Quote of the Day:
“Most loathsome events become humorous tales with the passage of time.” –Jimmy Buffett, from “Tales From Margaritaville”
From the archives….
Six foot two, one hundred and twenty pounds, a permanent sneer, pale skinned, hair hanging down closer to his ass than his ears and one helluva beer drinker. Greekson had taken it easy for some reason that night, for reasons I’ve long since forgotten. Probably had a six-pack or so, just to have something to occupy his nervous hands while he waited on his opponent to shoot and miss so he could get back to sticking all the solids in those gently sloping, nearly worn cloth pockets that characterized the particular billiards room we frequented in those days. He was also the finest automobile operator I have ever known. Smily and me, we were drinkin’ a lot harder, so naturally, Greekson volunteered to drive. “I’m fine. Y’all get in.”
So we did. And fifteen minutes later we all saw the dizzying blue lights in the distance, the tell-tale signs of a roadblock. “Turn off Greekson,” we implored. There was a twenty minute detour we still had time to make to avoid the trouble ahead. “I’m fine,” said Greekson. “Y’all just sit still and shut up. And put those beers down.” And he was fine, least he was by our standards. But the law, well, the law sees things its own way. They took his skinny ass to jail. The cop just shrugged when I said, “you really want ME to drive the rest of the way?” They were getting their numbers, that’s all that really mattered.
Greekson had never been to jail before, not even the drunk tank. He wasn’t drunk either, so he was fully mindful of his predicament as he handed over his shoes and belt and looked over his shoulder at the half-dozen new roommates he was about to meet. There was one cot. Upon it lay a very large man, with tattoos and muscles and scars. He was holding his package with one hand, beneath his orange jumpsuit and snoring loudly. A couple of benches lined the walls but there was no room for him so Greekson sat off to the corner in the only space available, on the floor, right next to the toilet. It smelled bad. He tried not to see it. He sized everyone up and knew there was damn little he’d be able to accomplish among them, but Greekson was a philosophical sort, so he just stared blankly but alertly around the room and considered the folly of volunteering the good deed of driving us all, now several hours ago, and wondered what we were doing.
We were still drinking and toasting Greekson’s loyalty and working on these two girls we knew and trying to find out how to get Greekson out of the drunk tank as soon as possible because that was no place for him and scrounging up the hard cash to bail him out from all our friends at five a.m. ten bucks at a time.
His thoughts were interrupted when a tray of fried bologna and egg sandwiches were shoved through a slot in the door and everybody grabbed one. Except for Greekson. He had no appetite. And the big guy. He was still snoring.
By and by the next biggest dude in the room, an athletic black guy with an unkempt, out of style afro and a probable attitude problem (if looks were any indication) got up and shuffled toward Greekson. Or maybe the toilet. In the moment, Greekson couldn’t be sure. Either way, it was not a positive development. He stood over Greekson and looked down at him menacingly. Greekson just cut his eyes upward, defiantly, inquiringly. The dude turned his head toward the man on the cot. “He gonna wake up soon.” There was a pause while that probability sunk in. “You with him, or us?”
Greekson looked over at the scars and the tattoos and the muscles, then straight ahead and then back at the inquisitor. “I’m with y’all man.” What else could he say? He would later tell us there was a part of him curious if he’d have stood by that pledge if it came down to it.
“You gonna eat yo’ bologna?”
“Nah, man, its yours.”
An hour later or so, Smily and I stepped carefully over the threshold of the Starkville jail and triumphantly slammed down our hundred and eighty-five bucks, mostly in fives and ones, with about a dozen quarters. Greekson could hear us from the tank, but he showed no emotion or any other sign of recognition to his cellmates. Our slightly overloud, partially slurred demands that he be released immediately to our custody reached his ears and in spite of himself he had a little hope that the night would soon be over. At the very least he stood to pick up a little company. Then he heard the steel grating on steel and allowed his natural sneer to replace the blank stare as the jailer motioned for him to leave.
The big man began to stir with the commotion and Greekson noted the nervous looks of the remaining allies as he strutted out the door. “So long, suckers.” He flipped the hair away from his eyes and nodded crisply at the forlorn prisoners in his wake. He took one look at us when he emerged from the back and said “I’ll drive” and nothing else until he woke up many hours later and we admired the rising sun together and I wondered idly how we’d find beer money for the next week or two.
Johnny Cash, telling about and singing “Starkville City Jail”