I was released from my incarceration on a Friday evening following Christmas day. I was returning from work around 6 o’clock when the guard at the gate told me to roll up my bedding and report to the laundry room. I asked him if there was anyway I could stay until Monday, but he just laughed. I wondered how many people ever wanted to stay longer. But I had been in so long that I had no where to go. No friends, no family. Just the release package that the state would give me which consisted of a three month voucher for a motel stay, a six month bus pass, seventy-five dollars in cash, and book of food stamps. Of course I couldn’t get this until Monday morning.
But none the less, the gates opened and out I went. It was around midnight and raining lightly. Now I had this plan set in motion to turn myself in, but wanted to hit the beach one last time before I was locked up. So I threw on my shorts and grabbed my surf board and heading down to the coast in my V.W. convertible. Well one wrong turn on a busy street and two cops pulling up behind me. Well lets just say it cut the day at the beach short. I was taken into custody with sand still between my toes. Wearing nothing but my swim trunks and Flojos. And that is just how they pushed me out the door. Let me just say that I gained a little weight eating three square meals a day. So I stood outside that barb wired fence, in extremely tight florescent orange Billabong swim trunks, no shirt, and flip flops. With no where to go I started heading down toward the center of town. Now this was not the best part of town. I can only imagine what I looked like. I was drawing some pretty odd stares from people passing by. I’m lucky I didn’t get beat down by an angry pimp mistaking me for an opposing professional. Talk about a lesson in humiliation.
Anyway. I walked those streets for two days. Sold some plasma for food money at the local blood bank. I felt less free than I had in all that time in jail. Being a slave to your hunger is a harsh way to live. I knew my arrest was that of circumstance. That I was guilty by association. And that I let my addictions feed me lies. But now I was on a clean slate. I had to make things right and fast.
On the Monday I picked up my package and as my constantly good luck would have it, I ran into an old friend who was picking up his unemployment check in the same building. He told me to come to his New Years Eve party. I agreed. I took the money they gave me and bought clothes at a local thrift shop, checked into the worst motel I had ever slept in, (Right across from Disneyland, the ugliest part of California you can ever visit). and bought some food. The motel housed many elements, drug dealers, prostitutes, meth cooks. There was a steady flow of people and guns and a constant hum of screams and car horns. I used the bus pass and took a ride across town to the party. It was there I ran into another old friend of mine who just so happened was looking for a room mate. So I wasted no time. I moved in with him and his girlfriend after just one night at the hotel.
The apartment was small but nice. The next few months there were really great. I started dating this dental assistant, found work running a small warehouse for a bikini manufacture. I reconnected with some old friends and even did some roadie work for a band. It was in that place that I would feel a 5.0 earthquake move my bed across the room with me still in it. One night the pigeons on the front porch were making so much noise we couldn’t sleep. So we took a pellet gun and shot them off the roof. We were drinking pretty heavy on that evening and didn’t realize that we had shot out the light over a neighbor’s front door. Around 3 in the morning I opened the door to get some fresh air and saw twenty or so rifles pointed at my head. There was a S.W.A.T. team surrounding the building . They yelled at me to lie on the ground face down as they tied my hands behind my back and pulled me by my feet away from the enterance. They pulled my room mate from the doorway and threw him to the ground. Of course his girlfriend came running out screaming at the cops because they were scaring her cat. This girl took nothing from no one, not even men with guns and badges. It was all pretty funny. They got a report saying we had a rifle and were randomly shooting at peoples windows. It was always a party there.
The four of us did everything together. Concerts on the beach, late night dips in the ocean, many bottles of whiskey. Clubs. The Sunset strip. I was starting to get my life back. I had forgotten what it was like to be in a relationship with someone you trusted and respected. But it wouldn’t last long. Nothing ever did. My life always changed on a dime.
My room mates started fighting a lot. He ended up moving in with his sister in her townhouse and I went with him. His sister was absolutely insane. She lived in the place rent free because it was paid for by a married man she was having an affair with. She was also sleeping with a known rapist who was much younger than her. I would have more than one altercations with this scum bag. She would become pregnant and have the baby. She started shopping her son around like a used car, looking to get some money for him. She didn’t want to be a mother and figured if not legally than on the black market the baby could bring her in some cash. I would come home from work and find the baby crying in it’s crib with no one home. It was heart breaking.
I said something to my friend, but he did nothing. His hands were tied or so he said. His sister’s place, her rules. It was around then that he started dating his x-girlfriend again. We started arguing a lot and he ended up stealing things from my room. One drunken night while he was away visiting family in Arizona his girlfriend and I were left alone in the apartment. We were both at a bad place in our relationships, her boyfriend constantly cheated on her and treated her badly and my girlfriend, well lets just say she simply out grew me. Looking back I Guess what happened that night was unavoidable.
The following week I came home from work to find my stuff thrown out on the sidewalk in front of the house and the locks changed on the doors. I would have just left then but only half of my things were outside. They changed the locks, and poured soap on the kitchen floor in case I tried to come in through the window, and left for Arizona so not to have to deal with me face to face. Fortunately for me they didn’t bother to lock the sliding glass door. So I came in, gathered my things and called a friend of mine who was living in San Diego at the time to get a ride to another friend’s house down on the Mexican border. Then I invited a couple of friends over to trash the place while I packed up the car and headed south.
I had to wait until the following Monday to get a hold of my friend who was currently in the Navy and about to leave on a two year stint on an aircraft carrier. He offered to let me crash at his place while I got my affairs in order. The friend in San Diego was an x-girlfriend of mine from high school who was then married with two children. The first night in the house her husband was working late and with the kids not yet in bed, she started hitting on me. Now don’t get me wrong, when sex was on the table back then I was usually the first one to sit down, napkin tucked and fork in hand. But there were always lines I would never cross. So I didn’t wait for the weekend to pass, I just left.
That was the end of my life as I knew it for that period of existence. I would never again see any of those people again. I was about to start fresh. Little did I know I was about to enter the blackest chapter of my entire life. What awaited for me in Imperial Beach was by far my darkest hour.