Eating an Old Goat

Illustration by Skyler Swezy
Illustration by Skyler Swezy

 

Travis is a 33-year-old Software Developer who lives Albuquerque with his wife and young daughter. He was 19 when this story took place. The names of Bill and Vern have been changed. The following is derived from a recorded interview.

My parents were out of town so two friends and I decided to throw a party. My friends, Vern and Bill, were both hilarious and down for anything.

We wanted to have a Hawaiian-themed party with jungle juice and a roasted pig, like a Luau. The idea was to buy a whole pig and butcher it ourselves. But once we read about Luau pigs we changed our minds, the preparation was crazy and the cook time was 10 hours. Also, we couldn’t find a pig.

Instead, we found a goat for sale on Craigslist. We got into my truck and drove to a run down neighborhood of mobile homes to meet a guy with a goat. The goat was old but we didn’t have any other choices. It was the only one for sale. Plus, we had a budget and this goat was cheap.

We bought the goat for $40 and lifted him into the truck. I love animals and the idea of killing him started to make me really sad. By the time we got him back to my parent’s house, I had decided not to kill him for the party. I put him in my
parent’s barn.

At the party everyone had a good time, but afterwards things started to go sideways. It had wound down and only a handful of people were hanging out. That’s when Vern and Bill, well, mostly Bill (he was always a little off his rocker), decided we should kill the goat.

We went to the barn. Originally, we planned to shoot him but I was scared it would leave an awful mess. What would I say to my parents if they found blood spattered on the barn walls? I vetoed that plan.

Bill grabbed the goat and took him to the backyard. Out back, there was a tree with a rope swing. He used the rope from the swing to string up the goat. Bill, who was always prepared, had a large hunting knife in his truck. We decided to use the knife, it would be clean and quiet.

There was a small group of us, about ten people. At this point I felt indecisive. I thought, well he’s an old goat, I’ve never had goat meat before, and this is kind of what you do with an old goat. Plus, they already have him hanging upside down.

Everyone gathered around. Bill held him steady. Vern took the knife and slit his throat. The goat made a horrifying sound. It will always stick with me. The goat screamed.

The cut was clean but blood sprayed everywhere. The girls watching were appalled. Pretty much everyone was upset and some people left abruptly.

It was 1am, the plan was to eat him that night. We’d just throw him on the grill, have a nice meal of goat, and party a little more. But the process to gut and dress him took too long. By the time Bill finished butchering the goat, only the three of us
were left.

We started barbecuing at 2am. I was determined to prove the goat hadn’t died for nothing. We had to eat him. I took a rack of ribs off the grill and had a bite. It tasted awful. The little meat that was on the bone was rubbery and tough. We hadn’t used any seasoning; it was nasty. Vern and Bill had a few bites, and just threw it back on the grill.

So I had huge racks of ribs and all the raw leftover cuts. It was an enormous amount of meat. I mean it was the entire goat and everything that came with it: stomach, intestines, legs, head.

I wanted to dispose of the body. My parents would be home Thursday but the garbage truck didn’t come until Friday. When they arrived, my parents would find a trash can full of rotten meat. It would have been sitting in the July heat for four days. It would smell awful. There’d be no explaining it. I imagined my dad asking, “Travis, why is there a fucking goat dismembered in our trashcan?”

By now it was almost 3am. I was tired, I’d realized we’d made a terrible decision killing this animal and not eating it, and now I had to dispose of the body.

We put all the goat parts into a big, black trash bag. I told Vern and Bill, “I’ve got this,” and they went home. I felt responsible and didn’t want any more
strange activity.

My house was near the Rio Grande River. The area had many small farms with irrigation ditches carrying river water out to fields. Little patches of woods separated the farms. Behind my house there was a ranch style fence and a small patch of woods, just past the woods was an irrigation ditch. So it was fence, woods, ditch.

I thought, if I can get over the fence with the goat, I’ll throw the bag into the irrigation ditch and the water will carry it away to… somewhere else.

I was basically disposing of a body from a crime scene. I hiked across our acre-wide lawn with the heavy bag of warm goat. When I got to the fence, things took a turn for the worse.

The fence was made of logs, and the top was about 4ft off the ground. I climbed over, then reached back over for the trash bag. It was dark. I didn’t see a low-hanging tree branch above me. I gave the bag a giant heave, pulling it over my shoulder. The branch caught the bag and sliced it open. All the intestines and guts spilled out onto me. The goat fell apart right on top of the fence.

My shirt was bloody. I gathered as much as I could back into the bag and carried it through the woods. By the time I got to the ditch, I had dropped guts everywhere. Intestines were snagged branches.

I had to make multiple trips. I was miserable and covered in dead goat, while carrying body parts to the ditch and tossing them into the water. I remember thinking,
fuck this.

I was really pissed at Bill and Vern, and at myself for letting this whole thing happen. I continued with my work as best I could in the dark and eventually went home.

I was scared the sun was going to come up and reveal the awful carnage. What if someone found a trail of body parts and blood leading to my backyard. But in the end, nothing happened. The body parts just floated away. The ditch didn’t drain for months and it had a heavy current. My parents came home from their trip happy and I had to live with the traumatic killing of a goat in our backyard.

DID YOU FEEL BAD WHEN THEY KILLED THE GOAT?

I felt apprehensive beforehand but I also thought maybe it was for the best. We did buy him with the intent to eat him. And there was the group mentality factor — it was exciting. But then when it actually happened, I didn’t feel good. I’d never been a hunter and I didn’t grow up with that.

The goat scream got to me. I was like, ugh, poor dude.

WHAT WAS THE BAD CHOICE?

I’ll give you two answers.

As an adult looking back, the mistake was getting the goat in the first place. We had no business slaughtering a live animal. I feel like it was done in a crude way. That goat would have lived out the rest of his happy little life at a trailer park if we hadn’t taken him to a high school party.

At the time, the teenage version of myself felt the mistake was not putting the bag of goat in the trunk of a car and driving it to the ditch. I had a car and the ditch was just around the corner.

HAVE YOU KILLED AN ANIMAL SINCE?

No. I’ve never had the desire to. In fact my in-laws have a goat. We visit regularly and I always go sit, pet, and talk to him. His name is Happy.

Posted in Drugs | Leave a comment

The New Mexican Connection

Bot_Mask_Cuffs

Chris currently lives and works in New York City. He was 17 years old when this story took place. The following is derived from a recorded interview. The names of everyone in this story have been changed for obvious reasons.

The year was 2001. It was the day before Thanksgiving but otherwise a typical Wednesday morning during my senior year of high school. I had just arrived at school when my drug dealer/friend, Nate, called. He had a proposition for me and wanted to meet at his house.

I was in the middle of an important activity but agreed to head over when I finished. I hadn’t planned on attending the rest of my classes that day any way.

I was working on a scheme. Pepsi had launched this new lime flavored soda called Storm. They were promoting the drink by giving away prizes stamped on the bottom of bottle caps. You mail in the cap and they send you your prize. I was told that the soda machine in the main hall of my high school was being restocked that morning and contained a bottle cap for a brand new Xbox. I decided to buy every 20oz soda in the vending machine.

I was dealing drugs a bit and had some disposable cash. The machine was freshly stocked that morning. I figured there couldn’t be more than 100 bottles of soda in it. Each soda cost $1.25, I’d buy them all and get an Xbox for $125.

At this point in my life, I was doing a lot of cocaine. I was 6’ 2” and weighed 140 lbs. Classes began at 7:30am, I strolled in wearing sweatpants at 11am with two empty milk crates. I started buying sodas and soon a crowd gathered wondering what the hell I was up to.

I bought out the machine, opened every bottle, looked at all the caps, and of course found no winner. Furious, I stormed out of the building and put the milk crates in my trunk. I had about a hundred 20oz bottles of opened Storm soda. $125 down
the drain.

I bailed on school and drove over to Nate’s.

It’s worth noting real quick, that nothing I’m about to say is admirable or worth bragging about. This story shows my ignorance, stupidity, and youth.

That said, I happened to have a pretty decent car because I was dealing some drugs. I had installed 3 flat screen TVs, a PlayStation 2, and a stupid muffler tip that made a loud whistling noise as I drove. The car was a kind of fast and flashy.

I sped over to Nate’s. He laid out a few coke lines to keep me around and listen to his ludicrous plan. Talking a mile a minute, he explained that he knew a guy, through another guy, that knew a guy, who had a connection in Mexico.

Nate said, if we took a little journey down south, this guy’s Mexican connection would cross the border from Juarez into El Paso, TX. Then he’d drive an hour north to Las Cruces, NM and meet just us outside of town. We’d buy 5,000 ecstasy pills and some cocaine. The price was $8 a pill, making this a $40,000 deal.

I told him I wasn’t a raver and I had no interest in ecstasy.

He told me I’d get 200 pills, which I could sell for about $2,000. Also, he’d give me 2 ounces of pure Peruvian flake cocaine and $1,000 cash just for driving.

Las Cruces is two hours south of Albuquerque. It was 10am. I figured, I’ll be back by 4pm, a normal time to get home from school, what’s the harm? I’ll make 4 grand for an easy little trip and I’ve got plenty of soda for the ride down.

I said, “All right, I’m in.”

I wasn’t a hard sell.

We left his house and the first surprise was we had to pick up the friend of the friend, of the friend.

We drove to the South Valley and this guy hopped in my car. He was a Latino gentleman in his early 20’s named Jason. We hit the interstate and started snorting a shitload of cocaine while flying down the road.

As we approached Las Cruces, Jason got a call from his connection in Mexico. He said he couldn’t meet us in Las Cruces and if the deal was still going down, we had to drive further south to El Paso. He said he’d walk across the Mexican border and meet us at a hotel.

Just south of Las Cruces is an internal US border checkpoint. It’s designed to catch human traffickers, illegal immigrants, and drug smugglers who’ve already made it across the Mexican border. You have to stop, flash your license and answer a few bullshit questions, but if you raise suspicion they will search your car.

Going to El Paso meant we’d have to sneak the drugs through the checkpoint on our way back home to Albuquerque. I thought, this is not what I signed up for.

We stopped at a Subway to talk about it and eat, but we were all too coked up to have an appetite.

To connive me to go along, they threw in another $1,000 and Jason swore he’d carry every pill on his body. Also, if we got caught Jason would say that Nate and I knew nothing about the pills. Basically, he’d take the rap.

I didn’t believe him but I was high on cocaine and I was promised a lot more of it, plus money. It was only a slightly longer drive. I figured, What the hell? Let’s do it.

We drove to this shady hotel full of Day of the Dead art and weird, turquoise New Mexican folklore crap. It was the type of place that rented rooms by the half hour, a seedy joint in the worst part of El Paso. We got a room and waited for hours
and hours.

Finally, the Mexican guy called and said, “I can’t get a ride to the hotel, you have to come to the border. I’ll walk across and get in your car, and you’ll drive me back to the hotel.”

I’m not happy about this but think, what can I do now? I’m balls deep.

There was a Northface backpack in my trunk containing $40,000 in cash, a test kit for the ecstasy and cocaine, a scale, and 100 bottles of soda.

We drove to the border crossing and picked up this Mexican dude. He got in the car and put on a ski mask, which was weird because I’d already seen his face. I thought, well, this is a little creepy.

He looked like a Mexican drug cartel member. He was kind of chubby, with a half-beard and slicked back hair. He meant business with the ski mask and was bulging in odd places. I was a little surprised he made it across the border with the shitload of drugs he was carrying. Obviously, he was a pro and knew what he was doing.

Back at the hotel, he made us take off our shirts and pull our pants down to prove we weren’t wearing wires.

By now it was 9pm at night. We were supposed to have been home by 4pm. I started doing a lot more cocaine asking myself, what the hell am I doing?

After it was clear we weren’t wired, the deal started. Believe it or not everything went down smoothly.

The pills were in golf ball to baseball sized packages, wrapped in brown packing tape. The guy had them taped all over his body. We tested the pills and the cocaine, he counted the money, everyone was happy.

Before walking out, homeboy took the ski mask off and I saw his face again, which seemed to defeat the purpose.

He walked out the door. Then we came to horrible realization that we had 5,000 pills and a shitload of cocaine to smuggle across a US checkpoint.

 

by Skyler Swezy
by Skyler Swezy

 

We needed a plan. Should we go through the checkpoint late at night all strung out or wait for morning when it would be less suspicious? It was close to midnight on Thanksgiving. I was ignoring calls from my parents. They already thought I was a piece of shit and up to sketchy stuff, because I clearly was.

We had ripped open the packages to count and weigh everything, so we needed to rewrap the drugs. None of us geniuses had planned for this or anticipated going through the checkpoint. At about 1am, we found a convenience store and bought a shitload of baby powder, Vaseline, duct tape and Saran wrap. Apparently when wrapped right these prevented dogs from smelling drugs.

We spent the next hour sitting in my car while Jason taped the pills and coke to his body. The plan was to return that night because all of our families would miss us on Thanksgiving. If the checkpoint officer asked, we were returning from a college football game, Nate’s brother played for New Mexico State University (located in Las Cruces). There had been a game that night and we were heading home for Thanksgiving.

A decent story if you’re not telling it while strung out on cocaine.

Jason had a couple thousand pills taped in two layer sheets around his legs, from his thighs down to the bottom of his calves. He wrapped the remaining 2,000 pills into two racquet ball sized packages and taped them behind his nuts, against his thigh. This made him walk like he’d been ass-raped.

We went over our story a couple more times: If the checkpoint cops ask, Jason is a friend of a friend. We offered to give him a ride back to Albuquerque.

We approached the checkpoint with all these drugs, strung out of our minds. I thought, this is the best plan I’ve ever had in my life, because I’m the most confident man in the world when coked up.

Jason was in the back seat, all my tinted windows were rolled up. It was 2:30am when we hit the checkpoint. I thought, hopefully, they’re tired and just wave us through.

Suddenly, I was nervous as hell, but I thought, all right, I’m in a pretty decent car, I don’t look like a human trafficker, I don’t have a big minivan, I’m a white, wealthy looking kid with a nice car and in the passenger seat is another decent looking, young, white kid.

It’s important to note that Nate and I were both 17-years old. Jason, however, looked much older. He was 21.

I said, “All right guys, I’m the only one rolling down a window. Let me do all the talking. Don’t say a word unless spoken to. I’ll just tell them what were doing and we’ll be on our way.”

We pulled up to checkpoint, the officer walked out and said, “How you doing tonight?”

“Good,” I said.

“Where are you going this late?”

“We came down for the football game. We were hanging out with some friends and family but we need to get home to our immediate family in Albuquerque for Thanksgiving. So we’re making the trip home tonight.”

“Ok, do you have an ID?”

I gave him my ID and he’s stood there looking at it. Well, Jason, in a stroke of genius, decided to crack the ice a little. I heard the back window roll down. Then, the officer saw an older Latino guy stick his head out and say, “Hey officer, how’s your
night going?”

The officer looked at him, looked at me, looked at Nate, looked back at Jason, and said, “It will be a lot better when you pull your car over there and all three of you
get out.”

I thought, this won’t end well. What am I going to do? Floor the gas and try to out run them all the way back to Albuquerque? That’s not happening.

I pulled over and we all got out. I told myself, alright stick to the story, I have no idea he has anything on him. I don’t know the guy. Maybe they’ll just look in the car, be like,‘Wow that’s a lot of soda in the trunk. That’s kinda weird.’ And let us go home.

The officer’s first sentence was, “Mind if I run a dog on your car?”

Probably the worst thing to hear in this situation. What could I do?

I said, “Sure.”

Honest to God, straight out of a movie, the cop whistled and a German Shepherd ran out of a dog door in the side of the building. It stopped right between the officer’s legs and waited. He snapped his fingers, the dog jumped through the driver side window, moved into the back seat, jumped out of the back window, crawled underneath the car, ran back to the officer, and sat between his legs again. The dog looked up and barked twice. The cop said, “All three of you guys get inside
right now.”

The car was dusted in cocaine from us railing lines on the drive down.

We’d been sniffing off a tiny silver spoon clearly designed for cocaine and doing lines off the scale too. Flying down the freeway smoking cigarettes with the windows cracked, the coke had blown around.

Police dogs don’t need a shitload to pick up on. We looked like junkies, coked out of our minds at 3am. These cops busted dudes like us for a living. They weren’t
fucking idiots.

He walked us into a little office straight out of the 1970’s. Old computers, nothing had been updated, old metal filing cabinets everywhere. It looked like a shoddy operation.

They lined us against a wall and patted me down first. I was clean. They patted Nate down. He was clean. They started patting Jason down. Everything went fine until they reach between his crotch, he flinched and tightened his legs on the officer’s hand.

The cop said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. What was that?”

The officer reached down his pants, grabbed the packages of pills and ripped them out. Jason yelped because lord knows what came off with that duct tape. The cop slammed him against the wall and cuffed him.

I figured my best bet was to totally overreact. I rushed Jason, yelling and socked him in the face. I said, “I knew I should have never given you a fuckin’ ride! What
the fuck?”

He said, “Sorry, I did it for my family.”

Another officer slammed me to the ground and cuffed me.

As they took our mug shots I thought, I’m going to prison. They tossed us in a “holding cell”, which was a horrible metal dungeon. All steel from the benches to the walls.

It was cold as shit. There were six or seven Mexican guys in there. The officers hadn’t separated us, which gave us time to work on our story.

Nate told Jason that his friend had $25,000 in cash buried in his back yard to bail out anyone from his crew in trouble.

It was the biggest lie I’d ever heard. I almost laughed but thought, if it helps me get out of here, I’m cool with it.

I never confirmed or denied it, I just let Nate run with the lie. He felt like he still needed to sell Jason on taking the rap. He said, “Don’t worry, the minute I get home, I’ll bail you out. We have $25,000 and it’s all yours.”

Jason said, “Blame it all on me guys.”

The officers tore my car apart: removed the exhaust system, cut open the seats, ripped the glove box and dashboard panel off. They found the scale in the glove box. They thought the soda bottles were full of drugs. After testing it, they were really confused that it was just lemon-lime soda.

The Las Cruces DEA showed up. They had been asleep at home with their families and were pissed they had to get out of bed in the middle of the night. They interrogated each of us separately.

Our stories matched up so the DEA’s had two options. They could press charges on

two 17 year old, white kids who might have rich dads and lawyers or they could let the guy who’d been taped up with pills, who was an adult and a Mexican-American dual citizen, take the rap. They must have considered the second option a slam-dunk case, because they let Nate and I go.

Before we were released, Nate promised Jason $25,000 for bail again. I said I’d do what I could but didn’t promise anything.

The cops were nice enough to put the exhaust system back on my car and I started racing home. It was around 7am on Thanksgiving Day.

I made it home by 10am. I told my parents I’d gotten drunk and passed out at a friend’s house. They gave me the ripping of a lifetime, but that was about it.

The next day, I went to the house we had picked Jason up from. I brought $550. I knocked on the door and introduced myself to his brother and mother. I told them what happened and said, “Here is every penny to my name, I hope it helps.”

His mother cried. His brother thanked me. They hadn’t known he was in jail. Nate on the other hand, had gone home and immediately moved to another part of town. There was no $25,000 for bail buried in a backyard. He figured Jason would be in jail a long time.

Jason was sentenced to six years in prison for felony drug trafficking. He’d probably make parole in three with good behavior.

DID YOU EVER SEE JASON AGAIN?

Three years later, I was at a party at my girlfriend’s house. She called me over and said, “My friends just called, they’re coming over and Jason is with them. Do you want to leave?”

I said, “I certainly do.”

I walked out the door and straight into Jason. He slammed me against the wall, told me to open my mouth and dropped two hits of ecstasy onto my tongue.

He said, “My family told me what you did. Thank you. Where the fuck is Nate? There’s a bounty on his head.”

6 months later, I heard that Nate’s apartment was shot up. He wasn’t home. After that I heard he took off to Las Vegas or California.

Shortly after, I moved to New York, as far away from that shit as I could get.

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOUR CHOICES WERE BAD?

First, when I found out we had to cross through the checkpoint and meet the guy in El Paso. I got a horrible feeling, but greed and addiction were able to override my gut.

Second, the look on the officer’s face when Jason rolled down his window and asked how his night was going. Right then, I knew we were completely fucked.

WAIT, HOW DID THE INTERROGATION GO DOWN?

I mentioned earlier there was a scale in the car and it was covered in cocaine.

Nate and I asked ourselves, “How the hell are we going to explain that?”

It was sitting in the glove box covered in cocaine I couldn’t deny that I didn’t know it was there.

We decided that if asked about the scale, we’d immediately say we were coke addicts. They could charge us for contraband and call us pieces of shit, but that was better than admitting to drug trafficking. We would say we used the scale to make sure we don’t get ripped off.

They put us in separate interrogation rooms. DEAs are not jokers. My agent had a grey buzz cut and Oakley blades. He was a tough-looking guy with big muscles and baggy jeans.

He said, “You’re looking at 11 years. You were driving and you can’t be that dumb. You knew about the drugs.”

I denied it. Then he said, “Your buddy Nate told me you guys were going to get a good deal on the pills, if you gave this guy a ride.”

I kept telling him, “We just met the guy an hour before he got in my car. I had no idea about the drugs.”

He said, “How do you explain the scale?”

I said, “I’m addicted to cocaine. I want to make sure I don’t get ripped of when I
buy coke.”

And that was pretty much my interrogation. In the end, I think he let me off because I was 17. Also, he already had Jason who was taking the blame and confirming
my story.

They put Nate and I back in the cell. After an hour they said, “Clean up your acts and get the hell out of here.”

That was it.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOUR CHOICES?

I would say greed but clearly coke addiction played a large role.

WAS DANGER AN ATTRACTION?

Big time. I’m from a middle class family. I’m an adrenaline junkie. I got involved with that lifestyle because I liked having a cool car, I liked feeling like a badass, feeling kind of like a gangster.

Posted in Drugs, Police | Leave a comment

Teaching Cats a Lesson

Illustration by Skyler Swezy
Illustration by Skyler Swezy

 

During the day, Tommy DuRoss is a probate lawyer. In the evening, he performs improv comedy in Los Angeles. This story takes place three years ago, when he was 27 years old. The following is derived from a recorded interview.

My wife, Nicole, and I adopted two cats from the same litter in late 2012. We named them Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor (the first two female justices to sit on the US Supreme Court). They were the cutest little animals imaginable, so adorable, so playful, and total pals too. They really liked each other. They grew up fast and soon entered adolescence. Cat-olescence.

They became super rambunctious, and they’d wind each other up. To a certain degree, it was hilarious. But in the middle of the night it was awful, just awful.

Anyway, one night I’d been working late. I’m a lawyer and I had court the next day, so I’d stayed up preparing. It was after midnight, I was exhausted, and I had to get up early.

I went to bed but was stressed about court and couldn’t sleep. Lying there, I heard the cats start to wrestle. They were slamming into doors and thumping around. I said to myself, don’t do anything. Put a pillow over your ears, just try to ignore them, and go to sleep.

Then, I heard scamper, scamper, scamper. One of them jumped onto the bed where my leg was exposed and sunk a claw deep into the back of my thigh. I lost it. I started chasing them around the apartment. I wanted to discipline them. I thought, this is the last straw. I’m going to teach them a lesson, because they have to learn sooner or later. Which is a very rational thought, right?

I pulled a pillow off the couch and started hitting the ground and yelling, “Stop it!” I wasn’t swinging it at them, I just wanted to scare them.

Here’s when my biggest mistake happened, I wasn’t satisfied with scaring them in the kitchen and the den.

They ran into our guest bedroom, which had windows leading straight to the sidewalk of the busiest street in El Segundo, CA. Late at night there was no traffic but there were millions of nooks and crannies.

At this point, they were scared. I’d made my point. I followed them into the guest bedroom. They were cowering and so scared that they both hopped onto the windowsill. The window was open but a screen blocked them.

I wasn’t in my right mind. I yelled, “You need to SHUT! UP!” And hit the pillow as hard as I could against the wall underneath the window. The cats freaked out, backed against the window screen, it popped open, and they fell out onto Grand Ave. I was like, no, no, no, no, noooooo!

These were not outdoor cats and they were extremely elusive. I immediately panicked. I looked outside the window. They stared up at me, froze for a second, and then just fucking scattered. I thought, no, nononono!

I ran outside wearing what I’d gone to bed with — just boxer shorts. Shirtless, I realized it was raining. I started scouring the street around our apartment barefoot. I got on my stomach and looked under cars. I thought, Holy shit, what have I done?

Eventually I went inside, put clothes and shoes on, and grabbed a little flashlight. Back outside, with every ticking second, finding them became less likely. Plus they were terrified of me.

Nicole was sound asleep, totally unaware. After 30 minutes of earnest searching I was like, fuck, I don’t know what to do. I hope they’re nearby and they get hungry and come home. I gotta go to bed.

Nicole woke up at 6:30am. She said, “Uh, Tommy, did the cats get out last night?

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “Ruthie was at the door meowing to come in.”

I thought, Awesome! They came back!

She said, “Where’s Sandy?”

“Sandy didn’t come back?”

“No.”

Shit.

I came clean and told her exactly what had happened. On one hand, she was horrified but on the other, she understood. Sandy was gone. There was only so much we could do. She took it pretty well.

We both went to work. That night, when we got home the search was on. We spent weeks looking for Sandy but we never saw her again.

 

HOW DID YOU SEARCH FOR SANDY?

We posted fliers all over the neighborhood. We placed ads on the local missing pet websites. We went to the shelter. Unfortunately, we hadn’t microchipped her.

It was bad. At one point a woman called saying, “Hey, I think I found your cat. I saw your ad on the website and this cat matches the coloration you described.”

We arranged for her to bring the cat on a Friday night. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to see Sandy again. There was this big reveal, she opened the cat carrier and it wasn’t Sandy. At that point I lost hope.

NO ONE ELSE CALLED?

One Saturday my wife and I were walking home from lunch. I got a call. I said, “Yeah, hello?”

This teenager said, “Hello. I think I see your cat. I think I found your cat.”

I said, “What? Wow! Thank you!”

He said, “Yeah, we just had Chinese food and we’re pretty sure we ate your cat!”

I could hear all these teens laughing. I’m like, “That’s not ok!”

HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR TEMPER?

The thing is I don’t lose my temper around animals. Haha.

Honestly, that was the last time I snapped.

The ironic thing is if I were to bet, I’d put money on it being Ruthie who claw stabbed me not Sandy.

HAVE YOU FORGIVEN YOURSELF?

Yea, I’d say so. Still, if I think about it too hard I get really upset. Right afterwards, I felt so, so guilty. I was super bummed. I didn’t have to follow them into the guest bedroom.

I like to think that someone took her in. It was a good neighborhood and she was a really sweet cat. I’d be lying if I said I don’t have dark visions. Like a psychopath found her. Or someone is performing one of the crimes from the movie Seven on her, like Sloth, where the guy is barely kept alive except it’s my cat.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THE RAGE FELT LIKE WHEN YOU HIT THE PILLOW AGAINST THE WALL?

All I wanted to do was assert control in an uncontrollable situation. There’s no way to control two kittens that love playing with each other. Emotionally I was just really, really mad.

WERE YOU ABLE TO FALL ASLEEP THAT NIGHT?

Yes. Well, what choice did I have?

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Marrying for Citizenship

ILLUSTRATION BY CHAD MITCHELL

 

Sarah is a tall drink of firewater. She is currently 28 years old and handles business from her home in Mexico. The following is derived from a recorded interview and the names have been changed.

I was in the peak of my post-college partying days and living in Los Angeles.

My best friend, Danielle, has a brother who is a rapper. He befriended these German guys that were DJ’s and involved with the LA hip-hop community: Ronski, Stephen and Justin.

Danielle and I began partying with these German guys pretty often; they were really cool and fun to hang with. We all became friends and Danielle started hooking-up with Stephen.

I thought Ronski liked me but wasn’t sure, or rather, he never made a move. He was one of those guys who you could tell was crushing on you, but never did anything about it, which is not my type of guy.

Anyway, Ronski and I became good friends. I was 24, growing tired of partying and thinking, what am I going to do with my life? I need to have an idea.

Ronski and I started talking about going into business together. He wanted to immigrate to the US. He was in love with Los Angeles, Chicano culture, Mexican people and the hip-hop scene in LA. The guy kinda’ thought he was a Cholo, even though he was German.

He wanted to export classic lowrider cars to Germany. We had a buyer set up but the German government is insane. They have tons of trade laws and require lots of paper work to import goods. It’s socialist I guess. We couldn’t get past a couple of regulations, so we scrapped that plan.

Next, Ronski wanted to make t-shirts with LA hip-hop style graphics. He did design work and knew Photoshop. We planned to manufacture them in LA where it was cheap and sell them in Germany. We were working out the details but he needed to immigrate to the US.

He went back to Germany for six months and saved money.  Then he returned to LA and was staying with me. One night we had this awkward moment.

I had decided, I guess I’ll have sex with this guy and see if I like him, you know?

We started making out but he couldn’t get his dick hard. He was really nervous or something. I was like, oh my god, this guy fucking sucks dude.

I felt bad. It was really awkward. I tried to be nice and said, “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

But in my head I thought, I’m never going to try and have sex with you again, if you can’t get it up the first time, I don’t want to go out with you.

I thought, alright, I’m not going to date him, we’ll just be friends.
But I think he still liked me after that.

Then he asked me to marry him so he could get his immigration papers.

Honestly, I don’t even remember the conversation.

I thought about it for a week. I did some research and it seemed pretty simple. A lot of people in LA marry for citizenship.

You go to the courthouse, pay some money and they marry you right there. The hard part is all the paper work. You have to submit an application for citizenship to the government and an application for a work permit.

I agreed to do it. I wanted to help him out.

The morning of our wedding, I had to pick Ronski up from his friend’s house in East LA where he was staying. I was extremely fucking hungover.

I woke up at 7am because we had to be there by 8am. I was still drunk and thought, oh shit, I gotta go get married! I can’t miss this, dude!

The previous night was my friend’s Grad School graduation party. Her crazy baller mom came from Hawaii and threw this crazy baller party with a limo. I got wasted.

I tried to appear presentable for my wedding day, but instead just looked fucked up and drunk. I put on skinny jeans and this insanely loud, black and white, checkered, satin shirt. Then I drove to East LA swerving all over the road.

Leaving his house I almost hit a car and killed us. He couldn’t drive because he was German. I said, “Sorry, I’m drunk, but it’s okay, let’s go get married.”

When we arrived they told us a witness was required, which we hadn’t realized.

So we were like, shit, we need to get one of these dudes in the waiting room to be our witness.

It was 8am in this horrible government building with awful fluorescent lights and sketchy people waiting for their appointments. Couples who get married downtown at the courthouse are usually really poor or just fucked up like myself.

I went into the waiting room and said, “Hey, waiting room! I need a witness for my marriage. Will somebody do it?”

A Mexican guy with a mullet stepped forward. His name was Adolf. So I’m marrying a German and the Mexican who volunteers to be our witness, is named Adolf. I’ll never forget that.

We went back into the room to get married. It was a stale cubicle of death with no windows.  The floor and walls were covered with generic gray office carpeting and there was a misplaced, white archway covered in plastic flowers.

I stood in front of the government priest pretending that I loved Ronski. I was so hungover my face was trembling. I had to concentrate on staying composed so he wouldn’t know we were bogus. I remember thinking, holy shit, I am marrying someone.

The priest did the whole “Do you take this woman? Do you take this man?” thing. It was a really short ceremony.

We had bought these shitty rings in the downtown LA jewelry district for like $10. They were brass with plastic diamonds. We put them on and then I went in for the kiss. It was awkward. The priest stood there staring at us and Adolf snapped a photo.

It was the worst picture ever taken. In the space between our necks, in a perfect circle, was the priest’s face. The kiss looked reluctant.

Adolf took some more pictures because the government might come to our home and do an interview a few months later.

Everyone said we needed to have a photo album and stuff around our house that showed the history of our relationship, pictures from when we were dating and the wedding. So we had been bringing a camera everywhere we went and taking romantic photos.

A hundred dollars later they gave us our license and we were officially married. It was just a piece of paper, no big deal. We went home and continued on with our lives.

A few days later, we went to a sketchy immigration lawyer’s office by McArthur Park. He checked our documents and told us what forms Ronski needed to fill out to get a work permit. He was just living off his savings and needed a job.

We wanted to run a business from home, but I was living in a shitty little apartment. Ronski suggested we rent a nice house. Then we could receive perspective clients in a professional place. So we rented this sweet house in Glassel Park, a really nice but expensive place.

I said, “Look dude, I’m poor. I can’t afford this, I can only pay $600 a month.”

Ronski said, “That’s ok, I’ll pay the rest.”

“Do you have enough money to rent this place?”

“Yeah, yeah I have savings.”

He had nice stuff so it seemed like he had the cash to do this immigration thing. It’s expensive. You have to pay the government about $2,000 to process your paper work and hire an immigration lawyer. Plus you need savings to live off of until your work permit comes through, unless you work illegally, which is what most immigrants do. The difference is they’re usually Mexican or El Salvadorian and work super hard and do whatever it takes to survive. This is USA, you gotta’ hit the streets man, you have to wash dishes at a shitty Chinese restaurant.

I’d never been to Europe but I started to realize that Ronski’s personality had an elitist European thing going on.

I don’t know how easy he thought living in America would be, but it was like, dude you’re just another immigrant. I don’t know what you’re expecting from this country but people aren’t going to lay out the red carpet and throw job offers at you.

I had assumed he understood this. But then I started thinking, this guy doesn’t really know about America. He’s in love with Chicano hip-hop culture, but does he realize how hard it is to survive?

This had never occurred to me. Moving to a new country is a rough learning experience. Luckily, I was there to help him, but I didn’t anticipate that he wouldn’t listen to me.

It turned into a situation where he just sat in our nice house and looked for jobs online. At first, of course, he wanted to go for the better jobs but after so much time goes by, maybe you’re going to have to scrape some dishes.

A month passed, and then another. I asked, “How’s the job hunt going?”

He had an interview but he didn’t like the job.

I thought, well he has money so he can afford to be picky.

I should have asked, “Hey, exactly how much money do you have?”

Things became a little awkward between us. We weren’t in a romantic relationship but we started to bicker like an old couple. I’d come home and say, “You’re just sitting around all day while I’ve been working?”

At the same time he had housewife syndrome, he’d get cabin fever from doing nothing all day. He was trying to save money so he didn’t go out or party.

I had warned him, when he was still in Germany. The recession was starting and I said, “Dude, the economy is not good here. It’s really bad, I’m not sure you want to come right now.”

He had said, “No. It’s now or never.”

Then I started dating a guy, who became my boyfriend.

I knew Ronski had liked me before the marriage, but I thought it was clear after our weird sexual incident was followed by no further intimate interaction, that I wasn’t interested.

A couple of times after our hookup, he tried to hold my hand while walking down the street. I would quickly pull away. This was before we were married. I thought he took the hint because a month went by and there was no kissing and no talk about it. I thought, he understands and it’s clear, so we don’t need to talk about it.

There I went assuming things again.

After I started dating this other guy it became really weird between us. I realized, Oh, Ronski still likes me and he’s really burned that I’m dating someone else.

He started acting catty towards me. I acted the same towards him thinking, Ah, you’re just this presumptuous arrogant asshole who thought you could come to America and it’d be easy for you because you’re German.

I’d say mean shit like, “What you think you’re better than all these Mexicans who are trying to work here? You better hit the streets and get a job dude. This isn’t socialist Germany, no one’s going to take care of you. You’re alone.”

I started to get really intense with him and became prejudiced towards Germans and European people in general.

Then one day, I came home and he said, “Sarah, I have no more money. I’m leaving the country in two weeks and I’m never coming back. I can’t pay the rent for next month.”

This was 3 months after we’d married.

I was 24, a waitress and the recession had hit hard. People in Hollywood still had money, but my customers worked at Citibank. My tips dropped big time and they started cutting my hours. I was broke.

I freaked out. I had signed a lease for this expensive house. The landlady was no slumlord; she wasn’t going to let me get away with breaking the lease.

I said, “You have no money for rent?”

He said, “No.”

I said, “What the fuck dude? Why don’t you sell your computer?”

He had a really nice laptop. I went all ghetto on him. I was like, “Fuck this shit, you’re selling your computer and giving me the money! I married you to try and help you immigrate!”

He said, “Thanks for everything but I’m leaving in two weeks.”

I said, “Well, we have to get a divorce! And the divorce costs money and I think you have to be here. I don’t know if I can do it after you’re gone!”

I was right, we didn’t have time to get divorced and it would have cost $300 dollars to submit the paperwork.

I started yelling and threatening him, “If you don’t get me the money, I’m gonna’ fuck you up.”

He said, “I’m not selling my computer. I need it to live and to work.”

I was pissed. He knew that he’d fucked me over and didn’t have much to say.

I said, “See, you totally failed and don’t have what it takes to make it in the USA! Go back to Germany and live off your government you lazy piece of shit. I, on the other hand, will survive because I am an American hustler! And I know how to make it in this world!”

During his last two weeks things calmed down and we got back on speaking terms. He left and we were still married.

I had two weeks to come up with an extra $1,000 dollars for rent.

So that’s my marriage story.

 

HOW DID YOU PAY THAT MONTH’S RENT?

Danielle, my best friend, was a big time drug dealer. She sold ecstasy, weed and pills. I called and said, “Danielle, I have two weeks to make a $1000, can you front me a bunch of drugs to sell?”

She said, “Okay!”

I decided to deal weed and ecstasy. There was a huge rave called “Monster Massive” in LA the following weekend. I was scared. Selling ecstasy in LA is a felony; it’s not like dealing weed. If the police busted me I would have gone straight to jail.

I went to Monster Massive, hid a condom filled with 40 pills of ecstasy in my vagina and walked around selling them.

After the rave, I started slanging to my coworkers. I drove all over LA like a maniac, dealing drugs.

Rent day came and I had just enough money. After the check went through there was $3 left in my account.

DID YOU DIVORCE HIM IMMEDIATELY?

I procrastinated on filing for divorce. It cost like $350. I didn’t have the money and kept putting it off. Also, I couldn’t confront the situation. I wanted to pretend like I wasn’t married to a random German dude in Europe. Sometimes I’d think about it and freak out, what if I meet a guy? Will I tell him I’m married to some German?

DID IT COMPLICATE ANY RELATIONSHIPS?

Later, I had a serious boyfriend named Manuel. When the recession became really bad, he lost his job. He was an illegal immigrant and couldn’t find work. I was like, “Dude, just go back to Mexico. Don’t stay here for me.” Then we started talking about getting married so that he could stay and gain citizenship too!

I couldn’t tell him, “Sorry, I’m already married to this German.”

He kept asking, “Why don’t we get married?”

I’d say, “Uh, well, I dunno…”

WHEN DID YOU FINALLY GET DIVORCED?

After about a year, I decided to get it done. I wanted to totally delete that chapter from my life.

It was way more complicated than getting married. I went to the courthouse and submitted a stack of forms. It turned out there was a six-month waiting period before approval, in case you worked things out with your spouse.

I had procrastinated so long, that by the time I filed for divorce and learned about the six-month waiting period, I’d already bought a ticket to move to Mexico in four months. When I moved I was still married.

Eventually, the divorce judgment was mailed to my old house. My roommate was still living there and expecting the envelope.

He called me and opened it. I said, “What does it say!? Is it all done?”

He was like “I don’t understand it!”

He read it to me and I didn’t understand it either. It was a bunch of crazy court jargon. I called one of the court’s offices in L.A. but nobody would answer my questions. Finally, I got a guy on the line and he said, “Actually, it didn’t go through because you’re missing a signature.”

I had forged all of Ronski’s signatures. I was worried that they had found out.

I mailed another form from Mexico and called back again. I got this really nice guy on the phone. I said, “Look dude, I don’t know what’s happening, I live in another country and I need to know if I’m divorced!”

He said, “It’s fine, it’s in the computer system. You’re divorced!”

I still don’t know if it ever went through or he just told me it did. I don’t think I even have the correct paperwork, which makes me worried that if one day I want to get married again, I might need it.

WHY DID YOU MARRY HIM?

He was my friend and I wanted to help him immigrate. Also, I wanted to start a business with him.  We had some pretty good ideas at the time.  You get prematurely excited about things in your early 20’s and tend to rush into them. Looking back, neither of those reasons seems even slightly logical.  Why did he need to live in the US if I was going to be his business partner?

I was a semi-alcoholic trying to become a legit person.

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU’D MADE A BAD CHOICE?

A few months in when he was always at home, never looking for jobs on foot and not getting interviews. I realized he was spoiled and didn’t really understand what immigrating to a new country during a recession might entail. I thought, this dumbass is going to blow all his money and have to move back and I am going to get stuck with this expensive house he rented.

DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW?

Nobody in my family knows about this. They would be so fucking mad. I’ve only told a couple of my friends.

 

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Casual Train Hopping

Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

by Skyler Swezy

On the outskirts of downtown Albuquerque there is a series of abandoned train depots and railroad workshops built in the 1920’s.

As teenagers, my hooligan friends and I snuck into “the Old Train Station” now and then. Friday nights in Albuquerque had become a monotony of shitty house parties, restaurant loitering, Mexican-brick-weed smoke sessions, police dodging, pointless fights and aimless lady chasing.

So breaking into a dark, transient ridden, rust shell of a building to climb around on its rotting roof and smash 90-year old windows was good times. Trespassing was fun.

At night the buildings were dark and sketchy as fuck. Graffiti and empty bum nests lined the walls. It felt like anybody could be lurking inside – taggers, junkies, security guards, paint huffers, fellow juvenile delinquents – but usually it was just empty and dodgy.

The inside of the main depot was a massive room with three-story ceilings. Now they rent it out to movie studios, Beerfest and Transformers were filmed there.  Rickety staircases led to the skeletons of offices on the third floor where a steel ladder provided roof access.

One fall evening around midnight, four friends and I hopped the 10ft chain-link fence and slipped into one of the old buildings. There was Jesse, Chad, Dave and Travis. Jesse was drunk, pretty sure we had picked him up from a party. Travis was a couple of years older than us and had been in the train station plenty of times. Chad and Dave were always down for illegal exploration.

We wandered around with a couple of flashlights between us. After checking out the third floor we climbed onto the roof and surveyed downtown Albuquerque’s minimal skyline. Back inside we walked across the cavernous main room, which seemed like the size of a soccer field. The floor was made of wooden blocks laid like brick and there was plenty of random shit to trip over.

Outside, a pair of active tracks ran along one side of the abandoned compound. Amtrak cars and cargo trains used them to travel north and south along the city’s spine.

A freight train slowly approached from the south and began to rumble by at 10-15mph.

Travis yelled, “Let’s hop it!”

He jogged towards the train. I didn’t think twice, don’t think any of us did, we all ran towards the train. I’d never jumped a moving train before but had fantasized about riding cross-country by rail, evading yard bulls and drinking hooch with hobos.

Everyone’s heard stories about people getting sucked under the steel wheels and sliced in half. But when you’re 19 and jogging through crunching rocks, looking for a ladder to grab, thoughts of steel discs snatching your legs are absent. Plus no one wants to be a wuss.

By the time we hopped another chain-link fence and reached the tracks, the train’s caboose was approaching. It was unlit. A ladder was mounted on the front; in the rear a couple of stairs with a handrail hovered waste high, a good car to hop. One by one we matched the train’s speed and grabbed the ladder or railing, lifting up our feet and climbing onto the car.

Once aboard, we acted like ten-year-olds zapped on Redbull, hysterical and adrenaline juiced, we clambered all over the car messing with everything. The caboose’s interior was falling apart and coated in soot. Cabinets and shelves sat empty. Old newspapers and garbage covered the floor. I figured they only used this car to end the train, because trains have to end with something. We had to yell over the rumbling and creaking of the steel to hear each other’s words.

After a couple of minutes, everyone gathered at the rear door in a line. Jesse stood outside the doorway, I was behind him and three others were inside.

I felt like it was time to get off. I shouted to Jesse, “Let’s get off!”

He nodded yes.

I turned to the other three guys and repeated, “Let’s get off!”

Travis pointed to the ground. The rocks alongside the tracks had become cement.  We were approaching the next station. Travis, who had a bum ankle, shook his head and said, “Let’s wait ‘till we pass the station and it goes back to rocks.”

That seemed reasonable. I turned around to tell Jesse but he was already running behind the train. He slowed to a walk and faded into the distance.

After passing through the commuter station the train conductor gunned it and we rapidly accelerated. It hit me immediately, Oh shit, we’re trapped!

I hadn’t seen this coming. I hoped, maybe it will slow down after a minute. Instead the locomotive’s whistle blasted as we crossed street intersections with striped barricades lowered and blinking red lights. Whole city blocks whipped by as we headed north at 50 mph.

The rear of the caboose had two steps and a short railing. Travis descended to the second step and, gripping the railing, lowered one of his legs to touch the ground, trying to gauge the speed. His foot bounced back violently, kicking up rocks. He pulled his leg up and looked at us wide eyed. I thought, damn, this fucker is flying, there’s no way we can jump.

By now Jesse and the old train depot were miles behind us. We were running out of city fast, soon we’d be in the desert.

A slightly panicked discussion took place. Options were shouted back and forth over the wind and roar.

We could ride the train to the next stop, which was probably Santa Fe  (50 miles north) if the train stayed course. But it was pushing 1am and if we rode to Santa Fe it would be at least 2am when we arrived. Who’d pick us up? What if it didn’t stop? Plus, the train might switch tracks and directions, taking us to a different state.

Our other choice was no better. Jumping at this speed could ruin a motherfucker.

Let’s just make a decision, I thought.

“Ride to Santa Fe or jump?” I yelled.

Travis shouted, “Jump!”

Chad and Dave nodded, both a little grim faced.

Okay. Shit.

Suddenly the train began to slow. There were two sets of tracks running parallel. Another train was heading straight toward us, southbound. Our train had braked to a safer speed while the cars screamed past each other in opposite directions, separated by a few feet.

We decelerated to about 25 mph. A goddamn miracle, but it still felt way too gnarly a speed to leap at.

Dave volunteered to jump first.

He descended to the lowest caboose step. There was a four-foot drop to the ground, which was a dark blur. The rocks sloped downwards, away from the tracks, to a dirt ditch that ran behind industrial lots.

There’s two ways to jump off a speeding train. Method one is to tuck and roll, hoping you don’t land on a piece of sharp metal or tumble through a pile of broken bottles and heroin needles dripping with HIV.

Option two is the run-off: jump and start sprinting in mid-air with the belief that your legs will be able to match your body’s speed. If your feet don’t move fast enough they will stick and you’ll face slam, losing your teeth among the rocks.

Dave was a tall, skinny fella. He leapt and disappeared. Being the last in line, I couldn’t see what happened to him. I figured, well, he’s probably wrecked.

Travis was a lanky guy with a bad ankle that he’d permanently ruined kickboxing years before. He jumped and landed with his feet spinning comically, his torso pitched forward and he too vanished. That didn’t seem too bad, I thought.

Chad, also a skinny guy, crouched on the lower step, knees bent, his face concentrated. He jumped, going for the run-off but panicked in mid-air and tried to tuck and roll. He landed belly first in an explosion of jagged rocks.

Jesus, I thought, he just got fucked up!

His crash knocked my confidence. For a second, I was like, jumping is an awful idea, but I sure as hell don’t want to be alone on this train.

Chad’s biff had confirmed that running for it was the best tactic.  My brain went blank and I leapt, sprinting on the way down. My feet zipped off the ground’s surface and I kicked myself in the ass with each step. After four or five cartoon-speed steps, I hit mud and Supermanned into a shallow puddle.

I stood up muddy but unscathed. No fucking way, I thought and jogged back to see what shape the others were in.

Somehow, everyone was ok. We hollered and group-hugged like a bunch of bro’s who’d just won a citywide beer-pong tournament. Chad’s stomach was wrecked. A six-inch gash ran downwards from his belt-line. Travis and Dave had made out well, only tumbling at the end of their runs.

We walked along the tracks to a gas station. It was after 1:30am and we were miles from the train station. We called our friend Maureen from a pay phone. She got out of bed and picked us up with the air of a disappointed mother.

We found Jesse waiting outside the old train station.

He said, “What happened to, ‘Let’s get off!’?”

 

I contacted Travis, Dave and Chad. I asked each of them a few questions about their leap from the speeding freight train. I like that Dave remembers riding in a kitchen and nobody knows how fast we were going.

TRAVIS:

WHY DID YOU SAY, “JUMP!”?

Because we didn’t know where we were going to end up, Kansas, Utah, Santa Fe?

Also, I’m pretty sure that I had a [real estate] sales meeting in the morning and had also made plans to eat breakfast with my mom.

So I was thinking how would I explain this, “Yea, I can’t make it because I’m trapped in the caboose of a train with four other guys. Please don’t be pissed off.”

That basically influenced my executive call of, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m jumping off this train.”

I SAID WE WERE GOING 25-30 MPH WHEN WE JUMPED OFF, WHAT WOULD YOU PUT THE SPEED AT?

I would estimate it was a little more, or maybe that’s just influenced by how really scary it was. I remember I was about to stick my head out of the caboose to try and look ahead when, Whoosh, a pole whipped past really close to the train. If I had looked out at that moment it would have cut my head in half.

WHAT DO YOU RECALL ABOUT THE JUMP?

I recall going back into the caboose and searching for things to pad ourselves with, I was hoping to find a life jacket or use padding from the seat.

I remember we found one dirty foam pad half-eaten by mice and it was like, nope, that’s not going to do anything.

I went for the run-off and then did a sort of a tuck and roll down the side of the dirt hill. I messed my knee up a little bit but was fine overall.

I remember Chad eating shit. He got fucked up.

DAVE:

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE WE MIGHT BE IN TROUBLE?

I remember being inside some kind of kitchen on the train. We were trying to see if there was any wine we could steal. Suddenly, everyone seemed nervous and was looking out a window. I looked out too and saw houses flying by. It was kind of surreal, usually when you are going that fast you’re in a car on a freeway. But going over 50 mph, right next to houses, creates a pretty intense blur.

WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS BEFORE JUMPING?

I tried not to think at all.

YOUR LANDING STRATEGY?

I wanted to literally hit the ground running. I made sure to jump as far away from the train as I could so there would be no chance of getting sucked under. My plan worked, I landed on my feet and stayed upright. I lost my shoes in the mud and found them later. I was completely unharmed!

HOW FAST DO YOU THINK THE TRAIN WAS GOING WHEN WE JUMPED?

It had slowed some, but was probably going 40mph?

CHAD:

WHAT WAS YOUR JUMP STRATEGY AND HOW DID IT WORK OUT?

I never took a moment to decide, “Alright, Chad your gonna run it out” or “you’re gonna tuck and roll”.  I figured, “I’ll just jump and know what to do.”

Well, I didn’t know what to do.

I started off with the air-run technique but mid-jump I instinctively switched to the tuck and roll.

You know when you see a little kid at the pool jump off the diving board for the first time and while in the air they panic, unable to decide whether to dive or cannonball, so they just end up belly flopping?

That’s what happened, I belly flopped at 20 mph on big, jagged rocks. I remember being pumped that I didn’t bash my face on the ground.

After standing up, I realized a rock had sliced me over my hipbone.  It should have hurt a ton but I was so jacked up on adrenaline that it didn’t feel very bad. Ten years later I still have the scar.  At the time, I lied to my parents and said I had slipped off a wall running from the cops at a party. Somehow, that seemed better than telling them I went train hopping.

HOW FAST WAS THE TRAIN GOING WHEN WE JUMPED?

Man I don’t know. It was probably going about 20-25 mph. But when I was leaning off the side, about to jump, it felt like it was going 50mph.

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30 Shots of Well Tequila

Illustration by Chad Mitchell
Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

 Jesse Sullivan is a 28yrold barkeep in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is a renowned dance floor destroyer and primetime drinkathoner with the face of a Persian Bill Murray. The fella has razor wit, shortstop hands and a pop-culture-encyclopedia brain. He was 27 when this went down. (The following was written by Jesse.)

You know what? Fuck it. I like Maroon 5.

That has nothing to do with this story, but here it goes:

This is a tale about two dudes who decided to beat a hangover the only way they knew how. Prolonging it.

I met William in Brooklyn, a year before he moved to East LA to buy a low-rider Impala and record an album with his band. When he returned to the East Coast a couple years later I was managing (to slowly drive) a bar (into the ground) and William was looking for work. I hired him immediately hoping he could save my ass.

William, I call him Billy, is a charming young man with a barrel chest and a Rollie Fingers mustache. He enjoys golfing, quality time with his nieces and nephews, and drinking the fucking shit out of everything (everything but whiskey, oddly).

Once a trio of fraternity brothers came into our bar and ordered something called a “Bear Fight”. It was an Irish Car Bomb (a shot glass of 1/2 Jameson and 1/2 Bailey’s dropped into a 1/2 pint of Guinness) followed by a Jager Bomb (a shot of Jagermeister dropped into a half pint of Red Bull). Billy and I mocked these jabroneys and rolled our eyes condescendingly, up until the second they left. Then we drank about 9 Bear Fights; so much Red Bull.

Billy and I work in a few different bars in a city that has more bars per square mile than anywhere on earth. Bar-owners hire people like Billy and me because no bar patron likes to drink alone and we are a couple of nice, accommodating dudes.

We’re in the hospitality business. If you have a shot, it’d be rude if we didn’t join, right? So that’s what we did. A lot. The beauty was we could drink as much as we wanted, for free, on two conditions. One: we count the money correctly and properly lock the bar at the end of the night. Two: we’re only allowed to drink well liquor.

Well liquor is fucked. It’s cheap as shit. Bars get bottles for, like, $4 a pop. Mostly brands you’ve never fucking heard of. Well vodka is always something that sounds remotely Eastern European: Popov, Nikolai, Zemkoff, Georgi. Well rum always sounds like the entertainment on a cruise ship: Uncle Wray and Nephew, Caribbean Nights, Rico Bay, etc. Whiskey companies know that people who drink bullshit whiskey don’t give a fuck, so they name their labels like shitty motels: Bellow’s, Carstairs, Ten High, Five Star, etc. Gin I’m not quite sure about. My mom told me as a kid that gin makes men mean, so, honest to God, I never touch the stuff.
Billy and I danced with the devil known as well tequila. These bottles sport names from a Spanish 101 pop quiz: Conquistador, Montezuma, Zapata, Tres Generales, Chupa Mi Culo, etc.

We enjoyed drinking the Zapata brand. To scholars of Mexican history, “Zapata” alludes to Emiliano Zapata, a prominent figure in the Mexican Revolution. To people like me, who learned Spanish from the kids on my mostly Mexican high school soccer team, “zapata” means “shoe”. The latter definition is an accurate description of the taste of Zapata Tequila.

We preferred well tequila because it’s the only liquor that’s also a stimulant. All others are depressants. So, working at a bar that stays open until 4 (or 5 or 6), tequila is the obvious choice.

One day, Billy and I were a little bored during our Wednesday shift, which started at 4 pm, ended at 4 am. That’s a long time. Our shift was a simple one-man, drink-pouring operation that the two of us chose to split. Thus, we could drink ourselves half-blind every Wednesday and still have two good eyes between us at the end of the night. On this particular evening we began wondering how much we actually drank throughout a shift and decided to keep count.

We tallied them throughout our shift. At closing time William had taken 35 shots, I had put down 32. He snuck in three extra when I took a quick break to go home and walk my dog. That’s fine because while he was busy drinking water at the beginning of the shift, I was entertaining a salesman, sipping one of the undrinkable beers that he wanted our bar to sell.

I must admit the shot glasses were small, about 1 1/4 ounce.  It still works out to a little over a liter of tequila for each of us (plus one shit beer for me). Also, we drank this over the course of 8 hours.

Every time I tell the story of “the night Billy and I drank 30 plus shots” the first thing people ask is, “You guys must’ve felt like dogshit the next day. What was that, like, 16 shots each?”

The answer is a proud/ashamed, “No, it was 30 plus each.” Followed by the grosser statement, “And no, I wasn’t terribly hung over.”

Instead, the next day we woke up shitfaced. At 4pm we headed to work at the other bar we both tended and kept the tequila train arunnin’. Our bodies were so dehydrated neither of us pissed the entire day.

The previous night was hazy, but we both recalled looking each other in the eye and saying, “Let’s never fucking do this again.”

At the time it probably meant, “Let’s never drink this much again.” But after a few shots that morning we decided it meant, “Let’s never count how many shots we take, ever again.”

We didn’t. However, we did celebrate our disgusting accomplishment of the night before by taking X more shots during work. We continued putting them back all evening, straight through our shift. This is where we made the bad choice.

By the end of my bartending shift at 2am, I had drank somewhere around 100 ounces of well tequila in about 36 hours. According to the Internet, that puts my Blood Alcohol Content at about .9%. In other words, I should have been pretty fucking dead. But rather than call it quits, I properly counted all the register’s cash, locked up the bar like a champ and invited the few remaining customers to join Billy and me back at my apartment for a tattoo party.

I was 27, flirting with 28, and had zero tattoos. I live in a place where not having tattoos is much weirder than having tattoos and I liked that. I used to say my not-having-a-tattoo was my tattoo. But then I went on a two-day well tequila bender.

Now, I’m no teetotaler. I drink often. I get drunk often. But only once in my life have I demanded that someone use my roommate’s tattoo gun to help me pay permanent homage to my temporary love of well tequila.

Billy, myself, my roommates and the last few remaining bar patrons walked back to my apartment with a fresh bottle of well tequila in hand. Upon arrival, my roommate brought out an old tattoo gun he had scored a few years back in a late-night trade for a microphone cord. This is where shit gets real hazy. But here are some bullet points of what went down, all of which were terrible, terrible, decisions:

Before we could find batteries for the tattoo gun, Billy spotted a Darryl Strawberry painting in my bedroom. He decided to ink the number 18 (Strawberry’s jersey number) on the right side of his ribcage. It would be the best tattoo given that night.

I told the two young ladies that had come to my apartment from the bar that they were, “NOT TO LEAVE MY APARTMENT UNTIL I HAVE THE FUCKING WORD ‘WELL’ TATTOOED ON MY GODDAMNED LIVER.”

Not wanting to assume total responsibility for such a heinous act, the ladies decided to write two letters each. They honored my request and tattooed the letters right where I demanded them to, “on my liver.” I said that while pointing to the right of my spine in the middle of my back. Exactly where my liver is not. My bad.

Billy had “Well” in fancy script tattooed somewhere around the middle of his rib cage on his left side. After my first failed attempt at understanding human anatomy, we decided this was where the liver is located.

I still don’t know where the liver is.

I do know how to Google what my Blood Alcohol Level is.

So there you have it, two days of constant tequila shots, one night of prison tattoos and four days of believing I had Hepatitis before realizing that that’s just what a hangover feels like after drinking three liters of well tequila in two days.

 

ANY IDEA HOW MUCH YOU DRANK THE SECOND EVENING?

I’d say close to 30 shots again, but I’m not sure. I know we were trying to outdo the previous night, and each other that second day, but you have to keep in mind the Shampoo Effect: trying to build up a good lather the first time you shampoo is hard, much like it’s hard for someone with a high tolerance to get drunk the first time. But once you finish that first wash and rinse, repeating is easy as pie. Your hair lathers up in a heartbeat during the second wash. The same principle applies when getting drunk, if your blood is still full of booze from the night before, it doesn’t take a whole helluva’ lot. That’s why you get smashed off two beers at Sunday afternoon brunches.

WHAT TIME DID YOU START AND STOP DRINKING?

Day one we started around 8pm stopped around 4am. Day two we started at about 4pm and I’m not sure I’ve stopped yet.

YOU DIDN’T PUKE?

Nope. Day one we were just in the zone. The first 3 or 4 shots of well tequila are fucking vile, but once you get passed those, it’s all downhill. Meaning, taking shots is as easy as coasting a bike down a hill and the direction of your life is also going right downhill. By day two Billy discovered that chasing well tequila with orange soda tastes like stealing a homeless man’s Orange Julius and chugging it; surprisingly, it’s really fucking good.

WAS THE TATTOO GUN SANITARY OR A GRIMY PRISON-NEEDLE OPERATION?

Beats me, Mom.

DO YOU REMEMBER GETTING THE TATTOO, ANY SNIPPETS OF COGNIZANCE?

Mostly what I remember about getting the tattoo, and this is for anyone reading who doesn’t have a tattoo, is that it doesn’t hurt at all. Seriously, didn’t feel a goddamned thing. I think I slept through the entire letter ‘E’.

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU’D GOTTEN THE TATOO? DID YOU WAKE UP CONFUSED ABOUT A WOUND ON YOUR BACK?

It was similar to drunkenly blowing a bunch of money at a strip club the night before. You kind of jolt out of bed the next morning, and there’s a brief moment of panic where you say to yourself, “Fuck, did I seriously blow $500 dollars last night? No way, right?” Then you open your wallet and it’s just full of ATM receipts and your heart drops to that place in your stomach where barf happens.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST THOUGHT WHEN YOU RECALLED THE GETTING THE TAT?

I’m so good at self-denial it’s dangerous. It’s 5:47 am and I’m in bed watching ‘Duck Soup’ with a 40 oz of Olde English. Hook me up to a lie detector and ask me if I’m an alcoholic. I’ll say no and pass. Ask me if I believe this tattoo will magically go away, I’ll say yes and pass.

DESCRIBE THE TYPOGRAPHY ON YOUR BACK. DID ONE LADY DO BETTER THAN THE OTHER?

The letters are all CAPS, probably about an inch and a half tall each. If you subtracted 20 years from the actual age of the girls who did it, you would get a pretty good idea of the quality of their penmanship. And yes, one girl did do a better job than the other. The one that hated me more did a stellar job of getting the ink in real good and deep… but it doesn’t matter because it’s going to magically disappear anyway.

Well Proof

Posted in Drugs | 4 Comments

First Day Doo-doo Drawers

Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

Salty is a 31yrold Mortgage Broker who lives in Glen Park, CA and works in San Francisco. He is a master of bar sports, horseshoes and bowling.(The following is derived from a recorded interview.)

I was fifteen and it was the first day of high school. I had just moved to Tampa, FL two years earlier and didn’t have a lot of friends. I was pretty shy, and nervous about going to a high school where I didn’t know anybody.

I didn’t get much sleep the night before and was super stressed. High school was scary, plus I would have to ride the bus for the first time, which also scared me because my high school was really far away.

The next day everything was going grand. I made it through first period, second period and vividly remember sitting in third period English class. The classes were 60 minutes long. 50 minutes into third period I felt a gut wrenching stomach pain. It was killing me.

It didn’t feel like I had to take a shit, it was more like, man, I gotta let out a fart and it’s probably gonna be loud, I can already tell.

I fought it and fought it.

I thought, I have to somehow very quietly squeak out this fart. I’ll look around at everybody, give them the stink face like they did it and then go about listening to the teacher, totally playing it off.

Hurting, I had to let it rip. When I made this motion [shifts to one butt cheek], it was pretty apparent that more than a fart had taken place. I had sharted.

The expression on my face must have said it all. I thought, oh man, I may have just shit my pants a bit, well, time for damage control. Then I started smelling poop.

I sat through the rest of the class wondering if people could smell it. Then I thought, no, no, no, maybe there’s some type of vortex in my pants, the smell is just coming up through my pants and out of my shirt collar and I’m the only one that can smell it. No one else can smell this, just me. I’ll inhale a lot and soak it all up. It’ll be all right, I can make it ten more minutes.

The bell rang. I pretended to finish work so I could be the last one out.  I stood up, stretched and did a butt check. I didn’t see anything on my pants. I thought, good, maybe I’m all right.

I marched to the bathroom, went into a stall and checked my underpants. There was definitely some turdage. On a scale of 1 to 10 it wasn’t that bad. About a 2.5, but it wasn’t a 1 either. There was more than a dab.

I haven’t even gotten to the bad decision yet, everything was still going okay. I figured, all right, I’ll take some toilet paper and wipe this up, throw it in the toilet, pull up my pants and go call my mom. She’ll come get me and I’ll go home. That’s the end of my day. Done.

It seemed pretty sweet actually, dude, I just pooped my pants and I get to go home early. Wish I had known about this a long time ago.

I was also relieved that I hadn’t completely destroyed my pants. The outside of my jeans weren’t brown. I was going to go home. I was in the best of moods.

At this point, a lot of people ask me, “Why did you put your underwear back on if they had poop on them?”

I remember thinking, what if this stomach feeling returns and it happens again? I don’t want it to be on my bare jeans. So I put the dirty underwear back on as a buffer, just in case.

Everything was going great. I pulled my pants up and walked into the principle’s office. An old lady was typing at the reception desk. I said, “Hi, I need to call my mom.”

“Why?”

“Oh, I’m not feeling good. I need to go home,” I said nonchalantly.

“Yea right, you and everybody else. Now go back to class,” she said.

“Yea, but I’m sick.”

“Do you know how many kids have come in here and said they’re sick on the first day of class because they don’t want to stay? Go back to class,” she said.

This completely blindsided me, I had no idea this would happen. I realized high school was a lot different than junior high but this still seemed bizarre. All my life, if I told someone I didn’t feel good they sent me home. No one had ever said, “Nope, you’re going back to class.”

I thought, oh no, okay, focus on what’s happening, what are my options now?

There was a really cute girl (a student) working at a computer, I remember looking at her and thinking, damn that girl is cute. Damn this lady’s a bitch, she just told me I can’t go home.

This is where the bad decision comes in. I was a very soft spoken kid. I never raised my voice. I always said, “yes ma’am, no ma’am.”

The thought crossed my mind of saying, “Look bitch, I will plop some doo-doo covered Garfield underwear on this desk right now. I am sick. There is shit in my underwear and you need to let me go home. I am calling my mom right now.”

I could have done that, I considered being very bold and declaring, “I don’t care if that girls is hot, I don’t care if she tells the whole school, I want to go home, I have shit my pants.”

Instead I said, “Yes ma’am”, smiled at the girl and went to class with shitty underwear. You can only clean so much shit up with toilet paper.

So that’s how that went down.

I was late for fourth period. I walked in, sat down and immediately smelled shit. It wafted into my nose. I’m like, fuck, there’s no way that the people around me can’t smell this, it is pretty prominent, but my nose is closer to my drawers than anyone around me, so maybe they can’t smell it.

I went back and forth in my mind, oh god people smell it, should I look around and act confused? And say, “Dude who smells like shit?”

Maybe they just think someone stepped in dog shit.

I sat through fourth period. Fifth period I made sure to be the first one to class. My stomach was feeling fine at that point. Everyone filed into the room and sat down. There was a very clear area of empty chairs around me. I imagined everyone in the room thinking, Chemistry sucks, oh man that dude smells like shit!

I became super paranoid. I started sweating and freaking out, which probably upset my stomach.

I only knew one guy in the whole school and ran into him in the hallway between fifth and sixth period. He didn’t really like me, but we were the only two people from our junior high attending this high school so he said hi. I was horrified and thought, if this guy smells shit that’s the end of it. I gave a very brief, “What’s up?” Followed by, “Gotta go!”

Nothing spectacular happened in sixth period. The bell rang. I ran to the bus and was the first on.  Everyone filed in, it was a packed bus but no one sat next to me. Maybe they smelled shit; maybe they thought I was a dork. I have no idea, but it worked out in my favor.

Right when the bus started driving, I got the worst stomach pains. I thought, oh, this is not good, this bus driver is not going to pull over, I am stuck and mine is one of the last stops.

I knew I wouldn’t be squeaking out a fart. This was something I had to hold in and hope I made it home.

I fought it for so fucken long. The beast was rattling the chains; it was getting nasty in there. I put up a good hard fight for twelve rounds and then it went to decision. I was holding back a waterfall of shit. It got to the point where I thought, ahhh, I just gotta shit.

I let go. It was an eruption. It was a silent shit storm. It felt great. After such a long fight, I was like, oh god man, thank god.

The bus seat was covered in shit. I was horrified. I reached in my book bag, grabbed a couple of folders, sat up and plopped them down trying to cover it up. But it just spread out even more when I sat back down. I think some fell on the floor.

It was a disaster. If somebody sat next to me, he’d be sitting in my shit. I tried to sprawl out and just act like an asshole that wanted his own seat.

My stomach didn’t torture me for the rest of the ride home. The bus had started with about thirty riders. When it reached my stop half remained. I didn’t want to walk off the bus with brown pants. I kept riding.

The smell was horrendous. Earlier I figured I could play it off like I’d stepped on a dog turd; but this was the scent of human feces. No one said a word.

How could they not know it was the guy sitting by himself? Either no one noticed or they pretended not to. But the odor was undeniable, plus I was sitting around the middle of the bus so everyone in the back must have received a good whiff.

The bus continued dropping people off. We’d driven so far I didn’t know where the fuck we were. Finally, only three of us were left and the bus driver said, “Where you kids live at?”

The other two kids described where they lived. He asked me, “Where you going buddy?”

I mumbled something and said, “I’m going the same place as him.”

He dropped the first kid off, then second kid off, then he was like, “I thought you were going with him.”

“Nah, I’m just going a little bit further,” I said.

“Where? What house is yours?” He said.

“That one right there that’s me.”

He pulled over. I left my folders on the seat and walked to the front of the bus. When I got there I turned towards him and said, “I have a question.” I backed down the stairs and out of the bus saying, “Is this like, uh, the usual route? Okay yeah um, well, hey, it was nice meeting you.”

Once outside the bus, I quickly turned and walked away.

I was easily a mile and a half from home. No one had cell phones in those days, I couldn’t just call my mom. I was sporting some extra shitty pants. They were Jincos to be exact, which may be more embarrassing than crapping in them. I started to run. I just wanted to sprint as fast as I could.

When I had stood up on the bus I felt poo around the back of my knee.  Running shook it down onto my ankles; it was dropping from the bottom of my Jincos.

I ran and ran. I even passed some kids that had been dropped off earlier. I didn’t fucken care. I passed them.

Jogging with diarrhea is not wise. It’s hard to stay puckered up. The urge returned, which made me run faster, which made it impossible to hold it back. I started shitting again, full force, just shitting, and running, and shitting. Poo was blatantly falling from the bottom of my jeans, covering my shoes. I left a trail a good mile long.

I no longer cared. It was gross.

I reached home and my mom was standing outside because I was late.

“How was your first day?” She said.

“Whatever mom, screw you!” I said then hurried to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I wasn’t done! Apparently, I could have crapped for hours.

The bathroom was a bad scene.

I took a shower. My mom kept knocking on the door asking, “Are you okay?”

I exited the bathroom silent. I let the visuals and smell do the talking.

I thought for sure she’d throw my pants in the trash but somehow they were clean later that night. I never asked how she did it. I don’t think I ever wore them again, too many bad memories. Plus, I had plenty of Jincos.

 

WHAT DID YOU EAT THE NIGHT BEFORE?

I can’t remember. It could have been 32 extra hot chicken wings or something super gnarly like a bowl of jalapenos, but nothing really jogs my memory. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it was your basic pre first day of school meal.

YOU GOT AWAY WITH THIS? YOU WEREN’T LABELED “SALTY SHITTY PANTS”?

My reputation was unscathed. Somehow I was not known as the shitty pants guy. I was expecting it and maybe in some circles I was. I don’t know. If I was, I never heard about it. Nobody picked on me for it.

I was afraid to ride the bus the next day. I was scared the bus driver would say, “Hey man you shit on the bus, that’s not cool, I had to clean that up.” But he didn’t say anything.

WHAT WAS YOUR BAD CHOICE?

Not standing up to that lady.

I wish I would have dropped my pants, ripped my soiled underwear off and slapped them on her desk.

It was traumatic. For several years every time my stomach would make the slightest noise, I’d be like, oh fuck this is not happening again!

I am still not one with my guts. We’re not like we used to be. That’s the biggest part.

If I’d just gone home, I wouldn’t have been so mad at my bowels. After the bus incident it was like, listen bowels, you did a lot of people wrong with this one. You did me wrong, you did whoever had to clean that bus up wrong and you did my mom wrong.

SO YOU LITERALLY SHOULD HAVE TRUSTED YOUR GUT?

Yeah, my gut feeling at that point was to say, “Look lady, you don’t understand, I’ve got proof, I have nasal proof if you want to get close enough to me, just take a big whiff, I will prove to you I am sick.”

But god that cute girl, fuck her, l shouldn’t have paid any attention to her.

SO THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED, YOU DIDN’T WANT TO SAY YOU SHIT YOUR PANTS IN FRONT OF THE CUTE GIRL?

Yeah, of course.

MAYBE IT’S GOOD THAT YOU DIDN’T, SHE MIGHT HAVE TOLD EVERYONE…

Haha yea, maybe this is all for not. I would’ve been Shitty Pants Guy and maybe not saying anything was the best decision of my life.

Although, if I’d spoken up I think I would have been a little more coy about it.

DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?

I guess if I learned anything, it’s that this was going to happen sooner or later. I have definitely been in a lot of situations were I get shy, nervous and stressed, and my bowels don’t like it.

If I’m at a job interview and I feel like I gotta fart, I excuse myself for a moment. I don’t think, maybe I can just squeeze out a fart. I’m 0 for 1 in that game.

If you think you can just squeeze out a fart, be careful. Sometimes you can’t just go change your underwear.

COOL MAN, GOOD SHIT.

Haha.

Posted in Drugs | 1 Comment

Thai Police Chase (Full Version)

Illustration by Chad Mitchell
Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

Nate is a 26yrold Anthropology student at the University of Hawaii who originally hails from Albuquerque, NM. He’s lived in Thailand and Cambodia, and has rambled through India and most of Southeast Asia. He was 23 when this happened.
(The following is derived from a recorded interview and the names have been changed to protect Nate’s Thai visa status in the future.)

This story starts in a small village called Pai, high in the mountains of Northern Thailand, at a shisha bar my friend owned.

My friend, the bar owner, introduced me to an English chick named Kate. We started shooting the shit. She was cool. We drank a bunch of beers and got drunk, telling our life stories and all that.

We were both going to be in Thailand for a while and exchanged numbers. I never called or thought I’d see her again.

Months later, after travelling through Southern Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, I ended up in Bangkok alone, trying to land a teaching job.

I was staying at a shitty hotel across the street from MBK, an enormous mall. The room cost around 400 baht per night [$10]. The hotel was shady and pretty much in a go-go bar area.

One night I headed over to a touristy part of the city called Khao San Road. I wanted to get out of the room, meet some foreigners and have a few beers. Khao San Road is like the Vegas Strip for underage drinkers on crack. It’s a tourist party zone, full of dumb t-shirts, pubs playing European football games, dance clubs, trinket shops, McDonalds, overpriced western restaurants, sarongs, flip-flops, crap.

Walking down the street, I ran into Kate, the girl from Pai. She was with three friends. They had just come from some islands in southern Thailand.

I couldn’t remember her name at first; we’d only met that one night. I sat down and we started drinking beers.

Her friends were English dudes in their late twenties. Two of them were wannabe Rastas rocking scruffy, dirty jeans almost yellow from age. They were new-age hippie types with hemp bracelets who missed the Southeast Asia hippy trail by 40 years. One of them had dreadlocks and was named Chester.

We were drinking and cracking jokes at a makeshift outdoor bar, basically a little table set up outside a real bar, in a narrow ally off of Khao San Road.

This Thai dude who worked at the bar started chilling with us. He couldn’t have been any cooler. He was tatted down, dreadlocked out, friendly, a super cool guy.

The conversation turned to drugs fairly quick. Stories began to abound about weed and drugs in Thailand. The Thai guy said he liked good weed and the Brits told a story about taking shrooms in Southern Thailand.

The drinks had been going for a while, when Chester slipped away with the Thai guy further down the alley. I took note but wasn’t concerned.

Shortly after they returned, we decided to walk to a main street and grab a tuk-tuk (a small, three-wheeled Thai taxi, basically a motorbike with a bench-seat mounted where the rear tire would be). We wanted to find a dance club.

We headed down the alley, which lead away from Khao San Road to a busy main street.

Immediately after we started walking down the alley a cop stepped out of the darkness and said, “Why are you talking to Thai men? Why are you talking to Thai men in the alley?”

Everyone was like, “What?”

Then, two more officers appeared behind him.

The cops were intense, clean-cut fuckers in brown uniforms. Most Thai police look sharp; they are considered royal servants. The first cop did all the talking, except for one-word exclamations from the rest.

I thought, I didn’t do shitWhat are these cops tripping on? Then I remembered, oh fuck, homeboy did go in the alley. But I hadn’t done anything so I figured, fuck it, I’m straight.

It quickly became apparent that the cops were not going to just let us go. Soon two older, more senior looking cops arrived.

They walked us farther down the alley, hidden from the view of other foreigners. At this point I still thought, it’s all good, this won’t be an issue, we’re on Khao San Road where tourists are always doing crazier shit than this.

One by one, the cops told us to empty our pocketsI emptied mine right away to prove my innocence.  So far everyone was clean, then they got to Chester, who I’d been watching the whole time.

Chester emptied his front pockets and palmed something in his hand. The cop patted his front down without finding shit. Then turned him around to check his back pockets. That’s when Chester tried to slip what was hidden in his hand back into his front pocket. Not a horrible maneuverbut all the cops were watching him. The cop yells, “Ah! Ah! Ah!”

Chester tried to turn and throw it, but he had no chance, the cop caught his arm. After a split-second hand wrestle, the cop pried something from his fingers.

I thought, well, shit, homeboy is fucked.

The cops inspected the contents of one of those mini zip-lock drug bags. It was weed, almost nothing, just a dime bag probably worth $10 in America. But that didn’t matterwe were in Thailand. Catching a foreigner with any type of drug is instant gold for Thai police.

I did a series of wai’s (Thai bows) and said “kawtor kraup (I apologize)” several times in some vain attempt to show respect. The main cop gave me a funny smile and said, “Oh, you speak Thai?”

Nit noy kraup (a little bit),” I said, which made my attempt to speak any Thai at all look ridiculous.

Kind of a stupid move, but shit, you never know what showing a little respect will get you in Thailand. This time it just weirded them out.  

They motioned for none of us to move, stepped back and began talking amongst themselves. One of the officers radioed the station, while the others listened intently. I couldn’t tell what he was saying, it could be bad or maybe he’s just getting approval to release us, I thought.

After a minute the cops came back and insinuated that we needed to bribe them.

The main cop said, “You know this is Thailand? This is illegal in Thailand and there’s a big fine.”

I was still thinking, they may not fine me, maybe just tax homeboy who had the weed. We were all sitting down in the alley.  I planned to assert myself and explain that I just met these guys. But before I had the chance, the most senior officer motioned for Chester to stand up, turned him around and slapped handcuffs on him. We all realized that the situation was fucken serious.

Chester looked at the floor but didn’t freak out. Judging from the Brits’ calm reaction, they had money for the bribe or didn’t realize they might go to jail. They seemed more worried that their big night out was fucked up.

When they started cuffing everyone I knew we all would have to pay a bribe. I wasn’t sure how much; they weren’t exactly throwing out numbers. I had heard that a bribe in Thailand was usually upwards of $1,000. In Laos, a much poorer country, I had talked to foreigners that paid police bribes of  $600. I knew it was going to be more expensive in Thailand.

My head started buzzing. I thought, I only have about $200 in my bank account, fuck, I’m the only one who’s not going to be able to pay.

I started running through my options: Best case scenario, I get arrested, don’t have enough cash for the bribe, spend some time in a Thai holding cell, have a chance to call my mom before getting processed, she wires me money, I pay the bribe and I’m released.

But what if it doesn’t happen? What if they don’t let me call for the money? Instead, they demand it and process me when I can’t pay the bribe. Then I’m stuck in the Thai judicial system, usually you don’t get a court date for months and can spend a lot of time in Thai jail. If that happens I am fucked. I contact the embassy and my name goes on a list. Who knows when I get out?

I couldn’t let that happen.

The policeman motioned for Kate to stand up. They bound her hands with a zip-tie. She began a whining plea with a pouty expression on her face.

I was next in line to get zip-tied. One of the larger officers motioned for me to rise. I was shaking. He held both my wrists behind my back in one of his hands. He didn’t have a good grip. I felt a moment of time, a single moment of possibility for action.

I pushed him, thrusting myself backwards, hitting his chest with my back and shoulder as hard as I could.

I couldn’t see if he fell but I knew he went flying. He hadn’t expected it. I took off running down the dark alley. I didn’t look back but could hear their footsteps echoing off the walls as they chased me.

The alley opened into a huge parking lot full of parked cars, with a busy street and traffic circle running along one side. I looked back; the cop was right behind me with a second cop slightly behind him. I ran to the street but couldn’t cross the 60 mph Bangkok traffic, so I turned, juked the cops and sprinted back into the lot.

Thank god they were basically shitty runners and I’m pretty fast even in flip-flops. At one point they came within five feet but I quickly gained distance on them.

A car driving through the lot slammed its brakes and stopped right in front of me. I jumped the car’s hood Hollywood-style and kept running full speed through the parking lot cutting through rows of parked cars.

The parking lot was on the same enormous city block as Khao San Road, but on the opposite side. In the back of the lot were a series of narrow pedestrian alleys that cut through apartment buildings and guesthouses back towards the touristy area. I thought, one of these will lead all the way back to Khao San, just get back to Khao San Road, there’s thousands of foreigners there, I can blend in.

The cops must have stopped chasing me for a minute, maybe to regroup? I’ll never know, but suddenly I’m standing before a ten-foot wall, at the end of the lot and they’re not behind me. I couldn’t hear or see them.

I’d been holding a long sleeve shirt in my hand and wearing a baseball cap. I realized I had a few seconds and threw my hat as far as I could, then put on the long sleeve shirt to hide my forearm tattoos.

I started trying alleys; the first dead-ended at a ghetto security wall. The side of an apartment building was directly behind. I hoisted myself onto the wall, which had glass bottle shards cemented into the top.

There was a two-foot gap between the wall and the side of the apartment. I thought, I can throw myself in the gap and hide but I’ll be a sitting duck, fuck that.

I hopped back down and still didn’t see any cops. What the fuck, where are they?

The next alley led to the rear courtyard area of a guesthouse, enclosed by a cement wall. Police whistles were blowing and boots pitter-pattered as they searched the other alleys; it sounded like more cops had joined the chase. I followed a path to the back door of the guesthouse.

My first instinct was to find any young foreigners and say, “I gotta go in your room right now! I’ll give you a hundred dollars!”

The first floor was empty. I ran up stairs to the second floor hallway. I searched for somebody entering a room or an open door to force my way into and banged on random doors.

I came across two old white ladies. Will they help me or will they turn me in?  I didn’t trust them and scrambled back downstairs. There were whistles chaotically blowing close by. I knew a fucken search was happening.

The first floor was still empty. The front of the guesthouse was an open-air lounge that faced the street. There was also an unattended front desk and an Internet Café with a bathroom next to it.

The whistles were getting closer. The cops are figuring it out, searching each alley.  I entered the guesthouse’s shitty, public restroom. It was empty. There were two stalls. I entered one, latched the door and pulled my feet onto the toilet.

The whistles seemed to be getting closer and closer. I resigned myself to having about two minutes of freedom. I lit a cigarette and smoked with my feet up.

You can’t smoke in a guesthouse bathroom. I thought, who gives a fuck? I’m about to go to Thai jail. There’s no way out.

I guessed there would be ten cops by then. I could hear men shouting in Thai.

I waited for them to come get me. Any second a cop would enter the bathroom, bust open the first stall, then kick in my stall door and drag me out of the bathroom. They would take me somewhere out of the view of any foreigners and beat the fuck out of me. That’s basic protocol in Thailand. Sometimes the Thai police beat people up just for looking at them wrong and they don’t appreciate foreigners acting above the law. I figured that first motherfucker, the cop I shoved, would get five minutes alone with me.

I smoked my last cigarette.

Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

Slowly, the whistles became fainter. I thought, you gotta be joking me, these motherfuckers didn’t come in the guesthouse and check the restroom?

After five minutes of silence I thought, this could be my lucky shit, but I might fuck myself by staying in this bathroom.

I exited the bathroom trying to act normal but wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t safe yet. I could still hear whistles and yelling in the distance. A cop car was parked in front of the guesthouse.

I figured, the best thing I can do is sit at a computer, blend in with the other white kids and hope they don’t recognize me.

Ten foreigners were in the café, all looking at Facebook. I rented a computer, logged into Facebook and stared at the screen listening intently. I tried to use the screen as a mirror to watch the street.

The cops never came. I couldn’t believe it. After ten minutes of thanking God and sweating a puddle, I paid the cashier and walked outside. The cop car was gone. Instead a tuk tuk (three-wheeled taxi) sat where the cruiser had been parked. I crossed the street with my head down and got in the tuk tuk. It’s roof came down just enough to hide my head.

I had startled the driver who said, “Wow, wow!”

“You take me to MBK?” I said.

“Ah ok,” he said, smiling because it was a good fare and started driving.

He was all happy as fuck, a jolly guy.

“How you like Thailand? Your first time?” He said.

“Yeah it’s my first time. It’s fucking great! It’s a beautiful country!” I said.

After a couple blocks I thought, I’m free!

The air tasted good. That moment was, honestly, exhilarating. But at the same time I thought, What if they had caught me?

What did I just do?

Why was I hanging out with those people?

And, why the fuck am I hanging with wild folks when I’m broke?

 

WHAT WAS YOUR BAD CHOICE?

Well you attach yourself to people when you’re travelling abroad. It just happens and you group up. When you see something sketchy go down, like when I saw Chester go into the alley that should have been it, because I knew it’s too dangerous to buy drugs on Khao San Road.

I put myself in danger by thinking this white Rasta was intelligent enough to understand the corruption of Thailand drug trafficking. You’re basically prey for a lot of people.

I know it’s not the pinnacle of a bad decision, but certainly it will resonate with anybody who’s travelled abroad. When you’re travelling in other countries you link with people, and when you link with them you’re tying your fate together.

HAS THIS CHANGED WHO YOU CHOOSE TO LINK WITH IN OTHER COUNTRIES?

I’m a thousand times more careful bro. It could have been so much worse. He could have bought ya baa (Thai meth) or ecstasy, and I may have never have had that tiny window for escape, the cops wouldn’t have been relaxed, instead of asking for a bribe we would have all just been taken to Thai jail.

DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO RUN?

Nah, the decision to run was instantaneous. Up until then I was just hoping they would have a wild change of heart and not arrest us. I hadn’t decided to run because the rational side of me had scenes of Thailand’s brutal shoot first and ask questions later drug policy of the early 2003’s running through my head. 

Honestly, I think being raised in Albuquerque was a huge part of it. In my hometown we all had ran from the cops and I’d never been caught.

It’s embedded in your head that you have that option, it might be the worst decision you ever make, but it might be the best decision.

WAS PUSHING THE COP A GOOD CHOICE?

It was a valid choice. If my logic was right and they didn’t let me call to have money wired for the bribe, I would have had to do time in Thai jail and it could have been up to six months, you just don’t know. 

YOU THINK IT WAS A SET UP?

I know for sure it was a set up because the cop was waiting for us.

I’ve done plenty of drug deals and I’ve seen enough movies, if you understand criminal activity at all then you know about set ups and this was textbook. The dreadlocked Thai dude probably got a good chunk of the bribe money.

WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER YOU GOT AWAY?

Went back to my hotel room, called my mom and told her the story. I was freaking out. She said, “You understand I wouldn’t have been able to do a goddamn thing for you?”

WAS SHE MAD?

No, she was just thankful. She said, “Are you going learn from this?”

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Thai Police Chase: Part 2

Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

 Nate is a 26yrold Anthropology student at the University of Hawaii who originally hails from Albuquerque, NM. He’s lived in Thailand and Cambodia, and has rambled through India and most of Southeast Asia. He was 23 when this happened.

 (The following is derived from a recorded interview and the names have been changed to protect Nate’s Thai visa status in the future.)

Continued from Thai Police Chase: Part 1

The alley opened into a huge parking lot full of parked cars, with a busy street and traffic circle running along one side. I looked back; the cop was right behind me with a second cop slightly behind him. I ran to the street but couldn’t cross the 60 mph Bangkok traffic, so I turned, juked the cops and sprinted back into the lot.

Thank god they were basically shitty runners and I’m pretty fast even in flip-flops. At one point they came within five feet but I quickly gained distance on them.

A car driving through the lot slammed its brakes and stopped right in front of me. I jumped the car’s hood Hollywood-style and kept running full speed through the parking lot cutting through rows of parked cars.

The parking lot was on the same enormous city block as Khao San Road, but on the opposite side. In the back of the lot were a series of narrow pedestrian alleys that cut through apartment buildings and guesthouses back towards the touristy area. I thought, one of these will lead all the way back to Khao San, just get back to Khao San Road, there’s thousands of foreigners there, I can blend in.

The cops must have stopped chasing me for a minute, maybe to regroup? I’ll never know, but suddenly I’m standing before a ten-foot wall, at the end of the lot and they’re not behind me. I couldn’t hear or see them.

I’d been holding a long sleeve shirt in my hand and wearing a baseball cap. I realized I had a few seconds and threw my hat as far as I could, then put on the long sleeve shirt to hide my forearm tattoos.

I started trying alleys; the first dead-ended at a ghetto security wall. The side of an apartment building was directly behind. I hoisted myself onto the wall, which had glass bottle shards cemented into the top.

There was a two-foot gap between the wall and the side of the apartment. I thought, I can throw myself in the gap and hide but I’ll be a sitting duck, fuck that.

I hopped back down and still didn’t see any cops. What the fuck, where are they?

The next alley led to the rear courtyard area of a guesthouse, enclosed by a cement wall. Police whistles were blowing and boots pitter-pattered as they searched the other alleys; it sounded like more cops had joined the chase. I followed a path to the back door of the guesthouse.

My first instinct was to find any young foreigners and say, “I gotta go in your room right now! I’ll give you a hundred dollars!”

The first floor was empty. I ran up stairs to the second floor hallway. I searched for somebody entering a room or an open door to force my way into and banged on random doors.

I came across two old white ladies. Will they help me or will they turn me in?  I didn’t trust them and scrambled back downstairs. There were whistles chaotically blowing close by. I knew a fucken search was happening.

The first floor was still empty. The front of the guesthouse was an open-air lounge that faced the street. There was also an unattended front desk and an Internet Café with a bathroom next to it.

The whistles were getting closer. The cops are figuring it out, searching each alley.  I entered the guesthouse’s shitty, public restroom. It was empty. There were two stalls. I entered one, latched the door and pulled my feet onto the toilet.

The whistles seemed to be getting closer and closer. I resigned myself to having about two minutes of freedom. I lit a cigarette and smoked with my feet up.

You can’t smoke in a guesthouse bathroom. I thought, who gives a fuck? I’m about to go to Thai jail. There’s no way out.

I guessed there would be ten cops by then. I could hear men shouting in Thai.

I waited for them to come get me. Any second a cop would enter the bathroom, bust open the first stall, then kick in my stall door and drag me out of the bathroom. They would take me somewhere out of the view of any foreigners and beat the fuck out of me. That’s basic protocol in Thailand. Sometimes the Thai police beat people up just for looking at them wrong and they don’t appreciate foreigners acting above the law. I figured that first motherfucker, the cop I shoved, would get five minutes alone with me.

I smoked my last cigarette.

Slowly, the whistles became fainter. I thought, you gotta be joking me, these motherfuckers didn’t come in the guesthouse and check the restroom?

After five minutes of silence I thought, this could be my lucky shit, but I might fuck myself by staying in this bathroom.

I exited the bathroom trying to act normal but wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t safe yet. I could still hear whistles and yelling in the distance. A cop car was parked in front of the guesthouse.

I figured, the best thing I can do is sit at a computer, blend in with the other white kids and hope they don’t recognize me.

Ten foreigners were in the café, all looking at Facebook. I rented a computer, logged into Facebook and stared at the screen listening intently. I tried to use the screen as a mirror to watch the street.

The cops never came. I couldn’t believe it. After ten minutes of thanking God and sweating a puddle, I paid the cashier and walked outside. The cop car was gone. Instead a tuk tuk (three-wheeled taxi) sat where the cruiser had been parked. I crossed the street with my head down and got in the tuk tuk. It’s roof came down just enough to hide my head.

I had startled the driver who said, “Wow, wow!”

“You take me to MBK?” I said.

“Ah ok,” he said, smiling because it was a good fare and started driving.

He was all happy as fuck, a jolly guy.

“How you like Thailand? Your first time?” He said.

“Yeah it’s my first time. It’s fucking great! It’s a beautiful country!” I said.

After a couple blocks I thought, I’m free!

The air tasted good. That moment was, honestly, exhilarating. But at the same time I thought, What if they had caught me?

What did I just do?

Why was I hanging out with those people?

And, why the fuck am I hanging with wild folks when I’m broke?

 

WHAT WAS YOUR BAD CHOICE?

Well you attach yourself to people when you’re travelling abroad. It just happens and you group up. When you see something sketchy go down, like when I saw Chester go into the alley that should have been it, because I knew it’s too dangerous to buy drugs on Khao San Road.

I put myself in danger by thinking this white Rasta was intelligent enough to understand the corruption of Thailand drug trafficking. You’re basically prey for a lot of people.

I know it’s not the pinnacle of a bad decision, but certainly it will resonate with anybody who’s travelled abroad. When you’re travelling in other countries you link with people, and when you link with them you’re tying your fate together.

HAS THIS CHANGED WHO YOU CHOOSE TO LINK WITH IN OTHER COUNTRIES?

I’m a thousand times more careful bro. It could have been so much worse. He could have bought ya baa (Thai meth) or ecstasy, and I may have never have had that tiny window for escape, the cops wouldn’t have been relaxed, instead of asking for a bribe we would have all just been taken to Thai jail.

DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO RUN?

Nah, the decision to run was instantaneous. Up until then I was just hoping they would have a wild change of heart and not arrest us. I hadn’t decided to run because the rational side of me had scenes of Thailand’s brutal shoot first and ask questions later drug policy of the early 2003’s running through my head. 

Honestly, I think being raised in Albuquerque was a huge part of it. In my hometown we all had ran from the cops and I’d never been caught.

It’s embedded in your head that you have that option, it might be the worst decision you ever make, but it might be the best decision.

WAS PUSHING THE COP A GOOD CHOICE?

It was a valid choice. If my logic was right and they didn’t let me call to have money wired for the bribe, I would have had to do time in Thai jail and it could have been up to six months, you just don’t know. 

YOU THINK IT WAS A SET UP?

I know for sure it was a set up because the cop was waiting for us.

I’ve done plenty of drug deals and I’ve seen enough movies, if you understand criminal activity at all then you know about set ups and this was textbook. The dreadlocked Thai dude probably got a good chunk of the bribe money.

WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER YOU GOT AWAY?

Went back to my hotel room, called my mom and told her the story. I was freaking out. She said, “You understand I wouldn’t have been able to do a goddamn thing for you?”

WAS SHE MAD?

No, she was just thankful. She said, “Are you going learn from this?”

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Thai Police Chase: Part 1

Illustration by Chad Mitchell

 

Nate is a 26yrold Anthropology student at the University of Hawaii who originally hails from Albuquerque, NM. He’s lived in Thailand and Cambodia, and has rambled through India and most of Southeast Asia. He was 23 when this happened.
(The following is derived from a recorded interview and the names have been changed to protect Nate’s Thai visa status in the future.)

This story starts in a small village called Pai, high in the mountains of Northern Thailand, at a shisha bar my friend owned.

My friend, the bar owner, introduced me to an English chick named Kate. We started shooting the shit. She was cool. We drank a bunch of beers and got drunk, telling our life stories and all that.

We were both going to be in Thailand for a while and exchanged numbers. I never called or thought I’d see her again.

Months later, after travelling through Southern Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, I ended up in Bangkok alone, trying to land a teaching job.

I was staying at a shitty hotel across the street from MBK, an enormous mall. The room cost around 400 baht per night [$10]. The hotel was shady and pretty much in a go-go bar area.

One night I headed over to a touristy part of the city called Khao San Road. I wanted to get out of the room, meet some foreigners and have a few beers. Khao San Road is like the Vegas Strip for underage drinkers on crack. It’s a tourist party zone, full of dumb t-shirts, pubs playing European football games, dance clubs, trinket shops, McDonalds, overpriced western restaurants, sarongs, flip-flops, crap.

Walking down the street, I ran into Kate, the girl from Pai. She was with three friends. They had just come from some islands in southern Thailand.

I couldn’t remember her name at first; we’d only met that one night. I sat down and we started drinking beers.

Her friends were English dudes in their late twenties. Two of them were wannabe Rastas rocking scruffy, dirty jeans almost yellow from age. They were new-age hippie types with hemp bracelets who missed the Southeast Asia hippy trail by 40 years. One of them had dreadlocks and was named Chester.

We were drinking and cracking jokes at a makeshift outdoor bar, basically a little table set up outside a real bar, in a narrow ally off of Khao San Road.

This Thai dude who worked at the bar started chilling with us. He couldn’t have been any cooler. He was tatted down, dreadlocked out, friendly, a super cool guy.

The conversation turned to drugs fairly quick. Stories began to abound about weed and drugs in Thailand. The Thai guy said he liked good weed and the Brits told a story about taking shrooms in Southern Thailand.

The drinks had been going for a while, when Chester slipped away with the Thai guy further down the alley. I took note but wasn’t concerned.

Shortly after they returned, we decided to walk to a main street and grab a tuk-tuk (a small, three-wheeled Thai taxi, basically a motorbike with a bench-seat mounted where the rear tire would be). We wanted to find a dance club.

We headed down the alley, which lead away from Khao San Road to a busy main street.

Immediately after we started walking down the alley a cop stepped out of the darkness and said, “Why are you talking to Thai men? Why are you talking to Thai men in the alley?”

Everyone was like, “What?”

Then, two more officers appeared behind him.

The cops were intense, clean-cut fuckers in brown uniforms. Most Thai police look sharp; they are considered royal servants. The first cop did all the talking, except for one-word exclamations from the rest.

I thought, I didn’t do shit. What are these cops tripping on? Then I remembered, oh fuck, homeboy did go in the alley. But I hadn’t done anything so I figured, fuck it, I’m straight.

It quickly became apparent that the cops were not going to just let us go. Soon two older, more senior looking cops arrived.

They walked us farther down the alley, hidden from the view of other foreigners. At this point I still thought, it’s all good, this won’t be an issue, we’re on Khao San Road where tourists are always doing crazier shit than this.

One by one, the cops told us to empty our pockets. I emptied mine right away to prove my innocence.  So far everyone was clean, then they got to Chester, who I’d been watching the whole time.

Chester emptied his front pockets and palmed something in his hand. The cop patted his front down without finding shit. Then turned him around to check his back pockets. That’s when Chester tried to slip what was hidden in his hand back into his front pocket. Not a horrible maneuver, but all the cops were watching him. The cop yells, “Ah! Ah! Ah!”

Chester tried to turn and throw it, but he had no chance, the cop caught his arm. After a split-second hand wrestle, the cop pried something from his fingers.

I thought, well, shit, homeboy is fucked.

The cops inspected the contents of one of those mini zip-lock drug bags. It was weed, almost nothing, just a dime bag probably worth $10 in America. But that didn’t matter, we were in Thailand. Catching a foreigner with any type of drug is instant gold for Thai police.

I did a series of wai’s (Thai bows) and said “kawtor kraup (I apologize)” several times in some vain attempt to show respect. The main cop gave me a funny smile and said, “Oh, you speak Thai?”

Nit noy kraup (a little bit),” I said, which made my attempt to speak any Thai at all look ridiculous.

Kind of a stupid move, but shit, you never know what showing a little respect will get you in Thailand. This time it just weirded them out.  

They motioned for none of us to move, stepped back and began talking amongst themselves. One of the officers radioed the station, while the others listened intently. I couldn’t tell what he was saying, it could be bad or maybe he’s just getting approval to release us, I thought.

After a minute the cops came back and insinuated that we needed to bribe them.

The main cop said, “You know this is Thailand? This is illegal in Thailand and there’s a big fine.”

I was still thinking, they may not fine me, maybe just tax homeboy who had the weed. We were all sitting down in the alley.  I planned to assert myself and explain that I just met these guys. But before I had the chance, the most senior officer motioned for Chester to stand up, turned him around and slapped handcuffs on him. We all realized that the situation was fucken serious.

Chester looked at the floor but didn’t freak out. Judging from the Brits’ calm reaction, they had money for the bribe or didn’t realize they might go to jail. They seemed more worried that their big night out was fucked up.

When they started cuffing everyone I knew we all would have to pay a bribe. I wasn’t sure how much; they weren’t exactly throwing out numbers. I had heard that a bribe in Thailand was usually upwards of $1,000. In Laos, a much poorer country, I had talked to foreigners that paid police bribes of  $600. I knew it was going to be more expensive in Thailand.

My head started buzzing. I thought, I only have about $200 in my bank account, fuck, I’m the only one who’s not going to be able to pay.

I started running through my options: Best case scenario, I get arrested, don’t have enough cash for the bribe, spend some time in a Thai holding cell, have a chance to call my mom before getting processed, she wires me money, I pay the bribe and I’m released.

But what if it doesn’t happen? What if they don’t let me call for the money? Instead, they demand it and process me when I can’t pay the bribe. Then I’m stuck in the Thai judicial system, usually you don’t get a court date for months and can spend a lot of time in Thai jail. If that happens I am fucked. I contact the embassy and my name goes on a list. Who knows when I get out?

I couldn’t let that happen.

The policeman motioned for Kate to stand up. They bound her hands with a zip-tie. She began a whining plea with a pouty expression on her face.

I was next in line to get zip-tied. One of the larger officers motioned for me to rise. I was shaking. He held both my wrists behind my back in one of his hands. He didn’t have a good grip. I felt a moment of time, a single moment of possibility for action.

I pushed him, thrusting myself backwards, hitting his chest with my back and shoulder as hard as I could.

I couldn’t see if he fell but I knew he went flying. He hadn’t expected it. I took off running down the dark alley. I didn’t look back but could hear their footsteps echoing off the walls as they chased me.

To be continued...

Part 2 will be posted next Friday (May 17th, 2012).

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