Finding Peace in the Process



The 'Burbs, Illinois,
January 18
Married father of two girls. Was a writer in a previous life. Drove a truck for 20 years. Trudging the road of happy destiny since 1987.


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 20, 2010 5:27PM

The Courthouse, again

Rate: 47 Flag

        I give her ten for the train so she can go back to jail and she calls next day, hey can you take me up there? I don't ask where she's been and what happened to yesterday's ten.
     I can't take her. I have to go to Cicero, to the halfway house that gave her the boot, the second one in two months. Otherwise they give her clothes to the pawn shop downstairs. The girls in the house get a kick out of seeing their clothes on someone else.
     Someone scoots and two months later comes back to see someone new wearing a sweatshirt she used to own. 
     "Damn! That was my shirt."
     "Mine now." 
     Rose didn't have shoes or clothes the first time I picked her up at the jail, just the paper sandals and scrubs from the hospital. So we've taken her to Target, gotten her outfitted. I don't want to lose the stuff.
     My wife takes her to the jail, while I haul ten Hefty bags full of stuff down from the third floor in Cicero. I get it home and shove it in the crawl space, hoping it can stay there for a long time this time.
     Mom texts me: She won't go in. What do I do?
     Call 911, I respond, thinking it shouldn't take 'em long to get there, parked outside the jail.
     Rose is developing institutional thinking. Might as well get buzzed if you gotta go back in. But she'll have to pee in a cup upon entering the facility. A dirty drop is a violation. This apparently occurs to her after getting buzzed, so it's, I'll go tomorrow, for four days.
     I head north and thirty minutes later see a cop dropping a twenty-five dollar ticket on my wife's car. No sign of anyone else. I half-expected to see swat teams, black helicopters, a bullhorn sqwaking we don't care your father is an asshole. Come out with your hands up.
     I park, feed the meter, knowing a cop circles the block around the jail all day, and see my wife walking toward her car. The Public Defender walked out of the jail and saw them screaming at each other. He talked Rose into going in, promises her he'll get her a court date tomorrow.
     I go to court the next day and bring Elmore Leonard with me, Road Dogs. It continues the story from Out of Sight, in which the bank robber escapes and screws a U.S. Marshal, before she shoots him and sends him back to the slam. George Clooney played the robber in Steven Soderbergh's wonderful film. Jenifer Lopez was the marshal. The sex was nice, but the issue of primacy was at the heart of the story. Over and over, a crook who thought he was in charge turned out not to be in charge.
     Clooney helped a Michael Milken character survive his stretch. Clooney gets out and the Milken guy thinks he'll even up by giving him a job as his chauffeur. Clooney saved his skin in prison and figured he was due a few mill, but his criminal wiles were no match for the security staff of a corporate raider.
     The stories here are just as interesting, I think. Rose's case gets slapped on the docket after a sentencing hearing involving a shooting. Guy breaks into a house and issues a beat-down to someone inside. Another guy who lives there comes into the room and shoots the intruder. The shooter faces serious time. I am sitting in between the two families, who fill forty or more seats in the courtroom. The judge gives the shooter probation if he helps pay the injured party's hospital bills. The shooter could've called the cops, or intervened without a gun, as the assailant was unarmed. But he's never been in trouble with the law. He's the main provider for his family. He owns a business and signs paychecks. The judge says there's no way the community benefits from this guy doing time.
     He then addresses the families, who had been addressing each other throughout the hearing.
     "The families involved really need to think about healing. If you don't, then we'll all be back here next week or next year and maybe someone does have to go to jail. No one wins these things."
     I love the judge. He speaks carefully and personally to everyone who appears before him, but I think he is losing interest in Rose's case. He's given her chances. The State's Attorney and the Public Defender say they'll have an agreement by the end of next week. The PD says she is suffering from panic attacks and he has spoken to the mental health department. They have agreed to keep her for observation until her trial date. The judge shrugs, as does the SA.
     I move from the courtroom to the waiting room at the jail, and finish my book. I like how it ends, these crooks and schemers tripping over each other and by the time the primacy issues are settled, there are a couple of bodies in a walk-in freezer. Chick was gonna have the second body, when it was still walking around, dump the first one in a river, but then the second one flew off a roof and landed splat on the patio.
     The bank robber isn't as tough as the thugs around him, but he's smarter and settles stuff by shifting alliances and playing one off the other better than they play him.
     "Here's how this is gonna play out...." he says to the girl with the gun, then explains why she shouldn't pull the trigger. 
     She's out in a couple of hours. Without her meds. She has to ask for them and never does. So she tells the girl behind the bulletproof glass. The girl calls for the nurse. This will take twenty minutes. I send Rose across the street with a fin for a dog and cheeze fries. I catch the nurse when he comes down.
     "How's she doin'?" he asks.
     "Not good."
     "I didn't think so."
     A slight girl with brown hair pulled up in a bun whisks past us.
     "Hey, Billy."
     "Go get 'em girl."
     She jumps into a '95 Honda Civic with red tape where a tail light used to be. Billy says she used to be worse than Rose. Now she never misses a drop. Works and goes to school. It can happen, Billy tells me. Hang in there.
        A girl at the mental health department interviews Rose, then asks me to join the meeting. They can't take her. Rose is too healthy. She sees a doctor, takes her meds, has been through treatment. The county program is for people off the street. Rose has resources. Rose has me and my insurance card.
     I wondered what the lawyer was thinking, sending her here. I assumed maybe he knew someone and asked for a favor, trying to give Rose a soft landing. Jailhouse detox sucks. I call. He impressed upon me he has to be somewhere very soon but will make a phone call. If it doesn't work, she has to go back in. It's after four o'clock on a Friday. We drive back over to the jail. I want her out of my car. She was batshit yesterday and I don't want another episode.
     She says since no one specifically told her that she has to go back in, she is free to go where she wants for the week, long as she shows up at the next court date.
     "They assumed you would get in the clinic," I say. "But you're still under arrest. You already violated your parole with all the relapses. You bolt now, they'll add an escape charge."
     The lawyer isn't returning calls. Rose says she isn't doing anything without talking to him.
     "Here's how this is gonna play out," I say. "You are going to get out of my car. If you don't, I call 911. You get out of my car, you can do whatever you want, see if you can roust someone to come get you. Up to you.
     "What you ought to do is go back inside and wait for your court date. I think they're gonna kick you loose, let you plead down. From there, you deal with a probation officer. Otherwise, you're in DOC for a couple years at least. Your call."
     She asks if she can have a cigarette first. They don't let you smoke inside. And maybe, while she smokes, a tornado comes by and blows the jail down and she doesn't have to go in. I say no. She goes in.

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Searing, as always, but somehow more painful on Father's Day. You don't deserve this. Neither, for that matter, does she. It's frightening to think how it all might end, and how oblivious she is of the possible outcomes. It's not clear to me that her having resources--family--is a good thing. It makes her think she'll have a soft landing and it burns out the resources. I guess all you can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I'm so sorry you're going through this.
So sad, Jim. So sad. What a post for fathers day...
i hate that this is true, jimmie, because it's just another horrible chapter in the already-awful saga that i hope gets better but ... well, you know how that sentence ends better than i do. and i hate it, too, because when i read it, it feels like just a guy who can write with a mofo and i want it to just go on and on, a whole book's worth, because it's just so damn good. and that's such a contradiction, isn't it? but you know what i mean.
At least she went in. She can still reason. If she can still reason then there is hope. There has to be hope. I'm so sorry, I know how hard this is.
I wish this were a novel.
"a tornado comes by and blows the jail down "--yep, that is the kind of thinking they have. Until that thinking becomes more reality based--well, hell you know; you are living it. Sorry, Jimmy.
Awww, Jim... I thought this was fiction until I read the other two comments. That is hellish. So many parents on OS seem to be dealing with this kind of thing, my heart just breaks for everybody.
I'm so sorry. Happy Father's Day. I'm hoping there are other kids to help celebrate you.
On this day of all days...this is a story that should be read. Because this, too, is what fathers do and go through. And it could NOT be easy to share this with us here. But I am honored that you did. And aching for you, too...

This is about as painful as it gets. I know what a huge heart you have and that your fortitude must be wearing thin. You and your wife must be incredibly strong, however, the outer layer of skin it takes to grow is as painful as the reality under which you are managing through this with your dear daughter. My heart goes out to you both and to Rose.
Always worth the pain of knowing it's truth not fiction, thanks, Jim. You were right to refuse the one-more-cigarette request, and your description of her thinking is absolutely on the mark. It's dreadfully bleak but all too true. Sending you and Rose and your other daughter strength and resolution, rated.
Wow Jimmy. And all I have to worry about are the weeds. You are a terrific father.
"She asks if she can have a cigarette first. They don't let you smoke inside. And maybe, while she smokes, a tornado comes by and blows the jail down and she doesn't have to go in. I say no. She goes in."

Says it all, jimmiemac.
A maze with too many options and dead-ends, denial.
My hugs to you. Residential is wonderful.

Jimmiemac, without fathers like you, the whole world would fall apart.
you are a good dad Jim
Jim, this has so much pain in it...and there but for the grace of God, which isn't fair, I know, but I'm sure I could not be as strong and good as you. Ah, this breaks my heart. If it weren't real life I'd tell you what a hell of a writer you are, but that means jack when you have to deal. You'll stay in my thoughts for a while.
You paint a picture of fathering that no man should have to. But you do it with finesse, love, thought and stellar writing. xoxo jimmymac. I've missed you.
Your intertwining of the true and fiction makes this especially effective, and painful.
So many parents, great parents, doing all the right things, the best things, all they can do things -- and it isn't enough. That's a helluva lesson to get out of life. That your best love isn't enough. And yet, the great parents keep on loving, keep on tough loving, keep on hoping. What else can you do? You're a wonderful dad. My most heartfelt wish for you is that one day she knows it and you believe it.
brutally honest writing about a heartbreaking part of your life. tough love is tough on all involved, but sometimes it is the only way to help those we love. i wish you strength on this path.
this hurts my heart.
Jim- my thoughts and prayers are with you and Rose and your entire family. You are a good father for hanging in there with her - against all odds it seems. Like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others.

Hang in there friend.
jimmymac, all I can say is that I'm listening. Please keep telling your story.
How painful this must have been for you to write. It was searing to read. But thank you for this honest and caring expression of love.
jimmy, you're a masterful writer and you're a wise and loving father. Carry with you Billy's words, and the memory that she went back in. And my prayers.

And I know it sounds absurd, but happy Father's Day.
Like spudman said, I wish this were a novel, not reality. Best of luck to you and your Rose.
Hooked on this frank family drama. Nice weave. No last cig, sister; there comes a day.
oh, Jimmie. I'm sorry. Conniving brilliant fups, are addicts. Kind of laudable, if it weren't so tragic.

Happy day after father's day.
Jimmy, you are always in my thoughts and prayers here.

Sometimes our children can turn into someone we never knew.
Having survived years of tending an abuser, I can only say that sometimes they do return to roots, so to speak. Sometimes they do.
May God bless you and your child.
Jimmymac, good to see/read you again but sorry that the Saga of Rose continues. Don't you just some days want to lay in the grass and just read, dose, dream like we did as a kid? My Tall Girl seems to be getting more stable tho recently she reduced her medication compliance from 95 to 80 percent....just enough to rock the balance. I"ve wondered who this works and this is what I've come up and I'll share it . Deep Six it or keep it. I think age has a lot to do with it. While we *think* our kids have a huge investment in life, in the younger years they really don't. I really believe that my blond blue-eyed girl was invested enough in life that when a helping hand is extended she took it. So hang in there and with each foray into the real world, maybe Rose can clock up some real time experience/investments.
Definitely not a "Disney" Father's Day story.
Rated Highly
Jim may your family get to heal someday. I feel for you and your family.
Crap. I mean that in the most sympathetic and admiring sense of the word.
Hugs, man. Just hugs. Goddamn, you can write. But for now, hugs and prayers.
Christ! (I am turning into my Dad it seems. "Christ" can mean many things in his world...Happy, Sad, Annoyed,Surprised....) This was my favorite post so far (I have been on OS for a week). It resonates with me. I am/was/is a Criminal Defense Attorney who dealt with many indigent clients (we did not have a "public defender", so private attorneys were rotated on a list) and many of them were not bad folks. Many had mental health issues. I would see the families, but they were not the "client" so that side of it really didn't enter into the equation. Thank you for introducing me to the equation. If God ever allows me to return to practice, I shall have more empathy! Great, Raw, Staccato! Could see you waiting around and carrying loads both pysical and emotional! RATED!
Thanks so much to everyone. Please excuse my absence since posting, but I am sad to report the saga continues and I have been unavailable. She went in, got out, and is gone who knows where.
Well, dammit. Just saw your comment. I'm so sorry.

I heard someone say once, "A parent is only as happy as their least happy child." Truer words were never.... well, you know.

I'm sorry.
This was a compelling read. I related more than I wish were possible.
Thank you for being so candid..
"You'll stay in my thoughts for a while." And in mine... R
if only this were fiction: the 'happy ending' would be so easy to manipulate into the plot.

i've been thinking about you all weekend, wondering where rose was; will keep sending light your way. keep breathing, jimmymac.
Aw, Jim. I'm so sorry that this just keeps going on and on. When we bring that little baby home from the hospital, we do not sign up for this stuff. I wish there was something I could do to help. I'm so, so sorry.
Thoughts, wishes and prayers to you. Have you found Rose?
Stim--She called yesterday. She's couch surfing. Says her boyfriend is close to having enough money for an apartment, so we shouldn't worry.
I am so sorry for you and your family. Remember the "slight girl with brown hair." Your daughter can do it. I wish there was more we could do.
Jim: Your update hurts to read. You're doing what you can, which is more than most can say. And your writing just gets sharper. I think -- and hope -- there's some comfort for you in that. And I wish I could be of service somehow.
Superby written; and I'm so sorry that you and your family continue to go through this. You are handling it perfectly, but it doesn't negate the intense heartbreak involved. R
Our own private reality shows leave little room to breathe. Remember what the nurse said however, some do make it out of that hell.