I spent my last night in jail on January the 12th, 1980. It was a warm and rainy night in Brunswick Georgia, and I had wrecked a car a week earlier. I had been in Brunswick for less than two weeks and was running up an impressive score of alcohol related incidences. But let’s back up to the drunken rage that got all of this started, shall we?
A friend of mine in my hometown of Blakely Georgia got ripped off by a vending machine and he attacked it. He broke his foot in the process and broke the machine. Not content with his victory over the machine he bragged about it so the cops found out. His parents were pissed at him, and rightfully so, but because I was witness to the attack, my father urged the police to arrest me as well. That led to me packing my stuff and moving to Brunswick with my Vending Machine Killing Friend.
Brunswick was on the other side of the state and that wasn’t nearly far enough as far as I was concerned, but we had left in a hurry and we were desperately broke. I would have lived on the streets before I went back to my father’s house. But my Vending Machine Killing Friend had a cousin there and the cousin had an idea. This idea was born after a fifth of vodka had been consumed by doing shots. The cousin’s girlfriend bailed on us because she thought we would be caught, and caught quickly. I thought so too. It was a bad, stupid plan without much return for our trouble.
We were going to burglarize a coin Laundromat.
Yes, that was going to catapult us into our life of crime and easy money, as robbing coin Laundromats have nearly always been the first step in any serious crime syndicate. The plan was to tear a plywood door off its frame, kick in the real back door, and then we would be rolling in quarters as well as rolling the quarters. Can you imagine if this had gone as planned? Wow! A hundred bucks worth of loose change! Yeah, Baby, let me tuck a few of these in your garter! Al Capone move over!
We arrived at the back of the building via an alley and I watched the Vending Machine Killing Friend and his cousin pull the back door open and enter the building. I told them I was going to leave and as they went in, I started to walk away.
A car pulled into the ally so I hid behind the cousin’s car. Yep, it was the cops. I bent down low and watched as the driver of the cop car went around the front of my hiding place and then I bolted. I did not see the second cop until I was on top of him. It happened so fast neither of us had time to react but I stiff armed him and kept going. The first cop ran back to his car to pursue me. The second cop got up to give chase, too. I ran like hell.
And a good runner was I. I hit the sidewalk at full speed and turned the afterburners on. I was not only fast on my very worst days I was also terrified and running for my life. If it had just been between me and the foot cop, man, I am telling you, I would have had to called him long distance to gloat. Hell, even if it had been just him and that one car, I would have been able to out maneuver them both. But when the second car cut me off a few blocks away I was had. I could tell Rodney King a thing or two about making a cop run nearly a mile. It wasn’t race it was the race. He was too tired to kill me and that is the only thing that saved me.
Meanwhile, back at the Great Laundromat Caper…
The cop that had given chase in the first cop car cuffed me, or rather put cuffs on me, I had already been cuffed enough, and asked me whose car that was in the alley. Car? What car? I told him I did not know of any car, what is this car you speak of? I got slapped for that one and they tossed me in the back of their car and drove me back to the scene of the crime where there was no car.
The Vending Machine Killing Friend and his cousin heard all the commotion and they watched as the cops gave chase. They got into the car and rode off, scot free and totally unmolested. They went to a bar where there was police scanner and got drunk-er while I was being beaten and interrogated. They decided to drive to Jacksonville where there was a strip club and perhaps check in on me the next day.
Back at the jail they made a very startling discovery; I had no ID on me at all. I gave them a fake name and I wasn’t about to tell them anything else at all. I told them I had hitch hiked to Brunswick, had no family at all, and I didn’t know a soul there. Moreover, I was just looking for a place to pee when I stepped into the alley. There, I discovered a couple having sex in the back of a car and stopped to watch, Then the cops arrived and I ran. End of story.
They laughed at me.
But they also thought I was underage. I was over eighteen but looked a lot younger. Most people thought I was fourteen or fifteen when they met me. The cops filed me as a juvenile and I was delighted. A very sleepy woman interviewed me and after a while I told her my age, but damn little else. Honestly, I seriously thought about faking being fourteen again. But I was tossed into a holding cell for six hours.
The Vending Machine Killing Friend and his cousin got half way to Jax and decided they might ought to check to see if I was in jail or not. In jail, I might spill the whole story. Yes, the hunted Gang Of Vending Machine Death rode back into town to seek out their own! So about dawn they arrived and asked if anyone had picked up a lost and drunken soul, very young looking, and likely babbling incoherently.
They sprang me and we all went back to the apartment for a few drinks. I tossed The Vending Machine Killing Friend and his cousin. I opened the front door, invited them to leave my apartment, because the lease was in my name, and bid them never to return. That was the last time I spent any time in jail, the last time I was involved in a robbery of any sorts, and the last time I committed a crime where I could do time, unless pot counts against that.
The cop that had beaten me mocked me when they let me go. He told me he would see me again and I told him he had damn well come over for dinner or he wouldn’t ever get another shot at me. I made good on that by choosing my friends a hell of a lot more carefully from that point on.
Things I learned:
- If it seems like a bad idea when you’ve been drinking it’s worse than you think.
- A plan is only as smart as the most stupid person executing it.
- Your friends will screw you over quicker and harder than anyone who hates you.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit
Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.