“You still playing in a church band?”
“Naw, man,” my pal “G” responded, “I go to jail on the weekends now.”
“Just on the weekends, huh?”
I’d be lying if I said that I ever expected G to spend a night in jail. I met him about six years ago when I assumed the role of quasi-musical director and lead guitarist (save your guffaws, please) in a church band near the Honda plant in Bellefontaine, OH. (Pronounced “Bell-fountain” by the locals.) He was a devoted Christian, serious about it, not much interested in loose women or high speed or any of the things that fire my middle-aged imagination in the dead of night. A few years ago, he went into the Army but obtained a compassionate discharge halfway through his term of service so he could come home and look after his invalid grandparents in their single-wide trailer.
G doesn’t swear, he doesn’t brag, he doesn’t lie. He works hard at two part-time factory jobs now, making paper plates and cups for slightly better than minimum wage and assembling some minor trim piece for a Honda supplier. He helps his sister look after her kids so she can do factory work as well. He had a girlfriend for a while, an older single mom from the run-down old neighborhoods up in the hills, but he called time on it for reasons he won’t divulge.
How does a guy like that end up in jail? Someone with no larceny in his heart, someone who doesn’t backtalk cops or do burnouts or ride up on a bicycle and attempt a citizen’s arrest on a double-parked police officer — Hi, Ronnie! I was never going to figure it out, so I just flat out asked him.
Well, you see, G had a roommate in his trailer for a while. And the roommate had a girlfriend. And one day, G comes home and finds the roommate beating the girlfriend. Like, really whipping her ass. So my gentle little pal proceeds to throw down on the roommate. Black eyes. Dropped him like a sack of bricks.
Do we have time for a community-created parody Magic:The Gathering Card? Yes we do.
Now, in a perfect world, G’s roommate would have run sulking off and the roommate’s girlfriend would have wrapped her arms around G and taken him to bed, right? But you know what happened…
…of course you do…
…the bitch called the po-lice on G. And gave testimony against him. And G’s grandparents had to bail him out. And he went in front of the judge and admitted to everything without so much as benefit of counsel. The judge convicted him of simple misdemeanor assault and gave him the proverbial thirty days in the hole.
Insofar as there are like six people depending on G at all times, however, the judge said that he could do the sentence over fifteen weekends. Friday night to Sunday night in the county slammer. Turn yourself in, get processed into your tan jumpsuit. Most workhouses nowadays they leave the TV on until 4am. Keeps the brothers from getting violent. In jail, you sleep from two or three in the morning till noonish, unless you want the breakfast, which trust me, you don’t.
Where G is, it’s mostly drunk rednecks doing their time the same way he’s doing it. So you don’t have to be on edge all the time. But there’s nothing to do except stare at the ceiling and plan the hot shower you’ll take when you get out. This will be G’s fourth weekend of fifteen. So he should be done with this come the beginning of July.
“So what happened to the roommate and the girl?” I asked.
“Oh. I sold the trailer. Living with my sister now. But I’m going to buy a house soon. Got my eye on a good one. $72,000. It’s a stretch. But we could kinda consolidate the family a bit, which would be nice. And the girl… well, you know, she’s still with him. I know,” he says, waving his hand at me, “it was stupid. But it’s who I am. You can’t hurt a woman in front of me. I’d do it again. You would too.”
“The fuck I would,” was my immediate response. “And you’d better not, either. You have a whole family depending on you. What’s more important: looking after your grandparents or sticking your nose in some trailer-trash slut’s emotional roller-coaster ride?” G thought about it for a few seconds, then for a few more.
“Well,” he said, “you still gotta do what’s right. That’s not a choice you really have. Not a choice you really get.” It put me in mind of Corinthians: Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. It’s nice to be able to admire somebody once in a while. That’s his gift to me, although he knows it not. I sent him home with a loaner guitar and amp for his Sunday nights after they process him out.
In the unlikely event that I have any female readers who are not ex-girlfriends of mine, I’m going to make a general appeal to that segment of my readership. One of you has to be willing to give G a shot. He’s a nice guy. Not flashy. He won’t excite your sense of drama, won’t get you to that unique female state of mind known as “mad enough to fight or screw depending on the spirit of the next three seconds.” But he’s a dependable fellow. Likes to work hard. He can wire a house and pour a foundation and replace piston rings and play church music as long as there are no chords more complex than Am7. If this sounds like your kind of guy, drop me a note. Take your time. He’s gonna be busy for the next few Friday nights.