There are three previous installments. You know how to find them if you haven’t yet and are foolish enough to want to.
As we drove toward Melvin’s house I made sure that he got a piece of my mind: It is VERY UNCOOL to involve people in criminal activities without even consulting them first. What, he threatened to beat you up if you didn’t set my ass up again?
His story: No, there was no threat of violence. It was just, you know, for the money. The pigs don’t even know the place was broken into, and stupid Mister Criminal thought he knew the password but didn’t. As long as he doesn’t fuck up on the way out, no one will ever know the place was broken into.
That was that. Done. I told Melvin The Mormon to just stay completely away from me and away from Amethyst. If the pigs nailed him, he was to tell them the whole truth right from the start, with no evasion and no lies because my fate was hinged upon his credibility which was already shit because he was a burglar. If he didn’t do that, if he sacrificed his credibility or did not tell the truth about my ignorance, I was going to show him just how much pain a human being could survive and it would certainly be greater than any he’d yet experienced. I’d been saving his ass even when it was from myself for far too long, and I was done with that now. He would do well not to tempt me to settle up.
The next day, Melvin dropped by the house to let me know that Mister Criminal had indeed fucked up on his way out. He’d left the store and was on the roof watching the pigs roust us, hung around up there until after they left and came back around ten minutes later to catch anyone who thought the coast was clear, and then he went back inside. He made himself a milk shake (and so left fingerprints all over the machine that he had to assemble to do it), and then tried the safe some more. When it resisted him, he found a hammer and beat the dials faces off thinking he’d just reach behind them and move something this way or that to open the door. When that didn’t work, he vented his frustration on other pieces of equipment on his way out.
Well, shit. If I went to the pigs and said look man, I was there but didn’t know until it was too late what was going on, I’d look to them like I was just ratting out my buddies to save my own ass. Plus, if I did that, I’d be risking that Melvin would actually tell the whole truth through to the conclusion of the evening, including the threats of violence, so it wouldn’t much matter if he told the truth about my ignorance because the threat of violence would make it look like he was under duress while making me out to be a violent criminal.
The night before I’d been afraid that if I spoke up it would look like I was just ratting out my buddies to save my own ass. Then I found myself in even worse shape, having threatened Melvin The Mormon with violence so it wouldn’t matter whether or not he told the truth. Ya know, I am just not cut out for criminal enterprise.
Seeing no other option, I took a drive over to Mister Criminal’s house. I found him outside, playing basketball with neighbors, and convinced him to take a ride with me. Not that he wanted to. We got around the corner and parked, and he wanted to yuck it up about the previous evening’s fun and games. I interrupted that, and gave it to him straight: His fingerprints were all through the place so he was going to take that fall and there wasn’t a thing in the world to be done about it. It was uncool to involve me in it against my will, and though Melvin The Mormon had been a willing participant he hadn’t touched anything so couldn’t be provably placed inside the store — if he was placed inside, I was implicated, and that would NOT do. So Mister Criminal was going to just go on doing whatever it was that he normally did, and when they pinched him he was going to say that he acted alone. Yes, he knew us (he and I had worked together), but it was just random coincidence that Melvin The Mormon was peeing just outside the place he was burglarizing.
Mister Criminal agreed that it was uncool to involve me without even asking me if I wanted to be involved, and that he would say that he acted alone. He seemed to think it some kind of noble, romantic criminal thing to go down alone. And unlike Melvin The Mormon, he had no expectation that I might show him mercy. With that settled, I told him to get out of my car. He balked, saying the least I could do was give him a ride back home. As I said before, I used to have a habit of giving in too easily.
I pulled the car out of the parking lot, and then all I could see were the red lights in the mirror. Damn.
The cop recognized my car from the night before and figured he’d shoot for the long shot. He was nice about it, let me drive my car to the pigpen, and didn’t even question us. All he wanted was fingerprints, but we were not free to go. My prints were run first, and of course were not among those found. I said, “So, whatever it is you suspected me of I clearly wasn’t involved, so I’m free to go”. I stood up, and he got between me and the door. Nope, not free to go. Not until that guy’s prints also don’t come back.
A few minutes later I had the right to remain silent, and a couple of minutes after that I had the right to freeze my ass off on a cold steel bunk. Now I know why it used to be called the cooler. Several hours later they brought me out for questioning, and I told them everything I knew while smoking all of the cop’s cigarettes for him. Then they called Mommie Dearest, who told them that it was impossible that they had her son because her son was in bed asleep. When she arrived, the arresting officers took her aside and explained that she should go easy on me because it was just a wrong place/wrong time thing, was going into their reports as such, and surely the DA would not file charges against me.
The DA, though, did file charges. Felony charges, breaking and entering and commercial burglary.
When I went to trial, the Deputy DA outside the courtroom told me not to worry about a thing. He was reducing the charge to a misdemeanor, and if it was up to him we’d not be wasting the taxpayer’s money with a trial because I was obviously innocent. Even the arresting officers’ reports said so.
The judge? He found me guilty. He said that his original inclination was to fine me $100 plus one third of the damages as restitution, but that upon reconsideration, I was an upstanding young man holding down an unusually good job for one my age, and with no criminal record, so he was making it a $500 fine plus a third of the damages.
My mother? She was there, as I was yet a minor. She stood up and yelled at the judge, “Are you saying that if he was a fucking wetback Mexican on welfare with a criminal record, you’d find him not guilty?”. Yeah, that’s it, Mommie Dearest, make it obvious that I’m of pure white trash breeding and so belong in jail with the rest of the white trash. I tugged at her blouse and said, “Mom, please just shut up and sit down. I can afford my fine, but not yours, too”. The judge looked at me and said, “I can see that you’re a thoughtful and wise young man, too”. I couldn’t help myself. “Please, Your Honor”, I said, “don’t increase my fine because of that”. He went on to explain that I would be on probation until the debt was paid, blah blah blah. I had the money, but couldn’t pay that day.
When I met with my probation officer, after the introductions and preliminary review of why I was there and what the terms of my probation were, she asked if I had any questions. “Yes”, I said, “I do. Who do I pay to get this over with so I can get on with the rest of my life without wasting your time or mine?”. She told me the cashier was just down the hall, and said that if I could pay it all in full then all she needed from was a copy of the receipt and we’d be done. I paid my debt to society and Burger King, gave her a copy the receipt, and that was that.
Melvin The Mormon? Being an upstanding young man with no job, he got 40 hours of community service. It took me twice that long to earn, after taxes, the fine I got stuck with — and the only job that dipshit had ever held, the one I gave him and then fired him from, paid minimum wage. Minimum wage then was $2.65/hour. The son of a bitch got a raise to $16/hour for being a criminal? There ain’t no justice.
Mister Criminal got six months in the county jail. When he got out, he brought a buddy out from Tennessee to help him terrorize Melvin The Mormon. They caught him every few days and beat him up a little bit, and I wasn’t there to save him. I wouldn’t have had a thing to say about it if I had been there to witness it anyway. The pretty boy redneck (fagneck?) was supposed to terrorize me, too, but a freak weather pattern for so close to the ocean blew a cool breeze through his undies.
Mister Criminal went back to jail not long after for another crime against another Burger King, a strongarm robbery, and again after that for another fuckup involving another safe combination he thought he knew. I don’t know what became of him after that.
Fifteen years later, Melvin The Mormon unwittingly repaid me for what he’d stolen during the virginity sacrifice.
Melvin The Mormon, believe it or not, was only the second worst of the entourage of losers. I don’t and never did hold it against Amethyst that she wouldn’t allow me to lose the losers. Her only sin was having a great big heart and a soft spot for underdogs. Like me, it was her lot in life to be the gracious one who always went out of her way to ensure that no bully ever went for long without what he asked for. You can’t really do that gig if you don’t have a soft spot for underdogs. We were just young and inexperienced, doing the best we could with what we had, and hoping not to screw up too badly. We screwed up pretty badly.
These days we have a One Vote Rule: If one of us says to the other, “this one’s got to go”, then that’s that with no hesitation and no questions asked, at least not until after this one’s well and truly gone. It doesn’t matter who “this one” might be or what the circumstances are. No hesitation, no questions asked.
Friends? The last place we encountered the last person we had once thought a friend was in court. The woman had been a guest in our home frequently. We broke bread often. We lent her moral support when her common law husband unexpectedly died. I cared for her animals when she traveled. In court, the bitch perjured herself left and right in her testimony against Amethyst, and Amethyst prevailed. Two weeks later we passed her while driving, and the bitch smiled and waved. As if she hadn’t just spent a year abusing Amethyst, and supporting others who did so as well. As if she hadn’t perjured herself in a vain attempt to deny Amethyst her due.
We’re just no good at picking friends.