Doing Time: Grace

By: Coral Ceiley

   I’m a fugitive from the law. I’m a real criminal, a wanted woman, a threat to the good citizens of Cali. Beware! I’ve been cited for driving with expired tags, having no dog license, open container, and illegal camping! Do not approach me if you see me, I may be armed and dangerous.

For the past five years, I’ve been growing medicine in northern California and ironically have never been charged with any marijuana related offense. I have been pulled over with two pounds of weed in the cab of a Nissan Frontier. In fact, a valid 215 card will allow you to transport pounds of weed legally through California. And now with Proposition 64 passing, anyone over twenty-one can possess up to an ounce of weed and grow six plants for recreational use.

   I’ve always had a driver’s license; I’ve always paid my insurance; I’ve always smiled when pulled over by the good men and women of the Highway Patrol. I was born in the sixties. I remember the police letting my father drive home after a family party because he needed to get the kids home, and he wasn’t that intoxicated. My father rarely drove without a Coors beer between his legs. To those of you under forty, the drink holder had not yet been invented.

   I agree it’s not okay to drink and drive, but there’s something to be said about a time when Human beings were still in charge of making decisions. But I think that time died with disco, amyl nitrate, and the Hustle.

   Well, while we’re on the subject, I was arrested for driving under the influence in 2015. I blame my boyfriend, who I shall refer to as Loverboy. He had upset me, and I just wanted to get away for a few minutes to calm down. Normally I would never drive under the influence. I lived way up in the mountains and thought the odds of getting in trouble were slim. Needless to say, I was wrong. And while I sat handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol car, Loverboy walked by, grinning from ear to ear; I’d never seen anyone so happy.  He waved and laughed. A convicted child molester from a nearby trailer park stood outside and shook his head as if to say what a shame. She had to get behind the wheel.  It was all very humiliating.

   Here’s where we enter the rabbit hole. I’m thrown in a cell with a Latina girl who is noticeably beaten up. While lying on the very uncomfortable plastic mat on the cement floor of the cell next to the toilet, I notice she has bruised wrists, bruised feet, broken ribs, and can barely stand or sit up. Being concerned for her, I helped her up a couple times and asked the jailer if she needed medical care. I was informed that she’d been to the hospital and was fine.

   The woman was named Grace, and she was a Christian. She had been given something at the hospital that made her groggy and from time to time she would lift her head and ask me something like: “What do you think makes a woman a whore?” As we got to know each other on the jail cell floor, I began to like her and felt protective of her, like she needed my help.

I remember saying, “I can’t believe we have to sleep on the floor!”

To which she replied, “At least it’s clean.” Looking around, I realized the place was very clean, and I was impressed with her positive attitude.

She had been beaten up by the cops at a church. That is how she received her injuries. Unfortunately, that was the God-awful truth. Grace lived in Sacramento. She had flown into the Redding airport to attend a special service at the Bethel Church. After the service, she had difficulty getting a ride or directions to a hotel. A man offered to drive her, but suddenly her alarm bells went off, and she did not trust him. She was a very attractive woman wearing a short skirt. While she tried to say no to this man, the security guard called law enforcement. When they arrived and tried to put her in a police car, she resisted, wondering why she was being detained. That’s when three officers fell on her and proceeded to pummel her. According to the doctor, she was dehydrated and was beginning to experience confusion. They gave her several bags of saline at the hospital. She had sustained contusions, broken and cracked ribs, and broken toes during the scuffle.

   By six AM, we were good friends. Mostly she wanted to talk about the Bible, and I was ashamed of myself for driving under the influence and needed the company of someone who had so much faith. She impressed me by being so upbeat and positive about her plight. She still had no clue as to why she was originally detained. Can a person be charged with resisting arrest before they have been arrested?

When we were finally released, about nine in morning, we were handed our property. Any cash we had on us was taken, and we were given checks that could be cashed at the liquor store across the street. I had three hundred bucks on me when detained, and the RPD thoughtfully deducted my booking fees of about a hundred dollars.  Also the liquor store charged a fee of thirty bucks to cash the check. What a scam! Later I received a bill for the arresting officer’s time. Wasn’t that included in his salary?

   Anyway, I escorted Grace to the bus station. We walked so slowly I thought I was with my hundred year old grandma! What a shitty welcome to Shasta County. We joked about her five star accommodations on the way. She had an iPhone in her purse, but the battery was dead, and she could not contact anyone. This gave credence to her story as far as I was concerned. She had money, credit cards, and electronic devices; she was not a flake. I did my best to get her headed back to the airport where she could rest safely while waiting for a flight back to Sacramento.

   We exchanged numbers, hugged goodbye, and went our separate ways. But my life was forever changed by Grace, who I will always think of as a messenger from heaven, an angel, sent to tell me I needed to get my life together on the floor of a jail cell in California. I never saw or heard from Grace again.

One Response

  1. Coral Ceiley February 24, 2017