Continue from Chapter 7.
Under any circumstance, an evening spent in County Jail’s felony holding tank could never be considered pleasant, regardless of social standing on the outside. Such was the situation of the soon-to-be-former law student Clarence Edward Taylor, Jr., after Pete Castillo had discarded him there several hours earlier.
He was given a pair of saggy jockey shorts, a matching set of loose fitting navy blue pants and shirt and a used pair of flip-flops. The pants had a small drawstring which barely held them on his waist, and the shirt, a pull-over, was emblazoned in white letters across the back bearing COUNTY JAIL — the name of his new home.
For some reason, the Jail staff had forgotten his one telephone call.
After a photography session and a permanent record of his fingerprints, Clarence had been shuttled off to the felony holding tank, “1F.” There he had spent the remainder of an uncomfortable evening, sitting in the fetal position with his back against the wall. He had to urinate, but dared not loosen his clothing for fear of exposing his virgin buttocks to his new roommates, several of whom had indicated more than a passing interest in the new arrival.
The situation had not improved when the fellow to his immediate left chose to take up residence. His slender frame, emaciated face and non-stop chatter was indicative of one caught in the clutches of a meth binge. Clarence wondered when, if ever, Douglas “call me Screwie” Peters was going to crash.
“How ya doing? They just let you out of the rubber room, huh? I’ve been in there before, plenty. It’s not so bad. At least you don’t have to worry about being stabbed or somethin’. Shit the cops really fucked up tonight. No probable cause, no fuckin’ PC. Just jammed me up cuz I fucked with ’em before. Say they got some bullshit warrant for theft or receiving. Already been picked up on that before. Got it dismissed too. Gonna sue the county when I get out. And those fuckers who picked me up last night, they know the warrant’s not any good, two of them were in on my last bust, they know it’s cleared. What they pop you for? Probably nothing, I can tell, you probably copped an attitude didn’t you. They’ll nail you for that every time, jus’ make somethin’ up. One time they arrested me for “section 1369.” Know what that is? No such section, it’s made up. It means “unlucky cocksucker,” get it? You know, 13, unlucky, 69, cocksucker. Pretty funny, huh? There’s even some big Mexican asshole cop that’s got that badge number. He thinks it’s pretty fuckin’ funny.”
Clarence remembered Officer Castillo’s badge number, but found no humor at this time.
“Hey asshole, why don’t you shut the fuck up!” shouted a voice above the din. The voice was followed by the massive frame of a muscular tattooed Samoan emerging from the crowd. He stood over Clarence and Screwie blocking out what dim light there was. Clarence sat silently and motioned with his head toward Screwie, praying that vengeance was just and he would not be associated with this little speed freak.
Screwie did not jump up. He was suddenly standing; fists clenched in a quasi martial arts pose.
“Why don’t you shut up, fuckstick. I’ll kick your ass…I’ll…I’ll…,” he now screamed, spit flying from his mouth, “…I’ll rip off your fuckin’ dick, eat it and…and…and…and shit it out against the bars.”
There was sudden quiet and Clarence knew he was going to die, he just prayed if he were sodomized in the process, it was after his spirit left his body.
There are many unwritten rules of behavior in the jail and prison system. For example, child molesters, rapists of the elderly and informants have short life spans. Another unwritten rule is that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free cigarette for that matter. Unknown to Clarence, of the many unwritten rules one had just come into play: Never, ever, mess with a crazy, no matter how small. Screwie fit neatly into this category, no question about it.
Screwie, his breathing hard, fast and furious, eyes bulging, stood ready for attack. The Samoan softened his posture, put up his hands up and said, “Hey, it’s cool bruddah, it’s cool,” and slowly backed up. When he was at a safe distance he smiled and turned around.
“Psycho little fuck,” muttered the big Samoan melting back into the crowd, which had also moved back from Screwie and Clarence.
Clarence, his eyes as large as saucers, looked at Screwie, who was resuming his position next to Clarence. As if nothing had happened, Screwie continued, “So what you in for?”
Truly fearing for his life from this lunatic, but grateful for the added space between him and his other roommates Clarence managed to answer, “Possession of coke and possession for sale.”
“Dealer, huh? My friends and I deal a little. Gotta be careful. There’s narcs everywhere and snitches. Fuckin’ snitches. This one bitch and boyfriend were working as CIs, you know confidential informants, jus’ a fancy word for snitch. They was trying to set me and my buddies up, but we found out bout ’em. I was going do ’em last night, but I got busted. Fuckin’ busted. My buddies probably took care of ’em. I dunno. Guess I’ll find out bout ’em tomorrow. I called earlier, they’re good friends ya’ know. Said they’d bail me out. Fuckin’ cops, fuckin’ snitches. Should kill ’em all, jus’ fuckin’ with us trying to make a buck. You know what I mean?” paused Screwie.
Clarence had been scared. He was now truly terrified. He began praying silently in earnest for this nightmare to end. He nodded in agreement to Screwie’s rhetorical question just to placate him. No sooner had Clarence moved his head up and down than Screwie was off again.
“Somebody offed a cop tonight. Heard the deputies talking about. Whacked him good. They’re all pissed off. Best thing you can do is go along with the program. They’re jus’ lookin’ for an excuse to fuck you up. Don’t give it to ’em man. Like to meet the fucker who did the pig though. Now that’s some good shit. Know what I mean? Hey listen, you hooked up with anybody? These friends of mine are pretty well connected. You dealin’ and all, maybe we can do some business. Don’t deal in coke though. Shit’s expensive. Crystal. That’s where the market is. Cheaper and lasts longer. Fuckin easy to make, too. We work with these wets who make it up North County. They cook some good shit too. Hey, I didn’t get your name. What do they call you?” Screwie again paused.
This guy is going to vapor-lock, thought Clarence. “Uh, they call me Clarence.”
Screwie found this terribly funny and began laughing uncontrollably. He rolled on the floor holding his sides hooting and howling. The other inmates backed even further away.
“Clarence?” Screwie gasped between breaths as he attempted to regain his composure, still giggling like an idiot. “Clarence. You must be some bad motherfucker with a name like Clarence. Not afraid to tell anyone either. Ooooeeee, yes indeedy, you must be one bad motherfucker.” Then just as suddenly, he was serious again. “Sorry man, didn’t mean to make fun of your name. No hard feelings, right? You’re all right, man. You an’ me. We’s jus’ like this.” Screwie held his left hand up, the fore and middle finger tight against each other. His fanatical eyes wide, he extended his right hand to Clarence, who reluctantly accepted it. Screwie shook it vigorously.
Their male bonding complete, Clarence and Screwie were suddenly interrupted by the booming voice of Deputy Sheriff Allen Toth addressing the tank from the safe side of the bars.
“Everybody listen up! This is court call. When I call your name, step forward to the door. Place your hands in your front pants pockets or waist band. You will be called in pairs. When the door opens, step out of the tank side by side. Place your outside hand on top of your head and your inside hand next to your partner’s. You will be handcuffed and leg restraints will be placed on your legs. Do not move forward until ordered to do so. When you are told to move forward, follow the yellow line to the end of the hall. No talking! Any variation in this procedure will result in immediate and painful discipline.”
Clarence was watching intently, hanging on every word uttered by Deputy Toth, praying for the twentieth time since last night. This time he prayed his name would be called, anything to get out of here and talk to a normal person. He no longer cared if he ever became an attorney, he did not care if he worked at Taco Bell or 7-11. He just wanted out of here and away from Screwie.
There were several deputies standing behind Deputy Toth. In their hands they held several pairs of handcuffs and at their feet was a pile of chains. This must be a special detail he thought. They all have black bands over their badges.
Unknown to Clarence, he was about to have a guardian angel come to his aid. The angel’s name was Susan Meyers. She hated being described as “perky,” but the adjective was never meant more for anyone other than Susan.
Susan was 20, attractive, and a second year law student at San Diego’s answer to the ivy-league schools back East. Of the many activities in which Susan was involved, the legal clinic was by far her favorite. As a second year law student, she was certified by the State of California to work and appear in Court, as long as a “real” attorney was there to hold her hand. Susan attended the same school Clarence attended. At least the school he attended for the time being.
Susan was currently working for the Public Defender’s office discovering just how far the county could stretch a buck to protect the rights of the indigent. She had come to work early this Tuesday morning. With her morning coffee, she had developed an almost morbid fascination of reading the daily booking log from County Jail. The log contained each inmate’s name, status, crime and bail along with his attorney’s name, many of which were the Public Defender’s office. As she perused the list, she came across a very familiar name: Clarence Edward Taylor, Jr., charge(s): 11350, 11351 H.S., 23152(a), 23152(b) V.C., status: pre-arraignment.
Well, well, well…, thought Susan, Mr. Campus Nosecandy really got himself in a fix, possession, possession for sale and drunk driving.
Susan knew Clarence from her many social outings at school. Cute, but very full of himself, among other things. The log indicated he had been booked just hours before and had no attorney as of yet. The system worked slowly, and Clarence would not be arraigned until at least the following day. Unless he could post bail, he would be in custody for another day, possibly two.
Susan had been to first floor County Jail on several occasions to interview clients. She felt sorry for anyone held there. The lights made it look like twilight in Hell. It was never quiet and had a smell all its own, a combination of old urine, sweat, vomit, cleaning fluid and decay. Clarence was an arrogant asshole, but no one deserved being locked up there. Certainly not a law student.
Susan grabbed the log sheets and left her cubicle heading toward her supervising attorney’s bigger cubicle.
Charles Stevens was at best a gentle throwback to the sixties. At worst, he was law enforcement’s nightmare and a pain in the Prosecutor’s Office proverbial ass. An idealist with an attitude and ponytail. Much to the chagrin of his colleagues, he was one of the few attorneys who still believed in his heart that everyone was innocent till proven otherwise. This made him very hard to deal with in negotiations for plea bargains, but predictable in court proceedings. Unlike his colleagues, however, he did not believe all cops lied. Police officers who survived his often brutal cross-examination had nothing but admiration for him. He, in fact, had several close friends on the Department. And, contrary to popular belief, he preferred their company to that of his clients and other attorneys.
It was not yet eight o’clock and Charlie was already berating his first prosecutor of the day when Susan entered his inner sanctum.
“I won’t say this is the most flagrant case of prosecutorial misconduct I’ve ever seen — your boss has locked in the record on that — but you make me wonder if they still require any ethics courses in law school. Using a 6-year-old daughter to coax a confession, and I use the term confession generously, out of her father is just…just…well there is a lady present.”
Charlie winked at Susan as she stuck her head around the corner. He was leaning back in his overstuffed chair, filler escaping from the arm rests. His paunch was covered with a traditional white oxford shirt straining at the buttons. A retro ‘70s wide tie hung loose around his ample neck. He stroked his goatee as Robert Kennedy and Charles Manson looked on from their photographs over his head. The photograph of Manson bore the inscription “Charlie Don’t Surf!” and was next to a photo of Charlie Stevens, circa ’65, thin, bleached blonde and tanned in a pair of Birdwell beach britches holding the upright Hobie surfboard.
“Well then, counselor, I guess we will just see you in court. By the way, you might just want to ask your star witness, Commander Dockerty, how he feels about another Pitchess motion,” referring to the legal motion brought before the Court. The kind, if granted, allowed a complete review of an officer’s personnel record, including Internal Affairs investigations. The motion was named after the former sheriff of Los Angeles County, Peter Pitchess.
Charlie hung up the phone abruptly. “God, I love saying that,” he said robustly. “And how are you today, Sweetheart?” Not in the least bit lecherous, he was nonetheless a model of political incorrectness in his speech.
“I’m doing just great,” Susan replied, then changing her tone, “I’ve got a favor maybe you can help with.”
“Well, I’ve had my first prosecutor for breakfast, and I’m raring to go. What’ve you got, Sunshine?”
Susan put on her best little-girl-in-need look and sat down in the dilapidated rattan side chair. “Well, there’s this guy I know…,” she began, pleading her case.
I am truly fucked, thought Clarence, watching as the last of his roommates called for court shuffled down the hall, their chains adding offbeat percussion to the otherwise silent march.
Clarence’s name had not been called. He sat there wondering how long he was to be sentenced to Hell. The holding tank was down to about a third of the population it was an hour ago, and at last Screwie had crashed. He was now no more than a skinny lump of flesh, still sitting, deep in sleep, his head lying on his chest. Only a soft snoring sound came from him now and the occasional drool leaked from his open mouth.
Clarence slowly rose from the floor, realizing his feet, legs and buttocks had fallen asleep. He stretched and began walking stiffly toward the center of the tank and back again. Although the lighting had not changed with the coming of the day, it was quieter. Most of his companions were nocturnal by nature and were now catching up on much needed sleep in order to better prey on the fresh meat due to arrive during the course of the day.
Although still dreadfully afraid, nature now called. Clarence really needed to pee. He walked hesitantly to the exposed stainless steel urinal at the opposite side of the tank. Looking cautiously around for any onlookers, he loosened the tie of his pants and withdrew himself from his pants. The steady of stream of urine flowed and he realized this might be his only joy for a long time.
“Clarence Edward Taylor, Jr!” boomed the voice of Deputy Toth.
Clarence was so startled he pulled himself back into to the loose fitting trousers without shutting off the torrent, finishing off in his pants, completely soaking the left leg.
“Clarence Edward Taylor, Juuunnnyer!” called Deputy Toth. Quickly fastening the tie on his pants, Clarence ran stumbling toward the bars.
“That’s me! That’s me!” he gasped as he ran head long into the barrier.
“Clarence Edward Taylor, Jr?” inquired Toth, looking amusedly at Clarence’s pee soaked pant leg.
“That’s me. I’m Clarence Edward Taylor, Jr.,” he blurted hopefully.
“You’ve been added to the arraignment calendar,” said Toth. “When I open the gate, put your hands in your waist band and step…”
Clarence did not consciously hear anything else, he was on auto pilot. His body responded to every command perfectly, while his mind praised whatever deity had arranged for his reprieve.
I’m getting outta here. There is a God. There really is a God. Thank you, his thoughts almost screamed as he walked, shackled, down the hallway.
“Your friend’s on his way to court holding if you want to go meet him,” Charlie said smiling at an anxious Susan.
“How’d you do it Charlie?” Susan nearly bubbled over with excitement, not so much that Clarence had been moved to pre-arraignment, but that Charlie had manipulated the system so easily.
Charlie sat back like an old town sheriff, and imitating Jimmy Stewart he drawled, “Well little filly, when you’ve been around as long as me, you develop a few favors and friends. I always send the court clerks chocolates for Christmas and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Even Percy, the clerk in felony arraignment, appreciates my little presents, so he added Clarence to the ten o’clock calendar. I handled the court deputy’s divorce and got him full custody of his three boys. He’s moving Clarence as we speak.” He winked slyly. “Well, girl, you better get that pretty little behind of yours down to court holding. You’re handling Clarence’s arraignment and bail. Now, Scoot!”
Susan jumped up and kissed Charlie on the cheek. “Thank you Charlie, I really owe you one.” She turned and ran to gather her brief case and save the world.
“Be extremely gentle with the boys in uniform today,” Charlie called after her. “They lost one of their own last night.”
Susan stopped mid stride, “What do you mean?”
“A cop was killed last night. I don’t have all the particulars, but they all tend to be very sensitive after something like that. So mind your Ps and Qs,” replied Charlie, in a very serious, fatherly tone.
“You bet, Charlie,” said Susan, her enthusiasm undiminished, never suspecting she was about to be thrown headlong into the investigation of the Officer Castillo’s murder.
Charlie watched as Susan ran down the hall.
All that for a kiss on the cheek, he thought. Charlie looked at his reflection in the glass covering a framed Rolling Stones poster.
“Maybe if I lose some weight…” he mused, “Nah, nothing’s worth that.” He picked up the gooey bear claw from his desk, took a bite and chewing, returned to his files.
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