Today was a new day. The countdown to my release began and it was an incredible feeling. When I first arrived, there were so many unanswered questions. I had no clue how anything worked, including court proceedings, so I had to rely on the experience of the other women in regards to what I could expect to happen to me.
The women in there weren’t necessarily what one would consider – reliable, so it was hard to take any advice they had given me to heart. In the end, things turned out better than I could have hoped and I’m sure, to many, it seemed I got off easy.
At least that’s what Deputy Burns felt, and she made sure to let me know every chance she got. On the way back from court I had been feeling grateful and relieved. That all changed when Deputy Burns began unshackling me.
“Hands on the wall, Johnson”, she said, kicking my ankles apart. She began frisking me to ensure I hadn’t smuggled any paper clips or staplers out of the court house.
“Heard about your sentence”, she said as her hands moved along the sides of my waist. I didn’t respond, because it wasn’t a question. I’ve learned it’s better if you only speak when spoken to, and since I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t say anything.
“120 and rehab, huh?”
“Geez, you put an arsenal of weapons into the hands of known drug dealers, pieces of shit who only care about money, and will do just about anything to stay out of trouble – including shooting me or an innocent civilian, and you basically get a slap on the wrist” she whispered.
She was right, I wasn’t thinking about the potential outcome of giving him those guns, I was only thinking about getting high. It wasn’t until I was in the interrogation room and a member of the SWAT team who was on his way to retrieve those guns, got an inch away from my face and said “If I die today, the blood is on your hands“, that I realized the severity of what I’d done.
I didn’t respond to Burns, I decided to let her vent. He was her friend after all, and I could understand why she was taking this personally.
“I hope you realize that once you are out of here, you won’t be free. Once you are out of rehab, you won’t be free and if you do happen to successfully complete your probation – which is highly unlikely, you won’t be free then, either. The entire Sheriffs Department knows what you did to Chuck, and I’m not just talking about the stealing”, she turned me around and began feeling the front of my legs. I rolled my eyes, and I’m pretty sure she’d frisked me better than I’ve ever been frisked, she just wanted to finish her point.
“They have had to pat his back at the bar when he breaks down in tears at the thought of you. We have all had to help him pick himself up and if it was up to us, your punishment would be much worse. That’s our friend, our brother, and you broke him. You have to live with that for the rest of your life.”
She pulled me away from the wall forcefully and nudged me toward the entrance of the pod. My teeth were clenched so hard my gums hurt. I wanted desperately to lash out, snap back at her about how she couldn’t possible understand my life, because she had never had an addiction. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to lie, and steal and manipulate. I had to. At least, I felt like I had. I knew any attempt at responding would be futile. She had all the power, and I was nothing.
I entered the pod and was met with a hundred anticipated stares. Girls who had been following my journey and helping guide me, and nosey bitches who just wanted to know if I was spending life in prison.
My friend Sarah ran up to me and gave me a hug – which was immediately reprimanded via the intercom. “No touching ladies, you know the rules.”
“F*** you”, Sarah said under her breath as she smiled at me with curious eyes. “Well?” I nodded toward my cell and she followed me. I didn’t want to entertain the curiosity of girls who really didn’t care. I needed privacy and to talk with a real friend.
I filled Sarah in on everything, including my interaction with Burns. “Okay first of all, yay!! That’s such great news Tiff, you thought you were going away forever. And secondly, f*** Burns, she’s a stupid c**t and needs to get a damn life. She was probably picked on for her fat a** in high school and she’s taking that aggression out on you, don’t you dare let that b**** rain on your parade. I love you, I’m so happy!”
Her happiness was rubbing off on me, and I could feel the gratitude rising up within me again. I wanted to call my Dad and tell him the news. I knew he would be proud of me for choosing rehab. That man sent me a postcard every, single, day. Sometimes they would be informative, things that were happening in the outside world, on a few he just drew random pictures and at times, he would send childhood photos of me. Those always made me emotional. They were a reminder of the person I was before addiction, the person I wanted to be again.
“Let’s celebrate!” Sarah said, jumping up from the bunk and snapping me out of my daydream. “I have an idea, let’s do our hair all cute, pluck our eye brows, put make up on and make a cake! I’ll be right back” , she said, skipping off to her cell.
She hadn’t even waited for my response, probably because she knew the answer would be hell no. None of that sounded fun, at all. The cake maybe. But not the hair and make up.
She returned with all of her supplies and laid them out on the bed. “Okay, we have 24 minutes til lockdown, we gotta hurry”. She reached down, pulled her sock off and began stabbing it with a pencil. I knew where this was going, and I was dreading it.
She created a small hole in the sock and began ripping it until she was able to free a piece of thread. She took the ends of the long thread and tied them together. “Lean back” she said, pushing my forehead to the pillow. She began plucking the hairs from my eyebrows by slowly twisting the thread in a “figure 8” motion. I know this was supposed to be “fun girly time”, but I had to literally stop myself from throat punching her on 4 different occasions.
She finished ripping my face off and moved on to my hair. “Where’s Nicki?” I asked, realizing I hadn’t seen her since I got back. Sarah slowly let go of my head and remained quiet. I turned around to read her expression and could tell something was up. “What?” I asked.
“Um, she bonded out.”
“Oh?” I said, trying to process my emotions.
“She said to tell you bye, and that you probably wouldn’t care. Um, she said she was only staying here for you but, I guess you guys got into a fight or something so, she called her drug dealer. Also you should know, she was, um, with Tonya in here”, she said, averting her eyes.
“What do you mean “with Tonya?”
She grimaced, and I could tell she felt awkward about telling me.
“They did it” she blurted.
“Guh, okay. They did it, ya know, had sex. In here. Right where I’m sitting actually. They had a blanket blocking them but you could hear it. It was gross, Tonya is such a sl-“
“Okay” I said holding up my hand. I didn’t want to hear anymore. Why was I feeling so jealous?
Sarah parted my hair and began braiding one side. She had been telling me about how her boyfriend came to visit but all I could think about was Nicki. I was about to start questioning Sarah about what exactly happened, but she suddenly stopped midsentence. She took my braid and lifted it, then pulled it, then dropped it.
“OH MY F***ING GOD” she yelled.
She screamed it so loud that a bunch of nosey rosies started peeking into the cell.
“What? What the hell, what?” I asked beginning to panic.
“Dude…Your head is f***ing INFESTED with lice”….