Saturday, July 9, 2011
Down On The Tarmac by: A. Razor
The sunset was beautiful, dropping down behind the clouds and fog bank just out past the Farallones as I watched from that part of the California coast line I had come to know so well in my lifetime. The thought that I was never going to see it again was hard to digest right then. I was torn inside over my plans to leave this place and never return, if I could help it. The main reason this was so discomforting, was because I was the only person that knew what my true intention would be when I boarded the plane the following morning. I had decided it would be the only way I stood a chance in making it out of here and getting a head start on what was quickly becoming an imploding existence. I had to make my move now, or face the consequences of a lifetime of crime. It had come to this, as I always knew it might, and now that I was faced with the prospect of leaving my homeland and never returning, living the rest of my life as an expatriate fugitive, I was finding it difficult to embrace this fate without an amplified internal pain and anguish.
It was the eve of the first day of July, in 2004; the last of June had been too severe inside my head and I was trying to keep moving through it as best I could. I had been trying to do damage control on my life since early in the morning on March 22, when I had been arrested in Marin County for a multitude of offenses and was released on bail the next day. I had been trying to mount a defense to the charges, which could bring about a possible three strikes conviction, and continue to make enough money to keep my life and my business moving forward. I had retained a renowned Attorney-at-Law to help with my defense, but even his prognostics were that I would do 10 years before parole would be allowed on a 20-year sentence. It was a difficult outcome to accept. I had done it to myself. I had been sloppy and distracted on the night in question. I got caught slipping, as they say. I had made the selling of contraband, first and foremost the products of the Cannabis plant, but along the way every other mind-altering substance imaginable, my number one achievement in life. I had started slow, as a kid in San Bernardino, CA, and worked my way up, on my terms, taking every opportunity that felt right, by my guidelines, until it had taken me all over the world and been about the only thing I had to show for a whole lifetime. It was a lifetime that seemed about to be over, either in a last stand, on a lonely prison yard or, if I could pull off one last escape and vanish, into another existence. Anyway it was sliced, life, as I had known it, was over. I could go no further as myself, except to certain death. Ten years in prison meant a commitment to put in the work necessary to make it there. I had been in before for briefer periods and I knew what would be required of me. I would either be killed for the slightest mistake, or I would have to kill and assure that my stay was permanent to survive. I was going to walk away from my life and who I was and the world I knew just to be able to survive without going to prison. It was steep consequences, but I had cheated death and life in prison for a long time; my path had become finite, I was certain this was the end of the road. Fleeing now and living life on the run forever was my only chance, my last chance, at any hope for any kind of freedom. I knew it was a slim chance, which was why it had to be executed with the utmost discipline possible.
I drove back to my humble compound on the sea cliff above Drake’s Bay, north of the Golden Gate, to begin my last preparations without tipping off anyone as to my intentions. I had made plans to go to Las Vegas for the 4th of July weekend, where I would meet with an old associate who had obtained a new identity and a fake Canadian passport that would get me passage anywhere I needed to go. I planned on driving from Vegas down through Arizona and into Mexico with the paperwork and flying out of Mexico to Amsterdam, where I had some cash reserves and the opportunity to slip into a new ID and even deeper into obscurity.
None of it would matter if I did not make it to the airport in the morning and slip onto the plane for Vegas undetected and without raising the suspicions of my friends, family and colleagues as well. No one could know so there would be no chance of any information being given to any questions that authorities might ask that would help them trace my movements. I would not only be skipping out on the indictment of charges, but a substantial bail amount that had no real collateral. I knew that taking flight would lead to bounty hunters that would want to collect the quarter-million as well as the State automatically filing conspiracy charges on top of the current indictment. This would also interest the Feds, who had previously had me in their grasp, and enable them to launch a RICO investigation that they could easily make stick in my absence. Once I was on the plane to Vegas I was violating every agreement with the court and the bail bondsmen. There was no going back, as I would be an international fugitive the moment the plane taxied. The only thing in my favor was that I would be the first to know, the only one to know, at least, until I failed to appear in court that Tuesday in the space age courthouse of Marin County designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
I had come to hate that building and all it symbolized to me. It was haunting my nightmares along with all the ghosts of friends and enemies who had not escaped the fate that had set upon me. I was tormented those last few days up until now and I had given to remedy the torment in my usual, familiar fashion. A mixture of weed wrapped in tobacco leaf, cognac, cocaine, heroin to steady my nerves. I chewed family size bottles of Tums every couple of days. I couldn’t sleep well, and waking anxiety was too much, so I needed to go from one state of intoxication to the next to keep up the front that I was doing what I had to do to get by. I downplayed as much as possible, if I was too uncomfortable I went for the next thing that would work. Needless to say, packing was difficult under those circumstances.
Candi had been staying at my place on Venice Beach, CA when I had been pinched by the Sheriff with a trunk full of drugs and a loaded weapon back in March. She had come back to Marin County and helped coordinate the bail with my friends and spent time with me while I was going to court appearances and talking to lawyers. I think she sensed something was a bit awkward about my sudden plan to go to Vegas for the weekend right before a court date, but I was not the most stable person to judge, mostly by design, to begin with. She was going along with helping me pack and agreed to drive me to the airport. I figured she was getting a car out of it and she would probably get something out of my business associates, so it wouldn’t be all bad for her. I reasoned it all out as best I could and was clumsily trying to decide what I would take for the trip to Vegas. I had some very excellent MDMA that I would want to do with the girls that were picking me up at McCarran Airport. They were going to have coke and hop at the room they had reserved at the MGM Grand, but I didn’t want to be without at any point, so I was bringing an eight-ball of blow and 3 grams of tar to make sure I always had something and never had to wait on anything. The idea of waiting or going without was unacceptable to me: I had seen this happen to many others and the results were never positive.
I had been making my own hashish for some time and recently had been using a technique called “bubble bag” using cold water, ice and several layers of mesh screens that produce a high quality hash that was more akin to chunks of compressed kif. This was like the champagne of cannabis products and I wanted to take the last two grams of my best batch with me to smoke in Mexico, after I crossed the border. It was some sentimental consolation prize I had sold myself on. I hid the MDMA and the hash in the bag I was going to check. I picked out some clothes and packed them as well. I picked out what I would wear to the airport, making sure the shorts had cargo pockets that I could fit a half ounce of weed in. I knew all I had to do was stay in line and be patient as it moved along so as to not attract attention and I could carry the coke, heroin and weed on my person. The hype kit I would hide in a metal sunglasses case that I would put through the x-ray with my cell phone, belt buckle, change, pen, lighter and keys all right next to it. The hype kit was just a couple of cotton swabs, bent spoon and 2 syringes. Laid on its side it would not look any different than wire rimmed sunglasses. I proceeded to spend most of the night in a bathrobe and thick socks, listening to music, taking showers after sex with Candi, looking at pictures of loved ones and then watching porn on the big screen. I had a couple of anxiety attacks while dwelling on the idea that my ex-wife might see me in Vegas, which was a complete delusion, but I still had to make heroin-heavy speed balls each time to combat the anxiety. I couldn’t let Candi know there was anything too out of the ordinary. It was like Moses trying to pretend to be Mohammed at a Jesus party.
At 5:30 am, Candi and I got into the shower the last time and by 6:00 am I was packed into the car with her and ready to go. We drove out of town and along the edge of the placid lagoon while it was still dark, with the slight aurora of dawn’s first trickle above the mountains silhouette. I was trying to keep my concentration as best I could as I drove up the winding mountain road. The drive was hard to do and I couldn’t climax getting road head as we drove over the mountain. “It’s just the drugs, baby, it’s not you.” I told her. At the 7-11 on the other side, before we got on the freeway, I let her take the wheel and I conceded to the passenger seat. One last stop in the gas station bathroom at Tam Junction, before the freeway entrance was upon me, to get one last fix in Marin County. I had to so I could stay calm on the ride to the airport. I had one full syringe for my airport arrival. I would not be able to fix again until I got onto the Southwest jet plane headed for Las Vegas at 9:15 am. As we drove over the bridge I suppressed every emotion I was feeling and just sat motionless. I looked out the passenger window at the San Francisco Bay one last time as we drove over the Richmond Bridge. The sun was just coming up and the currents in the water were like deep slashes into obsidian flesh; they moved and undulated like some mating of psychedelic snakes rolling through a pool of oil. It was sadly beautiful. I had to not feel it at all; I had to act as if I would be back Monday. I would be in Vegas by noon if everything went as planned. Then, hopefully, I would be in Mexico by Monday night, never to return again, forever and ever.
The car was getting close to the Oakland International Airport terminal, so I pulled out my last syringe. The Southwest Terminal was the last one on the right. I knew, from experience, that if she pulled past the Terminal, there was an area just to the right that she could pull over and I could fix real quick, then bounce out of the car and into the line for baggage check. The line was out the door. It was very crowded with people this morning. There was a huge amount of security as well. The terror alert was high that weekend. I was locked into what I was doing, no turning back now. I kissed Candi good-bye without giving away that something was different from all the airport turnarounds she had previously dropped me off on. I rushed over to the line with the bags and was grateful the sun was up high enough to warrant sunglasses. The line snaked around and was full of impatient and cranky people. It was a good cover for me, at least, or so I hoped. I made it through and then checked the bags and received my gate number. I recognized it as one of the farthest gates on the concourse. I proceeded over to the security check line to gain access to the concourse and all of the gates for boarding. As I approached the x-ray scan I placed all my metal items into the plastic bin and waited to be instructed to slide it into the machine. I then slowly walked through the metal detectors and was waived on. I picked up my bin as it came down the rolling wheels and put all my effects back together. It had been such an excruciatingly long period of time since I even considered going into the bathroom to do a shot. I looked at the clock and knew that my plane was boarding. I would have to do my next shot at altitude on the way to Las Vegas in the tiny mile high lavatory. I was planning on that anyway.
I walked a brisk pace to the gate where my plane was boarding and presented my boarding pass. The girl looked at me for a brief moment and then went to scan the bar code on the boarding pass. As she did so, I looked down into the gangway that led onto the jet and I could see the inside of the plane through the portal that I would soon be walking into for my final escape. I turned back to the girl who had just scanned the pass and I began to notice a change in her demeanor as she looked up at me with an instantly quixotic look and then looked down as she scanned it again. On the second scan I noticed that the beep was significantly different than the other beeps coming from other scanners around us. I looked into the changing expression on her face and was about to ask her what was wrong went I noticed that she began to slowly shrink away as everything began to go into slow motion. I could feel adrenaline hit my bloodstream. Time was moving in fractions of seconds. I was assessing the moment, I had to not panic, but I could feel a surge of blood and clarity. The next fraction I realized that this was not anger at her inability, but that my perception had picked up something behind me. The next moment I realized her reaction confirmed it. I instinctively spun on my heel to confront whatever was closing in behind me. The butt of an M-16A4 caught me in the chest as I made the turn into it. The slow motion almost stopped completely as everything went dim. The shock of pain and the sudden loss of air was so intense, I did not notice that I had crumpled onto the carpet until a moment later when I could finally take my first gasp for air. The shooting pain in my right wrist and both ankles was evidence that I was being stood on with boots. I could not move, anyway. I was done in and was like a rag doll in the hands that grabbed at me as commands were yelled at me. I could not make out the words. I was limp, unable to move anything. I could see the spiral grooves of the muzzle closest to my head. They disappeared up into the barrel that elongated into a man in desert fatigues and a black beret. “Don’t you fucking move a finger!” was what he seemed to say. I just laid there staring up at him as manacles were being ratcheted to my wrists and ankles. It finally hit me. I was caught. It was over, but how? I was reeling in my head. This could not be real. How did they know? Then I remembered the girl moments before. The boarding pass wouldn’t scan. They had made me from a distance somehow. Then the thought hit me just as the Homeland Security officer told me I had violated the Patriot Act and that I was a “detainee” of the U.S. Military.
I was hoisted up in the chains and forced to march in the chains back down the long concourse I had just come down to get to the final departure point. I began to realize I was in the kind of trouble you never get out of. It was game over, no escape, no more hope. I was done in at last. They paraded me past all the 4th of July passengers who moved out of the way of my military entourage and I met the judgment in their stare with a beaten look that just seemed to draw more contempt. I saw parents draw their children closer; I saw the fear in the children’s eyes as they clutched at their parents’ bodies. I looked back up at the faces of the parents and adults. They would have easily started their Independence Day weekend with a lynching right there in the airport. I was trying to march, overwhelmed inside with a building shame that was beginning to drown out the physical pain. I thought of what a failure I had been as a parent up until then. These children all had eyes like my own children had. I felt the emotions of my own inequities hit me with a landslide. I was captured in an airport in a way that I would not or could not escape. I had failed every lie I told to get that far. I was not going to make it, so it all became a lie in that moment. Every promise I had ever made to anyone, even to myself, was undone and made into a lie. I was unable to cope with the feeling, but I could not let them see me cry, not now, not like this. I had to keep something for myself to hold onto. I was losing everything. I had lost; I was lost.