As she grabbed my hand, extending my finger with excessive force, I wondered to myself; Is this all necessary? And even more importantly, was it even all worth this?
Rolling my index finger in the dark ink, she then asked me for my thumb. For a millisecond, the thought crossed my mind to use this un-cuffed and potentially vulnerable opportunity as my chance to dash to freedom.
Then the thought of the overweight, meat-head cop hovering near the exit pouncing on me before I even got my first hand on the door handle, squashed that daydream like a roach. The sound of a dog whimpering ran though my mind, and I sheepishly gave her my thumb - abandoning all thoughts of escape. My eyes shifted from the door back to the counter where my paperwork was being filled out.
I sighed a long and heavy sigh.
I was here now, and it was bound to happen eventually.
I looked to my right to see another young man being arraigned, he looked about nineteen at the oldest. I shot him a glance to offer him some sort of hope - as to say we were in this together, but he refused to return the favor. Instead, you would've thought someone had killed his puppy the way eyes were glazed over with sadness. He looked defeated, as if he had given up the fight the moment the cops had placed the cuffs on him. The bond I was searching for was nowhere to be found and that did nothing but cement the clear fact that I was stuck in this by myself.
The days and nights of striking back at society were all adding up quicker than the clock could move. The seconds and minutes I spent trying to prove something to myself and the world proved all for naught, for they had the power. They were intent on showing me that now; forcing me to extend my ring finger for another dirty ink print. I've heard crazy stories of people biting the skin off of their fingers or sanding them down to remove their fingerprints, and the idea flashed in my head. Nah. Not that serious. At least not serious enough for what I'm in here for.
"Do I get to wash my hands at least?" I asked. I wanted to see how far my liberties as a detainee went. She rifled around her box of police goods and tossed me an Alcohol Swab.
"Here. We're done." I wondered why she was wearing rubber gloves - I mean, it's not like she's a doctor or some shit. You're a cop. A DT at best.
"What about the bathroom?" I asked. "You gotta let me take a piss." She flashed what seemed to be a grin for a second, signaling to me that she had a sense of humor. Shit, At least cops can feel something.
"Toilets are in the cells."
I hate how short cops are with you, like it's their job to be dicks. This was a bitch-cop (policewoman) too, so I was expecting a little bit of kindness and nurturing. You know. Even though in her eyes and in the eyes of the law, I'm a criminal and all. I guess a cop is a dick no matter the gender.
I was growing impatient, but that wasn't my call here.
"What time am I gettin' out?" I spouted. She rolled her eyes. "You asked me that earlier and I told you it depends on what the charges are and what the judge tells you. You need to be transferred to Central to see the judge for a proper arraignment. Right now they've got you with 'Making Graffiti' and 'Possession of a Graffiti Instrument' which are both misdemeanor offenses. When they transfer your case to Central and the courtroom, the judge will let you know what your punishment is."
Hmph. Punishment. Because that's what happens when you express yourself freely, right? You get punished.
My stomach began to grumble a bit with a mixture of unease and hunger. All the nights I had coached myself to be as hard a stone when this day came, meant nothing now that the day was actually here. I got myself into this shit and now it had become too late to get myself out. I felt the ground beneath me rumbling as a train roared into the station, and I wondered to myself what kind of grub I would be served in this hell-hole. More of the dicks (cops) began to crawl out from the back of the headquarters, bitching about shifts and joking to each other about their "collars". I was getting more and more sick of the place by the minute.
"So, when I do get sent to Central - I'll be able to go home after that, right? Because I'm ready now. I got a lotta shit to do."
"I'll ask you not to use that language with me, sir" Officer Bitch-Cop replied. "You'll go to Central as soon as we can get you processed here. As you can see - you are not the only one here, so you'll just have to be patient."
That was something I didn't want to hear.
I had already decided that my "complimentary" phone call would go to my girlfriend, I just didn't know what to say. What could I say that wouldn't result in her flipping out and making me even more frustrated? I can see the conversation now:
"Hey baby, guess what? You'll never believe what happened. Remember all those nights I used to go out late and go bomb the city with graffiti? Well, it finally caught up to me!"
Yeah, that would go over well.
Why did this have to happen to me?
Of all of the people in New York that write, why did I have to get bagged? Stupidity? Cockiness? Karma? I didn't want to believe all of that, so I just settled with it being a bad coincidence.
Wrong place, wrong time I guess.
"Were done with all of your paperwork." the bitch-cop stated. "I need you to empty out your pockets and take off your shoes."
Take off my shoes? The fuck do my shoes have to do with graffiti?
"Why do you guys need my shoes?" I asked. "I'm supposed to walk around barefoot in here?"
"It's not your shoes we need, it's the shoelaces" she said. "We've had incidents where former prisoners have used the shoelaces for, umm - suicidal behavior, so it's now become standard procedure to confiscate the laces of our detainees."
Wow. That's crazy.
I smirked at her, "C'mon miss. Really. Do you really think I'm going to hang myself over some graffiti?"
"I don't know sir, but if you want to keep your shoes on you're going to have to give me your laces."
Being cynical is in my defense mechanism, so this incident was no different - except that this time I was dying of worry inside. How long am I really gonna be here? Are they gonna give me real time? Have they started to figure out that I'm the one responsible for over 75% of the vandalism in this area?
I sat down near the desk where they were processing my information and holding the materials they had confiscated from me. Trying not to smirk or smile, I watched them zip-lock my belongings in a plastic "evidence bag".
My black KRINK marker I had just bought from Scrap Yard.
My Ultra-Flat Black and White Rusto cans.
Watching them carelessly bag away and toss my supplies in a Tupperware-like bin, was like a parent watching his kids being taken into custody by ACS. Those tools are my babies.
"Are they going to keep all that, or can I get it back after I get out of here?" I asked while removing my shoelaces. "Oh no, we keep all of that stuff as evidence in our vaults." She replied. "You can come back and obtain your personal belongings like your keys, your wallet and your iPod, but we keep all of the other stuff for our records. They are criminal instruments."
My black-book?! FUCK!
I could replace all of the other shit, but my black-book?
Man, that was my opus...my claim to fame.
That black-book was like a graffiti yearbook. I had cats I looked up to in there...JA, OJAE, MISS17, GOAL, SKUF, VFR, EARSNOT...even a COPE2 piece, who's style I had admired ever since I bought my first Tribal T-Shirt with one of his pieces on it. No one could replace the art that blessed those pages.
"Daaaamn...My black-book too?" I stammered. "I can't just keep that? I mean, it's paper, it's not hurtin' nobody..."
"Sorry." She said, with a dead cold stare. "I can't make an exception to the rules on your behalf."
It was like she didn't even mean it.
"That evidence actually goes straight to the Vandal Squad so they can investigate your case further." she continued.
FUCK, FUCK, FUUUUCK.
Vandal Squad? Now, they'll definitely know. Damn, this shit is WACK. They can't take my black-book, that aint right. That's my shit that I paid for. Who the fuck gives them the right to just do as they please with my stuff? Who the hell do they think they are?
Oh yeah, that's right. They're the cops. Cops are dicks.
The bitch-cop opened up my wallet to examine it thoroughly, somehow ignoring the pungent smell of bud attached to it. Thank god I had gotten rid of all of my clips that I usually would stash in the inner pocket.
She examined my keys next and started to throw them in the bag, but then paused.
"Oh, we need to keep these too..." she said, pointing to the Sharpie MINI's I had attached to my key-chain. "For real?" I replied, trying to play dumb. She laughed, "Yes, these are graffiti instruments as well."
She gave me a smile as to try and sympathize with me, but I hated that bitch. She's the one who arrested me - said i was "stupid" for writing graffiti and she that "could" make a big deal out of this (you know, because I'm some sort of terrorist or some shit) but wouldn't even listen to me when I tried to plead my case. It was like she found this to be some kind of a joke, but wouldn't laugh it off enough to give me a slap on the wrist and let me leave.
These people aren't my friends. All I got is me in this and that's who I trust.
She signaled for me to get up and led me towards the cell room where they held all of the other prisoners. I scanned the faces of my cellmates, and they all adorned the same look of despair and hopelessness that the kid getting processed earlier had. As the cell door locked behind me, I looked down at my hands...staring at the red paint. It seemed to almost resemble blood. Wounded and bleeding with ink, I took what felt like my last breath...as the artist inside me began to writhe and die.