The sergeant arrives. He tells me if I don’t cooperate, I’ll end up in the Hole or arrested. I look straight in his eyes and retort,
“YOU are the ones not cooperating. Today, I met with the judge and he ORDERED my release, and you have the audacity to disobey his order and keep me locked up! You’re the one that’s going to have problems if you don’t get me out of this place right away.”
He strongly urges me to calm down and asks me if I have paperwork. I hand him the copies. His pitiful response is, “How do we know these aren’t fakes?”
Fakes? I’ve been locked up the entire day except for the time I met with the judge. And, even then I was in chains and cuffs and escorted by an officer. Do they look like fakes to you?
He tries to convince me he’s there to help. I again make it clear I don’t need his help. I just need him to release me.
Everything he says is only meant to pacify me. I know how they work at this point.
I’m not sent to the Hole, and I’m not released either.
All I have to fight back with is my mouth and that isn’t working.
I’m also outnumbered and the last inmate that tried to escape got his face ripped entirely off by two K-9’s. They sewed his face back on, and he was back in jail within 2 days looking like a monster. I know this because that person was from our pod! Not that I would try to run for it anyway. I’m not that stupid.
They uncuff me once I agree not to cause any problems and walk straight back to my cell. The sergeant claims he’ll make some phone calls, but more than likely nothing will be resolved until Monday at the earliest.
So, they win. I walk back. I’m very distraught as you can imagine. I lie awake the whole night (not an entirely uncommon case with me these days). As angry as I am all I can do is resign myself to the dreadful situation I’m stuck in.
I seriously wonder if I’m really dead and in hell. Nothing that’s happening seems real. I can’t make sense of any of it.
It’s about 10am the next morning. I’m just hanging around in stunned disbelief that I’m still locked up. It’s like going to court and getting released by the judge never even happened.
I try calling my public defender. I figure she won’t answer, and besides, what could she do?
I throw the hail mary pass anyway and call her. Shockingly, she answers! Before I get anything out she tells me she already knows what is going on and she’s on it. She has a friend who works at the courthouse and she’s on her way there to fax my paperwork over to the jail. There was a mix-up and my paperwork was never sent. What are the odds?
I switch back to being relieved and excited.
Early that afternoon, out of the blue, I finally hear the words I’ve been waiting for.
“Cell 51 bunk 3 roll up. You’re going home!”
I roll up, say my goodbye’s and walk out of the pod, never to return.
It’s actually happening. It takes several hours of waiting and going through processing before I’m released. I can’t begin to explain how good it feels to put on my own shorts, tee shirt and tennis shoes. I find my own clothes to be very comforting.
Once everything in processing is finished, I’m taken with several others to a large overhead door. A button is pushed by an officer. The door slowly rolls open. I can see the outside. The bright sun rays blast through the opening. We are told to walk out.
I do, and that’s it! I’m outside. Jail is over. I’m free!
I breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sun’s rays. I feel a rush of excitement and adrenaline.
I honestly feel there should be people outside waiting and cheering as I walk out. I endured, and I didn’t succumb to the filthy environment or temptations in this incredible underworld I never knew existed.
I’m walking out of jail, and feel like I deserve a badge of honor. As strange as it may sound, to me, it is quite the accomplishment.
Well, there are no badges, no cheering section…and no one to pick me up!
It’s 110+ degrees. I walk to the next block where there is a Circle K. I have a separate account that has around a hundred dollars in it for which I am grateful. I buy a hot dog and a drink. I savor every bite!
I’m in a very bad part of town. I get change and walk outside to the pay phones. I call my friend, Carson Brown. He just arrived in Flagstaff with his family, which is 3 hours away. He had been there to pick me up when I was supposed to get released, but I never came out. The jail wouldn’t give him any information.
He drops what he’s doing and leaves right away to come all the way back to pick me up. We agree to meet at the closest Taco Bell, which he says is a mile up the road. I’ll never let him live it down. It was 5 miles, and I walked it in 110+ degree scorching heat! When he arrives he won’t even get out of his car. I motion for him to come in and he looks at me like I’m crazy. He’s not used to the crowd that hangs out in these parts like I am now.
Carson takes me to a nice hotel and pays for me to stay there. When we check in and first walk in my room, he takes a selfie of us.
Do I look happy? Well, I am. For the moment. I have no idea what Carson looks like! A blowfish?
Reality is going to hit hard tonight when I’m alone. I can’t call anyone. I have no home to go home to. No transportation. I miss my wife and kids terribly. I have no idea where they are. As nice as it is to be in a great hotel, eating real food, and sleeping on a comfortable bed, once night hits, I still feel like I’m in jail.
I have no family responsibilities to take care of. No job to go to. No family around to visit. I’m a lost soul. I have no earthly idea where to go or what to do.
I have almost no means to help myself. I’m completely dependent on other people for everything. I’ve been reduced to a beggar.
Once the sun goes down all I can do is sit on my bed and cry like I’ve never cried before in my life. When Carson comes back in the morning, I’m in bad shape. I’m still mentally imbalanced from withdrawing from my medication. I’m out of jail, but the internal suffering and emotional turmoil hasn’t diminished. It’s actually increased. Reality is just too painful for my coping skills.
It was only a few months ago that I had everything anyone could ever want and thought I was set for life. Now, I’m a homeless person, plain and simple.
I know all too well how seriously the authorities take breaking an Order of Protection. Many if not most of the people in jail are there for a probation violation or for violating a restraining order.
However, just picturing my wife and kids faces in my mind and wondering where they are and how they’re doing, causes me to break down. I call Amy in violation of the restraining order. She doesn’t answer. I leave her a pitiful message. I try several times to no avail. I really took for granted those days when I could simply hear her voice. When I could talk to her anytime I wanted.
It is a miserably lonely night. It’s no better in the morning. By the time I have to check out, Carson arrives to pick me up. When he left the day before, I was a relieved, happy man. Now, I’m in the depths of sorrow and despair.
Before we leave, two of my church leaders come to the hotel to visit with me. They are kind and encouraging. In their view, I’m doing much better than they expected. They’re in contact with Amy so I assume she’ll be debriefed.
Somehow, I end up at an Extended Stay. I can’t recall who pays for the first week. Carson takes me there and drops me off. My room is on the second floor. I’m grateful to be out of jail, very grateful. Even so, this room becomes my new jail cell.
I promised a few inmates I would put money on their books for food when I got out. Once I do, I only have a few dollars left.
The Extended Stay provides a few items for breakfast every morning. Mainly it’s muffins, some fruit, and orange juice. I load up on the muffins each morning so I have something to eat for lunch and dinner.
I’m in a part of town I’m not familiar with. I spend all day every day in this small hotel room with absolutely nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to talk to. I walk across the street to the gas station every once in a while, but mostly I’m confined to my room.
I am not embellishing when I say in many ways my stay here is more traumatic than jail. It’s like I’m in solitary confinement. Once it gets dark, it’s like I get dark inside. I feel scared, sad, depressed, hopeless, and extremely lonely. Loneliness is worse than I ever imagined!
A few nights I spend the entire night on the phone with my mother. I plead with her not to hang up and just talk with me, even if I go off on her, which I do. I can tell she doesn’t get what I’m going through, but I am SO grateful she stayed up for all those hours. There are so many times I just lose it and she would have been fully justified in hanging up on me. But, she takes it all and stays with me. As hard as it was for her, she’ll never know how much I needed that. I plead with her to let me stay at their house until I can figure out what to do. She just doesn’t feel good about it.
My sister Judy and her husband Zane have offered to let Amy and our 3 younger kids stay with them. Amy’s moving to Kentucky. She has all the support of my family as she should. I caused her entire world to collapse in on her. Considering the restraining order and Amy moving in the direction of divorce, my mom just doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to come to Kentucky. In fact, no one in my family supports the idea. At the time it just seems cruel to me, but I realize now it really was for the best that I not go there at that time.
My miserable week is up at the Extended Stay. The only place I have to go is right outside on the streets. I call my brother-in-law, Rich Neal, and ask him if he will pay for me to stay another week while I still try to figure out what to do. He generously agrees to pay the bill. The second week is as tormenting as the first. I don’t feel I belong on this earth anymore.
Carson and my bishop come to visit me a few days before I have to check out. They want me to seriously consider going to this place called the John Volken Academy. It’s a therapeutic community where the most severe addicts go for 2 YEARS. It’s usually the last resort for someone. Most guys there have been addicted to meth and heroin their whole life. They’ve been to numerous treatment centers and nothing has worked for them. There are around 25 guys there. All of them single. Most are in their twenties. A few are in their early 30’s. The program is not designed at all for an older married man with children.
It’s a large ranch. You sleep with a bunch of dudes. You wake up at 5:00am and then work all day, mostly cleaning out manure from horse stalls.
Just the suggestion hurts. I can’t believe they actually think I should go there. I’m married with 6 children. Am I to just leave them fatherless for 2 YEARS? In my mind, Amy will be long gone by then. Plus, I have no desire to go back on my medication. I don’t ever even think about it. So, why would I need to go there of all places?
The suggestion mostly drives home how dire my situation is.
I’m told Amy wants me to go to the ranch. That just turns the knife. If she wants me there, then in my mind she doesn’t want to be together, at best, for a long, long time. Maybe never.
Mentally and emotionally I’m in a constant and continual state of extreme shock and trauma. I’m in no condition to pull myself up by the bootstraps and start building a new life. I’m completely broken inside. For the first time in my life, I just want to belong somewhere. I want to feel loved and wanted. That’s not to be. I feel discarded, like I’m toxic waste.
I research every other kind of facility to go to, but nothing pans out. We don’t have insurance. There is someone, anonymous, who I’m told will pay the fee if I go to the ranch.
I won’t even consider it. There is no chance in hell I’m going there. Nothing about it makes sense to me. What really hurts about the idea is if I go there, I’m guaranteed not to see my wife and kids for over a year. At least if I’m out and about I can still hope to maybe talk to or see them.
It’s the last night I have at the Extended Stay. I think I have a place to go to in Utah, and my father-in-law kindly agrees to pay for me to get there. At the very last second, it falls through. I go to bed having no idea where I will be the next day.
I wake up full of anxiety and stress. I have to be checked out by noon. I LOAD up on the muffins. I find a 2-liter plastic bottle and fill it with water. I pack my backpack to the hilt. I’m walking out of the Extended Stay into my new home, outside! I’m living on the streets. I muster up my courage, check my stuff to make sure I have enough to eat and drink for a couple of days, put my backpack on, and walk out the door into 115º scorching heat.
It is so incredibly hot, I don’t make it past the lobby before I have to go in to cool off. There is no way I can live out in this heat! It’s deadly. I give up. I let myself sink into despair and anger. All I can think to do is call Carson. The very thought makes me bitter and angry. I’m tired of having to depend on him for everything I need. I’m angry I can’t do anything for myself.
I force myself to call him anyway. I rudely tell him (not ask) to pick me up. He asks where I want him to take me. I think I swear at him and tell him I don’t ******* care. He comes right away. When he arrives I’m sitting in the lobby with my face in my hands. I can’t even look at him. At this very moment, I’m lower than I’ve ever been in my life. I get in his truck and slouch down in the seat. We drive off with neither of us knowing where we’re going.