When the chaos and commotion of the initial phase of the covert invasion of the farm by the local and state authorities had concluded, my face, head, and upper torso were still being forcefully held down onto the round table by what felt like the cold, steel barrel of a large shotgun being wielded by a very over-zealous cop in modest body armor. I was breathing in panicked, deep breaths and choking on the dusty ashes from the ashtray which felt like it was being fused to my face. My body was numb with adrenaline and a growing sense of rage. I felt a cagey desire to self-combust or scream in terror. I felt Bull’s arm touching mine, and knew that he was very likely in the same, unfortunate position.
I wasn’t the least bit shocked or surprised in any way to learn very quickly that Bull’s fearless personality hadn’t been too badly wounded by this surprise attack on us this night. He began speaking very deliberately and quietly to me from under what I could only imagine was a very similar gun wielded by another similarly amped-up cop. “Calm down, brother. Calm down and relax your body… don’t move, or give them any reason to make a mess on my fucking table with that big brain of yours.” I knew he was smiling at this snarky, poorly-timed, jab at my ego. “I know you’re freaking out right now, but this will be over soon. Just chill out and don’t say anything.”
He was interrupted by the cop who was presently securing my uncomfortable position on the table. “SHUT THE FUCK UP, GUNVILLE!” Unbelievably to me, the gun barrel at the base of my skull pressed even harder into my already sore neck and head, and the faceless voice that had silenced Bull directed his next comment to me. “Don’t you fuckin’ talk meth-head, or he’s exactly right. I’ll paint the table top with your ate-up fucking brains. Just keep your methy little mouth shut or I’ll fucking do it.” I could tell he was gritting his teeth as he spoke. The cop’s words were hissing at me with a sense of triumph that I can only imagine comes from an excessively overdeveloped sense of job satisfaction. I extended the fingers on both of my hands in an attempt to express my surrender and desire for self-preservation. The pipe I had been gripping tightly, clinked onto the table.
“Take it down a notch, hard-on,” Bull continued, much to my dismay. “This guy hasn’t done a fucking thing TO you, and he’s a guest in my fucking home. We’re not gonna fight or resist you guys. You fucking got me dead to rights at the moment… everybody here knows that and I’m assuming that’s primarily what you came here to do, so let’s try and achieve some level of decency.”
The cop holding the gun to my head said, “Goddammit, will you please shut Gunville THE FUCK UP!” Apparently he was trying to communicate with Bull’s momentary handler and had succeeded.
“Please Gunville,” his cop sounded surprisingly calm and almost compassionate. “Let’s not turn this circus into something it doesn’t have to be. Put your hands behind your back for me, okay?” I could hear Bull moving into a position to be handcuffed, and the cold zip-clicking of the bracelets being tightened.
“You too douche-bag,” my cop hissed, as he took the opportunity to push the barrel momentarily harder into my skull, letting me know that he was talking to me. “Put your hands behind your back.”
I repositioned my arms so my shoulders were resting on the table, and reached behind my back. The gun barrel at the base of my skull seemed to ease up slightly, as another officer appeared behind me to accessorize my wrists with the cold metal handcuffs. They were tightened over the bones in my wrists, which I had apparently never taken notice of. I was now painfully aware of just how uncomfortably skinny my wrists and arms had become. The cop holding the steel barrel to my skull eased the pressure of the gun he was jamming into my head, and I finally began to breathe in shallow, shaky breaths.
“Go ahead, methy… sit up.” I found myself becoming surprisingly agitated at this cop’s fondness for the slew of unoriginal nicknames he was giving me and the gleeful way with which he was coloring his orders to me. As he relinquished the pressure of the massive gun barrel he was happily trying to skewer my head with I began to concentrate very hard on not making my distaste for his uncreative vocabulary, being fueled by his brief moment of authority over me visibly noticeable. He insisted on making this as difficult for me as possible, as it took a moment for my brain to remind the rest of my body that it was still in control of my functions, regardless of what my bladder had thought minutes earlier.
“C’mon methster,” he used the butt of his giant gun to guide my forehead off of the table as I was trying to shake loose a cigarette butt that had adhered to my cheek while I was sharing intimate face-time with an overflowing ashtray that he and his gun had introduced me to upon his unfortunate arrival to the farmhouse. I gave up trying to coax the butt from my face, and sat up to survey our uninvited guests for the first time.
The house was swarming with law enforcement. Dayna was being handcuffed, face down on the couch. She didn’t appear to be coherent or resisting, but when the two cops manipulating her had finished immobilizing her wrists, she was dragged into a sitting position on the couch, eyes closed and mumbling groggily. A female officer appeared in front of her, and snapped her fingers several times, yielding no noticeable response from the bleary, closed, and sunken-eyed focus of her attention.
“What did she take tonight, guys?” The she-cop barked in the direction of where Bull, Rhonda, and I were now silently, yet ravenously trying to make sense of the situation.
“Can I talk NOW, hard-on?” Bull swung his head in the direction of the cop that had been handling me. The cop locked eyes with Bull silently, in what appeared to be an attempt to intimidate the three-time felon, ex-convict, and seasoned expert in cop/criminal relationships. It was no surprise to me when the cop nodded his head, and dropped his defeated, vacant stare to just over Bull’s shoulder. Bull took the briefest of moments to flash a grin in my direction. I found surprising comfort in my friend’s confidence and fearlessness in the face of what was looking like it could very well be the last time we sat together as free men for a very long time. To add to my feeling of comfort and acceptance of our current dilemma, I was surprised to see that Bull’s eyes had recaptured the fierce glow and infectious, glaring clarity of a man who had absolutely nothing to fear, but more importantly, a man who felt that everything was completely within his control. In spite of my overwhelming fear I felt a grin beginning at the corners of my mouth when Bull began to speak again.
“Ma’am, she has been terribly depressed since DCFS took her boy away from her, and when I returned home tonight, she was passed out drunk on that couch with this bottle of tequila wrapped in her arms.” Bull nodded towards the bottle of tequila on the table, now lying on its side like a wounded soldier. The expensive looking cork-cap, which I had replaced loosely after I had helped myself to some earlier, had become dislodged in the chaos, and it had spilled a majority of its contents onto the table and floor near my feet. Bull continued, “It looked to me like maybe it had been relieved of about one-third of its contents, before my friend here wrestled it out of her arms just before y’all let yourselves in. She’s not much of a drinker normally, but I’ve never seen her this incoherent. Frankly, I’m a little worried about her… it seems like she would be awake for something like this under normal circumstances, don’tcha think?”
What I was witnessing was Bull’s sarcasm dripping from his mouth like invisible gobs of honey. Apparently the cops were so absorbed with everything else, or were so blinded by the fury with which they attended to their jobs during the minutes beforehand, that they didn’t see Bull’s loosely motivated explanation of Dayna’s unresponsiveness for what it was; an attempt to remove Dayna from the situation before she could come to her senses.
“Mr. Gunville, do you think she might have taken something else before or maybe during the time she was drinking?” The she-cop resumed snapping her fingers in front of Dayna’s face while she was trying to talk over the growing chatter in the farmhouse.
“Ma’am, believe it or not, that is the exact conversation I was having with my friends here… before… you know,” Bull hesitated purposefully, rolling his eyes around in their sockets and continued, “I mean, before you guys interrupted us. These two folks showed up at my request, to take her somewhere and see if she needed her stomach pumped or something. I’m afraid she might have been trying to hurt herself, honestly. She’s been talking about that a lot lately.”
The she-cop bent her head down to the communications radio positioned on the shoulder strap of her uniform, pressed a button on the spiraling cord leading to it, and quietly spoke into the device. She moved out of my line of sight and left Dayna sitting on the couch, handcuffed and mumbling incoherently. Dayna began to slump to one side as two hefty looking paramedics appeared, carrying a gurney-board. They waved the nearest cop over to where they stood, and motioned to her handcuffed wrists while talking to him. The new cop quickly removed Dayna’s restraints and disappeared. The paramedics made quick work of transferring Dayna’s limp body to the board, where she was strapped down, and carried from the house.
It suddenly dawned on me that Bull intended to absorb as much of this trouble as he could. He was improvising at the moment, but he had already managed to have Dayna removed from the house, and at least temporarily keep her out of police custody. He had flagrantly lied to the she-cop and anybody listening about what I was actually doing in his house and on his property tonight. Rhonda fell under this umbrella of protection that he was attempting to provide for us with his interpretation of the truth in this matter as well. As the dawning of my realization began to grow, I immediately became uneasy with how comfortable I felt with allowing him to do this.
Bull was watching me intently as my eyes returned to the table from watching Dayna being removed from the house. He was now sitting back in his chair, although with his hands in restraints behind him, it looked as though he was sitting on his hands like a child being punished. It was almost comical. I looked directly at him, and did my best to communicate with him silently, using only my eyes, facial expression, and my overwhelming emotional state at the moment.
Are you sure about this? I don’t think I can let you take this by yourself, boss.
The fire in Bull’s eyes was as fierce as ever, and in an instant I knew he had at least kind of understood my concerns. He cocked his head to one side, nodding first, and then he lowered his head and eyes like a predatory animal about to pounce.
Don’t be a fucking idiot. It doesn’t make sense for both of us to go down for this. Don’t forget, we have a deal. I will need your help now. You can’t help me or yourself if you’re locked up in some hole. When this is over… go home. You need to go home and wait.
“Okay, gentlemen…” we both looked towards the sound of the voice coming from the first cop that I had seen so far without a Kevlar vest or some kind of protective gear over his uniform. “Mr. Gunville, I do believe you know who I am, and clearly, I know who you are. I am familiar with the lady sitting here at your table as well. Rhonda Downing, I do believe…” The shiny, slick-haired, mustached cop then turned his eyes towards me. “But I’m sorry, fella… I am just at a complete loss in your case. At any rate, I’m Sheriff Don Doyle. I preside over things in this county. You probably would be tempted to try and deceive me if I asked you outright who the hell you are, so I won’t bother with that, as the currently overburdened states attorney in this county doesn’t really have time to pursue the obstruction of justice charges that you would face if and when I do EVER give you the opportunity to lie to me. My extensive experiences in these matters have taught me not to give a person in your current predicament, and under the influence of the drugs that I suspect you are on, a chance to lie to me or I will inevitably receive an strongly worded, ear-chewing phone call, or worse yet a personal visit from a very angry, fellow public servant, when she finds out that I am wasting the counties precious tax dollars, provided for us to do our jobs by the honest, hardworking citizens of this county who are already struggling in these difficult economic times. She will then explain what a waste of HER time it is when my officers are obligated to file charges against some jerk who tried to lie to me about who he was, when I just as easily could have asked to see his identification. So, tell me pal, do you have some identification I can look at?”
“Sure, it’s in my wallet. In my back pocket.” I began to retrieve it with one of my cuffed hands, but this was met with a knock on the head with the butt of a large gun I had become very familiar with, which was being held by the one cop in the room who had no problem using either end to exacerbate my current agitation.
“Let the officer get it for you… go ahead and stand up, sir.” The sheriff waited patiently while I stood up. After the cop behind me fumbled through my wallet and pulled my license out, he handed it to Sheriff Don Doyle for his examination. He read the front of the plastic identification card, turned it over, examined the back side, and handed it to another neatly groomed, unvested, uniformed cop who had appeared at his side.
“Nope... this doesn’t help me at all. You are a total stranger to me, and see that disappoints me, because as the duty-bound sheriff in this county, elected and respected by the fine people who reside around here, I like to think that I know just about everybody who intends to bring harm to the people who hold me responsible for their safety and well-being. I was not familiar with you before this moment sir, and that bruises my ego. I am familiar with you now though, and I hope that you take that bit of information very seriously. You are now on my list of very bad people that I have had the displeasure to become acquainted with due to the nature of my chosen field of employment, and consequently your poor choices so far in life. But my bruised ego, and your lousy life decisions are irrelevant to the simple fact that at this moment, gentlemen… and lady,” he turned and nodded to Rhonda nonchalantly, “you are now all under arrest for this sneaking suspicion I have that you have all been engaging in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, and the dangerous and equally illegal procurement of the precursors with which to do so in my beloved county. You will be transported to my lovely and hospitable jail tonight, where you will be well taken care of until you can each be questioned regarding my suspicion of your involvement in these activities. Is that understood?”
I sat back down, heavily, in the chair behind me.
I was surprised to find myself awe-struck and amused with Sheriff Don Doyle.Well, at least this cop had a more interesting and creative way of telling me
that he thought I was a piece of shit.
This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo