"They can't confiscate my car for this, can they?" Jay said. I hadn't met Jay before that Saturday, but so far he seemed like a decent enough fellow.
The other guy (who was named Mike) just shrugged. "I got no clue, but I don't think they can"
Mike I had met before tonight, and he was also an okay guy; a slightly chubby dude with a thin blonde mustache who liked to get drunk on Purple Passion if I recall correctly. He was a friend of my friend Schnitz, whose real name was Jason and was sometimes referred to as Chief Ten-Beers due to his half-native heritage and inability to hold his liquor. Mike and Jay had driven up to Boulder to pick us up and give us a ride down to Colorado Springs for the weekend. Schnitz, that lucky sonofabitch, had escaped arrest. In fact, I had no idea where he was...
Despite Mike's non-committal response, Jay was still not satisfied that he would still own a car after this encounter. "Dude, I heard stuff like they can take your car and not give it back if they find drugs in it. I read it somewhere..."
Mike shook his head. "I don't think they can take your car just because you were giving a ride to someone who was carrying a little weed."
I stayed silent, since the person who was carrying "a little weed" was me and I was the reason we were sitting there in bracelets, instead of having a potentially exciting weekend. They didn't have a right to be too pissed, since I was also sharing my weed with them the whole way down there. When we saw the MP cruiser start to flash its lights, I didn't do the bitch thing and stuff my bag of pot into his seat (which would make the possession officially Jay's.)
I wasn't too upset that we would likely miss the party and I'd miss my chance to try and score some revenge sex with this punk chick I'd met a few months ago. I would consider it a good night if I didn't have to call my parents to bail me out of a military jail; if they even bailed people out of those places.
Still, this situation wasn't completely my fault. It wasn't my idea to drive onto a fucking army base while we were carrying pot. Chalk that one up to Jay and Mike and their desire to see a friend whose father had just returned to the post after being in Germany for a year.
THIRTY-SEVEN MINUTES EARLIER...
"We just want to say hi," Jay said, after parking the car in one of the residential lots when we arrived at Fort Carson. "We'll be there like ten minutes, tops."
Ten minutes was fine. Schnitz and I sat in the backseat while Jay and Mike trotted over to the row houses next to the parking lot.
"So, do you think Carrie is gonna be at this party?" I asked Schnitz, Carrie being the punk-chick I was hoping to hook up with. I had been pestering him about this the whole drive down to the Springs.
"I think so," he said. "I think she said she might stop by."
"Well what else would she be doing tonight?"
"I don't know," Schnitz said. "I've heard from a bunch of people she's been doing a lot of meth lately and hasn't been hanging out as much. I guess she stayed up for six days straight last week."
"Damn...six days is a long time," I said. Still, I was at a point in my life where I didn't find it too much of a turn-off if a girl was a meth addict. "Well, hopefully she'll show up. Do you know, has she asked about me or anything?"
"I haven't talked to her personally in weeks."
The primary reason I thought I had a shot with this girl was that a month ago; she and Mike had come up to Boulder to hang out with Schnitz. We all hung out in his dorm room getting drunk and smoking bales of pot until early in the morning. At some point, we played a short version of "Truth or Dare" where she admitted that I was the person in the room she would be most likely to have sex with. We didn't have sex that night (everyone pretty much passed out in the middle of watching Happy Gilmore on Schnitz TV/VCR combo.) When I woke up around noon the next day, Carrie was curled up next to me, our wrists attached together by a pair of toy handcuffs that I usually kept attached to my leather jacket. I planned to close escrow this time around.
The "ten minutes, tops" that Mike and Jay were going to be gone turned into twenty, and were starting to turn into an even half hour. Schnitz decided to walk to the pay phones down the block to call up someone about scoring some alcohol and maybe arrange for some couches to crash on later. I got out of the car to stretch my legs, since I had been sitting in the backseat of that car for two hours now.
I lit a cigarette and walked around the vehicle. I checked my reflection in another car's windshield, just to make sure I was looking handsome enough for some possible score-age later. I was grinding the butt of my cigarette out under the heel of my combat boot when Mike and Jay finally returned.
"Sorry that took so long," Jay said. "We just haven't seen her in about a year and we all got carried away talking."
"No problem," I said; the night was still young.
Mike asked, "Where's Jason?" and I told him that he just went down the street to make a phone call. "Okay, we'll go over and pick him up over there," and the three of us got back into the car and started down the block.
I saw the base security car creeping up on us as we were turning out of the lot. I figured as long as we played it cool we would be fine since we weren't causing a ruckus or any...
Then the flashers came on. Fuck...Jay pulled the car over to the side of the road.
Okay, okay...my mind was racing as the MP came out of the vehicle and stepped up to the driver's side window. This was after all an army base and they probably stopped cars regularly, just so they knew what everyone's business was, and as soon as Jay and Mike told them we were just here to visit a friend everything would be...
Then the MP told us to all step out of the vehicle.
Once we were all out, he told Jay to lean up against the vehicle and started searching him. Unlike a regular cop, he was cool with doing this without backup and Mike and I just standing around watching (not that we were hardcore criminals or a threat to him or anything.) The MP searched Mike next, and then it was my turn.
D. STEPHENSEN called me over to his car. "Do you consent to a search?" he asked.
Knowing I was fucked if he did, considering I had a quarter ounce of weed and my piece in the pocket of my trench coat, I said (in as respectful and non-snotty a voice as I could muster) "If I say no, does that mean you can't search me? I mean, I wasn't driving."
"Well," the MP said in a reasoning tone of voice, "It doesn't really matter if you say no or not. We're authorized to search any person on US government property."
As I leaned up against the cruiser, I wondered why, if that was the case, he had asked if I would "consent to a search?" Still, we were on a military base and they played by different rules, and besides, a civilian cop could pull probable cause out of their ass and search you anyway so I might as well get it over with, since we both knew I had something to hide now. He quickly found my bag of weed and my pipe, and said. "Please put your hands behind your back..."
It was not how I planned to be handcuffed that weekend...
A BRIEF INTERLUDE. SIX YEARS LATER.
One Saturday I was out with my girlfriend Jenny, my friend Lisa, and her boyfriend (who you K5er's know as fluxrad) at a bar on Capitol Hill when we decided to discuss what we'd been arrested for in the past.
Three of us had gotten pinched for shoplifting when we were teenagers. Jenny, the sweet love of my life, turned out to be the biggest criminal. Besides shoplifting, she also been arrested for running away from home and grand theft auto (she was caught riding around in a stolen car once...charged but not convicted) not to mention a couple weeks in juvvie. Lisa was the only one who's run ins with the authorities only involved speeding tickets.
I, of course, brought up this incident of getting busted with pot on Fort Carson, prompting fluxrad to slam down his pint of Rolling Rock.
"Can I ask you something?" he said, pointing an accusatory finger at me. "How long have you been retarded? You took MARIJUANA ON A FUCKING ARMY BASE?"
I tried to explain; I was riding with other people and had no choice where they decided to go, which was the only reason I was there. "What was I supposed to do? Just get out of the car and let them leave me?"
fluxrad nodded. "Yes. If I was riding with people dumb enough to go onto a base while we had drugs on us, I would tell them to drop me off somewhere and leave me." He took a drag off his cigarette and continued. "My dad was in the Navy so I know all about the security around those places. They made every visitor sign in at the guard station, and pop their trunk before being allowed inside."
I said that apparently pre-9/11 security at Fort Carson was lax, since there was no one at the guard station when we drove through that night.
"It doesn't matter. MPs are allowed to shoot anyone they see as a threat or a potential threat, with or without provocation!" he said, getting animated like he usually does when he argues while drunk.
"I heard this story about an admiral--a fucking admiral--who had forgotten his ID badge at home when he was driving on base and they wouldn't let him on, even though he had driven past the same guardhouse every day for years. Still, without the ID they wouldn't let him. He got pissed and drove through anyway, and the guard just turned around with his rifle and shot him in the head at twenty meters. And you want to know how much trouble that guard got into for shooting an admiral in the head...zero...nada...because those were his orders. That's how seriously they take security on military bases, and that's why you're a moron for taking weed onto one, Dave."
Yes, with twenty/twenty hindsight, it was absolutely idiotic for me to have gone onto an army base while carrying drugs. Yes, I should have persuaded the people I was with that it was a dumb idea. There is no excuse for that lapse in judgment.
fluxrad's verbal tirade made me feel stupid, so I neglected to mention that I later tried to plead insanity on the charges, knowing full well that that defense would not meet the guidelines under M'Naughton. I claimed I was using it to treat "depression" and thought that was a legal, medicinal use for the drug.
The judge called my bluff, and in addition to a year's probation, I had to attend weekly mandatory sessions with a therapist. At least the state had to pay for it.
Anyway, I didn't mention that to fluxrad, at least not right then. I probably did a few beers later and got properly ridiculed for it.
BACK TO THAT NIGHT...
No Schnitz, don't walk over here. Please don't walk over here...
But walk towards us and the security cruiser's flashing lights he did. The PFC Stephensen didn't see him yet; he was still talking on his radio as Schnitz trotted towards us on the sidewalk. Lanky old Schnitz, my half-Cherokee, half-German buddy from the dorms from Boulder, I hoped he wasn't going to come over to us and admit that he had been in the car with us. He was the lucky one; he could walk away from all this. Don't fuck this up Schnitz. It won't do us any good if you get busted too...
Schnitz was an easy person to underestimate because his view of life was simple and uncomplicated. He liked pepperoni pizza and Chris Farley movies. I searched with him all over Boulder for the one specific Sublime poster he wanted for his wall that had the band and their Dalmatian sitting on a bunch of lawn chairs. He would blurt out the most bizarre non-sequitors like "I'm gonna go back to my room and shave my goat" or "That's almost as good as fucking an eighty-year old man up the ass!" It was with lines like those he could stop a conversation like few others. When his roommate's preppie, sorority girl friends were hanging out in his room, he would play Ice Cube's "Cave Bitch" to get them to leave, and I laughed at the genius of it.
If you did something mean to him, Schnitz would easily forgive you. He was one of those kind, un-cynical souls who you just *know* will get ground up by this world until you realize that they are actually kind and un-cynical enough to survive it. Schnitz was basically the opposite of me, which is why he was my best friend.
So please, as a friend, don't walk over here and get busted along with the rest of us.
Schnitz grew up as a lower-middle class kid in the Springs, and that was where he met his high school buddies Mike and Jay. Of his friends, he was the one most likely to break out of the whole lower working class cycle. Many in his old group of friends were getting caught up with the methamphetamine craze sweeping Colorado. Schnitz never did drugs, not even weed. At least he didn't until me and my friends peer pressured him into trying it and he found that he liked it. He still stayed away from the harder stuff that I gobbled up like aspirin at the time.
Still he was walking closer. Goddammit Schnitz! Don't you notice the handcuffs? If you don't want to be sitting here with us, then don't come over here!
Finally, it looked like he was coming to his senses (or perhaps noticing that all three of us were jerking our heads in the universal "get-the-fuck-out-of-here" motion) that he veered off and walked on. The PFC Stephensen still hadn't noticed him. Schnitz went on turning around the corner and disappeared down the block.
A backup car finally arrived, lights flashing, and another MP got out. The PFC Stephensen went over to him, "Here's the keys to the vehicle. I haven't conducted a search of it yet."
"You think we'll need a dog?" he said looking down at us.
"I don't think so. My preliminary search looks like they only had recreational amounts with them. I'm gonna take these three to the Provost Marshal's station. Has the 48th CID been notified?"
"Yeah, we already have a couple of cases tonight. The Lieutenant's getting out of bed as we speak."
"Well, I'll let you get to it then." PFC Stephensen told us to get in the back of his cruiser. It would have been a tight fit with just the three of us. With our hands cuffed behind us, it was even more impossible. Eventually we got in though. Handcuffs are never comfortable, but they are even more uncomfortable sitting in the back of a police cruiser. None of us said a word. It was pretty apparent that keeping our mouths shut would be the best course of action.
TWENTY-TWO HOURS EARLIER...
...I was standing on the lawn of a house on University Hill, getting ready to witness my first riot.
It was coming up on midnight and I had been over at an end-of-the-year celebration at Harv's house, though I had little to celebrate. My grades were in the toilet and I was praying I'd pass maybe two of my classes with C's (I'd only end up passing one). I was imploding from despair and gobbled up drugs and alcohol and anarchy and anything else that would distract me from it.
Now, parties on the Hill in Boulder were a pretty open affair back then. It really didn't matter if you knew anyone at the house, you could pretty much just walk in anywhere and discreetly queue up for the keg and no one would give you a hard time. When the beer ran out, the houses would literally empty out within minutes and people would head for the next reported kegger down the block. This made underage drinking insanely easy back then.
However, the cops knew this too. With the Boulder Police Department's reputation already in the gutter over the JonBenet Ramsey murder, they decided to show their competence in the one thing they could control which was the college students. They started a campaign to eliminate all underage drinking. All semester, parties were getting busted left and right with the cops setting up a breathalyzer for anyone who couldn't produce an ID stating they were over 21. I had had several close calls all year, and finally got a ticket on the Chinese New Year when a cop caught me pissing in an alley on my way home with some take out chicken lo mien. Needless to say, respect for the Boulder cops amongst the students was at an all time low.
The party at Harv's place, a huge three story house where he lived with about ten other people, had luckily not drawn the attention of the cops despite the fact that it was in one of the most central areas of University Hill. About a half-hour before, the kegs had run dry and people began to leave the house. But instead of finding another party, most of the people just congregated in the middle of the street. More and more people began to join them until it looked like an impromptu, middle of the night block party.
I sat on Harv's porch, smoking some of the pot I'd scored earlier that day (the stuff that would later get me in trouble), watching as more and more people began to fill the street. Schnitz ditched me to get some $1 dollar pizza slices on the Hill. That was fine since I was in a bad mood and didn't want to talk to anyone anyway. I'd had an even shittier week than I usual. In addition to failing most of my classes, I'd also been fired from my job at the Arapahoe Cinemas 4. It was kind of understandable since I was always coming to work when I was coming down off of some drug, and I lost my temper on quite few customers while I was there. The management also suspected me of stealing from the register. While it wasn't my hand in the till, I did know whose hand was and refused to roll over on them, hence I was let go. Fuck it; it was a shitty theater anyway.
But the thing that was really sent me over the edge had happened that night, when one of my ex-roommates admitted he was fucking this girl I had been sort-of seeing for most of the year. Now, I knew that "sort-of seeing" didn't imply an exclusive relationship, and in reality she was fair game, but I was hardly an emotionally mature person back then. I didn't punch him, but then I'm not much of a fighter anyway. If anything, most of the anger was directed towards myself. If I'd shown any balls in this situation, well, I wouldn't have been in this situation. Still, even if the anger is self-directed, it didn't make it any less white hot, and the pot was doing nothing too cool it.
It was inevitable that a cop car would eventually try to drive down the crowded street. When it came, it stopped short of the students and sat there for what seemed like an interminable moment. Soon, it turned its lights on and a voice came over the PA. "YOU ARE ORDERED TO DISPERSE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY! I REPEAT--DISPERSE IMMEDIATELY!"
The crowd in the street went wild and started cheering and did not disperse. Soon somebody lobbed a bottle at the cop car, which missed and shattered on the asphalt next to it. The cop didn't wait for the next one to find its mark; he threw the car into reverse, backed up and turned down Broadway. The crowd cheered some more. Yep, this was gonna get ugly.
The arrival of the police just prompted more people to start heading down to the block. It was ridiculous; it looked like there were almost a thousand people in this little area. Everybody knew there was going to be a throw down and everybody wanted to be there to see it.
"Everybody, get off our porch!" yelled Sandy, one of the girls who lived with Harv. After yelling this a few times more, she disappeared back inside the house and locked the door. I moved off the couch and onto the lawn. Trashcans filled with empty bottles were being moved to the street. People were grabbing whatever garbage or scrap they could find to start a bonfire. Some fellow with a huge system in his truck started blasting Rage Against The Machine. Somehow, I didn't think that Rage Against The Machine was meant to be the soundtrack to a bunch of over-privileged drunk assholes trashing their own neighborhood.
The sound of breaking glass was everywhere. Bottles were being smashed all around; on the street, on the sidewalk. People were breaking the windows of the cars unlucky enough to be parked on the block. A few other people were taking baseball bats to the windows of the frat house across the street, but I hated frat boys, so fuck them. People rolled dumpsters out of the alleys and into the street and people tried to light them on fire unsuccessfully.
In the midst of all this, I loaded some more weed into my pipe and started smoking out on the lawn. Some drunken fellow with a bloody cut on his forehead stumbled up to me and asked if he could have a hit. I let him; he yelled thanks, and then ran back to the street. My mood was feeling lighter, or perhaps I was just distracted by the violence. While I didn't want to participate in this idiocy, I fed off it. The fires, the breaking glass, this was how I felt inside.
The couch I had been sitting on earlier was being lifted off Harv's porch to be thrown on the ever-growing bonfire. Another bonfire was being set just down the block. Another group of people were working to flip a nice looking Ford Taurus onto its roof when a new set of cops arrived, these decked out with riot helmets, shields and batons. The formed a loose cordon behind an armored truck.
The bullhorn came on again, telling us disperse the area immediately. It was again met with cheers and FUCK YOU's. Some guys who had since stripped off their shirts and wrapped them around their heads, hauled a dumpster out and hurtled it down the street like a torpedo. It bounced off the bumper of the armored truck with a clang. The guys who had been trashing the frat house with their bats went and started pounding against the armored truck. A few of the riot cops rushed forward with their batons to beat them away. The cops started setting off flash-bangs around the truck to drive away anyone else in their proximity. Once the dumpster was moved out of the way, the truck sprayed tear gas and advancing into the mob on the street. The riot police charged behind it.
The crowd surged, and so did I.
I stuck my pipe back into the pocket of my army jacket and ducked down the alley, certain that there was a pig right on my heels waiting to put a nightstick to my head. It took until I came out the other side of the block to realize no one was chasing me. Curious, I scuttled back down the alley to see what was going on. The wasabi-like stink of tear gas filled the air, but it was not overpowering where I was. The mob had cleared off the street, but was now lobbing beer bottles from the lawns. I could see one cop had gotten pretty badly injured and was being carried back towards the armored truck. I heard some popping noises. I didn't know if they were firecrackers, tear gas canisters, or rubber bullets, but I'd seen enough. I started heading away from the street and figured I'd see if Schnitz was still eating pizza (I was getting hungry myself).
Of course, the riot had moved beyond its initial flashpoint and was spreading. There were more bonfires springing up all over the place and the flashing lights of police cars as they tried to seal off the area from any additional curiosity seekers. As for getting pizza, there was no chance. Every place on College Ave. had quickly closed up. The bars were hustling their patrons out onto the street early, and the patrons were now joining the mob, kicking trash cans and newspaper boxes in the street, as well doing their best to destroy the hated parking meters. Windows were being busted out here and yet another bonfire was being built at the intersection of College and 13th. More cops were starting to pour into the area. Some meathead in a backwards baseball cap started yelling "FIGHT THE POWER! REVOLUTION!" (Yeah...you go Che...)
I wandered around the Hill for an hour, not getting in trouble, just looking. When I saw a skirmish line of pissed off riot police, I walked the other way. When I saw some people trying to overturn a car, I stopped and watched. I took in all the little flashes of chaos around me. I was exhilarated, but exhausted, mentally and emotionally. I smoked a little more pot in an alley way to take the edge off, but it didn't help.
After a while, I made my way back to 14th street, the start of this entire ruckus. It was pretty much clear of people. A fire truck had put out the bonfire. The street was littered with broken glass, ash and debris. It was just a short way from there to campus and back to the dorms. I wanted to go to sleep now.
On my way back, I saw my roommate Imo walking with his girlfriend. He had a piece of broken plastic in his hand. "Hey Dave, what's going on?"
"Nothing," I said. All three of us started heading to back to the hall. "Did you see all that shit going on back there?"
Imo shrugged. "A little. Mostly we was at Jerome's house. It seemed to be over by the time we got down here. Check this out..." he showed me what he was carrying. "I think it's the face plate to riot helmet. It was just laying out on the street there."
"That's fucking sweet!" I said, looking it over. It had the shit cracked out of it, and probably saved the cop that was wearing it from having their nose shattered and jaw broken by whatever hit them. "We've gotta put it on our wall!"
"Yeah, we'll do that," Imo said.
We came to the path that headed for the dorms. "You going home right now?"
"Naw, I'm staying over at Jen's tonight."
"Okay. Well, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Peace," he said. It was probably one of the best mental images I had of the night; my black roommate with a riot cop's broken face shield in one hand and his white girlfriend on his other. More priceless than MasterCard.
While that moment left me with a smile, it didn't erase my unease. If I knew German, I'm sure I could summon some multi-syllabic word that would describe the cauldron of paranoia, self-loathing, melancholy, and exhilaration I felt. Though I didn't know it then, I'd been at ground zero of the worst student riots in Boulder since the Vietnam War, which when all was said and done, caused approximately a half-million dollars in damage to the local homes and businesses. Eleven people were arrested that night. Harv, my sometimes-a-mod-sometimes-a-Jewish-skinhead friend, who once and without irony suggested to me we should go out and burn cop cars with homemade thermite bombs, wrote a letter to the Colorado Daily stating his support for the police during the riot (if you knew him, you'd know how bizarre that was.) Police from ten counties were being brought in for Saturday night, with the Boulder chief of police stating that there would harsh consequences if rioting were to occur again. It was a statement that pretty much ensured that the violence was going to occur all weekend.
I didn't want to be around to see it, so when I woke up around noon on Saturday, I called Schnitz up and he suggested going down to Colorado Springs for the weekend. I was down with that. There was a possibility of hooking up with Carrie, which I imagined would get me on the path of getting over my humiliation with Raquel. And with all the police that were going to be in the city, it was unlikely there would be any fun to be found.
But mostly I wanted to go to Colorado Springs because it was polar opposite of Boulder. One of the first signs that greets you as you drive south down I-25 to get to The Springs directs you to Focus on the Family's visitor center. In Boulder, it's unfashionable to admit to people that you eat meat. Boulder is Fat Tires and cocaine and trustafarians walking everywhere without shoes; The Springs is Budweiser, methamphetamine, and guys with mullets cruising Nevada Ave. in their pick-up trucks on a Saturday night. The Springs lives in the shadow of NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain and in the event of a nuclear war would be one of the first cities to be burned off the map, and that is reflected in the Town Without Pity vibe it gives off.
Now, that doesn't sound like a glowing endorsement of the town, and my sensibilities were probably more suited to blue-state Boulder than to red-state Colorado Springs. I just knew that at that moment, I didn't hate Colorado Springs. I did hate Boulder, which was tearing itself apart over nothing. At the very least, a night in the Springs would be a peaceful alternative away from the chaos, and away from myself.
Boy, I fucked that one up.
BACK TO SATURDAY NIGHT...
I was sitting in the reception area of the Provost Marshal station. On the coffee table were a few old issues of Stars and Stripes and an old Time Magazine with the address cut out. The chair was typical low-end office furniture; nothing that could be qualified as comfortable without being painful and institutional. The PFC Stephensen had uncuffed me from behind my back and now had my left hand attached to the arm of the chair. There was a TV hanging from the ceiling playing an old episode of *M*A*S*H*. If there is a time on the air when no one is sure to be watching, you can be sure that re-runs of *M*A*S*H* will be playing.
I sat there by myself. Mike and Jay were being kept someplace else, probably so we couldn't collaborate on our stories. That was fine. While I wasn't planning on saying much, I also wasn't planning on lying. I was actually at a sort of calm point where I knew there was nothing I could really do to better my situation but a myriad of ways to make it worse. Mostly, I was worried about Schnitz. On the way to the Provost Marshal station, PFC D. Stephensen informed us that the reason he was sent to investigate was because someone thought we were stealing cars. The only thing I'd done with anyone's car there was check my reflection in it. If the residents here were that jumpy about strangers, then Schnitz would need ninja skills to get out off the base. And Schnitz was no ninja...
I could hear people walking down the hallway that connected to the reception area. "If you could please have a seat over here," It was PFC D. Stephensen with two young ladies, one blonde one brunette, wearing jean jackets. Neither of them was in handcuffs, but they both looked like they had been crying, as their eyes were puffy and their mascara was smeared.
They sat in the couches across from me, while D. Stephensen opened up a bag and pulled out a barbecue fork and a small machete and set them on the coffee table. When finished, he got out the clipboard he had tucked under his armpit and clicked his pen. "Let me confirm for the report; these are the items that Welch attacked you with, correct?"
The blonde one nodded. "Yep. We were outside and he picked up the fork first and started threatening me..."
"When did he acquire the machete?"
The blonde one closed her eyes. "I...don't know. I just remember he was chasing us with it as we were going to the car."
The brunette, who was apparently a little less traumatized, spoke up. "We had to go through the house to get out the front. He followed us and I think he got the machete from his closet. I don't know. It was all kind of fucked up."
D. Stephensen was busy scribbling this all down on his clipboard. "Was he carrying both at the same time?"
The brunette shook her head, "No, we convinced him to put down the fork. Then he got mad again when we were leaving and that's when he got, the other thing."
He recorded the response. "Okay. I think CIS just got here, so they're gonna take your statement..." then he looked over at me. "Then they'll get to you next. So just sit tight for a second here. Anyone need anything? Water? Coffee?"
I could've used a cigarette, but I doubt he'd let me step out for a smoke so I just shook my head. The girls declined too.
"Okay, I'll be back," and PFC Stephensen clomped down the hallway.
The girls went to whispering to themselves and I tried to act interested in M*A*S*H. After a few minutes, the brunette asked me "So what are you here for?"
I shrugged. "We got pulled over. We had a little weed on us. Thus..." I held up cuffed left hand.
"That sucks," she said. "God, I think we could both use some weed right now."
"I know," the blonde one said. "I could use some weed and about ten beers right now."
"So what's the deal with you two?" I asked, and for the next five minutes they laid out their story. Stacy (the blonde one) had been seeing a guy who was stationed at the base. Though he seemed nice at first, the guy turned out to be an alcoholic. Stacy breaks off it off by phone (during which he broke down, screamed, and vaguely threatened her life) but forgot she'd left her Discman and Matchbox 20 CD at his house. Stacy had the foresight to bring Tasha (the brunette one) along with her while she went to get her Discman, and that was a smart move since he attacked her with a barbeque fork and a machete. He was now in restraints in a cell on the other side of the Provost Marshal station while the MPs collected enough evidence to do a court martial. "We'd probably be in little pieces by now if a neighbor hadn't stopped him at gunpoint," Tasha said.
I nodded. My situation didn't seem so dire compared to what they went through that night. "Did you at least get the Discman back?" I asked.
"Shit," Stacy muttered. "I forgot it. Maybe they'll let me go over there and pick it up when we're done talking to these guys."
It sounded ludicrous to me to risk one's life for a Matchbox 20 CD of all things, but to each their own. I could hear PFC Stephensen's boots clomping on down the hall. He appeared back in the reception area carrying a Polaroid. "They're ready for you now. They're in the conference room, second door on the left just past the Deep Rock cooler."
Stacy and Tasha got up and walked down the hallway. PFC Stephensen stayed behind in the reception area. He picked the machete off the table and put it on the floor, then set a yellow card next to it and snapped a picture of the thing with his Polaroid. "They were pretty cute, don't you think?"
"Yep," I said.
"I heard you all talking down here," he said, now doing the same thing with the barbeque fork.
"Were you able to get digits?"
"No," I said, wondering what all the small talk was about. "Besides, I didn't have anything to write them down with."
"Well, maybe you can ask them when they're done in there," he said. "So you like Ministry right?"
He was probably referring to the T-shirt I was wearing. "Yeah, they're pretty good."
"I like 'em too," PFC Stephensen said. "You like 'N.W.O'? You know, the one with all the samples of George Bush on it?"
"Yeah, that's a good song," I said. "You ever hear the extended remix of it?"
"I don't think so. I might have," he started shaking the pictures he just snapped vigorously. "Still, that's my favorite album by them."
"I'm more into their Land of Rape and Honey stuff," I said. "It's a little more industrial. A little less metal."
"I'll have to check that one out sometime," he said.
I relaxed some. PFC D. Stephensen seemed like a nice enough fellow. Even though he was the reason my weekend got all fucked up, he was just doing his job and at least had the decency to not go out of his way to be a miserable bastard (something many civilian cops seem to delight in.) Plus, if PFC D. Stephensen saw this situation as an opportunity for me to mack on girls, perhaps everything wasn't as dire as I thought.
"Can I ask you something?" I said.
"How much trouble am I in? I mean, am I looking at spending the rest of the night in jail or something?"
He shook his head. "Naw. Pending the evaluation of CIS, we've got no additional reason to detain you. You'll just have to come back for your court date."
Shit...I was looking at court. I was hoping for just a ticket I could pay by mail or something. Then again, I was pretty ignorant of the law at the time. "So when do I talk to these guys?"
"It'll probably be within half an hour when they're done with the girls. Just sit tight, you'll be done in a little bit," and then he clomped off down the hall with barbeque fork and machete stashed back in the bag.
So sit tight I did. M*A*S*H re-runs had given way to a Ron Popeil infomercial. It kept me mentally occupied while I waited for my "interview" or interrogation or whatever I had waiting for me when I went to talk with CIS.
AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES LATER...
"Let's get the fuck out of here..." Jay said as he twisted the key into the ignition. Mike was back in the front seat. I sat in the back, digging through my pockets for my Marlboros and a lighter. About four hours after we'd first entered Fort Carson, we were finally on our way out.
After an interminable dig through my pocket, I finally found my smokes. They were hidden under the yellow summons for possession of under an ounce of a controlled narcotic and paraphernalia. I rolled down the window and lit up and that first hit of nicotine seemed to melt away (or at least cover-up) the past hours of tension. I'd smoked almost all of it by the time we reached the gate with the decommissioned Apache attack helicopter.
The "interview" with CIS had been less daunting than I feared it would be. There were three investigators, all in civilian clothes, asking questions about where I'd gotten the "narcotics", who I was there to visit etc. etc. I answered them truthfully on everything except who I'd gotten the weed from (I just said I scored it on the street, when I actually bought it from a guy called Roy in the dorm, but how the fuck were they gonna know either way?) Though their questions lasted what felt like a long time, in the end they were mainly concerned with whether I was selling the weed, or possibly buying it from someone living on the base. After I'd convinced them I was just an idiot, they had PFC Stephensen take me back to the reception area (infomercials had given way to Jerry Springer) for another fifteen minutes while they filled out the ticket. Neither Jay nor Mike got charged with anything. Then PFC Stephesen drove the three of us back to Jay's car and we were free to go. I was immensely grateful to whatever god may or may not exist that I didn't have to wake up mom and dad for bail money.
I tossed my used cigarette butt out the window and immediately fired up another one. "Guys, we've gotta find where Schnitz is."
"Yeah, we'll find him," Mike said. "We're gonna go back to my place and I'll make a few phone calls. He probably got someone to pick him up or something."
I stared at the signs of the closed stores on Nevada Ave. I needed to find Schnitz so we could get the fuck out of Colorado Springs and back to Boulder. This weekend had truly been a case of frying pans and fires. Yes, I was actually missing old pretentious, trustafarian infested Boulder right about then.
After about ten minutes, we pulled up to Mike's place; a small brick one story with a car port and a dead lawn. The three of us went inside and Mike flipped on the lights to the living room. There was a blonde girl sleeping on the ratty couch. "Sorry to wake you up Kate," Mike said, throwing his jacket over a chair in the corner.
"It's okay," Kate said semi-groggily. "I wasn't really sleeping."
"Mary come home from work yet?" Mary, by the way, was Mike's girlfriend. She worked the late shift at 7-11.
"No. She called though. Where have you been all day?"
"We got arrested," he said. Kate gasped so he continued. "Don't worry. It's no big deal. I didn't get a ticket." Mike reached behind a bookshelf and produced a bong and a bag of weed and dropped a couple of nugs on the coffee table and began separating the seeds.
"So everything's alright?" Kate said, hugging the yellow blanket to her chest.
"Yep. Let's smoke to that. You get the green hit, bro..."
Mike handed me the bong. The bong water was filthy with tar. I got out my lighter and looked at it for a second and considered this stuff was getting to be more trouble than it's worth, but I took a big milky hit off it anyway and it quickly started working into my brain and sending me to Apathyville where I desperately needed to be.
The four of us smoked three bowls before Mike went into the kitchen to call around looking for Schnitz. Everyone he called was either asleep or hadn't seen him. Jay turned on the Nintendo 64 and we played the snowspeeder level from Shadows of the Empire over and over and over. In between levels, I talked with Kate, who was friendly and cute and a possibility until I found out she was Mary's 13 year-old sister.
Mike got out a yellow bump of meth, crumbled it on the coffee table with the back of a glass marijuana pipe and snorted it through a dollar bill. He offered one to Jay (who didn't even stop playing to do it) and finally to me. "No thanks," I said. In a more drunken and jovial mood I might have. I'd done crystal once before, but was never that hyped about it. Mostly I just wanted to go to sleep.
"Cool. No problem," Mike said, and then he crouched over and snorted it himself.
Jay switched cartridges to WaveRace 64. I did one race with him and eventually did fall asleep on the couch for a couple of hours. It was daylight when I woke up. Kate was gone; Mike was somewhere else. Jay was still playing WaveRace, and I suspect he had been the entire four hours I was asleep. I lit a cigarette. I only had four left.
I was awake and still laying on the couch for fifteen minutes when Mike came out of the bedroom. He was rubbing his eyes and wearing boxers and a wife-beater. Had he been asleep? How?
Mike just stood there for a second getting his bearings when he looked out the window and said, "Is that Jason?"
Schnitz was here? I sat up and looked through the blinds and there he was, walking up the driveway. The car that dropped him off was peeling off down the road. There was finally one less thing to worry about. I couldn't really go back to Boulder without him, and I did feel sort of awkward since Mike and Jay were really his friends and not mine. Good, now we can get the fuck out of here.
He rang the doorbell and came inside before anyone could let him in. "Hey guys, what happened to you last night? Did you make it to that party?"
Did we make it to the party? Did he seriously say that? Schnitz was one of my best buddies, but at that moment I really wanted to strangle him.
After getting some breakfast at Denny's (I had a club sandwich and some coffee) Schnitz, Mike and I got back into Jay's car and began our long drive back up north and out of Colorado Springs.
The story of Schnitz's night ended up being anti-climactic. After seeing us getting arrested, he just went back to the pay phones and called up some of his other friends to pick him up. Escape from Fort Carson was a relatively simple affair for him. He didn't go to the house party we had planned to go to (it turned out Mike was the one with the directions there) but had gotten a bunch of beers and they called up some people and started their own kegger. "Carrie came over," Schnitz announced. "I called her because I knew you were interested, but you probably wouldn't have wanted to be there."
"Why not?" I said. Anywhere would have been better than the office at that base.
"She got really drunk and really high and let a bunch of guys run a train on her in the basement. Then she got pissed and threatened to call the police, but she calmed down later."
What the fuck? "Jesus..." I muttered. "Well, I guess she's a pretty screwed up chick."
"Yeah, she is. You can do better Dave."
For a second I wondered if Schnitz might have been in on that train he spoke of, but I only entertained that thought for a second. He really wasn't the type to be into that.
By the time we were clearing Castle Rock, Mike suddenly remembered he had four half off coupons to Six Flags at Elitch Gardens and suggested we spend the afternoon there. Even with half-off the ticket, I was too broke to go. With a federal possession of narcotics charge now hanging over my head, I also doubted I'd have much fun so I opted out. They dropped me off at the bus station in downtown Denver and I used my student ID to take the limited the rest of the way back to Boulder.
I wanted to nap during the forty-five minutes it took to get home, but I couldn't. I tried to think if there was anything I could salvage from this mess I'd gotten myself into. Things certainly weren't hopeless at that point, but they felt that way. The past weekend felt like the entire chaos of the past year packed into 72 hours.
The bus dropped me off on Broadway across from the Hill. Most of the businesses had their windows boarded up. There was trash strewn all over the place. I trudged across campus back to my dorm. When I got there, I planned to do whatever studying I could pack into what remained of the weekend.
I think I just fell asleep instead.