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The Time I Got Thrown Into A Utah Prison By Mormons, Pt. 2

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The Time I Got Thrown Into A Utah Prison By Mormons, Pt. 2

In case you missed Part 1, check it out here.

Friday April 13, 2007 2:00 p.m.

I have been in the state of Utah for a total of 16 hours now, and I have no idea where the fuck I’m going. I press my face against the window and watch the highway race past for almost a half-hour. Finally, we arrive. It’s funny, I can remember almost every single detail of this story but I have no idea what that prison looked like, probably because I only saw the outside of it for about 25 seconds.

Now, you’re asking yourself, “Prison? Why would you go right to state prison for a simple fake ID rap. Normally you’d go to county jail. I don’t believe you, John. You’re a liar and you have a big head.” And I agree with you, my head is gigantic, but I’m not a liar. I found out why I was there shortly after getting out of the squad car.

I’m handed a sheet of paper as I enter. I scan the list of my charges. Apparently, having a fake ID in the state of Utah is a class C felony and is considered possession of a FUCKING FORGED FEDERAL DOCUMENT. A forged federal document sounds like some Jason Bourne shit. Do you know what you’re charged with if you’re caught with a fake ID in Chicago? A cold walk back to your apartment with no booze.

On top of the felony, they slapped me with a misdemeanor for a “minor in possession of alcohol.” I guess that’s the part where I took the booze off of the shelf and brought it to the cashier. My bail was set at three grand. As an 18-year-old who spent the last of his dough on the brilliant plan to visit Utah for spring break, I probably had 200 bucks to my name.

They strip search me and document everything I have. They took everything except my shirt and pants. I got my thumbprints and finally, just to make it all that more real, my mugshot. When the bulb flashed and the shot was captured, I was laughing ear to ear and holding two thumbs way the fuck up.

Friday April 13, 2007 3:00 p.m.

Dial tone. I try again. My dad has to be in his office. It’s like noon back home. If anybody could help me, it was my father, who’s an attorney.

“Excuse me, um…guard?”

He looks up from his newspaper. “What?”

“I can’t dial out to get hold of my dad.”

“Do you think I care?” Wow how stereotypical that the prison guard is a hardass.

“No. It’s just… I’m in a lot of trouble, and he’s a lawyer in Chicago…”

Elmer fucking Fudd starts to laugh. “Well, good luck trying to dial any out of state numbers on that phone. It only reaches in-state land lines.”

He’s the only one laughing. The only person I know in the whole freaking state has an Illinois cell number. A dense fog starts to swirl in my head and I sat down on the cold metal bench. I was literally and figuratively trapped.

Friday April 13, 2007 6:00 p.m.

I poked at a cold potato with my plastic fork. Prison food is exactly what you’d expect.

“Hickey, you’re free to go!”

My heart leapt into my throat as I sprang from my bench. I didn’t know how, but Bryan had done it. The guard who had been such a dick to me earlier handed me a bag with my jacket, shoes, and belt. Two armed men led me down a long hallway into a release cell. Picture something out of StarWars: a room with big metal doors that rose out of the ground. One led from the prison to the room, and the other led from the room to freedom. All I had to do was sign papers — papers that said I wasn’t abused in prison. I was allowed my phone call and my belongings were returned to me. I felt like I was floating as I walked into that cell. A couple swooshes of my pen and I was a ghost.

I went to the glass window and I could see Bryan at the end of a long hallway. I waved excitedly, he waved back, I signed my name, I turned to walk out and suddenly I heard an alarm. Red lights started flashing and the door behind me opens. The same guards grab me from behind and throw me back into the hallway.

“WHAT THE FUCK?!? YO WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?” I scream. They smash my nose against the wall as they begin to strip search me again.

“BRYAN! BRYAN, JESUS CHRIST, DO SOMETHING!” My nose starts to bleed. They cuff my hands together again and drag me flailing and kicking down the long hallway.

Boom. Back in the holding cell. A half dozen familiar faces stare me up and down. I race to the bars. “Somebody better tell me what’s going on right now!” I snarl at the guard. My heart is pinballing in my chest as I rattle the bars like a deranged lunatic and scream at the guard again. He finally answers calmly, “Your friend’s gone. He’s not coming back. He left.”

How can that be? They were letting me out. I was steps away…

“You have three more hours until we’re closed for the night, kid. Oh, and it’s a holiday weekend. Your friend can’t come back to get you until Tuesday morning.”

I slump to the ground, my adrenaline slowly being replaced by a painful drowning sensation. Four nights. Four nights in Utah state prison. I glance down the hallway towards the cellblocks. Everyone is wearing blue slippers and orange jumpsuits. My head goes foggy over the things that could happen to me in there. I curl up into a tiny ball on the floor, close my eyes, and wish/pray/beg/hope that I can be taken anywhere else in the world. An hour goes by. And another. I close my eyes until there’s only a sliver of light left in my vision. As the seconds dwindle away, the sliver slowly gets smaller and smaller as that hope slowly dwindles to nothing.

To be continued…

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JR Hickey

Stand up comedian and writer from Chicago who now resides on the West Coast. Has written for the Chicago Tribune, performed at Zanies Comedy Clubs in Chicago, Cobbs Comedy Club in SF and last year was a part of SF Sketchfest 2015.

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