T. Kid's spirit animal is a jailbird. Image via.
Maintaining a high school weed habit was a hassle exemplified by run-ins with the police. Serious crimes rarely sparked these interactions in the suburbs. Instead, these events came about because suburban cops had few crimes to entertain them. In retrospect, I believe the officers pursuing us were as thrilled by the chase as we were—some nights, police officers would collar a couple of guys, scare them, make fun of them for getting scared, and then let them go. But this merry game of cat and mouse turned dark one summer when cops found a dime bag on the Fourth of July.
Common sense said not to keep drugs in your wallet, but I didn't listen to common sense when I was 16. To my defense, I wasn’t expecting my stealth to be tested on that particular Fourth of July—considering everyone is out on July 4 and local police are busy keeping the peace, I assumed the cops would pay less attention to the purple-haired kids they targeted on every other night. The trouble started when my friends and I gathered in the parking lot of a diner, a frequent hangout spot we had just eaten at, when two cop cars pulled into the parking lot and blocked cars from entering or leaving the lot. Four cops descended on us, asked us for IDs, and then searched our pockets. When they began the round, I gave my friend Kev a terrified look. (Kev was two years older than me and was like a big brother; he drove me when I was without a car and blazed me out when I ran out of weed.) Kev had picked me up that day, which is why I knew he had a few pills of ecstasy in his shoe. The next few minutes played out exactly as I had feared. When it was my turn to be searched, one of the cops looked between the singles in my wallet and pulled out a tiny bag of what he called “hooch.” The other cops came over like excited kids looking at a dead squirrel—two of them might have high-fived. They cuffed me and sat me down on the curb. After a good laugh, one of the cops turned to the rest of the kids and said, “Alright! Shoes off. Trunks open.” For a brief moment, I saw Kev contemplate bolting, and perhaps he should have fled the scene. After finding the pills in his shoe, the cops cuffed Kev and sat him next to me. After they discovered that none of the other kids had brought party favors, they let them go and harassed Kev and me until the sun went down. Right when the fireworks started lighting up the sky around us, a cop uncuffed me and then waved the bag at me. “I know you’re Indian or whatever,” he said. “I bet your parents would be pretty pissed off if you got arrested—like even more than normal parents. I’ll let you go this time, but your friend is fucked.” As I walked away from the scene of the heinous investigation, I had no idea that I had only begun to bring Kev bad luck that summer.
A couple of weeks later, a group of us were drinking and smoking blunts at the seventh green of a local golf course. Kev was absent. Following his arrest, he vowed never to do his dirt outdoors, and he called us stupid for smoking outside. He was right. The golf course was a pretty secure spot, but we managed to blow it up that night by making too much noise. A friend who was parking in the clubhouse lot tipped us about the cops. As their flashlight beams bounced over a hill on the sixth hole, we slung away our beers and slipped into the woods. Our disposal of the contraband must have enraged the cops, because we heard them yelling behind us. The woods got thicker, and eventually we jumped into a shallow stream and trudged through it like prison escapees. When we finally emerged from the woods, we were near our friend Hall’s house. Kev stood on Hall's porch shaking his head. “Should have kept it inside, dudes,” he said as we chuckled and walked past him into the house. Kev stayed out for a smoke, and in that time, the cops rolled up. There were only a few possible culprits in the vicinity, and these cops had found the motherlode of them sitting in one place. They hassled Hall at his backdoor for a while, but they had no evidence and no reason to search his house. They left infuriated, and just as the last one was stepping off the porch, he turned to Kev and said, “You smell like alcohol.” As we let out sighs of relief inside, cops hauled Kev away for underage drinking.
Kev didn’t think things could get much worse that summer, but they did. A month later, he was picking me up from my place when he told me he was going to allow himself a little leeway that weekend. He asked if I wanted to join him. There was some kind of outdoor rave going on in a park a couple of towns over, and Kev offered me a ride there plus an ecstasy pill. I had never tried ecstasy before, but I accepted his offer. My memory of the experience consists of three snapshots: a candy raver with pink UFOs saying, “Yeah man, exactly,” in a valley girl accent; an Asian kid with suspiciously thick sideburns laughing obnoxiously; and a shirtless redneck holding a 30 pack of beer saying, “Bet a beer will help.”
That's about it. However, I remember the drive back quite vividly. We had to turn through the high school to get back to Kev’s house, and as we were passing through, the brights went on behind us. By this time, being in Kev’s car was a crime as far as the local cops were concerned. They yanked us out and searched us, tore apart the car, and found nothing but a pacifier I had stuffed under the shotgun seat. The cops told us that this paraphernalia was grounds for a deeper search of our persons—a worrisome precedent for all local babies. They finally turned up a single pill in a baggie pinned to the inside of Kev’s boxers. They cuffed him and hauled him away as he nonchalantly told me, “Just park my car at Hall’s house, I’ll grab it in the morning.” By now, getting booked was a familiar routine.
The piled up charges ended up costing Kev an arm and a leg, but he managed to squeak through without any jail time. We later recounted how I had been involved every time he was arrested, and he chalked it up to mere coincidence. Once a cop caught Kev, there was no way to tell what that particular cop would do based on his mood or level of boredom. Kev managed to get on their bad side once, and from then on, there was a target on his back. Still, I couldn’t help but think that I brought Kev a wave of bad luck that ruined his summer and brought him dangerously close to deep shit, while I always managed to get away. This belief was only counteracted weeks later by my own arrest, which actually managed to save him. That’s a shit show I’ll tell you about another Sunday.