The Officer I turned myself in to eventually came to the holding cell and told me the Chandler jail was full and he was going to have to take me somewhere else. Since I seemed like a nice fella, he said he was going to take me to Mesa instead of Phoenix, because it would be more comfortable. I thanked him, and on the way to Mesa he cautioned me on how to behave when I got there.
He said they were lazy in Mesa, and shipped people off to the Phoenix Matrix at the drop of a hat if they thought there might be hassles. He said if I had a cold or back ache or broken limb, just to keep it to myself because any malady was reason to send people into the Matrix. He told me to keep my eyes down and not speak unless spoken to. He didn't even cuff me until he was taking me out of the car in Mesa.
Once inside, he handed me over to some police academy dropouts and they deposited me in the drunk tank without ceremony or anal probe. The room was ten feet deep and twenty feet long with a full length window along the front. It was uninhabited except for a bread sack with an orange peel in it on the concrete bench along the back wall. I sat, presumably waiting to be processed into the general population. I was hungry and tired. There was no water or toilet, so I hoped not to be there long.
An eternity or an hour later, I heard voices down the hall and wondered if they were finally booking me in. by smashing the right side of my face against the glass, I thought I could see movement in the next room. Soon after, they brought in another prisoner. It was the doctor who had operated on my arm at St Luke's. Small world. He had beaten his wife.
There must've been a crime wave, because ten minutes later they brought in a couple of young Mexican guys and we could hear them yelling at another prisoner, just out of sight. Then we heard the unmistakable sound of said prisoner getting his ass kicked. It got quiet for a minute, then a guard unlocked our cage and stepped in, threatening to mace us if we didn't move to the far corner. He stepped back out and two others threw the beaten man in and slammed the door. He was a chubby little guy and his appearance didn't seem to warrant the ruckus we had been eavesdropping on. He sat on the bench and behaved. We all did.
There was another interminable wait. The smell of the orange rind had my stomach growling. I figured once their lunch rush was over, they would come process me in. There hadn't been a sound from the guard room, save an episode of the Jerry Springer Show on their black and white T.V. Before I could hear what was on next they came and got the other four and told them the wagon was there to take them to the Matrix. As the guard started to shut the cell, I sneezed and he told me I'd better come too.
They lined us up along a tall counter and frisked us, afterward conducting interviews about our general health. They handcuffed the chubby little guy to a stool in the back of the room. I was standing next to one of the Mexican kids. He was pretty fancy. He was wearing shiny pointy toed boots, a huge belt buckle, and a shirt with silver tips on the collar and about thirty pearl buttons down the front.
While the interviews were going on, a flunky walked behind us and dropped manacles, cuffs, and chains at our feet. Once he did that, he went behind the counter and got a pair of scissors and returned, obviously waiting for something. The guy sitting behind the bar called my name and told me to lift my shirt up to my chest and look away. The flunky came over, stuck four fingers of his left hand down the front of my pants and cut the button off. Then he sealed it in an evidence bag and gave it to his superior. He returned the scissors to their drawer, without mutilating anybody else's haberdashery.
How the fuck was I supposed to keep my pants up? They already took my belt in Chandler.
I remembered I wasn't supposed to ask questions, but I assumed my hay fever had already condemned me to Phoenix, if not Devil's Island. While holding my shorts up with one hand, I posited the natural query: “What was that for”? The pimply flatfoot just looked at me like I was stupid and told me my button could be fashioned into a weapon. He said if I got to the Matrix with that button I would be arrested for smuggling a deadly weapon into a penal institution. Then he turned to the set to catch the next segment of Maury Povich.
I told the Mexican guy with the fancy shirt that he was probably going to get ten years for that shit. He either didn't speak English, or had no sense of humor. It was pretty much a humorless bunch on both sides of the law in Mesa. Jails bad enough. Why not make the best of a bad situation?
The flunky ran chain under my armpits and around my chest and cuffed my hands to it. Then he manacled my ankles. Once he had done this to all but the chubby guy (Bryan), he returned us to the cell (except for Bryan) to wait for our driver to finish doing paperwork or taking a shit or whatever was holding him up.
I had to frog walk back to the cell to keep my pants from falling down, and once there, the orange smell made me hungry all over again. But it gave me an idea. I dumped the orange peels out and set about tying my front belt loops together to keep my britches on. This was harder than it sounded. My hands were trussed up to my chest like a tyrannosaurus, and I could only get within eight inches of my waist.
I had to twist the bag up as tight as I could and thread it through the loops at a distance. It was nearly impossible, and led to more than a few side cramps. Once it was through both loops, I still had to tie it tight. How the hell could I do that from eight inches away? I nearly gave up, then realized with a slipknot I could tie it within reach then pull it tight. The other criminals heckled me through this whole contortionist ordeal, warning me that I was probably going to be arrested. I reckoned I'd rather be arrested than pantless in a crowded jail cell. I hid my wonderbread belt with my shirt tail.
The flunky returned an eternity or two later and added waist chains in his bid for a B&D merit badge, linking us together with about a foot and a half of length between. Then he marched us, Cool Hand Luke style, out to our Paddy Wagon. He opened the back and we saw Bryan was already loaded up into his own private cage toward the front. They had some kind of fencing mask on him, I guess they didn't want him making faces and disrupting class.
The next acrobatic trick they had us perform was getting into the back of the truck. The first step was about a foot and a half high and we only had a foot of chain between our feet. So we had to turn and kind of hop sideways to get up there. If that sounds hard, remember I was also chained to jailbirds both in front and behind. One bad move and we were all going down in a heap. The guy in front of me started to go down and I shouldered him up and in and dove behind him onto my belly, dragging the guy behind me along for the ride. He wasn't happy, but he was all trussed up and couldn't do anything about it. At least I kept my pants on.
The ride wasn't so bad. It took forever. We stopped at several other jails and even the woman’s prison before reaching the Matrix. Everybody else was bitching about the wait, but I figured where I was going, I wasn't going to get any car rides for a couple of decades or so, so I made the best of it.
I'm a creative guy, but still haven't figured out how to make a deadly weapon from the button on a pair of cargo shorts. I just wasn't cut out for prison.