"Fuck that detective, I'll bash his head in!!"...The angry voice travels out of the computer, along the wire and to the headphones spilling the words into my ears with crystal stereo clarity. It's a sentiment I've heard him repeat several times while he's been locked up on the charges I made against him. I've been listening to and recording his calls for a while now.
He's looking at ten to fourteen years on one of my charges and another four on another, with three felonies I've yet to charge him with. He's a real P.O.S. A one man crime spree of sorts. He moved here in the middle of May and made my radar and was locked up on June 18 and has been in jail pre-trial ever since. I hope he hates this county. The more I investigate him The more felonies he accrues. I've even tied him into some felony crimes in a neighboring county. I gave them my information and copies of my video interviews and they have several felony warrants on him now too.
As I listen I wonder if he thinks he is fearsome. He doesn't instill much fear in me. He's a pathological liar and a bad one at that. I have listened to him blame his crimes on his mother, his brother, his girlfriend, he blames everyone but himself and has no sense of accountability for his actions.
He's in his early twenties, never had a job and has drawn a government check of over 800 dollars a month , which ultimately comes out of my pocket and yours. He spends that money on crack and when it's gone he just steals our stuff when we're not home for more crack money. He claims he is bi-polar and can't work but refuses to take any of his prescribed meds. I guess crack is better for bi-polar disorder.
I was thinking about that last Tuesday as I lay on a surgical table with a tube in my back sucking excess fluid from inside my skull so I can function normally and go to work to earn my living.
As the fluid drained through the tube and into a vial I thought about a woman I knew named Joyce. I met her at Denny's when I was on patrol. She was a waitress in her late sixties with two bad knees. She moved very slowly. She worked the midnight shift. She hobbled large trays of food to tables and refilled drinks infrequently. The other guys used to complain about how poor her service was.
She was always nice enough but had a pained look in her eyes. I hadn't been out of the hospital long then and I recognized the look from seeing patients in the waiting room of the oncology department during my follow up appointments. It was a look of pained, hopeful, despair.
I always tried to leave her little bit of a larger tip than I usually would.
Joyce eventually disappeared from Denny's and I ran into her one day a few months later and struck up a conversation. She had cancer in addition to bad knees and had gone to work at Denny's to pay for her treatments, until she just couldn't work any more and had to quit. I asked her if she had applied for disability. "Three times" she said. "They denied me every time I've applied."
I remembered back when I was blind and the doctors had decided I may not get any better, I had called SSI to find out about disability should I eventually need it. I was told that blindness didn't qualify as a disability since the blind can still obtain "meaningful employment." I never applied and hoped for the best. Drawing a check isn't for me anyway. I got lucky and my vision returned after six months, very slowly but it did come back after several treatments and several thousand dollars in medical bills, some of which I'm still paying for 6 years later.
I told Joyce she should get a lawyer and fight SSI that way. I left her thinking of all the shitbag criminal twenty somethings and 18 year olds' I'd arrested over the years who were "disabled" and had never had a job in their lives, but were healthy enough to rob people, stab people, kick in doors and carry out 32 inch televisions to support their crack habits.
As I walked to my car my face was red with anger and embarrassment. Embarrassment of a government and system that is so terribly screwed up and broken. A month or so later I ran into Joyce at the hospital where I was babysitting a "disabled" eighteen year old who was claiming he was "thinking about hurting himself or someone else." (the exact words he used. I wonder if he picked that phrase up from his mental health worker.
She saw me standing in the hallway and smiled . "How are you Joyce?" I asked. She looked sallow but her smile counteracted the effect the cancer was taking on her body. "Good" she answered. "I found a lawyer who took my case for free and when he applied on my behalf they didn't even dispute it, they just approved me. I'm getting my treatments again. Maybe if I'm lucky it's not to late to send my cancer into remission."
"I sure do hope so." She talked to me a bit about her grandchildren, whom she had been raising since they were born.
I watched her hobble down the hall on the wreckage of her knees and she struck me as somewhat heroic. 18 year old disabled boy looks at me in the hall and says "I'm fuckin' hungry get me something to eat cop." I shoot him a glance and quietly tell him to shut his fucking mouth.
I don't know how things turned out for Joyce, I never saw her again after that night in the hospital. I tell myself that she beat her cancer and is somewhere pushing her grand babies on a swing in the summer sun, but deep down in my heart I know from her appearance that her prognosis was likely very grim.
I like the lie I tell myself better though.
As for my "head bashing" jailbird I'll say this, Real fear in life doesn't come from fists or threats. Real fear comes from not knowing how you're going to pay your bills every month, or working your ass off to spend three hundred bucks a month on doctors so you can work your ass off. Real fear is being blindsided by some illness, and real bravery comes in the form of people like Joyce, who are living their lives, marching forward with no promise of tomorrow.
As I lay there on the table last Tuesday, with a small tube draining excess fluid from inside my skull so I can continue to function and work, I thought of all the 800 and something dollar checks the government would take from my pocket, your pocket, and give to my little jailbird while he sits in prison for the next twenty years. His mailbox will be full of checks when he gets out, he'll have a better retirement than me.
As the doctor finishes and pulls the tube out so I can go back to work one sentence runs through my mind and, ironically, it's probably the same sentence that my shitbag jailbird has been thinking ever since I locked him up...
"Fuck the system."