Mistakes Were Made
by Martin James Hunter
The officer asks me to part my arse cheeks and I oblige. Nothing between there so he returns my clothes. Delivers a spiel about dodgy pills. Punctuates it on how I should ultimately stay off drugs. The door slams and an almighty locking sound detonates inside my skull, snuffing out the last dregs of my liberty in an instant. I bet the cunt thinks he’s saved me as well.
Sixteen yellow pills on their way to get tested. Spent the entire weekend under their influence and hardly remember any of it. Hopefully turns out to be some legal high and I get off scot-free. A few months later the citation comes through the door. Turns out the pills tested positive for opiates, related more to heroin than to MDMA.
My cell vaguely smells of disinfectant. The bed is a thin mattress on a sheet of wood. Near the door a toilet without a seat. When I am finished with it I press the button but there is no response from the bowl. Instead an officer is summoned who I must ask to flush the toilet for me. He is more of a desk type than a street type and as a result easier to get on with. Down the hall a junkie screaming for a cigarette, voice amplified against bare walls.
I accidental declined my phone call earlier. Was more preoccupied with my untimely fate. Then when the cell door slammed shut I realised that Lydia’s keys were now in police custody – and she was due in from work within the hour. Responsibility has never been my strong point.
The Sequence of Events
It began with the loss of pills that weekend. Or at least it seemed so until I whipped off my shirt Sunday afternoon and they fell from the chest pocket. A little slap as the little bag hit the linoleum. I let out a cry of triumph. One which proved to be short-lived.
It was approaching seven o’clock and I was on my way to meet the guy who gave me the merch. Before I arrived he text me saying he was running late, stalling for another forty five minutes. Faced with this interval I perched on a wall and began scribbling in my notebook as day transitioned into night. Ideas for articles. Disorientated ramblings. A picture of a wee guy.
The world had taken a surrealistic hue because of the sheer number of pills I’d taken over the weekend. A downside to being reckless and always having a bag of them on me. Swallowing one every hour or so, ten bones a shot. I vaguely become aware of a figure approaching in my peripheral vision. Ignored his attempts at communication. Continued scribbling.
When the voice persisted I looked up. The unmitigated dismay I felt. Two luminous vests bulging over me as though under a tremendous amount of pressure. Later bursting over me and the street like a vast unmilked scrotum. The instruments of oppression had me cornered. The pride in my mother’s eyes.
Being too off my nut to come up with a plan I began rambling about poetry and short stories. All energy diverted to the artistic eccentric paradigm – a harmless segment of my personality brought to the forefront and presented as the whole thing. For a moment it looked as though it might work. There I was, centre stage, going off on exciting tangents about concepts and ideas that up until this point I had kept to myself. Middle-aged officers grinning, notepads lowered, eyes lit up, suddenly keen to hear me talk about myself, my work…
I died out then. Resources having been well and truly spent over the weekend. The entire day fuelled by a bit of toast I’d managed to swallow an hour or so after waking up, burning out early thanks to a bit of careless excitement. Spell broken. The officers’ faces dropping at the sight of the shell I’d inexplicably become. Dark eyes going from one to the other. The silence elongating, as though in the grasp of DMT. I’d done it now.
Learned a valuable lesson that night on where to carry drugs – not in my pocket. As they led me into the back of the van one of them politely informed me my eyes were like dinner plates. By the time the engine started I had resigned to my fate.
An hour later I am led from my cell to a room alive with machines. With clinical precision my DNA and fingerprints are taken by an officer who looks remarkably like Michael Biehn. In my drug delirium I am rendered somewhat starstruck.
As I patiently observe, my sample is permanently stored amongst a database of about six million suspects and offenders. And that was me. A lumpenproletarian with a state barcode. (According to the Home Office 37% of black males have their DNA profiled, compared with 13% of asian males and 9% of white males. May indicate something on the mentality of our foot patrols.)
When I am set loose with my possessions I am for a moment stunned at the sensation of liberty that comes in passing the station doors. The sky incredibly vast. The city rife with opportunity. When I am finished savouring the fresh air I immediately hail a taxi. The driver tries to make conversation but I am too lost in thought to respond.
I arrive at the flat around ten o’clock and the place is a riot. As expected Lydia isn’t in. Prevented from putting her feet up after work because some clown went AWOL with her keys. Having no phone and unable to bypass the laptop password, I quickly admit defeat. Roll myself a cigarette and flop onto the bed where I begin thinking about how much of a disaster the day had been.
I am not there long when the handle turns prompting a sigh of relief. In she walks with a gentleman I later learn is her ex-boyfriend. The Holder of the Spare Keys.
Their eyes widen as I fabricate the conditions of my arrest. In this new version of events I were attacked by a drunkard, the police intervened, the size of my eyes prompted a search, and I were tragically imprisoned against the odds. At the culmination of my tale it is obvious no one believes me. For some reason I am still allowed to stay.
A More Successful Encounter with the Authorities
I used to wear a jacket that seemed to double my body size. Found very cheap in a charity shop and the most comfortable thing I ever bought. More than once I had attracted attention wearing it. Usually in the back streets of the city under incandescent lights.
I forget what I had been doing at the time. Think I was just wandering around drunk. Apparently this officer had reports of a suspicious figure in this area who fit my description. Which was impossible since I’d hardly been there long. But they always say that when they want to authorise a chat on account of the jacket.
On this occasion I wasn’t sober but was capable of coherent speech so the conversation went with flying colours. Had his friend laughing at one point so I knew I was doing well. When asked if I was causing trouble I presented the book I’d been holding: A Farewell to Arms. No sir I read the classics, I told him.
He stared at my novel for a moment. Tapped it twice with a stern finger. That’s a good book, he replied, meeting my eyes with an unprecedented sense of brotherhood. Then I was on my way.