Friday, May 10, 2013

White Trash Justice

This really is a true tale
Well...once upon a time there was a young guy named Microdot, who lived in various locations around Toledo, Ohio. It's very hard to tell a simple story, in fact, with Microdot, there are no simple stories. Even the simplest story is a the result of a chain of interconnected events, tragic, banal, dramatic but usually with a pretty ludicrous ending. This might be one.
So, Microdot, who really believed he was an artist, a wizard of sorts and a true star had previously lived another life as a semi homeless freak in Detroit, decided to go to Night School, get his GED and then go to college and get a degree in Fine Art. He really wanted to change his life after a few years of probation and he was lucky enough to end up with after a drug bust in a suburb of Toledo. He really was lucky because if he hadn't been white, he probably would have ended up in the Mansfield, Ohio State Prison for 2 years. He had decided to take advantage of his culinary expertise and was working as a chef in restaurants. He was actually doing pretty good as a chef, faking his way through Hollandaise sauce, learning authentic Northern and Southern Italian cuisine while indulging his  budding passion for playing loud and obnoxious music. He lived for a while with a few friends over the state line in Michigan. It was a strange ranch house on a long thin strip of property that went from sandy dunes to forest to Lake Erie Swamp with ugly shag carpeting in every room including the kitchen. The rent was cheap and they realized that it was because of the water. They had well water and it was sort of stinky and very red. It left ugly stains on the 70's style blue sinks and a thick gritty feeling no matter how well you thought you had washed your hair. Luckily, they had friends who let them take showers once in a while at their houses. One of his friends was his good buddy, Jody Frenchfry, who really was a great artist, but spent a lot of time denying it and was working as a semi driver. The other friend who lived in the strange ranch house was a self styled conceptual type artist. He was a real smart, pretty crazy guy named Greenie, but frankly, Microdot never saw any of the art work that his friend created. His art work was all in development, a collection of ideas and items that grew in the garage of the house they shared. Well, there was one piece, but it was unfinished and involved his hand cast in clear lucite plastic. His friend, the conceptual artist would go jogging along the busy road they lived on. One night after jogging, the artist showed Microdot a set of Michigan license plates he found on the road. "I think I'm going to put them in a piece" he said and put them on the table with the ever growing collection of artifacts. Microdot wondered why anyone would discard a set of current plates on the road, but forgot about them.
The conceptual artist left to go to the University in Ann Arbor in the fall, but his collection of artifacts remained in the garage.
One day, Microdot was driving to work in his snazzy white 1967 Toledo Police Auction Jeepster and he stopped at a light and a guy in the car next to him was trying to tell him something. He rolled down the window and the guy yelled, "Hey, your plates fell off of your car back there!"
There was no traffic and Microdot got out of his car to look at the front and back...his Ohio Plates were on the car...whaaaa? The helpful fellow backed up his car and turned around and roared back up Talmadge Road, stopped and got out and picked a few objects off of the road and then came back as Microdot tried to figure out what he was talking about. The guy stopped and said, "I saw them come off when you turned off of Alexis. Here!" He gave them to the puzzled Microdot...who thanked him but for what? The guy roared off when the light changed. Now, if Microdot had real Spiderman sense, he would have tossed the plates like they were red hot...but in his confused state, he put them under the front seat of his car and went to work. It clicked as he drove..."Why, it was the little darling"...he realized that the plates were his artist friends artifacts and that his girlfriends 4 year old daughter had found them and put them on his car while playing in the garage. He meant to put them back on the table with the other stuff, but, well, he plain forgot about them.
Time went by and Microdot moved out of the house in Michigan, back into inner city Toledo into a row house on Delaware Ave. that was slowly falling apart. The rent was very cheap and he shared it with Jody Frenchfry, who was rarely there. In the interim, he had managed and cooked for a dinner theater restaurant in a shopping mall in Toledo. He became pretty friendly with his immediate boss, a large mannish woman who always wore a white uniform. She liked him and one night she asked him if he wanted some furniture she was getting rid of. He came by her house and moved a few tables and a big comfy he was dismantling the chair, a pair of professional, police type handcuffs fell out of the cushions. The woman looked startled and said, "Oh, they must have belonged to my son", as if that was logical explanation. "You can have them, if you want..."...Microdot picked them up and took them as you never know...but there was no keys for them. He showed them to his friend, Crazy Paul, whose uncle owned a pawn shop on Monroe Street. He had recently bought a nice mid 60's Fender Stratocaster guitar there. Paul said that his uncle could sell him keys, so he bought some. Over the next few months, the handcuffs got abused by Microdot and Jody as they pulled pranks on a few unsuspecting friends, usually after a few joints. They would look at each other and Jody would say, "Don't you think he's getting a bit put of line?" Microdot would say, "Well, we need a break from this. let's do something about it."
He'd whip out the handcuffs and Jody and Microdot would and cuff their unsuspecting victim to the comfy chair and then get up and leave, laughing hysterically. Not for long. They would walk down Delaware Avenue to the carryout and buy a six pack of beer with the sputtering rage of their guest fading in the distance. Then they'd come back, tell the victim that they would give him a beer if he was good and unlock him. Usually, it ended up well but a few times, well, it didn't. But you know, fuck'em if they can't take a joke.
So, Microdot had a new job. He was running the only Vegetarian Restaurant in Toledo. Not that he was a militant vegetarian...the boy liked his meat...but he knew food. The freak guys would come in to check him out because they were a little spooked by the artist/musician who was cooking up the food their girlfriends were raving about. Microdot might have seemed a bit elfin, but he knew his way around a kitchen and had spent hundreds of hours in front of broilers burning steaks and lobsters. He loved biking and hiking and had begun to make himself into a real naturalist. He could do stuff these dudes whose dreams were based on getting a job at Jeep and working on the assembly line until they farted their last fart could not imagine. He was a weight lifting elf from another planet.  He was the buyer, planned the menus, did most of the cooking and even had decorated the place with a huge wall mural of wheat stalks blowing in the wind around the entire space. It had been an old post office and the entrepreneurs had built a huge stage where bands played. It was fairly successful. Microdot even got to use the place as his own rehearsal studio and occasionally got to play on the stage as well. He had quite a few musician friends in Toledo. There was a crew of aging jazz musicians he had met through his latest girlfriend, an aspiring young jazz pianist and composer.
Microdot took a little vacation. He loved the coast of Lake Superior and knew it well. He had biked 1200 miles up there and back from Ohio one year. That year he drove the Jeepster up to the Pictured Rocks and drove on the old logging roads having a great time, until while going over a small creek on an old bridge, it collapsed. The Jeepster was in an impossible position, but the front wheels were on the creek bank. It took all day, but with the winch on the front of the Jeepster and the steel cable he had in the back, he actually got the machine to haul itself out of the creek. Luckily he had a set of good maps of the logging trails and the car still seemed to run well and was in one piece. The little camping trip continued. Then it was time to drive the 700 miles back to Ohio. Things went smooth, but he noticed that there was a tendency for the car to start to shimmy. The alignment was off because of the accident and he knew he would have to get it fixed back in Toledo.
Back in Toledo, back to work. Driving to Ann Arbor twice a week to buy food from an organic co-op, one of these days, he was going to get the car looked at. One day in the early spring, he had to get some lumber and went to his friends fathers lumber yard in Temperance, Michigan. The friend was one of the owners of the restaurant he managed. Ron told Microdot, just tell my dad who you are and I'll tell him you are coming and he'll give you the lumber...good deal!
So he went to Ron's Dads Lumber Yard and got the wood he needed and started to drive back. Nice day, he had rolled a big fat joint and was smoking it when the fatal shimmy started....the car started to shake and he slowed down and pulled over. A innocuous car pulled in back of him. He thought it was someone who was going to ask if he needed a hand. Then, he noticed that there was a flashing thing on the hood of the car. "Whaaa?" he thought as two uniformed Michigan State Cops got out of the car. "Augghhh! I'm fucked!" Microdot mentally screamed in anguish. They wanted to see the registration,  insurance, his license and all seemed to be going well. They didn't seem to notice the slight odor of pungent pot wafting out of the closed ashtray. Microdot did a very ornate dance routine, making jokes and patter as the cops took advantage of the new Michigan Stop and Search Law...looking under the seats of the car and then finding....
The License Plates! The friking License Plates that had sat there forgotten for almost a year! They asked him about the plates and he told them the truth as far as he knew it. Then they did a search for info on the plates while Microdot sat in his car sweating. The cops walked over and asked him to get out of the car and wanted to frisk him and asked, "So, what do you know about a 1968 Tempest from Highland Park, Michigan?"...A totally freaked Microdot told them the truth, "I don't know friend found them. My girlfriends daughter was playing and put them on my car. They fell off and someone retrieved them for me and I stuck them under the seat a year ago and forgot them!" The cops looked at each other in amazement and cuffed and then arrested him for grand theft. They took him to State Police Highway Patrol center up I-75 and then left him handcuffed to a radiator for about three hours. He pathetically finally was allowed to pee...then they told him he was being booked and was going to be held in the Monroe Michigan County Jail. It was getting dark then. Microdot kept repeating the insane tale of the plates and the 4 year old girl...the cops in the car driving to Monroe actually bcgan to be sympathetic. One cop said, "You know, your story is so nutty that it almost makes sense."
Then they got to the jail and frisked him again and looked at his key ring. On the key ring was the handcuff key his friend, Paul's Uncle, the pawn shop owner had made. The cop took the key, fitted into the handcuffs he was wearing and they popped open.
The two cops looked at each other incredulously. "You know, I was almost beginning to believe this guy...then we find he has a key for the cuffs in his pocket all the time...."
Microdot begins to sputter....
"I think we should just take him downstairs and work him over...."
They didn't, again, chalk it up to the luck of being a white trash in America.
He had a bail hearing and called Ron, the owner of the restaurant...."Look, man, I'm in the Monroe County Jail. I didn't do anything. It looks really bad. I'm being charged with Grand Theft, but the story is too stupid to even try to explain over the phone. Just come up here and pay the bail or you won't have a restaurant tomorrow!"
Then Microdot was dragged off to a holding cell where he shared company with a group of 15 crazed hippies who were tripping their brains out on any variety of trash psychedelic drugs after the party they were at was raided by the cops. Half of the guys were hysterically laughing, the other half were in the throes of a shared epic bad trip. They were screaming that they were going to die..and then describing the nauseous hallucinations that were attacking them. Microdot, who was quite conscious of his own sense of decorum and style, tried to disappear as well as he could into the darkest corner of the cell. These guys smelled! You could smell the stench of drug induced fear. It was impossible to escape the ugly reality as they pissed their pants and vomited.
After about 6 hours. It was well after midnight, the hippies had drifted into an uneasy coma, a jailer cop rapped on the cell bars. "Who's Microdot? Your friends are here!" He peered our from the corner of the cell and waved his hand..."Here I am!"
The door opened and Ron was there with Microdot's beautiful neighbor, Mindy, who he was secretly in love with as was everyone who ever met Mindy. "I paid your bail" said Ron. Mindy wanted to know what had happened. He said he would try to explain, but it was too crazy. He told the story on the way back and as he told it, he knew that it was just too crazy for even his own brain to accept. "Ron, just trust me. You know me. I never stole a fact I have to try to make sure that this never really happened..." Then he went home, went to bed and in spite of everything, collapsed and slept.
The next morning, Microdot woke up. It was like a very bad dream, but he knew what he had to do. Immediately, he got on the phone and called his friend John. John had been a child prodigy pianist and composer in Toledo. He was as everyone who knew him said, a true genius. But John was totally fucked up. He was still a brilliant player when he wasn't smacked out and even then, he could be brilliant. He had been through the wringer and in and out of jail and still landed on his feet. Microdot knew that if there was anyone who knew what he should do, John would know. So, he went to work at the Restaurant the next day and called John as soon as he felt it could catch him in a semi coherent state. Microdot knew that there was no way that he could let this go any further.
He got John on the phone and after John began to rise to the land of the living and he realized who was calling him he listened in utter fascination to Microdots idiot saga of woe. "So, John, that's why I called you. I can't go to court. I need the crookedest connected lawyer you can recommend who has some pull in Monroe County. In fact, I want to make this go away, as if it never happened." Silence on the end of the line, then John said, "Yes, I know what you mean. In fact I know a guy who might be able to help..." Microdot feverishly copied the number and name John gave him and slavishly thanked him. "If this works or it doesn't, I owe you a big one, my friend!"
John in fact, called his lawyer buddy before Microdot did. The guy was expecting his call and said, "Unfortunately, I can't practice law anymore in Monroe....but John explained the story but I'm not sure he gave me the just sounded too????" Microdot related the details and the lawyer said, "Well, that's kind of what John said but it's even screwier than his version...look I'll get back to you this afternoon."...Microdot sweats bullets as the reality of what had occurred only 24 hours earlier sets in. "I'll never go to jail" he rants...."This never happened and I will make sure it never happened!"
His friends are getting worried about what he might mean by these statements...Total reality denial? No, this is something bigger! This is total emotional commitment...I think if the Monroe County Court System knew what they were really dealing with here, they might be worried, because Microdot isn't going to stop with lawyers...if this fails, he's gonna get Santeria magic priests, Incan Brujos...Voodoo! Baby, Microdot is gonna burn your playhouse down...and he's not gonna play your game! He knows if he even gets his feet wet in the legal system, they're gonna pull him down into the drowning pool.
So about 4 pm he gets a call as he is putting together the dinner menu at the restaurant....the typical vegetarian pizza, spinach lasagna and an experimental recipe he is adapting, The Argentinian Walnut loaf....It's a guy named Allan, who works with the lawyer he spoke to earlier in the day. Allan tells him to meet him on steps of the Monroe County Court House before the hearing and to dress appropriately...Allan says he can't quite grasp the details of the story, but he knew John the pianist and owed him one...everybody seemed to owe John one. Microdot told him he would be the guy with the green art deco tie and he wouldn't mistake him for anyone else. Allan asked if he would tell him the story, in his own words...after about 5 minutes, John said..."Okay, that's can tell me the rest on Tuesday...."
On Tuesday, a very nervous Microdot got a ride from his buddy Dale up to Monroe for the hearing. He nervously walked up the steps of the ancient courthouse and looked for someone like Allan...who suddenly appeared...a pudgy middle aged guy in a bad suit. They shook hands and Allan told Microdot to follow him. They went down a hallway and Allan told him to sit down in a chair in the hall while he went into a room. Microdot sat there for almost 45 minutes. Then Allan appeared, smiling and said, "Okay, that's it. It never happened." Microdot was stunned beyond belief. He tried to thank Allan who said, "Now we have to get your bail have to sign for it." They went to an office, Microdot signed a form, the bailiff started to hand him a wad of cash, which Allan deftly intercepted, folded and stuck in his pocket. "You can thank me now" he said. He shook his hand and just walked away.
Microdot got a slip which allowed him to go to the pound where his Jeepster was in bondage. Dale drove him over. The wood was still in the back. He got the car released and then looked in the ashtray and the giant doobie he was smoking when the cops arrested him was still there. He showed it to Dale. They began to laugh hysterically and then lit it up and smoked it...

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