I have no idea what’s on my mix tapes (other than kick ass music, of coarse!) because I have so many. I’d like to know what songs are about to play, but I never keep ‘track’. I’m saving up for a killer Pioneer boom box so I can make more tapes (it was so much easier using Adrian’s huge record collection and top-of-the-line equipment! But that’s no longer an option.) The boom-box I have my eye on is huge, and state of the art. Everyone knows that when it comes to portable music- the bigger the better, right? It’s the wave of the future! We listen to the studio version of ‘Diamonds and Rust’, and in case I forgot to mention it, Darla is also a self-proclaimed singer with a bellowing voice, and since they already had had an epic power struggle over the seats, Finn and Darla stage a frightening sing-off. Thank God for the power booster is all I can say!
I get on 1-95 and head north towards Bridgeport. The highway is an ink black ribbon, slick and wet, hulking snowdrifts on both sides,boxing us in as the mid-afternoon sun shines in a cloudless blue sky. Finn pulls a crumpled piece of paper from his jeans pocket, where he’s written out directions to the jail. “Man- you owe me for this one!” I laugh, and Darla rubs her hands together in anticipation. “I can’t wait to see Christian!” she swoons.
“I’m sure he can’t wait to be let out of prison only to run into you!” Finn says to her, laughing.
“Prison?” I say, “I thought it was ‘just’ a jail? And by the way- what’s the freakin’ difference, anyway?”
“You’re not even going in, so who cares?” says Darla, leaning over to grab the lighter, as it pops out of the dash. Quite the statement to make as you get set to break the law. She’s about to light the half a joint she brought along. I crack my window an inch, as well as hers, and warn her not to get the smoke near me. The last thing I need is to be high and paranoid as I roll into a prison parking lot!
“Hey! Gimme some!” croaks Finn, reaching his open hand over the back of our seats in Darla’s direction.
Darla looks back at him, rolling her eyes. “I shouldn’t……..but I will.” she says, surrendering the joint. Finn grabs it and takes it to the back, stretching out across the bench seat. “Dam right you will!” he says. Were these two brother and sister in a past life?
A few minutes later we get to the Bridgeport exit we’re looking for, and since Darla and Finn are both in a stoner haze, listening to AC/DC’s “Touch Too Much’, I have to turn it way down and yell “Which way? Which way?!” and they both jump. Finn unfurls his crinkled ball of directions, and starts to read: “Go left up here. Follow all the way until you see a park, then go left…….” Of coarse, we pass the park and have to turn back in heavy traffic, but we get there eventually, and pull into the parking lot. It’s almost three o’clock, so we just idle in a parking space and stare at the big brick building. We don’t see anybody coming out. I tell Finn to go inside and make sure that we’re in the right place and verify that people really are going to get released. I have this ‘double-check’ disorder-even if I follow orders precisely, there’s always a chance for a change in plans. Maybe the jail is on lock-down? I’d seen that once on ‘Scared Straight’. Finn sighs, and as he’s getting out of the car (with Darla squished up against the glove compartment, eyes popping, face twisted) he says: “Remember: you need to get in the back, Miss Missy!” and then lets the seat fly back into position with a bang. Darla falls back, sighing.
“Wait! Wait” I yell to Finn. He leans over Darla like she isn’t there and asks, “Whaaat?”.
“You don’t have any warrants do you?” I say, laughing. For a second I see him look up and space,eyebrows furrowed as though scanning his brain. Then he snaps to it. “Don’t think so!” he says,seriously considering it and heads across the parking lot.
“He’s a little bitch!” says Darla, as soon as Finn is out of hearing range.
“Oh, c’mon- that’s harsh!” I say.
“He’s so bossy. You know- he bogarted most of that joint!” she huffs.
Suddenly, there’s a loud knock on my window. It startles both of us, and it doesn’t help to see a billy club, gun holster, and the deep blue of a cops uniform, framed in the window. I open the window partially, and hope the car doesn’t reek of marijuana. A cop, who fits the ‘Officer O’Leary’ description (fifties, buzz cut, out of shape) says: “You can’t park here. See the sign?” I look over and see a sign with ten different blocks of time and various arrows. It would be like reading the fine print on my telephone bill.
“Oh, okay.” I say. “But where can I park?” The cop points across the snowy lot. It’s very vague, but I pull out of the parking space and hope for the best. We settle in about twenty spaces down. I back in very carefully,careful to avoid snow drifts and the cars on either side of me. The Caddy is a beast, and it’s more like docking a boat. But I maneuver in, then sigh as if I’ve climbed Everest.
“Cops are so annoying!” observes Darla.
“Doe!” I say, eyes wide, head wobbling. No shit, Sherlock.
I reach over and crank the volume on “Nobody’s Fault’ by Aerosmith, to Darla’s delight. But we’re barely underway with our amazingly realistic air-guitar moves when there’s another bang on my window. Good God! It scares me to death. It’s O’Malley. Again. (Where did he come from? How did we not see him? Did he scale the snow-drift? Crawl under the car next to us? For a pudgy man, this guy moves like a cat!)
“You can’t park here, either!” he says impatiently.
“I thought you were pointing to down here.” I say. “I’m just waiting for someone who will be right out-”
“Well, you can’t stay here. Why don’t you just drive slowly around the lot until they get outside? It’s a big circle” He makes a circle in the air with his finger, his breath coming out of his mouth and nostrils like a dragon.
”Oooo-kay!” I say, smacking my lips together in a straight line and shaking my head back and forth. Personally I think it’s much safer for everyone if I stay idling in a parking space rather than skating around the lot in a giant battle-axe, but whatever! I pull out carefully, and head to the right. We circle around several times, until Darla yells: “Right there! Stop! They’re coming out!” I’ve already overshot the front door by quite a bit, but I stop the car, and let them walk to it. This parking lot deal is irritating the crap out of me. Darla jumps out and I hear her screaming ‘Christian! Christian!” A minute later she opens the passenger door, and the famous jailbird Christian slides into the back, saying ‘Hey!’. I’m fiddling with my tape deck and just say ‘Whatup’ without looking up. Darla barrels into the backseat, and Finn hops into the front, smiling.
“We ready?” I ask. “Finally?” Yes’s all around. I crank up the tunes, some vintage Deep Purple ‘Burn’- and were heading out towards the highway. We got nothin’ to lose at all.
We drive back through Bridgeport, and after a couple of minutes I decide to see what’s doin’ with Mr. Christian. At the next light I adjust the mirror subtly, and suddenly I’m looking at a stone-cold freakin’ fox! Dark blonde hair past his shoulders and sparkling baby blue eyes. Arresting! (no pun intended) Darla’s yapping something back there, and he smiles: I swear I hear Angels. Beautiful straight teeth, he’s gorgeous! As ’Man On The Silver Mountain’ begins, he starts nodding his head with the beat. Come down with fire…lift my spirit higher…..day-am!! Finn might not even have to pay for our import cassettes- this one’s on me. Then: a skirmish! Finn jerks the steering wheel, bringing me back to earth. “Whoaaah! he yells.I almost ran straight into a snowbank! My heart beats a mile a minute, partly because I’m scared, partly because I’m also relieved, but mostly because of the vision in the back seat that almost caused me to wreck my car!