(When we left off in part one, I had just been rudely awakened by two cops who had informed me they were taking me to jail because of a open alcohol container ticket I had failed to show up in court for. If you missed part one, simply click here to read it and catch up.)
A Real Beer Bust in New York City—Or—How I Was Rudy Giulianied Out of Sleep One Fine October Morning (Part Two)
I felt like someone had taken my brain out, put it in a blender on puree and then poured it back in. I was left no other option than to surrender. I was fucked. My mind went blank and I was just standing there in a stupor.
“Let’s go, get dressed or we’ll take you like this,” the other fat boy shouted. He had been pretty silent up till now, but seemed to be growing weary quickly.
I looked at both of them expecting them to walk out and give me some privacy, but they didn’t budge.
“Uh, do you guys want to wait out there while I get dressed?” I asked the tubby twosome while gesturing towards the hallway.
“Nope, we can’t let you out of our sight. Now hurry up,” The one with the warrant barked.
Talk about your Deliverance moments. My apartment was a typical one room Manhattan hovel. I had nowhere to go for privacy. I took off the shorts and dressed in front of these two poster boys for lard praying the words, “Now squeal like a pig” didn’t break the silence.
After I quickly dressed I was ready for my trip to jail. That’s when they threw out the next surprise.
“Turn around we’ve got to put the cuffs on you now,” the silent one ordered.
“Handcuffs? Are you kidding?” I asked incredulously.
“It’s policy, you have to have these on outside and in the car until you get to court.”
So I dutifully turned around, they put the cuffs on me and led me outside. Luckily it was early so I didn’t see anyone I knew. I could just see trying to explain that I was being led out of my apartment in handcuffs, because I drank a beer.
We drove in silence to the precinct jail which was about five blocks from where I lived.
“We’re not going to process you, but you’re going to have to take off your shoelaces and belt before you go into the holding cell,” the warrant officer told me.
I didn’t ask why, I assumed it was a suicide regulation, but by now my hangover was really starting to rumble and I just wanted to get to the cell where hopefully I could lay down. I surrendered my belt and laces and was led to the holding cell.
He opened up the eight foot steel door and told me to go in and he’d come back and get me when it was time to go to court.
“You’re lucky, since it’s morning it’s empty,” he said as he pushed me in and the door slammed with a steely thud. I heard him lock it and then surveyed the cell for a cot. There was none. In fact there wasn’t even a bench. The cell consisted of a stained grey cement floor with four equally gray cement walls. And he was wrong, I wasn’t alone. Cockroaches were running up and down the walls. I wondered what they were doing in there, as far as I knew cockroaches don’t drink beer.
So I sat on the cold, dirty cement floor and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Minutes ticked by slower than slugs jogging through molasses. As I became more and more sober, I realized that I really needed a drink. My head felt like I had been out on a date with Mike Tyson.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity to the nth degree the door opened up and the warrant cop was standing there with his fatter half.
“Time for court, let’s go,” he said handing me my shoelaces and belt.
I put them on, they handcuffed me and we got back in the car.
“Where’s the court at?” I asked.
“Downtown at Centre Street,” the quieter one of the two answered.
That was the extent of the talking for the trip downtown. Fat and fatter didn’t appear to be much of conversationalists and they appeared to be really enjoying the classic rock station that was playing. I didn’t think my hangover could get any worse. That was before “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas came booming over the stereo. I hate that fucking song and felt like I was entering the sixth ring of hell as we drove towards downtown Manhattan.
Finally we made it to the courthouse. They helped me out of the car and led me into the crowded courthouse still handcuffed.
The front lobby was crowded but the people parted like the Red Sea did for Moses as the cops led me through. I stunk like old beer, hadn’t shaved for days and looked somewhat like Charlie Manson’s crazed brother after a three day bender. Nobody wanted to get too close to me.
I was led to a holding room where they locked the door and took the cuffs off.
“It’ll be about fifteen minutes. You got bumped up the docket since we have to babysit you until the judge gives you your fine,” They told me.
“Shit!” I thought, I only had about forty bucks on me. Surely I was going to be socked with a steep penalty, what with all the hoopla that had gone on.
“I’ve only got about forty bucks on me, what if I can’t pay the whole fine today? Can I pay part later?” I asked while worrying that I was going to end up back in that holding cell because I couldn’t pay the fine.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that much, but the judge would probably let you go to an ATM or something, I wouldn’t sweat it,” the warrant bearing one told me.
“Don’t sweat it?” I thought to myself. I had just spent three hours in jail for drinking a can of beer and this guy tells me not to sweat it? That’s probably what the Nazi’s told the prisoners in the concentration camps right before they led them to the shower stalls.
My thoughts of doom were broken by a knock on the door. We were told to go to the courtroom.
We entered and someone somewhere called out my name and case number and told me to approach to bench. I walked up and a guy who looked like the red haired dweeb from thirtysomething introduced himself as the public defender.
“How do you wish to plead Martin?” he asked.
“Guilty, let’s get this thing over with,” I told him. I always hated the show thirtysomething and resented the fact that the one time I get a public defender he has to look like that red haired goofus. Some days you just can’t catch a break.
“You spent the morning in jail, right Martin?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I shot back. I almost told him that he could call me Marty, but I wisely held back. I didn’t want to get too chummy with this guy. Maybe he’d want me to star in the TV movie update that you just know they’re going to make about that godawful show. I may have been hungover and tired, but luckily I still had my wits about me.
The judge was old, bald and looked as hungover as I was. I sensed he just wanted to get this whole thing over with.
“Your honor,” the thirtysomething lawyer spoke as he turned towards the uninterested judge, “My client wishes to plead guilty. In light of the fact that he spent the morning in jail I ask that the court reduce his fine to thirty dollars.”
Now I can’t remember what the judge said, I just heard the gavel hit...well, hit whatever the gavel hits. I just stood there stunned. Very stunned, to quote the Rutles.
“Thirty bucks?” I asked thirtysomething.
“Yeah, you can pay the clerk right down the hall,” He said pointing out the door.
“Thirty bucks?” I again repeated. I felt like I had been raped and then fist fucked. I went through probably the shittiest and weirdest morning of my life and all for a stinking thirty bucks?
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I said to thirtysomething.
With this the next case number was called and thirtysomething gently pushed me away and told me to make room for the next case. I left making a mental note to boycott the Lifetime Network for the rest of my life.
As I was walking down the hall I passed fat and fatter and they waved as they walked by and they were laughing.
And I know why. This city humiliated me. It was like I was Jesus and after carrying the cross for miles they don’t even bother to nail you up on the fucking thing. At least give me some humongous penalty to make this whole charade seem worthwhile.
Thirty bucks. Motherfucker! That wouldn’t even cover the city’s expenses. It was like being kidnapped and tortured and then having the criminals pay someone to take you back. It didn’t make any sense and sense was the one thing I craved and needed this horrible, stinking, rotten October morning. I had been ratfucked and there was nothing I could do about it.
I went and paid my fine and took the subway home and wearily made my way inside my one room apartment. I double locked the door, turned off the lights and popped the top off of a can of Budweiser from the refrigerator. The beer helped to numb my aching mind, but I knew then and there that at least while Adolf...I mean Rudolph Guiliani is in charge, there’s no help for this once great city. Cheers and goodnight.
It’s been over a decade since I wrote this, but I got paid a couple hundred bucks from Gadfly to write this for their magazine, I used this story in my 99 Beers Off The Wall book and now I’ve posted it here on MBIP. And they say crime doesn’t pay!