Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Flashback Friday: February, 2002 - July, 2002

When we last left Daniel, he had been discovered camping on the woods owned by Mr. Woods, and the latter was so cool, that he was going to let Daniel just pack his stuff and move; he just wanted the police to run a quick check on him, "just to make sure you're not, you know, doing anything wrong, out here."
Chapter 4
From Freak out To Bailout
February 19th
The officers of the Charlottesville Police sauntered onto the scene, having been shown the way by one of the wood cutters. Three of them, their radios squawking, slightly out of sync with each other, giving the aural sensation that we were suddenly in a vast canyon.
There was an older one, a Sergeant, a younger one, whom I had seen before, and an even younger one, who looked like a rookie.
The rookie was kind of pudgy, with pale skin and reddish hair. It looked like his biggest obstacle in becoming a cop was probably the physical fitness test; running a 50 yard dash in under...well, running 50 yards...
The one whom I recognized, was officer Thornton.
I remembered him for his involvement with Brenda, one of my fellow employees at the gas station. Brenda had had to file a complaint against him after he tried to barge his way into the trailer that she was living in with her 16 year old daughter and her boyfriend. A neighbor had complained about smelling marijuana "coming from their trailer," and Thornton then lied to Brenda, telling her that an "eyewitness account" such as that gave him the right to enter and search her home.
Brenda knew better, but only after she shouted "I want to speak to the Sergeant on duty; you're not coming in my house!" loud enough to attract the attentions of her neighbors, did Officer Thornton stop trying to push his way past her.
What Have We Got Here?
The officers zeroed in on me, having guessed correctly, right off the bat, which one of us was the land owner and which the one who was living in a hole.
Thornton led the way.
"How are you doing? Do you have any ID?" -getting right down to business.
I told him yes, I did. It was in my backpack, in my dwelling.
As he followed me towards the trapdoor entrance, he asked me if I had any weapons "down there."
"No," I told him.
He insisted upon going down the ladder first, though, not that hadn't believed me...
"Where's your ID, In here?" he asked, as he started to reach for my backpack.
I had been "around the block" enough to know that he was attempting to get me to consent to him searching my backpack. Had I told him that my ID was in the front little pocket at the top, see for yourself, he would done just that, and then continued to rifle through the bag, later claiming "He let me go in his bag; to get his ID; I was already in there." I had seen enough cops in action, and had heard certain questions, phrased the same way, repeatedly.
I was starting to get an uneasy feeling. Thornton didn't seem to be impressed with the marvel of construction that my dwelling was -hadn't said "This is unbelievable!" once.
"I'll get it," I said, reaching for my backpack.
I reached into the pocket, after turning the bag so that it would be facing him, and opening the pocket slowly, and wide enough so that, had there been a gun in there, he would have been able able to see it, especially as he was leaning almost over me, his gaze darting around the pocket of the bag. He would have seen a gun the size of a postage stamp.
I produced my Virginia State Picture Identification card, issued by the government, and handed it to him.
"Is this all you have, I mean, you can get one of these with just a couple of documents. You got any thing else with your name on it?"
I felt like telling him that, if the state had determined that those particular "couple of documents" met their requirements as proof of a persons identity, and I had satisfied those requirements, then, I shouldn't have to furnish additional documents, just to satisfy a nosey cop.
"No, that's all I have, and some pay stubs," trying to let him know that I had a job, at the same time. Come on, I'm just a working man; trying to cut corners and get ahead a little bit...
Now, I was starting to regret not tossing my opened bottle of wine and hiding the Hustler magazines, which were on my bookshelf. The bad feeling was spreading to my stomach.
Officer Thornton shook his head at the notion of pay stubs. Anyone can get those just by working...
"Let's go out there. You go first, and I'll go behind you," he said, pointing to the ladder made of two by fours, which scaled the wall of quartz that looked like diamonds.
While Thornton had been getting my ID, the Sergeant had been talking to Mr. Woods, above ground, about 20 yards up the path.
The rookie had been standing around as if waiting for something to do. He certainly couldn't have been there to run me down, had I decided to bolt. The thought crossed my mind.
A Cheshire-grin wearing Sergeant left Mr. Woods side and sauntered over to me.
"That's quite a place you got there! How long did it take you build that?!?"
I continued in my belief that, since I was guilty of nothing more than trespassing, and since I was a hard working, well liked member of the community -things which would come to light, should the officers merely make a few phone calls- I would eventually be freed to move my stuff off of Mr. Woods land and go about my merry way.
I started to talk about the construction process in my most charming way, sprinkling humor in, where applicable, like telling them that I thought that I'd struck diamonds when I picked my way into a huge deposit of quartz along the wall facing the reservoir. I was trying to get them to like me.
They listened.
Then the Sergeant, his grin still present, took an opportunity to say "We gotta show the Lieutenant this; she'll love it!"
A call was made over his radio, and soon, not just the Lieutenant, a short thirty-ish woman with blond curly hair, arrived, so did more Charlottesville Police officers, plus some officers of Albemarle County.
Suddenly, Mr. Woods, who had assured me that he wasn't going to press charges against me for trespassing was no longer on the scene; only myself and about a dozen law enforcement officers.

"Nobody lives like this unless their on the run from something or hiding from something,"
-was the opinion voiced by the Sergeant, who was no longer grinning.
His previous "admiration" of my construction skills and curiosity about how long it took me to make such a fascinating thing, was put into perspective when he added "Well, we've got him for vandalism; he admitted to digging the hole..."
Then, it was Thorntons turn.
"Is that your car over there?"
"Do you have the keys, mind if we search it, we're gonna search it anyways?" If you're going to "search it anyways" then, why ask if I mind?
I realized that I could have insisted that they get a warrant to search my car, yet, I still clung to the hope that, even if the officers were convinced that "nobody lives like this, unless he is on the run from something," maybe the judge would be more impartial in dealing with a mere vandal.
In hindsight, I should have told them that I was done talking to them and that I wanted a lawyer, as soon as I had heard the word "vandalism." How badly had I defaced Mr. Woods property? 
Hair Raising Suspicion
"Go ahead, search my car, the keys are in between the limbs of that big apple tree!," I said; still thinking that the more they searched, the more they would find that I was just who I was -nothing to fear..
One of the things that I had used my car for, even after I had stopped sleeping in it; was as a  mirror I shaved in front of the side view mirror, and I brushed my hair, standing behind it, using the reflection that the darkly tinted rear window cast. After I finished brushing, I would usually pull a clump of hair out of the brush and drop it on the ground.
The officers found one of those clumps of hair..
I was suddenly handcuffed and told to sit cross legged on the ground, and warned about what would happen if I tried to stand up.
The officer who put the cuffs on me was trembling like a leaf. As he was doing so, I heard one of the officers, an expert on hair apparently, saying "Oh, it's definitely human, because deer hair...."
By then I was being referred to in the third person tense, as if I had been objectified; another bad sign. I was now "the suspect."
"Kind of creeps you out, doesn't it?" said one of the dozen cops, at one point, to another.
Yanked Out
I sat, handcuffed, in the back of one of their cruisers for about three and a half hours, while the officers pored through a book of statues, open on the back of another car, debating over which was the most serious infraction that they could charge "the suspect" with.
During this time-frame, I had the urge to urinate; and had told one of the officers so, who replied "You'll get a chance to" and then returned to the discussion. 
A tow truck arrived with a winch on the back. The cable was run out and dragged into the woods by a guy.
At a given signal, the winch reversed direction, and the cable began to wind onto the spool at a pretty fast rate, and within seconds, I saw my Honda Civic coming up the path at a pretty fast rate; banging left and right off trees, side-swiping all kinds of forestry, and then half hopping over, half smashing through the barricade of brush that I had dragged there, to hide the entrance, and landing with a sound -a combination of "thud" and scraping metal, at the foot of the tow truck, its grill full of dirt and clumps of vegetation, its sides scratched, its front fenders deformed. I hadn't been pulled out, rather, yanked out -Almost implying some personal grudge was at play.
Albemarle County Jail, For Me...
At the end of the three and a half hours, I was transported to the Albemarle County Jail, where I would get my chance to urinate.
Along with me, was brought the evidence: a clump of (my) hair and three copies of Hustler Barely Legal magazine...and the "police report."
I was given a chance to urinate, and then brought in front of the magistrate. (hey, that rhymes...)
This was only five months after the World Trade Center Attacks on September 11th, and the hunt was on for Osama Bin Laden, who, it was widely publicized, was believed to be living in what the news reports referred to as a "bunker," somewhere in the mountains of Afghanistan.
The terrorists responsible for those attacks; it had become known; had fraudulently obtained drivers licenses from both the states of Florida and Virginia, taking advantage of loopholes which each had open in their systems, causing much "embarrassment" and prompting both to change their laws; closing the proverbial barn door after the proverbial horses had already escaped.
This had the effect of making those states become two of the most difficult in which to be issued ID (by installing a veritable "Catch 22," whereby you almost couldn't get an ID without first showing them the ID which had been "lost or stolen").

My Virginia State Identification card, which I had issued to me, after I turned in my Florida (yikes!) ID, only two months before the Trade Center attacks, was as "suspect" as myself.
"They're Gonna Hold Him! "
Could I also have been targeting the
University of Virginia Rowing Team,
which practiced in the reservoir?
The magazines,the clump of hair, the information that I had been found living in what the officers described as "a bunker," the officers assertion that "We don't even know who this guy is," the "location of arrest," annotated to inform that I was 200 feet from the City Water Supply and along the flight path of planes flying to and from the Charlottesville Regional Airport, 5 miles to the north of the reservoir (which the pilots probably used as a landmark) plus the fact that I was .9 miles from a school, to boot;  was enough of an ear full to convince the magistrate at the jail to have me placed into custody.
Officer Thornton, who had transported me to the jail, and another officer, probably there to bear witness to Thornton cantation of the above details, whooped and high-fived each other. "They're gonna hold him!" said Thornton, continuing to refer to me in the third person tense.
On my paperwork, the line reserved for the listing of the crime that I had been charged with, had "suspicion" written on it.
Ms. Dugger, Mr. Digger
I was given a public defender.
Llezelle, November 8th, 2011; Now
City Clerk of Charlottesville
Llezelle Dugger was her name; representing Daniel, the digger.
She told me at my first court appearance that the court was denying me a bond and that "I'm not going to argue it." Apparently she shared the same grave concerns that the State Attorney had about me being released into the community. ...what kind of attorney doesn't even argue for her client?
She showed up at the jail to meet with me a few days after. She was accompanied by another (male) Public Defender. The door to the "attorney/client meeting room" was propped open by a door-stop. Llezelle sat closest to the door, my chair was placed almost in the opposite corner of the room.
A "trial date" had been set for October 8th, eight months into the future.
Albemarle County Jail
I was housed in a protective custody wing of the jail, with mostly other white inmates. This was where inmates were kept, whom the classification folks deemed to be at risk of harm, should they be placed in with the general population. This is also where inmates were placed whom the same folks deemed to pose a risk of harming others, should they be placed in with the general population. I guess I was a little of both, being a suspected terrorist and all..
I was given the nickname of "caveman" by more than one guard. 
The protective custody, wing was furnished with two television sets, one (unofficially) the "white" one (NASCAR and American Movie Channel), the other, the "black" one (BET and more BET). There was a cabinet full of paperback books; I was soon reading 24 of them simultaneously. There was a huge vat of coffee brought in each morning, and a basketball court out of a side door.
I became pretty certain, as my days and weeks went by in that wing, that there was no other place that the jail dared put me, because of my charge of "suspicion." It made me seem kind of suspicious, I guess.
I was twice caught brewing wine, using apples, raisins, orange juice, bread yeast and a lot of sugar. I was never removed from the protective custody wing, though, only "written up."
Letters, Scent
Letters From Xanna began to arrive quite frequently. 
They were written upon black paper, using gold mettalic ink. They were written in calligraphy, every letter almost perfect, done by quill. They were long, averaging 12.8 pages each (I'm estimating) and they all had been marinated in purfume. When the mail cart arrived, wheeled to the food/mail slot by the mail officer, and as soon as the metal slot was opened, before the officer had even called the first name, I could smell weather or not I was getting a letter from Xanna that day. So could the rest of the wing.
The letters expressed a deep and abiding love, and a promise to stand by me, and to wait for me faithfully, and told me that I was in her thoughts every minute of every day. 
Our relationship through letters would wind up being closer than the ones we had whenever we were physically together.
She also attested her refusal to believe "what they said you did to that goat!" "That's ridiculous, I know you better than that!"*
She offered to send money, and to bail me out if it got to be "too much in there," for me.
Not having an understanding of jail finances, Xanna started sending me amounts each week close to 200 dollars.
In jail, a dollar and a half can get one a Honey Bun from the commissary, which can then be traded to someone for their entire breakfast tray, the orange juice included. This is because the meals served by the jail are sugar free, (because some people aren't supposed to have sugar, and rather than go through the trouble of separating those out and giving them special diets; they just give sugar to nobody at all -problem solved) and there are guys in jail craving it like heroin.
Thus, Xanna made me a wealthy man, while I was in there...
A lot of the other inmates in the wing were educated, especially in the ways of Virginia "justice." 
None of them gave me any encouragement while trying to get me to understand things like "Virginia is a commonwealth, not a state, they can hold you for as long as they want, for any reason they see fit!" and "All a woman has to do in this commonwealth is call the police and tell them that you hit her, and they will automatically put you in jail, even if you don't even know the woman; then, it's up to you to hire a lawyer to prove your innocence..."
I was eventually (finally) given a "bond hearing," where a bond was set at $20,000. I probably wouldn't have been given any chance to bond out, had it not been for Xanna "lobbying" for me on the outside. Apparently the grandmother -the one who had bequeathed all the land and money to her and her siblings- had influence in the county, which still resonated in Xanna from beyond the grave... 
I could now bond out of jail, but, I had to give a valid address, where I would be staying while out. I couldn't await my trial while living in a hole in the ground.
Enter Xanna.
She showed up at the jail with $20,000 in cash, and on the form where it was to be listed the address where I would be residing while out on bond, well, that was pretty much academic: I would be staying out in Rochelle, Virginia, on a road so rural that it had no name, only a number; at Xannas house. 
Her will had been done.
I walked out of the jail to see her waiting in her Mustang, to take us home.
As she drove, her lips were pressed together into a hint of a smile.
She had her man.

*When I was in the Duval County Jail (Jacksonville, Florida) in 1999, my cellmate and I both had senses of humor. 
Every inmate in that jail receives, after being booked, a "booking sheet," upon which is listed his charges, along with the exact Florida statute number of the violation, along with his mug shot and other information. 
Some display theirs proudly upon their little toiletry shelf (such as those charged with "aggravated battery," or especially "assault on a law enforcement officer," -these are "credible" charges which gain them instant respect from the other inmates, as a person not to be messed with, or as a "hero" of sorts)..
Others, with less credibility (such as wife beaters) usually flush theirs down the commode, before some other nosy inmate sees it.
My cellmate and I were both charged with very petty crimes (mine was for writing a worthless check, Prevarian's -as that was his name- was for something like disturbing the peace). We both expected to be out in no time (dinner, a hot shower, some TV, a good night's rest, and then back on the street the next day...) and were thus both in good spirits.
As a joke, I took a pen and added a phony charge to Prevarians booking sheet, on the next line after the disturbing the peace charge, along with making up a phony statute number, off the top of my head.
I then said something like, "I don't know, Prevarian, do you really think the judge is gonna let you out tomorrow; this looks pretty serious..." showing him the paperwork.
I had added something like "Assault on a clergyman with a deadly weapon; to wit: a crucifix -F.S. 801-41-038a." We had a good chuckle.
Later that evening, he returned the joke, asking me the same question. Upon mine, he had written "Rape of a farm animal; to wit: a goat -F.S. 123-65-099c (or something)"
The original sheets were photocopied, and it was obvious, well, should have been obvious to anyone, that they had been written over with a ball point pen.
However, after my release, mine got stuffed  into a manilla envelope, along with my other jail-related stuff; and forgotten about. 

In the event of losing one's ID, sometimes the paperwork from the jail can facilitate the acquiring of a now one. After all, they took your picture and your fingerprints...so, I kept my records, just in case.
I guess I kinda sorta should have tossed out the "goat" sheet, though. The envelope was still somewhere in the trunk of my Civic, and the cops found it; amending their report to include mention of it.

Next Installment: Chapter 5: Life Back To Paranormal