State of Colorado v. Sarah Brewer VI… The Final Chapter!

*** I didn’t expect this to stretch into so many entries… thank you for your patience. I think this is the last of it. Whew.

 

It was after lunch when I finally made it back to the pod. I’d had the shackles on for hours at that point and all I wanted to do was hurry up and get released. Unfortunately, there is no “hurry up” in this environment. I rubbed my wrists as I stumbled through the heavy door, still having phantom pains of the recently removed shackles around my ankles.

I looked up at the TV and noted that “Everyone Loves Raymond” was on. Benign enough, I guess, but there was no sound so I didn’t see any reason to sit out in the common area with my fellow pod-mates. I retreated to my empty cell, wondering where Shona and Cricket were, and decided to take advantage of the “alone time” to use the toilet thingy. I shut my cell door. I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to do that, despite pouring through the Standard Jail Practices brochure earlier that morning. An alarm went off, which scared the poo out of me. One guard stood watch outside my cell, which I presume was to make sure I wasn’t going to commit suicide with my towel – all seven inches of the ratty terry cloth it was – or stab myself with the toothbrush that I’d scraped against the cinderblock trying to make a pair of tweezers. I stood motionless right by the door – no alarm causing here – until another guard got clearance to open the cell door.

“Don’t close the door again, Brewer.”

Duh.

It was about 2 pm when the guard called me to prepare for release. I walked out of my cell like a little kid ready for Christmas morning. I’d been counting down on my hourly Jail Advent calendar and now it was almost here! “Is it time for release yet? Can I go? Now? NOW? NOW????” My patience was wearing as thin as my jail issued towel. Just then, an alarm went off, red lights flashing and incessant buzzing scalding my ears. With wide eyes, I looked at my guard. “What’s that?” I asked. Without giving me a second look, she screamed out to my fellow pod-mates, “LOCKDOWN!” Everyone began heading toward their cells and doors started sliding shut. “What the…, WAIT! NO! I’m supposed to get out now!” Tears threatened to spill over as I looked around for someone else to help me. There had to be a manager around, right? This is simply not good customer service. Oh, crap. I forgot. I’m in jail.

I begrudgingly headed for my cell. Shona and Cricket were already laying down so I climbed up to my treehouse. A thin sliver of bright sunlight streamed through my tiny window. I craned my neck in hopes of catching a glimpse of the outside to still my racing heart from bursting. I don’t know that I’ve felt disappointment so severely. The sobs took over as I unwillingly broke down. The girls just let me do my thing without saying a word.

I think I fell asleep.

About two hours later, the cell doors reopened but I didn’t get up. I don’t know what happened to cause the lockdown but I was terribly curious as to what was so freaking important that I wasn’t released at 2 pm. This whole jail thing had really messed up my schedule. And, even more depressing, was whatever had caused the lockdown was now stalling all releases. About 20 minutes after our doors reopened, a crackling announcement came over the intercom, “Ladies, there will be NO RUNNING. That being said, the library cart is here.” The moment the voice disappeared from the loudspeaker, I heard the extreme silence of the pod turn into nothing short of a stampede of Serengeti proportions. Women were trampling each other to get to the book cart before I even had the sense to think. “Shit! I’m going to miss all the good books!” Adrenaline pushed me over the edge of the bunk bed, jumping like a cougar out of a tree instead of using the rungs to climb down safely. And like a kid who’s trying to run without running, I fast-walked with my arms straight down by my sides. Run two steps, walk three… almost…to…the…cart. Women were picking over the books like vultures over a carcass. I stood on the outer circle, waiting my turn, when I saw a Nora Roberts book that I’d already read before. I carefully reached over the heads of the other ladies crouching before the cart and plucked the book off the shelf. Unfortunately, my fingers did not get a good grip and the book fell on one of the ladies’ heads.

My verbal response was, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” as opposed to what was going through my mind, which was “Oh Sh*T! Oh Sh*T! I’m going to get killed!” My pod-mate was clearly unhappy about the mishap, but after her penetrating glare burned a hole through my soul, she turned back around to find herself a book. I took Nora Roberts and did the “run-walk” thing back to my cell. Oh, SWEET RELIEF! I can lose myself in this book instead of sobbing on my crappy plastic mattress! Huzzah! I climbed up to my bunk with Nora’s tome under my arm. I stretched out, crossed my legs and sighed as I opened the thick book to the first page. It was, so far, my happiest jail moment.

I was two paragraphs in when the guard screamed “BREWER! Time to go!” At first I groaned, “Are you joking? I just started reading this!” But then I realized that I was in jail for crying out loud, and I better get out while the gettin’s good. Shona was going to be released at the same time, so we grabbed our buckets. Shona bequeathed her roll of toilet paper to Cricket, so I did the same. It felt good to give. Cricket asked if we would make a phone call for her when we got out. I told her that I didn’t have a phone. Shona said she would gladly make any call Cricket needed. She wrote down a few numbers and then we left. Shona grabbed my hand as we walked out. It was the closest lesbian experience I had while in the joint.

The process of getting out was long. When I finally changed out of my blue jumpsuit and into my own yoga pants (size M) I asked the person running wardrobe if there were any shoes I could have since I was brought in without some. He looked around and found a pair of dingy tennis shoes, size 10, that I could have. I’m a size seven.

Grateful to have something on my feet, I climbed the long set of stairs to freedom in my clown shoes. It was six pm. Shona was waiting at the top for me. She wrapped her jacket around my shoulders and handed me her cell phone. “Make as many calls as you need.” With the weeping threatening to begin again, I made some calls. My bf let me know that my friend was going to pick me up in a few minutes. I wept with relief. When I handed the phone back to Shona, she told me that she would take me anywhere I wanted to go. I let her know that my ride was on her way. Shona then told me to keep the jacket. My heart warmed at her display of incredible kindness. And as my friend pulled up, Shona and I waved goodbye to each other. And that was that.

I couldn’t go home so my friend took me to her house. She was kind enough to offer me a fresh set of clothes, food, a place to sleep, and a SHOWER. I stayed in the shower for a long, long time. I think I wash/rinse/repeated at least five times before my skin threatened to fall off. Then I crawled into bed, turned on the DIY channel, and fell asleep.

The next morning, I’d heard that Matt had posted on facebook that he had to have me arrested… the stories that were getting back to me were wild. I was sure that he’d involved the school in some manner, so I decided to go face that right off the bat. Besides, I needed to see my kids. I stopped by the counselor’s office and had a nice, long chat with her. I explained what really happened and offered to show her the police report. I was ashamed even though I had no real reason to be. When it came right down to it, everyone was so supportive. I learned quickly that most everyone felt this was totally bogus, and they were ultimately embarrassed that he had dragged them into our personal issues in trying to get everyone to side with him. I had a constant barrage of people telling me that they “had my back.”

But the moment that was most difficult was waiting by the door for Ben to come in from recess. His last moment with me was watching me get hauled away by the police. And then he spent 36 hours in his dad’s care hearing God only knows what. But when he saw me, he ran into my arms and started crying. “You’re home! You’re home!” he exclaimed. Yes, love. And nothing will ever keep me away from you again. It was the same with Madeline. She hugged me hard, fighting back the tears. “I know you didn’t do anything wrong, Mommy. Why did the cops take you away?” I couldn’t explain it to her. I could only say that mommy and daddy had a lot to sort through and how sorry I was that she had to see that.

For nearly two weeks, I stayed with my friend. There was a restraining order that forbade Matt and I to be anywhere near each other. I saw the kids every day while they were at school. Then Matt was forced to move out of the house and I got to go home on Halloween. It was one of the best days of my life.

The experience has stung for the past two years. It gave people something to talk about for a while. And one of the people who were supposedly “appalled” by my actions had the audacity to call me – behind her deadbeat husband’s back – and ask how hard it was to get a divorce. She’s not allowed to publicly admire me but I know that she secretly does.

I’m a legend. I am a badass (despite crying in front of other inmates 😉 )

And I’m a survivor.

 

 

State of Colorado v. Sarah Brewer V

*If you’re a loyal reader, you know this is one in a series of posts on my jail experience in 2011. If you’re new, well, go grab a snack and enjoy the last four posts on this blog.

A female guard stood by the cell door and screamed “BREWER!” Dammit. I was getting really tired of guards yelling out the surname that tied me to the person who had me thrown in this hell hole. I scooted off my bunk and shuffled out to the common area where the guard was screaming out a list of names of those heading to court. I sat down next to an inmate in orange (remember, orange=felony) as she leaned over to roll down her socks. She looked up at me and said, “You should do this, too, because the shackles f*cking hurt.” I can’t even begin to imagine the look that was on my face because it was a mixture of being grateful and of pure terror. I was appreciating all the inmates rallying together to make sure I had the information I needed but terrified to learn that I had to be shackled before heading to court.  I rolled down my socks to make as many layers between my delicate skin and the cold, unforgiving metal as I could.

The screaming guard separated us into colors (misdemeanor blues were last and I was at the very end of that line) and led us out into the hall while giving us a list of no’s: NO talking. NO touching. NO extra movement. If you had a wedgie? Too bad. DON’T pick it. Line up and put your nose and hands against the wall. I closed my eyes tight as I gingerly touched the very tip of my nose to the frigid cinderblock, hands high above my head, and waited my turn for what had to be the ultimate humiliation.

All I could do was listen as the other inmates were bound, the chains clanging against the floor and the systematic zips and clicks as the shackles were placed. I thought about starting to cry but decided against it. When it was my turn, the guard leaned down to affix the cuffs to my legs. Boy, they were tight. I was appreciative of my orange jump-suited colleague for her socks suggestion. The guard wasn’t exactly gentle in her handling of my princess-y self, each time she tightened anything my nose banged against the wall. I tried to move away only to have her yell at me. Then she instructed me to turn around so she could attach the handcuffs. Now, I’ve played Chinese jump rope and I’ve even won a three-legged race before but NEVER have I had such limited range of motion. I nearly tripped on turning around, and as the guard caught me from taking a header, she asked “New at this?” I shook my head yes as she righted me back to standing erect. She gave me a semi-sympathetic look as she affixed the handcuffs, which were tighter than the ankle cuffs – if that’s possible. I could feel my nose running as the threat of tears loomed closer. She wiped my nose with a tissue, and as she pulled it away, I was horrified by the sight of my own blood.

The guards yelled at us to stay in a single file line as we were led to another hallway. I immediately panicked because I had no idea how to walk in these shackle-thingies. At first, I thought it was best to shuffle. Keep my feet on the ground and go just as far as the chains would let me. But each stride, no matter how minuscule, left me groaning in pain over the intense pressure on my ankles. Fortunately, we stopped to pick up some more inmates. I remained at the back of the line, standing as still as possible to prevent any rubbing on my ankles. As soon as the new inmates were placed in our line we were off again. I decided to experiment with my gait. I did a sideways slide. I tried a tippy-toe approach. I even tried hopping, which was by far the hardest. Each jump sent my chains a-clangin’ and the pain in my ankles, while different, was still excruciating. But I fell further and further behind, which prompted the guard who gave me a bloody nose to scream “Keep up, BREWER!” Never have I been so sick of that name. So, I did a combination of hopping, sliding, tiptoeing, and, inevitably, tripping, until we got to the courtroom.

And if I had thought that my shackled journey down the hallway was humiliating, I had no idea what was coming. I entered into the brightly lit courtroom to see many people waiting their turn to be heard. The guards led us up to the jury box so we could sit down, but getting up the steps was a challenge I wasn’t ready for, especially since I caught sight of my ex in the courtroom with his attorney. I think I navigated those steps and endured the pain of the shackles simply on the power of sheer hate. I tried my hardest not to look at him, but when I did catch a glimpse, he seemed to be enjoying seeing me in my criminal state. Even if I did have a frying pan and the opportunity to clock him one upside the head, my shackles would have been too great of a hinderance. It wasn’t a very fulfilling fantasy.

I wiped my nose against the shoulder of my blue jumpsuit, happy to see that the bleeding was minimal. Harry B, my attorney, came over and said hello. He told me to not worry, that the DA had looked at my case already and asked “Are you joking? Is this for real?” So, it was highly likely that I’d be getting out today. I breathed a sigh of relief as he asked if my nose was okay. I shook it off, feeling the hardened criminal in me solidify a bit more. “I’m fine.” Then Harry said, “I’ll be right back. And by the way, do not look at that piece of shit.” I giggled a little (because, with his accent, the way he said “shit” was just too cute) and turned to chat with my neighbor. She had been in the holding cell with me the night before. Her story was that she was in jail solely because she was busted for riding the light rail without a ticket. I thought that sounded unreasonable, but didn’t question her. A few minutes later, her attorney came over with what looked like Santa’s scroll of naughty kids, which unraveled a gazillion other infractions that she was being held for. The light rail incident was just the icing on the cake. She turned to me and said, “I don’t think I’ll be getting out of here today.” I retreated into my warped mind to think about how she would get home if she were ever released and if she’d be taking the light rail.

After what seemed to be an eternity, it was finally verbalized. I heard the bailiff say, “The State of Colorado versus Sarah Brewer,” which made me sound notorious. It was sexy for about 1/2 a second, then the whole shackle thing reminded me that I was in a real mess. Harry B helped me down from the box, but it is super hard to jump down from anything while not being able to lift your arms nor have enough distance to firmly plant your feet for the dismount. Before I even got to the podium, I heard Matt’s attorney telling the judge that I needed a harsher penalty because I was clearly crazy. I guess the DA and Harry B had decided that I should be released and attend an anger management class, but Matt’s attorney didn’t agree. The Judge didn’t even give her time to finish her sentence. I was to be released. Wahoooo! I’m sure other things were said, but I was too thrilled to care.

Harry B reminded me that being released was a LONG process and I wouldn’t be getting out until the afternoon. As I was being led out of the courtroom, Harry B told me to call when I was released and we’d figure out the next steps. I tried to wave goodbye, which, with my limited range of motion reminded me that I only had the capabilities of a T-Rex. I was put in a tiny holding cell with the naughty light rail rider. All we had was a toilet/water fountain/sink thingy and each others’ company.

As we were held there for two more hours, she told me her woes. She explained that she had a young son at home and she didn’t know how he would get home from school. My heart broke for that little boy as she pounded on the door and yelled things about her civil rights. Her pleas fell on the deaf ears of the guard sitting outside our cell, and eventually, she gave up her tirade. And then, she apologized as she dropped her blue trousers and fouled our way-too-close-for-comfort surroundings.

All the mental humming of the “Don’t You Dare Freak Out” song was not making this day go any faster, but at least there was some light peering through that little sliver of window, reminding me that soon I would be free.

It couldn’t come soon enough.

State of Colorado v. Sarah Brewer IV

*For those of you new to the story please don’t fret, I’m not currently in jail. This happened two years ago. Please go back and read the other parts to get caught up. 🙂

When I last left off, visions of A-Rape-A-Hoe was dancing in my head. It was around midnight and shortly after a guard opened the heavy cell door and shouted out “BREWER” at the top of her lungs. There were only four of us in the cell and three of them were sleeping, or, at least, they had been sleeping. One shot up off the bench and swore at the guard for being too effing noisy. My head shrunk into my neck as I tried to sink below everyone’s radar. The guard motioned for me to follow her. I looked around to collect my belongings only to realize that I had nothing to collect.

I followed the guard through at least five doors. Each buzzer she pressed allowed a massive door to close behind me, obscuring me further and further from freedom. Each new cell held a more stale and stagnant odor, confirming my dread that I was, indeed, moving further away from the world. Then we came upon the “pod” where I would be spending the night. The door slid open and she ushered me in to my new housing. It was very unromantic. No one handing me the jingling new keys to my dream home, no groom carrying me over the threshold. Just me, shuffling in my ACJ issued shower shoes that many other people had worn before me, terrified of what was waiting around the next corner.

The communal room was completely devoid of activity at that late hour. All the ladies were squirreled away behind numbered doors that outlined the room. I noted one TV mounted high above the tables and I briefly wondered how the remote was shared, or if there was a vote on what we got to watch, or if it was court mandated. It made me rethink all the bitching I had done about not having a DVR at home. And there was a clock! Oh, Praise God! How beautiful it was, ticking away the seconds. I got a bit misty as if I was being reunited with an old friend. Anyway, the guard took me through one last door, which revealed my good friend from the holding cell, Shona, and a woman named Cricket. I assumed this to be a nickname, but I could be wrong. They were both standing up in the tiny cell, waiting for mattress pads to be delivered.

The cell had bunk beds that towered three high, with the space between each bed just enough to afford the comforts of a standard coffin. I think even Houdini would have suffered from claustrophobia given these conditions. The top bunk featured a wafer thin sliver of window but the triple-paned glass was lined with what looked like a miniature version of chicken wire. Even if someone could break it open, there was no way that even the tiniest XS jail size could shimmy through to freedom. But, it was a slice of light in what seemed to be the darkest place in the world. I wanted that top bunk but wasn’t willing to speak up for it. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit, right? Plus, I didn’t think this was the environment for debating.

We couldn’t lay down because there were no mats yet and the bed frames were thin, metal slats. So, we just stood there staring at each other. I decided to take the tour, which consisted of me spinning around on one foot for .5 seconds. I noted a small desk that held three buckets of toiletries: a roll of toilet paper, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a small bar of soap, a towel, and one change of undergarments and socks. One was marked “S” (for Cricket) and two were marked “L” (for me and Shona). Apparently, if you can’t remember your issued Inmate Number (which I did have memorized for about a year and then finally allowed my mind to let it go) you can just identify yourself as your jail size. Anyway, between the tiny desk and the tower of beds, there were three hooks to hang your towel (or another inmate) and then a tiny metal toilet/sink contraption. (At least I only had to share with two other women!) And that’s the extent of the cell. Oh wait. The fluorescent light bar that sputtered on and off enough to induce a mild seizure, which Never. Turned. Off.

Just then, the door slid open and a guard threw in one mat. We all looked at each other and Shona picked it up and handed it to me. “Crawl up, sister.” As I climbed to the top, I thanked Heaven for allowing me to have the highest bunk, pleased that I would smack my head on the ceiling instead of a cold, metal bar when I shot up during the night having a guaranteed nightmare.

I laid the thin, blue mat down over the metal slats and pulled the itchy wool blanket over my standard issue blue jumpsuit. Size L. I thought about changing but then remembered there was nothing to change into and NO WAY was I going to sleep in my standard issue skivvies.

I estimated that it was 1:30 am (our cell door didn’t face the wall that held the clock in the communal room.) I rolled over to face the wall, started mentally humming my “Don’t You Dare Freak Out” song, and rocked gently. A couple of tears escaped to pool on the hard, cold plastic mat as I listened to Cricket and Shona complain – over the buzz of the fluorescent strobe – about not having mats yet. And then, I think I fell asleep.

“Good morning, Ladies!” The eerily chipper announcement crackled over the loudspeaker that was piped into our cell. My eyes squeezed tight in an effort to forbid the shocking proclamation from entering my delicate ear canal. I remembered immediately where I was and recalled that there was limited air space between me and the ceiling. I slithered to the bottom of my mat, aiming for the rungs so I could dismount as gracefully as possible. The doors of all the cells automatically opened at the same time and I considered scooting to the back of the cell to allow my cellmates to exit first. I didn’t want to seem too eager to meet those I was co-habitating with. Shona and Cricket remained on their bunks so I had no choice but to exit first. Besides, I wanted to know what time it was.

I ignored the stir of other inmates beginning to congregate in the communal room and looked up at the clock. Imagine my shock to realize it was five thirty. AM!!! Why on earth would they wake us up at five-effing-thirty-in-the-morning?! Apparently, I said this out loud, which garnered an “AMEN” from one of my “colleagues.” I had drawn attention to myself without meaning to, so I kept walking across the room like I had a purpose. I didn’t know where I was going but I just kept walking. An inmate on the other side of the room held her towel and was pressing a button on the wall, yelling at someone to bring her an effing razor. Apparently, you had to ask for such dangerous articles, but that meant a guard would bring one in to you and stand there watching as you used it, taking it away as soon as you had completed your task. I spun on my heels to retreat to my cell. Once inside, I quickly gathered my toiletry bucket and ran like hell to get to the shower before razor girl and the guard had a chance to spoil my solitude.

There was no hot or cold settings. Just a timer. I was starting to understand why The Institutionalized were such experts with using swear words. As I stood under the sputter of alternating icy and scalding water, I used a tiny bar of Super 8 Motel soap to wash off some of the jail grime. I’m sure my face was twisted in a grimace as I dodged the dingy, green plastic shower curtain that kept threatening to flutter into my personal space. So help me God, if that material makes contact with my person, I was going to scream.

The towel was not much bigger than a wash cloth, but I tried as hard as I could to wrap my long, luxurious hair up in the swatch of worn terry cloth. I swear I heard my hair emanating tearful moans of having to exist without my standard Aveda Rosemary Mint. And when my hair met the flimsy black comb that had to navigate the jungle of unconditioned tangles, I shed my own tears. This had been the most unfulfilling shower EVER. I pouted on the trek back to my cell despite the the tight pull of my un-moisturized skin as I frowned. I maintained my scowl as I glanced at the clock, depressed that only four minutes had passed. The foul-mouthed inmate was still yelling into the intercom for someone to bring her an effing razor.

I noticed that someone had left a brochure of Standard Jail Procedures with my last name printed in block letters along the top. I picked it up and crawled back to safety, noting that the sliver of window still only showed black. I flipped open the brochure and started reading rules that I never thought I’d be exposed to, a list of consequences that would occur if I broke any of those rules, and the time off I would earn if I didn’t break any of those rules. I laid there, feeling completely defeated. I started to hum my “Don’t You Dare Freak Out” song as my thoughts turned to so desperately wanting my mommy. Too bad she had passed away seven months earlier. Her timing really sucked.

“BREWER!” A guard yelled into my cell, making my cellmates jump awake. Luckily, no one smacked their heads as the shock wore off and they groaned at her inconsiderate use of volume. I craned my neck to the side to make her aware that I heard her – but I was trying to not smack my own head. She let me know that I needed to be ready in 30 minutes to go to the courtroom. I told her that I’d be ready. The crackling loudspeaker alerted us to the fact that breakfast was being served. The three of us shuffled out to see trays holding something that resembled oatmeal (which I never eat) and a choice of coffee (which I detest) or tea. My look of disdain must have sent a silent signal to Skinny Angel, who magically appeared beside me and asked her standard question: “You gonna eat that?” I slid my tray over to her and shuffled back to my cell to get ready to head to court.

It was 6:30 am.