“Babe, wake up, the detectives want to talk to you.” My boyfriend said, waking me from a glorious sleep. He was supposed to be on duty that day, why the hell was he waking me up? He knew better. I hated mornings, and I hated when he woke me up before my alarm went off. “What the hell? I already talked to the detectives yesterday when they were here”.
My boyfriend was a deputy for the sheriffs office. There had been a break-in at our house a few days ago. Someone came into the back door and had taken his wallet-containing his badge- and $200. They also took 3 guns from the gun safe, including his off duty weapon. The police had been here all day yesterday, dusting for fingerprints and asking us a bunch of questions. So why the hell were they here again; at the crack of dawn?
“Please, you need to get up and get dressed, they just have a couple more questions”. He said, gently placing his hand on my back. I could feel the anger rising up from the depths of my soul. I was suddenly very hot with rage. “God damnit what is going on?” I said as I kicked the covers off of me and stormed over to the closet. “Why do they have to question me again? I already gave them all the information I have.” I said, ripping a shirt off the hanger and angrily pulling it over my head.
Something was off. He wasn’t responding to me. “Hello? I’m talking to you? I have to work in 4 hours and I hardly slept last night, it would have been nice to have some kind of warning that they were coming. Why are you being so weird?” I asked, pulling the pants up over my hips. He didn’t say a word. I watched a single tear stream down his cheek and I froze.
A wave of panic swept over me. “Are you crying?” I asked, stepping closer to him. He put his hands up to keep me at a distance. “What the hell Chuck?” I said. “Why aren’t you responding to m-” I was interrupted by our bedroom door flying open. There was a man suddenly in the doorway.
He held his badge up to show me and his other hand was rested on his gun. He was staring into my eyes and I knew something was wrong. This wasn’t the way my boyfriends friends from the Sheriffs Department usually looked at me. This was different. “I need you to step into the living room Miss. Johnson. Now.” He said, holding the door open and stepping back to make room for me.
I looked at Chuck and he was staring at the floor, avoiding me. As I stepped out of the bedroom and into our living room, our puppy ran toward me to greet me. Chuck intercepted her and scooped her up, taking her into the room, and shutting the door behind them.
I noticed there were 5 deputies in our house in addition to the man at our door, and they were all staring at me. “Please have a seat.” The man said, ushering toward the couch. “Im Detective Kallin. I have a few questions I’d like to ask you, if you don’t mind.” He said.
“Shoot.” I said casually, not immediately recognizing how inappropriate my choice of words were. “Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to do it out front, it’s gorgeous outside today and you have a beautiful porch.” He said, smiling at me. “Yeah that sounds great” I said as I stood up and headed for the door; I could sure as hell use some fresh air.
I stepped onto my porch and in my peripheral vision I noticed a man standing at the side of my front door. He lunged at me and grabbed my arms, pulling them behind me and handcuffing my wrists the moment I stepped outside. What the f***?
Miss Johnson, you are under arrest. We have some questions we would like to ask you, but we are going to ask you at the station.
“What?!” I cried out. What the hell was going on? Was I still dreaming? These were my boyfriends friends, they were not supposed to be arresting me. I had just attended the baby shower of one of the people escorting me to the patrol car the weekend before. Something was wrong here. This was all wrong.
“This is insane, can someone please tell me why I am being arrested?” I said, sobbing at this point. “We will discuss it at the station Miss Johnson.” Detective Kallin said, staring straight ahead as we walked. “No, I’ve seen cops, you guys are supposed to say; “Miss Johnson, you are under arrest for so and so, you have the right to remain silent, blah blah, blah.” I said desperately, trying to get the slightest clue as to what they had on me.
He laughed and turned to me. “That is T.V. Miss Johnson, this is real life. There are no camera crews or scripted scenes. You have been doing very bad things for a very long time, and it finally caught up with you. Now please, watch you head as you get into the car.”
I had replayed the day of my arrest over and over a thousand times since I’d been here. I would think about the moment I was handcuffed, and how the natural manipulator within me believed even then, that I could con my way out of this.
I had hidden my addiction for so long. I had done so many unbelievable things day in and day out – and I’d gotten away with all of it. I thought that I was invincible’ that because my boyfriend was a cop – I was untouchable.
This morning we had gotten the call the Brandi died after spending 2 days in the hospital. One minute she was here, walking and talking, and the next…She was crumbled on the floor having a heart attack. She was 29 years old. Basically the same age as me – and her heart stopped.
She was the first person I’d known to die from addiction; and the fact that it could have just as easily been me had been haunting me all day. Looking back on the day of my arrest, for the first time I am wondering if it was actually a good thing. I had spent countless hours stewing about how unfair it is that I was humiliated and thrown in a cage when what I really needed was psychological help.
But today, part of me is thinking that maybe, being arrested might have been exactly what I needed to save my life. I had never looked at it that way until today. Life is fleeting, and maybe the universe knew I was headed toward being a crumpled pile on the floor – and sent the Sheriffs department to save me that day.
I had been laying in my bed most of the day, questioning my entire existence and wondering what the future held – when the public defender phone rang. As usual; the girls trampled one another in hopes of it being their attorney. When they yelled out “Johnson“, my heart leapt out of my chest. I hopped off my bunk and bee-lined to the phone.
“Hello, this is Tiffany”
“Yeah, listen. I don’t gotta a lot of time. I’ll do the talking – you do the listening”
“Oh, okay um-”
“So I talked to the State Attorneys office. They added up your scoresheet and they wanna give you 15 years”
I sucked in all of the air around me.
“That’s a joke right?”
“Quiet. We go before the judge next Monday where you will be sentenced. You have the right to refuse their offer. Just to warn you though, they don’t like it when you refuse their offer, it’s more paperwork. There’s a good chance the offer will be even higher the second time so, just something to think about. Okay?”
“Um, yeah Okay so what you are saying is if I-”
“Listen I got a meeting. I gotta go, talk to you next week” – Click.
A crowd of girls had gathered around, evidently bored and hoping to catch up with the latest gossip from the outside world. They must have been able to tell from my expression that the call had not gone well.
“What did he say?” my friend Rebecca asked. It felt like my brain had been put into a blender. Despite my best efforts to piece together what he had just said – I was having trouble processing it. “Who’s your attorney?” a girl named Stephanie asked. “Paine” I said, staring off into the distance trying to imagine how old I would be when I got out of prison. 42. I would be 42 years old.
“Ugh, I f***ing hate Paine. I had him last time I was here. Trying to have a conversation with him is like pulling teeth” Rebecca said. “So what did he say?”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. If I said it out loud it would make it real. I ignored the 20 eager eyes staring at me and I walked away. I needed Nikki to hug me and tell me everything was going to be okay. She had a way of making even the darkest days seem a bit brighter.
“What’s the matter, babe?” she asked, sitting down next to me on the bed and putting her arm around me. “Is it Brandi?” I shook my head and tearfully filled her in on what my asshole attorney had said. When I finished, she grabbed the sides of my face with both hands and stared deep into my eyes.
“Listen to me. You will not go to prison for 15 years. Do you hear me? You won’t. The first offer is always ridiculous – they try to scare you. I promise. Worrying about what is gonna happen next week won’t do a damn thing, okay? It won’t lessen your time, it won’t change the outcome, it will just make you f***ing crazy. So stop. You are going to be fine.” She said smiling. I believed her. I hugged her tighter than I ever had. I was so grateful to have her in here with me. To help me through the hard shit.
“Thank you, that actually makes me feel better.” I said sniffling, my rigid muscles loosening a bit. “You are welcome Tiff. I mean it. I want you to know something…” she began, she took a deep breath and continued, “I love you, like, a lot okay? And, I really want to make you my wife when we get out of here.”
My face twisted in confusion and I subconsciously pulled away. “Listen, don’t be scared. I know you’ve never been with a woman before, so this is probably overwhelming for you. But this feels….Real. And I know you feel it to.” She said pulling my arms back.
I snatched them out of her grasp and stood up. “Um, hold up. I need you to pump your breaks here Nikki, okay. I mean, for christs sake. I just found out I’m gonna be in prison until I’m 104 years old – and you are picking out wedding cakes and trying to name our children? Like…What?”
How the hell could she love me anyway? She doesn’t know what I look like in normal clothes. She’s never seen me with make up on. She doesn’t know what shows I like or the music I blast when I’m in the car. Love?
“Baby, come here. Sit.” I crossed my arms suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. I mean, I liked her – don’t get me wrong. I liked her a lot. But marriage? “I’m good. I’m gonna just stand here for a minute and process this” I said.
She stood up and I noticed her face was suddenly flushed. “Tiff, I know you are having a bad day, okay. You found out the wife of the man who wants you dead is 2 cells over, we just found out about Brandi, then your attorney scared you – so I know you are under a lot of stress baby. Don’t let all of that distract you from what’s real. You need me now more than ever-“ She stepped closer, “I know that I have loved you since the moment I saw you, alright and I know you love me to so – “ She stopped talking and leaned in to kiss me. I did a move from The Matrix and swooped backwards to dodge the kiss.
This enraged her. She reached out and grabbed the back of my head and forced me to kiss her. She held my face to hers so tightly that our teeth were mashing together. I pushed her away from me in stunned disgust and watched as she smiled and wiped her lips. “I’m gonna give you some time to get your damn mind right” she said, exiting the room.
I stood there shocked for a moment feeling completely violated and fairly certain that what she had done was somehow a form of rape. I suddenly decided I no longer wanted her in my room. I didn’t want to be trapped in here with a creepy violent lesbian rapist. With a sudden rush of adrenaline I decided to push the button and tell the guards what she had done.
I turned around to head toward the button and bumped into someone who had been standing an inch behind me. I couldn’t believe this psycho was back already. I looked down expecting to see Nikki staring back at me.
Instead I found myself face to face with Daniels. “Hey bitch” She said, before sucker punching me square in the jaw.