Letters from the Lunar Outpost

The criterion of true beauty is that it increases on examination; if false, that it lessens.
- Greville, English Poet (1554-1628)

My friend Tony called me on a Monday night. I was in bed and ready for sleep. He told me he was going to pick me up (my license was by now suspended from the DUI) and take me to a party. He said there was going to be lots of girls there. I went along with the idea, thinking it wouldn’t hurt to meet some girls and as long as Tony drove, I didn’t have to worry about my warrant.

So he shows up about fourty-five minutes late. I walk down the stairs to the front of the apartment, expecting to see his El Camino waiting. Instead, there’s a truck there with four people crammed in the front cab. He tells me to get in the bed of the truck. I already had a cold coming on and I was pretty bummed on the situation as I lumbered into the back.

The ride seemed to take forever. When we finally made it there, I got up and looked around and saw no signs of any kind of happening. “We’re here,” Tony said.

“What the hell is here?” I wondered.

Sure enough, inside the “party” was one of the lamest scenes I’ve ever seen. It took a while before the four of us could convince Tony that we should leave. I gave him a good tongue-lashing as we headed back for the truck. “You roust me out of bed telling me there’s going to be lots of chicks, you don’t mention the fact that I’m going to be freezing in the back of a pickup, we finally make it, and this is your raging party?”  All he said was that we had to check it out.

All I wanted was to just go home. We didn’t even make it back to the freeway.

All I could see were the stars as I laid low to avoid being spotted riding illegally in the back of a pickup, but I was told later by John, the owner of the pickup, that Tony sped past the cop and did a swerving lane change in front of him before we got pulled over. I heard the short squelch of the siren turned quickly on and back off. I saw the red and blue lights on the back of the cab. I knew I was going to jail for my unpaid fine on the trespassing charge.

And the cop had hit a gold mine. Three of us had warrants. The first guy, Mike, admitted he had one. Sure enough, it came up. Then the cop asked John. He didn’t know he had one, but one came up. After a while, it seemed as if he’d forgotten about me in the back. No such luck. He asked me for my license. I said I didn’t have one. I should have given a completely fake name, but I was afraid he’d asked one of the others for my name, so I just misspelled it. Cornealson. I gave the same birthday, only a year later. Stupid.

I heard the radio say that I was “clear”. I thought I was home free. What it really meant was that there was no listing under that spelling. Somehow, going off the misspelled name and the birthday a year off, I was found with my warrant. I figured this out as the cop started flashing his flashlight into my green eyes and my brown hair and seemed satisfied that I matched the description.

“Does a trespassing charge sound familiar?”

“No, sir!” with astonished voice.

“Listen, this guy over here,” referring to Mike, “is the only one who’s told me the truth tonight. If you lie to me any more I’m going to charge you with lying to a police officer.”

“I’m sorry, I was just scared, officer,” I said in a timid and frightened voice.

So the three of us sat in the back of the cruiser and watched Tony drive John’s car away with John’s girlfriend sitting next to him. We all cursed him for having drug us to that stupid fucking party. We marveled at the fact that Tony had bags of pot on his possession, the truck had been searched for at least twenty minutes, and here he was driving away. We found out later that as the cop checked out John’s girlfriend Dawn, Tony shed his jacket and put it on the front dash. The idiot cops searched Tony and tore apart the truck but never bothered to check the jacket lying on the dashboard. The luck of this guy was even more infuriating. There they were, searching the dude’s car inside out with his jacket and big bags of pot inside it just laying on the dashboard.

When we found out that Tony and Dawn had gone out to a bar to party afterwards, we were even more pissed.

We arrived at the main Orange County jail in Santa Ana and were clocked in at two minutes after midnight, April 2. If we had been three minutes earlier, booked on April 1st, I would have had an extra day under my belt and would have gotten out a day earlier.

Once we made it to the holding cell I called Lisa collect. I told her that I had been arrested and was staying at the Grey Bar Hotel. She asked why I was at a hotel if I’d just been arrested. I explained the grey bars that surrounded me and she laughed and told me she was stoned. I couldn’t believe it! Last time that I knew of her getting stoned was when we lived in Hollywood. She hated it and actually got sick and spent a while hugging the toilet as if she were knee-walking drunk.

It was so good to talk to her and hear her and Mary giggling about silly things. I couldn’t sleep on the cold concrete in the holding cell, and they made us wait twelve hours before I finally got a bunk in the main cell, but the call put me in good spirits and I didn’t even mind.

It’s weird how my mind was at war with itself, looking at the dregs of society in the cell with me, one part of me saying look at these scum, you’re above them, and the other saying, you’re not above this trash, you’re right here with them.

They give you these bologna sandwiches while you wait in the holding cell. It’s a slice of bologna that leaves a yellow stain on the two stale pieces of bread that complete the sandwich. Oh yeah, they give you a ketchup packet with it, too. I remember feeling nauseous at the sight of this one junkie rolling his eyes back into his head in complete ecstasy as he ate his bologna sandwich. I felt even worse when I realized I was scarfing mine down as well.

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