ’em. Fuckin’ A! So, we talked to Bill and Pat for hours one day under clouds of bourbon and cigarettes. Bill couldn’t print it—the paper wouldn’t print it. So, we would go to the FBI.
I remember being in an office with Dan, an FBI guy in a suit, sitting behind a desk, smoking a camel. We laid out the story. He seemed very interested. We had traced a system that worked beautifully. The vice squad would move heroin through a network of dealers in Augusta (and probably other towns). But since they didn’t arrest heroin and hard drug dealers, they had to increase the arrests of the soft drugs users. They were too stupid to catch people–no, Buck Kent and Sgt. Durland never, ever scored or sold or copped out of their convertible. So, they had to plant on people. Big time. Innocent kids. We told the FBI stiff there were a lot of kids sitting in prison for nothing. We thought, maybe justice does work in America.
Then, the FBI guy said “very interesting”, and actually got animated. He said he (and the Bureau) knew it was happening. He got up and showed us a map of Augusta, which bordered South Carolina. Across the river was an even more depressing ‘burg, North Augusta. He said, the problem, boys, is that these drugs aren’t being trans-shipped across state lines. Too bad. For us to act, there has to be interstate shipment. We were stunned. How do you know? We said? How do you know they don’t sell it across the freakin’ river? How could they not be moving it across the river? Don’t the dealers cross the river? Baldfaced, he shrugged it off. Sorry, boys.
We walked out, stood in the hot Georgia sun. Baffled. I mean, baffled. The son of a bitch verified our conspiracy theories. Fuck. What a cover-up. Why were the FBI afraid to step in to this. What did we not know? So, we went to talk to other people, to try to peel away some of the layers from the smelly, rotten Vidalia onion. Tried again to talk to Bill’s paper. Nothing. The other newspaper. No. The ACLU. Sorry. I was volunteering for the OEO at the time, and one of the activists gave us a tip. Forget it.
Finally we made a mistake. We went to James Beck, the chief of police. The stereotypical short fat mean cop. We sat down in an office not 50 feet away from the Vice Squad. He got fumed, said how dare you make unproven accusations. Was gonna watch us. We left. Oh shit, we thought.
Later, we went to Sheriff Anderson. Now, Anderson was an honest cop, for sure, we thought. He had bad-mouthed the police. He sat there across the desk like he was gonna fall asleep. Next?
Then, for the next 12 months, Buck came after me, big time. Karma, said Sue Week (Oh, Sheeeiittt!, she said). McNamara warned me to not get too close to the fireyou’re getting’ too negatori, man.
Buck had already announced his hard on for me and my ilk. Even before I got to Monte Sano, I had lived in a small apartment with Frank, as I mentioned earlier, where we had plotted the overthrow of the establishment. I came home to the apartment one day, and discovered my belongings on the lawn, Buck and Durland in the narco-mobile in the front, smoking cigarettes. A buddy of mine was in the flat, and explained that, given his long hair and resemblance from behind, Buck had broken in on him. When he asked where Preacher was, my buddy said, Disney World. Buck pulled an ounce of pot out of his pocket, and said, too bad, he had a little present for me. He proceeded to tear up the room, looking for something I owned. Of course, I never owned anything. Nothing. Nonetheless, Buck had the place torn apart, had me evicted for the allegation of drug dealing. Threw all our belongings on the front yard.
I came home to that. I was pissed off, walked into the front yard and yelled at Buck. I walked into the street and yelled at him. He got out, walked over to me with Durland and a couple of suits with him, threw off my glasses, and asked me to fight him “man to man”. I laughed. You had to be fucking kidding me, right, for me to believe we could scrap without these baboons cracking my ass, and arresting me on top of it? I ain’t goin’ down that damned dirt road. Stay the fuck away from me, Buck. I yelled to the high heavens at them as they were leaving, howling and growling.
This little incident happened even before we started the investigation. After we started raking the muck, Kent just simply wanted to bury me. I had adopted an alias (common for the long-hairs at the time) of Preacher. While floating around late at night I would carry a bible. When harassed by cops I would whip out the book and start preaching to them. By the time I got into it, the men in blue would let me out of the car, and wish me luck (just get out). I’m not really sure how all this came about. But as the heat got hotter, I needed as many feints and diversions as possible.
I would get so paranoid sometimes about the vice squad and their nefarious contacts that I even called on the rank-and-file police occasionally. Once, I was watching a house owned by a reporter friend of Bill Bryan, another old three-story house with turrets. There was some young lady with me at the time, and we were tripping. I heard sounds in the attic, and we both flipped out. Assassins, I was sure. We called the police, who were on the scene immediately. We put a chair in the hallway, a cop took out his pistol, and, with a flashlight from his car, he tried to open the hatch to the attic, standing on the chair. The cop got scared as he and his buddy heard some shuffling around. See, I said, standing behind a door so the assassin’s rifle couldn’t get a lucky shot at me. He pops open the hatch with the flashlight, we hold our breath in suspense, and then, it happened. Four pounds of white shit fell down on his face and down his clothes. Pigeon shit. Oops!
Getting A Bit Rambunctious
When my Dad would get the most pissed at us kids when I was young, he used to yell out, stop being so goddamned rambunctious! Wow, we thought. That must be an important word.
A guy named Ray moved in for awhile. He was a mental case, did hard drugs and obsessed on early heavy metal. But he had a great rap, and helped to articulate the kinder, gentler Augusta that we envisioned. Pat Bryan really liked himkind of a radical chic attraction thing.
But most of our political vision was not too radical, in hindsight. We laid it out in our Sunrise Manifesto: A community paper. A community radio station. Free music in the park. Worker coops. A coffeehouse. Ecology. Organized communes. And something about taking over the means of production. Wahoo! Most of this not too earthshaking. And yeah, we joined the struggle against the war. Some of us joined the black boycott (Char and I being among the few, with the Reces). And we joined the joyous campaign to overturn the right wing Democratic Party in Georgia in 1972.
I have a picture of Bill Bryan and Rex Larkin on the grounds of some podunk high school in 1972, kicking back on the grass, drinking a beer. It was the 10th district nominating convention of Georgia, held in a rural county under a good old boy government. We had pulled together a coalition of folks from the University at Athens (yes, there were students who had a life beyond the Deltas and Bulldogs), labor from Augusta, a black leadership group from a county south of Augusta where they had won power to bring running water and plumbing to their county, and vets against the war organized by Rex Larkin. Larkin was the coolest of all the radicals in Augusta. I had grown up with his younger brothers—they lived not too far from Phyllis—and they had both turned rad; so, our former high school graduating class now had at least four or five heads hanging out and raising hell.
We pulled together a coalition to send Chisholm, McGovern and McCarthy delegates to the Democratic convention that year instead of Wallace, Lester Maddox, etc. Maddox, the governor before Carter and Sanders, sold “chicken sticks” (with, obviously, a darker meaning) at his chicken restaurant in Underground Atlanta, and used to ride his bicycle backwards at the Georgia Tech football games when I was thereour governor! The party dicks tried to pull all kinds of legal maneuvers to prevent the coalition participants from occupying the hall. But the busses kept on coming.
A sheriff’s deputy walked up to Bill Bryan, who was sitting on the grass, drinking a can of Blue Ribbon. When the cop said get rid of it, he chugged it. He was arrested. The cop turned to Rex, who chugged his. They went to jail; we bailed them out. As the voting proceeded, we camped out on the grass with our picnic packed by Patricia. And mellowed. We won. Change was spontaneous. Change was a blast.
Next, we pulled together a major peaceful demonstration at the park. We had organized a number of great concerts there, some of which were broken up by Buck and his boys. Then, we got a connection to Ed Harris (not the actor, the radical former Vet/writer who was married to Joan Baez). He was traveling around the country, one of the many in those days. He was heavy, man. People showed up from all over, sitting and listening to Harris, who sat next to the ;gazebo.
Our crowd had grown pretty large, surrounding Harris, sitting on the ground. Kent and the boys came by; we ignored them. I had arranged a permit for a picnic that day, and we were snacking away. The sun was out. Sky was blue. It was the Spring of ’72. Still the peak of the antiwar movement. It was demonstration time.
We used the Supreme Court decision by Justice Potter Stewart in Shuttles v Alabama (1969), granting the streets and parks to the public in the U.S. as part of the privileges, immunities, rights and liberties of citizens, as our rallying cry to take back the public spaces (hey Kent, it’s the law!).
Rallies would spring up like crazy. Rallies downtown. Rallies at the recruiting station. Rallies at the park. Rallies at the newspaper. Music in the park now attracted 200-300. It was getting downright rowdy.
Once three of our gang went to the black college to announce one of our events, and to invite the students (as we did at AC). Young black radicals surrounded us, and started “honkeying” us. Well, we were throwing a rock and roll thing in the park, it’s pretty radical, man, do you want to come? They trashed us, said we were playing a game with the white racist pigs while blacks in Augusta were in poverty, were repressed, and were occasionally shot. Yeah, but we have long hairs with guitars! Hey, man, we’re cool. I think we found some small rock of common ground, like the boycott (and hey bro, we like James Brown, too!) and backed our way out of the campus, befluxxed at how the Panther wanna-bees wouldn’t come party for the cause.
Meanwhile, the real Panthers and black militants were now in town. A young Panther recruit I hung with told me about a showdown with police who surrounded a row house that was rumored to be a weapons hide out. The brothers had picked up the raid on a police-band radio, and stationed heavily-armed guards on the rooftops, outnumbering and surrounding the police. When the sergeant called out on a speaker-phone to come out of the house, one of the brothers called out from the rooftop above to look up. The cops would have been massacred. He said, Please get in your cars and leave our neighborhood now. The cops looked up at the roofs and windows surrounding them, asses puckering. They got back in their cars and left. It was getting heavy.
Darlene and Laney found Kent and Durland crawling in the dirt under their house one night, trying to catch them with drugs and AWOL soldiers, I guess. They heard them, surprised them with a bucket of cold water which they poured through a hatch in the floorboard, and, then, shining flashlights, greeted them with a pitch fork and pick ax and said, you assholes are trespassin’; next time you crawl under our house, you’re gonna get your fat asses irrigated! Kent and Durland, wet and covered in dirt and mud and spider webs, had to crawl out from beneath the house with Darlene’s flashlight on them, and they beat a hasty retreat, muttering something about payback. Y’all come back, now. Ballsy women.
Then there was the day I walked in to meet my probation officer, in the army green bowels of the probation office behind the County Courthouse, Vern picked up the phone and called for an officer to take me to jail. I didn’t know what the fuck I had done. Vern said he had heard from the Vice Squad that I was consorting with known bad characters, I had missed my last two meetings, I was slack on work, and my hair was too long and I dressed like a bolshevik. What? Okay, I’ve been slackin’ a bit here or there. But my hair? My jeans? Good Sears bell bottoms, sturdy cotton. No matter. He told the officers to take me to the Richmond County Jail, no passing go. For long hair. Christ almighty. So, I got my first real taste of the Augusta Bed and Breakfast. A real dive. I still refused to cut my hair. Fuck Vern. He let me out on the third day. My Dad, who had gone to school with Vern, probably called and begged Vern to let me out. But he definitely got my attention.
The Move to Central
We were finally evicted from Monte Sano. Charlotte and I moved down the road to a house of our own, close by, on Central Avenue. Raymond and Herb moved to a small cottage even closer to the Sunrise. Frank moved into a creepy loft by himself, on the third floor of an old gothic Victorian house owned by an ancient woman, god only knows what he was reading in that dark place. But at least, we were all still in the same area.
It was spring, turning to summer, 1972. It was a very sweet time for Charlotte and I, like we were really setting up house. We got a cat, fixed up the place, started cooking. We started making plans for LEAVING, going to Oregon some day, as my probation would be completed at the end of the year. It would be two whole years. Time flies when you’re having fun.
The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) paid me to put together a community newspaper. We were to call it the Sawannos, a native name for the Savannah River that Frank dug up. It was gonna have everything in it we ever wanted to say. The war. Politics. Police corruption. Racial justice. Culture. Rock and roll. The spirit of the river. There were gonna be a lot of contributors. Raymond was gonna do the art. We began doing the layout.
Meanwhile, Buck and the boys, who had never busted a single person in two-three raids at Monte Sano Avenue, seemed to turn their attention elsewhere.
I found a job through Herb or somebody—with a freak from Florida who was up doing cabinet installation. The job was out west on the outskirts, in the boondocks. I enjoyed making money for once, and getting out of town. I had a reason to work —Char and the pad. When he wasn’t too spaced out, we did good work. He had this funky old van, filled to the top with construction tools and crap. He didn’t seem quite trustworthy, but he had the contracts.
On July 17, 1972, Char, the dude and I decided to take a day off and go out to the Savannah and go “river tracking”. It was gonna be a great day. The paper was almost ready to go, after interminable delays. We had decided to take Pat MacNamara because he was having some problems with a bad trip that wouldn’t go away. Like for months. He had evidently gone to a rock festival in North Carolina and had taken some bad acid, and never really returned. As a musician, Pat was always high-strung. The strings broke. We packed some gear, and headed for Pat’s mom’s house, where he was living.
Lava Lamps and Water Bongs
As we pulled up to Pat’s house, there were three bubble tops, a police van and a vice car. Oh shit. We pulled into the drive, concerned about Pat. A cop came up and told us that Pat had been walking around the front yard in the buff, singing and rappin’ some shit about how fucked up life was. Could we see him? No, cop said.
Then one of the vice boys walks up, says, hey, it’s the Preacher, makes us get out of our van. The vice cop goes to his car, calls Buck. Buck says search the van. They proceed to search the van. We go, good fuckin grief, we didn’t do anything, we were trying to help Pat. We had a rule, no drugs in vehicles that I rode in. We don’t have nothin! But the dude starts looking kind of squirrelly. Right? I whisper. There’s nothing there, right? We stood and watched for ten, fifteen minutes while these guys dump construction shit all over the lawn. Meanwhile, Pat was in the back of a cop car, continuing to flip out. Trial and tribulation going on here.
Then, a cop pulls out some seeds and some dead plants in pots. Oh, Christ. The dude has hauled these dead plants–probably wild rabbit tobacco–and shriveled seeds all the way from Florida, too lazy to clean his van out. Buck and Durland pulled up in the narc-mobile. Wonderful. They came swaggering over, and Buck said, well, Preacher, what’cha got here, Durland doing a har de har. I looked at it and said, I don’t know Buck, this isn’t my vehicle.
Buck tells the pigs to pack us in a second car, to our protestations, and, before we know it, we were under arrest and headed downtown. We were processed into the “dug out”, basement pig sty that the Vice Squad uses for writing up the crims. Durland squeezes his fat ass around a desk into a chair, and proudly showed off, on the shelves around the room, a bunch of lava lamps and water bongs that they have confiscated in raids and drugs busts. He clicked off the lights and turned on the lava lamps. The whole basement lit up, like we were in a psychedelic cave. Wow, I’m impressed, I tell him. Cool lava lamps, Durland. Charlotte started laughing. We were actually scared to death. But our string finally ran out. They transferred us to the Richmond County jail.
We were charged with conspiracy to possess marijuana. Charlotte and the flaky asshole are held for a day or so and are released. I’m held on $10,000 bail. Fuck.
Like Jubilation T Cornpone on Reds
I ended up in a six-bed bunkroom with a guy who’s just gotten out of Reidsville, in southern Georgia near the Florida line, in the Okeefenokee Swamp. He was getting sent back. You remember Reidsville. The place where they filmed the Burt Reynolds movie, The Longest Yard. The con–25 or so-started telling me all these horror stories, sending me bad vibes.
Yep, you’ll love the swamp, he’d say. Why there’s this dog, ya see. Big old mean bastard of a hound. When one of the stripes would escape, the guards would wait a day or two to let the poor sucker get lost in the swamp, ya see. If the farmers didn’t kill the sucker, they’d let the dog go. The dog would get a gold cap for every con that he found.
I’d say, yeah? And he’d continueWell, you should’ve seen that damned dog!! When he’d smile, his teeth would blind ya! Har, har, har!!
Sweet guy. Like Jubilation T. Cornpone on a reds and crank cocktail. He gave me shit for days, threatening to kick my ass, or worse. He was a regular at Reidsville, and started his jail career in the juveys at 13. He was really getting on my case, trying to pick a fight. One day I told him about little green pills that made you have hallucinations that were so bad they would make you rip your own tongue out with your own hands. I threatened to put a little green pill in his coffee when he wasn’t looking. He left me alone.
It was late July. Hot as hell. The Richmond County jail was a horrible fucking dungeon. White guys on one side. Black guys on the other. My girlfriend was terrified, but kept a stiff upper lip, visiting often. My Dad and other friends visited, but they were scared now. I was in for an inderminant time. It felt like an eternity. My struggle in Augusta, for all practical purposes, was over. My struggle for my life was on. They cut my hair, a big thing at the time. Admittedly, though, short hair was a plus in this place.
I remember we would have to put our shirts on when the gospel singers from the Evangelical Tabernacle down on Broad would come sing to us. They would preach, the five or six, one or two geeky adults and the rest kids, and sing music, accompanied by a 15-year old lanky buck-toothed kid who played guitar. Oh my Lord, Walk with Thee! they’d sing, terribly off-key, hoping to pick up converts for those who would ultimately be released.
I read books. Tried to exercise. Tried to watch some TV when we were allowed. Then I pissed off the guards when I started organizing the prisoners. It was only a short-term jail. But everything sucked. I mean, no library, no exercise yard, no nothing. The place stank, the toilets overflowed, the bunks were like concrete. And, oh yeah, one more thing. Keep the fucking flies and roaches out of the food. I developed a demands list of, oh, 10 points or so, and started distributing it. Hardened crims would look at it and say, Yeah, how ’bout that! What he said!
Meanwhile, I ran into a guy I had known from the hill, who had been jailed before me. He told me they were planning an escape attempt. Would I go with them?
I was facing a huge dilemma. If Kent and Durland were successful, I would be facing a loss of my probation time–a year and one-half–and would also be sentenced to a new term if convicted. The time doubled up, so I’d face up to five years in Reidsville. It was a given that rads like me would be severely harassed by the guards and lifers there, or worse. I was, to put it mildly, freaked. I would lie awake in the cell at night imagining the escape route over the walls, through downtown, and down and across the river. Then?
It seemed like days and days and daayyss in the house. It was hot as a dead dog on an August Alabama highway. I wanted to get out and fly away. Reading was my only escape. The guards were always suspicious of books that relatives or friends would drop off, and they were especially perplexed about “Organizing for Prisoners’ Rights” (rejecting) and “Astral DoorwaysHow to Leave Your Body” (holding, for a couple of days, while they pondered it).
Then I was told one day, out of the blue, Come on Croft, you’re going for a ride. I was getting out–to go to Chattsworth to stand on charges I had revoked my probation. Two deputies were to drive me. The day we left, the temp had to be 105 degrees. I sat in the sweaty back seat as we headed for Chattsworth. I rapped with the cops, who weren’t too interested in talking to me. I was elated. OUT, for at least a while. GOD, didn’t life look pretty outside.
Then, about a half-hour after we left, heading northwest for the mountains, the clouds got black, a summer thunder-storm was heading for us. Thrwwaccckkk! It was lightning cracking near the ground, thunder as loud as a 747 slamming into the earth, winds blowing us all over the road, and hail and raindrops the size of mutant toads from Chad. The cops were flipped out. I loved it. I had never felt so free in all my life. I didn’t care if the car were blown off a cliff. I sat back in the back seat and sucked it up. Blow, you mother-fucker, blow.
They laughed when I told them if they wanted to book a motel room for the night, I would stay, right here in the back seat. After a few hours of what must have been a storm of biblical proportions, they deposited me at the Chattsworth County Hall, and high tailed it back to Disgusta.
A Much Nicer Jail
It was much nicer at the Chattsworth jail. First of all, the mountain weather was a relief, cool enough to sleep at night. It only had four or five single bunk rooms, and few people, and through the miniscule window, a great view of the mountains. I gave it 2 and 1/2 stars. It was in the same large county courthouse I had visited a year and half before, in the middle of the town square. When they were kids, in 19 ought something, my Great Aunt Kate and Jentzie helped the masons to build the old courthouse by carrying bricks to them when it was under construction.
The only problem was this occasional Saturday night drunk they would throw in the tank every few days, who was evidently having woman problems. The one or two other guys inside with me would have to shower the guy off because he had tried to light his kerosene-drenched body on fire, “except that the damned pigs stopped me, goddamned them”. He’d then pass out.
The jail had a radio someone left behind. I could pick up this radio show from Nashville or Memphis. Country, blue grass, amazing cross-over folk-blues would play day and night. I remember a Moody Blues tune, The Music in Your Eyes. It would come on every couple of hours. I listened and waited for it to come around again.
Meanwhile, I received messages from my friends that the jail-break had failed, that the three white guys, including the guy I knew, were caught, and a black guy from the other side was shot in the head and killed by the guards.
Kate visited. I explained what happened. Said look Aunt Kate, I was a fuck up, and I’m sorry for everything I did to you, and I know it was terrible for you. (Kate never let on that she had been around a lot bigger fuck-ups, having hung on the reservations for 30 years). But this time I’m innocent. I had tried to expose the police for all sorts of bad stuff, and they set me up.
Kate was surprisingly supportive. She didn’t say much to me, but according to my Dad, she talked to the judge, who used to, as a young lawyer, live in the Wright Hotel and rent from Great Granddad Wright. I beg your pardon, she must have sternly said, but if you jail my boy I’ll sit on you. She could and she would.
Then, one day, my Dad shows up. There I was again, apologizing to my Dad. He realized I had been set up. But he had news. I was off on the first plane possible to Florida, where my mom lived, on $10,000 bond.