Please take note that the events depicted in the following story took place recently, are true and while many of the details are a matter of public record the names have been changed in order to protect all parties involved.
I was driving around downtown planning on heading to the bar for a pint or two before heading home for the evening when I decided to ring up my friend Samantha and see what was up with her. She answered the telephone and I identified myself. Her reply of "come over now" was abrupt; her voice laced with subdued panic.
I arrived only a minute later and came inside wondering what was wrong. I had never really heard Samantha sound the way she did on the telephone and I was concerned.
"Mark and Andrew are in jail," she finally says before walking into the kitchen to finish doing whatever she was doing just prior to my arrival. It was obvious she had a lot of nervous energy. Apparently over the course of the past few hours she had been talking on the telephone with friends, cleaning her apartment and doing other busywork in an attempt to steer her mind away from what was going on.
Mark had dated my good friend Mary but had a few issues of his own, including but not limited to cocaine addition, a decent case of alcoholism and some anger and other emotional management issues. While the lot of us enjoyed Mark, his issues were ever-present and more and more problematic. Being the good friend I try to be I remained mostly neutral to the complaints of Samantha whom he lives with and the others who made seemingly valid concerned observations. My own opinions seemed moot to the situation since I was his friend but contact was often peripheral.
Andrew was somewhat new to the picture. Now dating Samantha, I had recently told her I approved of him; something I had never done with previous boyfriends of hers. While it was true I did not know Andrew extremely well, I do have a tendency to make quick and accurate character assessments so as long as I am not interested in the person myself. Andrew is simply a very easy person to get along with. He is extremely compassionate and very caring to those who are his friends. I suppose that was one of the first things I noted about him. He can have the tendency to get defensive prematurely which I believe has caused some physical altercations in the past, but in the end is fairly stable emotionally. The less exposure to his family the better.
"What? What the hell happened," I prompted immediately.
As she told the story my emotions varied and when she was done with the tale, I realised a lot of things about one of my friends. In the end, the fact of the matter was that due to one person's drunken stupidity another was in jail through literally no fault of his own. And he was probably going to be in for a long time.
Andrew was awakened by the sound of someone knocking on the apartment door. Samantha had already left and gone to work, while Mark slept soundly on the couch. To his surprise Andrew found the Orlando Police Department at the door wanting to ask questions and conduct a search. Naked and wrapped only in a sheet, Andrew asked the officer if he could dress while Mark awoke to answer questions that were now apparently directed more toward him as a resident of the apartment.
At some point during the wee morning hours, Mark allegedly thought it would be a good idea to break into the church across the street, vandalising property, stealing food collected for the homeless, breaking into several church-owned vehicles and busting open some fire extinguishers. In his drunkenness, however, he apparently failed to note the trail he dragged from the scene of the crime, cross the street, into the apartment building, through the door and right to the very couch where the criminal, until that moment, slept soundly. Next to him and in plain view of anyone standing in the doorway to the apartment were fire extinguishers, food and bibles.
Andrew had violated his probation a good two years ago by failing to complete a drug course related to his cannabis and paraphernalia charges and also some costs of supervision associated with his probation. He had planned to turn himself into jail once he had gotten all of his owned probation monies together, but this situation would prohibit him the chance to make that gesture. Once dressed, but still without shower, he asked the officers if he could smoke a cigarette, "because it is going to be my last for a while." And indeed he was arrested as well, but not before Mark attempted to pin his marijuana on him. The police decided to throw away the pot and focus on the crime they came to investigate and to incarcerate Andrew on the violation of his probation while they were at it.
The two of them now in jail for the afternoon, Samantha nearly evicted from her apartment and the rest of us left wondering what the hell Mark was thinking, Samantha and I spent the evening watching movies and drinking beer together.
Several days later we found out that Andrew was scheduled for a hearing at which time it would be likely bail would be set. Given the nature of his arrest, it was uncertain whether he would have to spend a few months or a few days on the inside, but this new information was a great relief for Samantha. While they had only been dating for a month or so, they had really started to find a connection. Apparently Andrew felt the same way because he had his own mother call Samantha in order to share information and help keep each other sane. What guy would want his mother and girlfriend to chat outside of his presence?
Samantha had already received some money from Andrew himself via a neighbour and friend who was around during the arrests. After determining his eligibility for bailed release was established at the afternoon hearing, she and I made plans to go bail him out of the Seminole County Jail where he had been moved to after the arrest. I picked her up from work and we went back to her apartment so she could shower, change and finish up a few things before we played our "get out of jail" card. I sat with a Newcastle watching The Shawshank Redemption all too amused of the irony.
As we were getting ready to leave Samantha showed me the stolen Contemporary English Version of The Bible that she found in her apartment. She showed me in the back where someone had noted certain passages. One of the noted passages was Revelation 2:10 which reads as follows: "Don't worry about what you will suffer. The devil will throw some of you into jail, and you will be tested and made to suffer for ten days. But if you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life." Spooky. And then it was time to go. We got into my car and headed north toward the jail.
I had assumed even before embarking on our journey that bail bond agencies would be littered about the jail area such as they are around the 33rd Street Orange County Jail. As we drove past the John E. Polk Correctional Facility there were no such businesses visible. Only a closed flea market, the County Emergency Operations Centre and a dozen car dealerships welcomed us to southern Sanford. We went ahead to the jail itself to get some assistance from the guards as far as where we might be able to obtain a bond. I parked at the door to the main facility entrance and we walked inside.
Jail is not a pleasant place. I have been to both of the local County jails here in Central Florida during the course of my duties as the firm/legal administrator of a local law firm. I can only imagine how different it is for special guests of honour who do not get the picture ID "V" badges that say "attorney" on them. We were told by the guards at this location that the building next door, central booking, there was a list posted of local bonding agencies. After making several telephone calls we were told to come down to an office nearby to complete the paperwork, present the $150.00 USD in required funds and generally learn about the process we were initiating.
From the sound of the woman on the telephone, Samantha and I had already concluded the bonding agent was going to be... interesting. After being greeted by her little dog at the door that had been run over by a car at some point, Ann invited Samantha and me to sit down. Ann is a Southern-accented Caucasian woman in her early fifties with large curly blond hair, is of average height and is overweight. Our expectations of this experience were not only fully met but significantly exceeded. I did not think it was possible for a human being who is not under the influence of cocaine to talk so much. Her chattering combined with the overly loud television tuned to the Court TV network was only tolerable for the amount of time we had to endure it for she was going to be setting Andrew free. I was particularly ready to leave when she asked a rather direct question on our opinion of the comments made by President Bush on same-sex marriages. My rather carefully worded response received a nod of approval and we were on our way.
"Call me at this number in thirty minutes and I will give you an update," she told us whilst handing us a few of her cards each.
Driving around with nothing but time I spotted a billiards hall and we decided to check it out. Ever walk into an establishment and become the zebra walking past the pride of lions? Between the high school jocks, wannabe punks and thugs and several other amusing groups of people, this place was definitely not for us. We did have a brief good time playing games such as "pick the person most likely to be... a closet homosexual, a drug peddler, a pimp daddy, etc." Samantha made the call and was told Andrew would not likely be released for an additional three hours. I chugged my beer, Samantha left hers and we got the hell of that place as we now had a lot of time available.
We ended up stopping at a bookstore before simply heading back to her apartment to sit and wait. We picked up his favourite cigarettes, some beer and other assorted welcome back accessories and then made our way back to the jail with the intent of getting there prior to his release.
To our surprise as we pulled into the parking lot there he stood, solitary and shivering in the cold. Samantha jumped out of the car and leapt up upon him, nearly forcing him to lose his balance all together. After making a quick stop at his mothers to say hello and pickup a few incidentals, we returned to the apartment to trade stories of the past days and generally just have a good time.
"This was some interesting evening," I remarked as a pressed play on the VCR to continue watching Shawshank. "An evening of firsts for sure."
This whole experience really strengthened the relationship building between Samantha and Andrew and in many ways between Andrew and me. The three of us make an interesting team and I for one am happy to have gotten reacquainted with my old friend and to have made such a nice new one.