Fourth in a series
“How did I end up here?” I looked at the handcuffed wrists, which had been removed from my back and attached to a metal bench. I had been placed in a booking room at Arab City Jail. In front was a shelf where a fingerprinting machine and camera were located.
A police officer came to the entrance of the room and said she would be back shortly to take my fingerprints and mug shot.
I began to look around as I waited. I was a prisoner for the first and only time in my life.
Even then, I couldn’t believe that this was happening. One of the policemen earlier told me, “This law wasn’t written for somebody like you, but it does happen”.
The situation was so ludicrous that I even looked up to a corner of the room, smiled, and said, “If this is a surprise birthday party, I don’t think it’s funny.”
But it wasn’t, I painfully concluded. It wasn’t a well-planned joke. It was well-planned, but it was not a joke.
I felt the pain of the metal cuffs around my wrists and was well-aware of the metal bench to which I was attached. What I could never imagine would happen in my life was happening.
The life I had once known was disappearing quickly, never to be experienced again, I discovered later.
The policewoman returned and asked me if I had money to post bail. It was at that moment I realized you could be arrested and jailed for a charge that was neither true nor supported by any evidence.
To add insult to this miscarriage of justice, you had to pay to be released from a cell where you didn’t belong in the first place.
What happened to the “innocent until proven guilty?”
She explained that if I couldn’t post bail, I would have to stay in jail until my assigned time in court (about two weeks).
A list of bail bondsmen was pinned to the wall next to a telephone. After three calls, I was able to arrange for someone to come and post bond for a fee that had to be paid by cash or a debit card.
I sat in the room for approximately four hours and was released after posting a $1,000 bond and receiving directions from a magistrate who had to finalize the release.
The magistrate warned me not to have any contact whatsoever with my ex-wife. He said if there was any confrontation and she called the police – “even if it was fabricated” – I would again be arrested by the police, jailed and held until the appointed court date… no bond would be accepted.
I was somewhat confused at this point and asked the magistrate: “Are you telling me that I cannot return to my own house and sleep in my own bed?”
“I’m not telling you that you can’t go back into the house, but I’m warning you not to do it.”
“But I didn’t do anything!”
The magistrate ignored the last statement.
I called my next-door neighbor, and he came and took me back to the neighborhood. My SUV was parked on the street.
He called my ex-wife, since I could not have any contact. She said would leave the house to let me gather some of my personal items and would allow me 30 minutes to do so.
Less than an hour later, I had checked into a local motel, telephoned my out-of-state children to inform them what had happened and asked them if I could stay with them until my upcoming court date.
Then, after getting my first meal of the day, I examined the bruises on my chest and arm and showered prior to going to bed.
A strange end to a strange day in a strange place.
To be continued…