I’ll never forget that first night. It was probably three or four in the morning.
We had been arrested at about 11 am so we were exhausted and had been in central bookings most of the night. Kim had gotten off on
PR since it was a simple “unauthorized use of a vehicle” charge. But my fingerprints revealed my true identity and I was held on an active
warrant from the county so I was going “upstairs.”
I had already called my parents and they weren’t having it; they’d been here with my ass before. I hung up knowing it would be a long December.
Back in central bookings I was crammed inside a cell with a bunch of dope fiends, some upbeat and hopeful knowing they would be out in a few hours, others settling in, trying to get comfortable before they
started illing from dope withdrawal. A group of two or three huddled together in the overly cramped cell. The smallest of the bunch who they called “Little Park Heights” pulled a full vial deep from her sock. They all beamed with the same enthusiasm as if she had the key to freedom. The chemical romance, I thought to myself with disgust;
but I have my own vices so who am I to judge? They passed it around until the powdery substance disappeared. With powder on the tips of their noses they nodded off, the vial rolling into a crack in the concrete floor of the cell.
Their temporary bliss shook me out of my daze and reminded me of my current reality: I’m sitting in Baltimore City jail on downtown Madison Street a week before Christmas. What the fuck. I started to get scared thinking about all the crazy things that probably happen here, then I reminded myself of all the psycho ass dudes I dealt with on the streets by choice — no time to be afraid now.
When it was time to go upstairs, it was only me and a female guard. We walked and walked, me handcuffed at the waist and wrist in some bizarre contraption clearly designed to trip you up should you decide
to try and run. The hallway was narrow and dingy, rusty and dimly lit. The echo of our footsteps faded away as we traveled further up a stairwell. At once a smell came over me—more like smacked me in the
face—a violent, offending odor, piss and shit, vomit and despair. Once we could climb no more we stepped onto a floor that read N Dorm, Quarantine and Juveniles.
Both sides of this long hallway were lined with barred cells and plexi-glass similar to animal cages to prevent inmates from throwing shit at the guards. I suspected it could be used to protect us ladies from whoever might be on the other side of the bars as well. Off center and half way down the hallway there was a guard who sat on desk duty with a phone and some papers.
She barely lifted her head to acknowledge us as if expecting our arrival.
The guard handed me a bright pink jumpsuit that had the bold, black letters BCDC scribed on the back. I was told to change into it and give them my clothes so they could go to the laundry. This new Pepto Bismol-shaded one-piece was to be my outer wear until after I was quarantined and allowed back into general population where we could wear our street clothes again—if they even made it back from the
laundry room. It seemed like a gamble in a place like this but I doubted anyone wanted my old faded hoodie and jeans anyway.
With the formalities out of the way, the guards searched for the key on their ring. It was a big old skeleton key or at least that what it looked like. It seemed as old as this rusty, peeling building— it probably was. A younger looking woman wearing a t shirt, a wife beater and a pair of big red bloomers stood up in her cell to see what the commotion was about. We must not have seemed that exciting because she laid back on her bunk after a couple moments.
To be continued…
Written by TrueLines. Originally published by OUT40 Magazine, LLC.