This is Part II in a multiple part series (Part I).
I first entered Judge Dune’s courtroom via invitation from The States Attorney. The warrant was a sealed indictment.
Blissfully naïve, I honestly did not know what it was about. In the world of drug conspiracies I was a smalltime player.
At twenty-three my career included a bust for marijuana cultivation in my teens, and a Learyesque understanding of hallucinogens. I always fell back on selling weed as a means of smoking for free but that was about it. I knew about crack money but I also knew about crack drama. I stayed away from corner hustling.
It took me a while to establish some good connections, Illinois was still relatively new to my California blood but I made the adjustment and found myself with a prosperous clique.
The indictment surprised me; it was the result of a regional investigation involving the Cook County Sheriffs Department. I knew it was them because they had been pulling me over for the last few weeks.
They connected the dots from a petty bust in Chicago. I was initially charged with a gun and drugs separately; the Night Court Judge thankfully threw both cases out and I forgot about it. But I never forgot the night I caught that case.
* * *
It was business as usual I was behind the wheel of my pride and joy, a black 91′ Volkswagon Jetta GLI My low profile tires and aluminum rims not only got me pussy but pissed off all the player hating gangbangers that thought it was a Mercedes. I was delivering a quarter ounce of ready rocks back to the suburbs. I would routinely profit $75.00 TO $100.00 per day to make this simple drive into the city. I also got high for free, incentive for a secret smoker.
It was midsummer on the West Side of Chicago, life was simple I did not have a care in the world. My (crack) cocaine laced blunt was sizzling in the sun, I had my sunroof open, Brand Nubian blasting- are those fuckin cops? Mid shift between second and third gear, crack soaked blunt cocked out the corner of my mouth, I made eye contact with one of two undercovers sitting in a maroon Caprice Classic. The glare of the sun made me squint, it easily could have been mistaken as a screwface.
If they made a right turn they would be headed down Kedzie in the opposite direction out of my life; they didn’t and, as miraculous as the Red Sea parting, there was no traffic behind me… shit.
Time stood still as he gunned his engine and headed north on Kedzie right on my ass. I maintained a steady thirty mile an hour clip wary of the ‘law’. I heard his engine gun behind me like a wannabe warming up for a NASCAR race. He attempted to pass me on the right but his anemic engine would not respond and the slowly approaching parked cars forced him back into traffic behind me I was a little freaked out(high) and in retrospect I probably should have slowed down even more and let him pass me on the right but I maintained my speed and he did not make it.
Pulling me over would have to do.
“Stay in the vehicle and put your fucking hands up”. His pronunciation was immaculate. When it came to cops pulling me over, I always cooperated. Flashbacks of impromptu ass whuppins from the tactical squad in Cali played through my mind. I also knew civil rights marches for slain victims always happened after the injustice, I always made a point of limiting the possibility of mistakes on behalf of the cops. After all, they were at war with us.
They approached from both sides of the car, holsters unclipped, hands on their weapons. “You know your taillight is out” he said, telling more than asking. They did not have to tell me to keep my hands visible, my fingers tightly gripped the steering wheel. I responded with an even voice that hid my unraveling nerves.
“No what”? he said condescendingly “You didn’t know or no”?
I responded with a safe “I don’t ……No”
Flashlights danced in and out of my view as they looked over the interior of my car. “I see baggies”!!! the young, armed, wannabe NASCAR driver I made eye contact with yelled. I tried not to glare at him.
They lost interest in my taillight real fast, they made me exit the car, searched me and began to search my car. He reached under my seat and pulled out my cassette tape case. His face frowned up while he toyed with the zipper. The pistol he was holding made opening it difficult, it gave me hope; for one fleeting moment that he may accidentally shoot himself or, I hoped, he might give up.
“a pistol, fully loaded….cocked. I found a pistol”!!! He was yelling.
The excited wannabe NASCAR driver probably salivated before pulling me over; by his behavior this was probably his first fruitful search. He yelled even louder “its automatic, man look at this shit…. cocked, loaded” as he aimed it at a fictional target.
A quarter ounce of ready rock and a 380 automatic were recovered along with a thousand glacine bags I used to bag up every once in a while.
Two grams of crack and a pistol were entered into evidence.
The young guy insisted on driving my car back to the station. I objected, he reasoned, “buddy we can tow it if you want”. That really meant ” Buddy we can leave it here and let the hood fuck it up”
I agreed on letting him drive and he managed to grind and lurch his way to the Harrison street station to book me.
* * *
The whole ride to the station I endured the sound of my gears grinding from NASCAR’S ambitiously ironic effort to keep up with his partner. I realized right there that his inability to pass me had more to do with his driving and less to do with the anemic engine of the cop car that was now zipping in and out of traffic .
All the while, the painful pleas from my gearbox where accompanied by a whiny, albeit perfectly inunciated, lecture from the NASCAR drivers partner.
“I have a daughter on this shit” He held up my crack I did not respond, there was no reason to. The irony of his white man’s rage about crack temporarily floored me.
He kept going.
“People that sell this shit should be hung up by their balls.” He reminded me of my dad when he was drinking . My father would start with a simple statement, an intro into the subject that caused him grief. He would build momentum detailing his disgust; he would increase the volume, pound his fist on a table. By the time it was over there was usually a healthy display of rage and something was broken or bruised.
The memory of my father, the grinding gears and the pussy-mouthed lecture together almost brought me to the brink, telling him to “shut the fuck up” would have provided the type of relief that can only be compared to a good shit. I thought about telling him but I ended up asking him politely, diplomatically. I almost sounded British “sir, would you please shut the fuck up”.
He was to shocked to answer. Perhaps it was my excellent oratory skill that threw him off.
I melted down into my seat aware of my mistake, ignoring him, the brand new pain from my cuffs and listening to my gears.
We arrived at the station without incident, I was immediately led into lock-up.
It was in lock -up I was reminded of the rhythm in life, the importance of remembering a face.
The ability to recall plays a crucial role in everyone’s life ; I am gifted in that area. License plate numbers, phone numbers, combinations that sequentially match , I am always looking for symmetry. One of my girlfriends phone number was 792-4623 I used to call her Illuminati, she never knew why.
The other officer in lock-up was plainclothes. The tall brother looked at me thinking, he didn’t utter a word but his face said:“they got another one too“.
“What you get him for “? The tall detective brother asked.
He had a wide, cherubic face and sandy brown hair sort of like Malcolm X. Completing his look, he sported an absurd high-top fade his friends would laugh at and would surely lead to a lot embarrassment ten years later.
“Guns n’ drugs” pussy mouth bragged suddenly shifting his perfect speech to accommodate his black colleague.. Broadening his chest, pussy mouth asked,
“How bout you””
The other officer replied “Gun, you know it’s still a misdemeanor till the end of the year, he’ll be out in two hours”
“This guy ” pussy mouth was visibly proud of his accomplishment, he paused yanking me over to give his colleague better view. “This guy speeding up Kedzie like a bat outta hell…had a fully loaded auto….. cocked and ready when we pulled him” He put the emphasis in the cocked so it came out sounding rather funny. His exaggeration almost made me laugh out loud.
I started to smile.