Booked and sitting in my open holding cell I can’t help but shiver. I am not one to get cold easy but wearing a tank top and a thin gypsy skirt didn’t help me stay warm in this dark cement room. I could venture out in to the lobby area where maybe under the bright beaming lights from above I could warm up a bit, but there were guys out there. These men looked wild, their stare bearing into your soul. Most of them stayed quiet but then you had those few that would whistle at girl calling for her attention. I didn’t feel like dealing with that. I would much rather freeze in here. There is one other girl sitting in here with me. A Latin girl with short spunky black hair and a meek personality. I could tell she was meek by the way she spoke, her tone barely more than a whisper. I noticed her earlier in the booking area, she kept her head down mostly, even when she spoke to the cops, her eyes always shyly averted. At first I thought maybe she was rebelling and not wanting to bother with the police. She had three piercings on her face, which of course they made her remove. One on her upper lip, One on her nose, and an eyebrow ring. A girl with that many face piercings had to be hardcore, no? Well, no. She was polite throughout her entire booking and now sitting here in the holding cell I could hear her silent cries. I’m a soul who can pick up on energy and hers told a sad sad story. I decided to lay back down, using my hands as not only a pillow, but to keep a safe distance between my face and the “bench”. The seating area in this holding cell was a wrap around bench that pretty much extended out from the wall. It of course was made out of cement and was maybe about 2ft wide at the most. I curl up with half of my body hanging over the edge. It wasn’t comfortable but it’s about 1am and I am tired. This entire ordeal has completely depleted me of any sort of energy I had left. My feet are cold and no matter how hard I try to wrap the bottom of my skirt around them, it doesn’t manage to shield them from this endless cold that penetrated deep down into your bones.
I don’t remember how Ronnie and I began talking. We had been sitting there a while neither of us sure what it was we were waiting for.She was the first to ask what I was in for.
“DUI…” I answered
“Yea.. I’ve never been locked up before.” I looked at her and noticed a slight smirk.
“Don’t worry, you may get off easy then. This isn’t my first time in here. Tonight I was driving while under the influence but they also found a baggie in my wallet. Coke. So who knows how long I’ll be here. Hopefully I can bonded out tonight.” She said all this without a care in the world. I was almost shocked at her nonchalantness of it all. I guess she wasn’t so meek after all. I was getting ready to ask her why she had been crying earlier when in stumbles an old lady dressed in a light colored, sleeveless, beach jumper and truly beat up flipflops. She had her arms crossed over her chest, each hand holding onto her shoulders. She sat down without saying a word. By the smell of her I could tell she was drunk, that, and the fact that she had been outside all day. The smell of underarms had slowly made its way onto our side of the holding area. She sat by the door gazing out into the lobby. Every few minutes or so, her eyes would get heavy and attempt to close, but her body would lose balance and quickly would fall forward. She would pop right up and begin to stare out into the lobby again, her gaze and her thoughts floating far away from where we sat.
I hadn’t even noticed that I had laid back down and fallen asleep when I felt the energy in the air shift. My eyes popped open and immediately focused on the older woman. She was pacing back and forth rubbing her shoulders and arms, trying to get them warm. I sat up and looked over at Ronnie who was asleep, mouth wide open, with her head tilted back resting on the wall. I have totally lost my sense of time. I don’t know how long I had been asleep and it honestly didn’t matter if I knew or not. Once you set one foot inside of this facility, time stops. It doesn’t fly by, it doesn’t even move, it just stops. The only concept of time that you have is that of the past. You find your mind constantly focused on the past, most of those thoughts being of what mistake had led you here to being with. There was no future. In a place like this you saw no future. The present was so grim and powerful that it stopped you from believing in the future. Instead of living in the present and its depressions, that’s when you escape into the past, making it the only true concept of time one has while in jail. I looked back over to the older woman who had sat back down. She had her legs crossed, one leg wrapped all the way around the other one down to her foot. She was shivering.
“You must be super cold.” I said without even thinking. As soon as the words tumbled out I thought to myself, “If this were a movie, I would have shouted out to that character, “No shit, moron -_- ” She turned to look at me and nodded her greasy head. She looked old. Her eyes gave away her tired life. The light from the lobby shined on her and what I saw was dirt. Dirt everywhere. I noticed that her beach jumper was made out of a towel like material. What was meant to be white was now a light colored brown with small accents of darker brown, proving how dirty it was. The crotch part sagged far more than anyone would have liked to have seen, and was soiled beyond belief. Her silver hair was wrapped in a tight greasy bun that sat right on top of her head. Huge flakes of dandruff threatened to jump off her head with any sudden movement. No wonder this lady stunk. I couldn’t take it any longer. I stood up and walked out of the holding cell we were in. This lady was not only freezing but she was covered in filth. I was sick of seeing it and..well… smelling her. I walked across the lobby to where the front desk was. Behind the counter was a young lady cop who was so short that it looked like she was sitting behind the counter. I stood there for a couple seconds before she looked up.
“Hi..sorry to bother you..” She just stares at me, expression blank. “I was just wondering, there’s a lady in there with us and she’s really cold. She’s shivering, maybe turning blue, I don’t know..” I added that part to make it sound a bit more urgent.”And her clothes really smell.. I think she may have pee’d herself?” Still this cops continues to just stare, not even blinking. “Do you guys maybe have a jumper so she can change into?” She stares for a few more beats before she asks, “Is it the old lady with dirty flip flops?” I would have used another description but hey, that worked. I nod yes. “Ok, that’s Joanie. She’s been in here often enough to know better. With the problems she’s got, she should know to always pack a sweater because she never knows when the next time she’ll land in here.” And with that she turns away a goes back to gathering up paperwork.
I stumble back into the holding cell and sit back on the bench. Joanie is looking at me.
“I tried to get you a jumper, Joanie, but she said no. Sorry.” I told her. She looked away and then a few seconds later asked, “How’d you know my name?” Her voice was high pitched, old, and shaky. I would imagine an old mouse’s voice to be like hers, like if Mickey Mouse had a grandmother, it would sound like her.
“The cop told me. Apparently you’re in here quite often.” I say.
“Yea…well…yea…” she mumbled. It seemed like she was still drunk. Her breath still smelled of it. She sat there stiff as a board, her skin lined with goosebumps. Every so often she would sway to one way or the other, but she never really did completely fall over.
“Well, what are you in for this time?” It was Ronnie who broke the silence. Joanie just stared at her for a bit, blinking her eyes at her a few times, so much so that it was starting to feel a little awkward. It kinda seemed as though that with every blink she gathered more and more of her thoughts, carefully collecting them before answering the question.
“It’s my boyfriend’s fault,” She finally answered slow and steady. “He was stinkin’ drunk and called the po’lice on me for no reason.” She pulled up on the front of her strapless jumper. I was hoping she’d pull up her sagging crotch area, the view was not pretty, but it seemed as though she didn’t seem to notice much.
“He wouldn’t have just called the cops without a reason. What did you do, Joanie?” Ronnie pried. I liker her. I could appreciate a person who wanted to get down to the nitty gritty of things, even if it wasn’t any of her business.
“No! All I did was walk on the property and he just called the po’lice! Like can you do that? I didn’t even do nuthin!” She started to get agitated and began running her hands on the sides of her greasy head, hiding all the loose hairs that haloed around her head. To me it sounded as though maybe she was trespassing. Or maybe she was in violation of a restraining order? I wasn’t going to ask to find out. I’d leave that up to Ronnie to keep prying, and she did.
“Were you allowed to be on the property? What’s really going on Joanie? Why would your boyfriend call the police on you? That’s not a really nice boyfriend.” She looked at me for confirmation. I nodded and looked at Joanie. For now that’s the only participation either of them were getting from me. Joanie just stared at us again, her gaze jumping between staring at me and then staring at Ronnie. Her eyes began to water just a little bit. I wasn’t sure if it was due to drinking too much, being tired, or the fact that the topic of conversation was making her sad.
“He isn’t nice. He put me in here and I didn’t do nuthin’. He broke up with me a couple weeks ago for this young girl where we live. But I didn’t care. I knew he would come back. He even put a restraining order on me but then we worked it out. All I did tonight was walk on the lawn. I was coming over so we could have some dinner but when I got there he called the po’lice. Now I just wanna ask him “why?” ” She spoke with the heart of a heartbroken school girl, confused as to why her boyfriend was acting so strange.
At this point I couldn’t help but comment. “Are you sure you guys worked it out? Maybe you thought you did but you guys actually didn’t? He probably called the police because you were violating the restraining order?” It didn’t take rocket science to figure out that that’s exactly what happened, but at the moment Joanie wasn’t all here. She was still drunk, her eyes fighting to stay open.
“He called them because she was there. His stupid new girlfriend who doesn’t even love him. She just likes him (hiccup) because she gets free beer all the time. The good stuff too. He gets her Rolling Rock because that’s what she likes. She was there and she was going to have dinner with us. He didn’t want that.” I couldn’t believe what Joanie was saying. This had to be the booze talking. “He never bought me the beer I liked. It was only Bud Light for me all the time. That’s not fair! I was with him the longest!” She was upset.
This lady was old. She had to be somewhere between the ages of 55-60 years old at least. I couldn’t imagine myself being this old and being in and out of jail, especially for a douche bag boyfriend who couldn’t even buy me the beer I liked. But then again, I never saw myself sitting in jail period but here I am.
“So wait? Did you just show up to his place hoping to have some dinner with this asshole and when you got there, there they were together??” Ronnie didn’t even give her time to answer. “Damn that fucking sucks dick!! But see Joanie this is why you call before you head over! No! Fuck that! This is why you don’t mess around with guys like that! Honestly he probably called the police to look cool in front of this newbie chick. I would be so fucking mad!” Ronnie was laughing an incredulous laugh while at the same time fueling Joanie’s fire. Joanie was simply staring off into the lobby. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.I couldn’t tell if she was mad, sad, or maybe neither. Maybe she was too drunk to really follow what was going on.
Suddenly Joanie stands up at attention. A few seconds later I hear the guards begin to call out our names. Ronnie was first, I was second, Joanie last. But when they called for Joanie, instead of calling out last name first then first name, they simply called out DB Joanie. While standing in the lobby waiting for our next set of instructions, I turned to ask her what DB stood for?
“Dirt Ball Joanie..” She begins to laugh, “They say every time I come in here I look dirty.” She wasn’t even offended. It was like they had given her a cute nickname except for it wasn’t out of affection nor was it cute by any means.
“It doesn’t bother you that they call you ‘Dirt ball’ like that?” I asked her. I’d be pissed honestly.
“Look at (hiccup) me. They’re right. I am dirty. I’ve been wearing this jumper for two whole days!” And then she begins to roar in laughter, almost like a little kid when they tell a joke that only they think is funny.
I suddenly got a little queasy. The condition in which her jumper was in was disgusting and I couldn’t help but wonder, was that pee stain from days ago or recently? As I was taking in all I had learned about Dirt Ball Joanie in the last 15-20 mins, the guards walked over and cuffed my right arm to Ronnie. As one of the guards did this, the other one told us that we were getting transported to the Ortiz location where we would be going in front of the judge to talk about the possibility of being bonded out. Possibility?? So did that mean that there was a possibility that I would have no bond if the judge decided it just that way? My mind began whirling. I couldn’t sit in jail past today. There was no way. I had work to attend to, my dog that needed me, and I couldn’t see myself hanging out with DB Joanie for more than a day. This was ridiculous. She was standing right beside me and all I could breath was her stale stench. Then the unthinkable happened. They cuffed my left hand to Joanie’s.
As we stood in the middle of the lobby waiting for transport, the guys in their holding cell were just whistling and hooting, hoping for one of us to react. I heard murmurs from them talking about Joanie and her dirty jumper. I heard murmurs about the “girl with all the tats” and none of that bothered me as much as the fact that I was cuffed to Joanie did. The smell of her was so horrible that I had to strategically breath out of my nose at a certain angle so the smell wouldn’t get to me as much. Breathing out my mouth was certainly NOT an option.
“ALRIGHT LADIES! Face the door! We’re heading out to the transport vehicle. I need you to move quickly and quietly!” Shouted the short guard who was stationed earlier at the desk. “DB if you need to use the bathroom you better hold it this time!” and with that the doors buzzed loudly and opened.
We shuffled out and the entire time we were walking I kept replaying the guard’s last words through my head…”you better hold it this time!” Had Joanie pee’d herself the last time she was in here? I think that was pretty obvious. God, if she pee’d this time…I’m cuffed to her…. Oh god.
We reach the garage area where the transport van was waiting for us with open doors. We hopped in, first Ronnie, then me, then Joanie. There was absolutely no leg room. We had to sit sideways in order for us to fit. Without a word, the guard shut the door behind Joanie. It was pitch black. There were no windows, no lights at all. Thank god I wasn’t the claustrophobic type or else this would be a true feat to have to overcome. We sat there in the dark for quite a bit. I could hear Ronnie breathing next to me. I could smell Joanie even more now, the air just sitting there stagnant, allowing us to marinade in her smell.
“Fuck! I really wanna get to where we’re headed. I hate the dark and this is way past dark. It makes no difference if my eyes are opened or closed!” Ronnie said. No wonder her breathing was heavy. If you were one to be afraid of the dark, this was not a good place to be.
It was like the driver heard her because within seconds the van pulled out. I knew the ride wouldn’t be too long. The Ortiz location was maybe 10-15 mins from downtown. It wasn’t even 5 mins into pulling out that I hear Joanie moan. It was a loud enough moan that made me question, “Joanie, you alright?”
Silence. A few seconds later I heard the moan again. This time Ronnie asked, “Yo, DB!” I nudged her with my elbow to let her know that she shouldn’t call her that. She didn’t care, “DB you ok?” She asked. Then, a few seconds later we smelled it. It was silent but deadly. The horrible smell over powered Joanie’s B.O which I thought was impossible to do, but leave it to Joanie to break her own smelly record. Then Joanie spoke,
“I have to go to the bathroom…bad.” She groaned. I inched closer to Ronnie who had inched closer to the wall and quietly prayed that we would get there soon.