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The Time I Got Thrown Into A Utah Prison, The Conclusion

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The Time I Got Thrown Into A Utah Prison, The Conclusion

In case you missed Parts 1 and 2, check them out here and here.

Friday April 13, 2007 8:00 p.m.

“Hickey, you’re free to go!”

What is this shit? I don’t leap off my bench this time.

“C’mon, get your stuff. We’re closing up shop soon!”

The door buzzes as it swings open. I slowly drag my feet back to the counter. They hand me my bag with my jacket, belt and shoes. “This is a joke right?” I ask. “I’m going to walk down the hall, go into the big release room, start to sign the papers and you’re gonna grab me again? That’s how it works here?”

The guards chuckle as they lead me by the arm. I’m still not buying it. I’m back in the release cell with the papers in front of me and I continue to mouth off. I sign my last signature and stand in front of the door leading to freedom. The whole act disappears when the door leading outside slowly rises to the ceiling.

As my foot crosses the threshold of concrete prison floor to the grass on the other side, it was like somebody hit a spring loaded release in my back. I had been so tense for the past seven hours that the moment I was out of harms way my legs turned to putty. I wobbled and weaved my way to the parking lot, where I witnessed one of the most beautiful sites I’ve ever seen: Bryan, leaning against his silver SUV.

Once the car door slams shut, I break down like a little bitch. Bryan is silent as he awkwardly pats me on the back.

“What the FUCK?!?!” I finally yell. I throw a few punches at the glove compartment. I had honestly never been more scared in my entire life. My breaking point had been reached and all of the confusion, disbelief, and fears of the day were spilling out. I could barely speak.

“Where did you go?” I asked. “Why did you leave?”

Bryan laughed quietly. With a half-hearted smile, he explains. The police officers told him how to get in touch with a bondsman. The bondsman would bail me out as long as Bryan brought 10% of my bail in cash to the prison to release me. Once I was released, I would be due in court one month later.

He explains, “I had to call a few people and borrow the $300, so I had to make a few stops on my way to the prison. Everything was going fine when I got there to bail you out. They said you were waiting for me. I was just making small talk with the lady while I was signing you out…”

My eyes narrow. “So…”

He pauses. “Well, I kinda mentioned that I was going home for the summer in two weeks. And she knew that you were here from Chicago, so I think they realized that neither of us would show up for court in a month. So, she hit the alarms and sent you back in.” He smiles uncomfortably. “Sorry, buddy.”

Dumb dumb dumb. What a dumb motherfucker I have for a friend. Of course he didn’t have the $300. This is a guy who’s so cheap he wouldn’t accelerate his car while driving downhill to conserve gas. He called it “eco-driving.” I called it “wasting everyone’s time.” At this point I couldn’t give a shit. “I thought you left and I was fucking done for,” I mutter as we both begin to laugh.

I still had no idea how Bryan got me out of there after that misfire. Apparently a deal was made with the bondsman, and that was for somebody with a Utah driver’s license to sign a waiver in order to get me out. This waiver stated (in more words or less) that that person was willing to take full responsibility for me, and if I did not show up for court in a month, they would go to county jail for 30 days.

“What? How in the hell did you find somebody willing to do that?” I asked him.

Apparently, it wasn’t easy. He called just about every person he knew from school and vouched for me, saying that I was a good guy who just got mixed up in a bad situation. For those two hours that I sat in the cell, thinking I had been left there, he was standing in the parking lot on his phone telling people I had never met before how good of a guy I was. From each person, he got the Mormon equivalent of “Hell no.” By the second hour, he was desperate. He finally convinced a girl named Rita, a friend of a friend, that his buddy was in a bit of trouble and we just needed a signature, no big deal, yadda yadda.

However, when Bryan arrived at her apartment with the bondsman, she got the whole truth. Yet, she STILL SIGNED. She signed because she trusted Bryan. She signed because she truly believed no harm would come to her. I think she mainly signed because she was Mormon and Mormons are inherently nice people.

I sat back in my seat, stunned. I couldn’t believe that a complete stranger would do something like that for me. On a day when everything had gone wrong, why was this person so good to me? My head began to spin and I felt nauseous. I couldn’t express in words what I felt. Bryan noticed my expression and laughed. “I don’t know either. Fuckin’ Mormons bro.”

Friday April 13, 2007 10:00 p.m.

We climb the stairs to Bryan’s apartment.

“I just want to shower and pretend today never happened.” I mumble.

I open the door and it was like a bomb went off. The apartment was packed with the rest of the student-athletes and their friends. Apparently, because of Bryan driving around to borrow money and calling people to bail me out, I’d developed quite the reputation. I was the long haired kid from Chicago who had just walked out of prison and everyone wanted to meet me.

As I stood there leaning against the counter telling the same story I’m telling right now, mere hours after it happened, somebody handed me a beer. As I cracked it open I turned and looked at the clock. 10 p.m. I had landed in Utah exactly 24 hours ago, the previous night.

Wednesday April 18, 2007 6:00 p.m (my 19th birthday)

My dad pulls up to the train station in the family minivan. I reluctantly hop in.

“Hey dude, happy birthday!” He smiles. “How was Utah? Looks like you didn’t get arrested or anything…”

This actually happened, he actually said that exact sentence.

I sigh and hand him a stack of papers from the Utah court system.

The Aftermath

$6,000 in fines and lawyer fees. (Did I fly out a month later for court? Hell no, a lawyer did in my place. And guess who had to pay for him?)

My license was suspended for three months and I was on probation for twelve. It sure was fun the summer between freshman and sophomore year being a 19-year-old with no car and a mountain of debt to pay down.

I had to take court ordered DUI classes, and the kicker: a court ordered drug abuse counselor. She took one look at me, laughed and signed my paper. Thankfully, she went easier on me than the Mormon court system.

The Lesson

Christ, I don’t know? You’re not invincible, no matter how old you are or where you’re from. You’re probably better off outrunning a portly off-duty cop than trying to talk your way out of a felony in another state. Maybe just don’t be a cocky dumbass 18-year-old flashing a fake ID in the most conservative backwards ass state in the country.

Oh and that invite to a weekend of skiing in Park City? Yeah, I’ll pass.

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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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