Thoughts From A Birmingham Drunk Tank

sasinfrank Issue: Section:

the last time she was in here, she remembers, they served tuna fish sandwiches. and they were good.

this is the same tank, she confirms. same white spot up on the ceiling where a smoke alarm or something had been. the paint is a brighter color than anything else in the room. same drain in the middle at the bottom of the slope. it's missing one of its teeth.

i bet that fat bitch is missing a couple of teeth too, she thinks, eyeing the large woman with the torn top nearest to her. she examines the other three women in the room.

why all these hoes wearing stretch pants? every goddamn one of them. none of them looks as fine as me in them, she assures herself.

i am wearing stretch pants right now, she notes.

that dumbass cop at the desk, the one with the chins and the keys. i know i know him. we did something together. high school? one of ricky's friends i made out with? god i hope not.


that has got to be it. was he the one with the camaro that he never got painted? or the one who called her some star trek name all the time? the one who threw up on the drink station one winter.

i think i only worked one winter at Wendy's.

if i worked a winter.

did i work a winter?

or was that Hardee's?

and what the fuck, barbara? i got you the fucking job. and you fucking stab me right in the back. they offer you assistant manager and you didn't say, "nuh uh,  it wouldn't be fair to the people who has worked here longer." you didn't say that, did you, bitch?

and they fucking go. BAR bara. BABAR-a. i haven't worked in six weeks, i hope you know. and i knew that inventory better than any of you morons. i probably had the highest sells of all the floor people, even garret, the faggot with the nose ring. i knew that shit backwards and frontwords and inside out. some lady buys pants, you make sure she gets a belt, too. it's fucking common sense, people. "oh that looks so good on YEW! you should get another in taupe..." bet you didn't even know what taupe was before i got you the job, BABAR-a.

i prolly taught taupe to you.


is that fat bitch staring at me?

and what about my one call? i may not be book smart, but i know my rights. this is unexceptional in every sense of the word. i don't have to stand for this.
i should get a lawyer. he could make big dollars on a case like this. police neglect and all. probably take the case for free, knowing it will pay off. here's your swimming pool.

she stands and raps the safety glass in the door with her knuckles.

no one outside the holding tank acknowledges her.

she can see the cop with the chins and the keys.

looks like he's playing on his phone. if i had my phone, i'd be videotaping this for my case. bullshit.

she raps again, louder.
"hey Wendy's! hey i see you! Wendy's! Wendy's! WendyWendyWendy's! come over here motherfucker! you didn't give me no phone call! i know i get one phone call! you are in denial of my civil rights! wait till my lawyer gets ahold of you, motherfuckin Wendy's motherfucker!"

"that's right. that got your attention."

the officer is at the door.

"please stop hitting the glass, ma'am," he says and returns to his desk.

now she wails on the glass with both fists.


he is at the door again. his voice is muffled, but he can be clearly understood.

"or we will subdue you."

"i didn't get no phone call, Wendy's!"

"yes, you did."

"then who the fuck did i call, mr. know it all Wendy's motherfucker?"

"i'm not certain, ma'am. i can look at the record and tell you the number. see if you recognize it."

he turns toward his desk and the memory flits across the front of her brain.

i called donnie, didn't i? 

damnit. why? worthless piece of shit. he didn't give a shit. he was just growling at his loser friends not to touch the damn stereo. probably too high to remember that i am in fucking jail. hello? jail. why did i call him, of all people?


and i just broke up with him. he's probably high as fuck and laughing his ass off. asshole. i was only going over there to get the rest of my stuff. really. that was it. i wasn't even going to get high. just be like, "nope. strictly business." kick him when he's down. that would show him he ain't got me to kick around any more for real.

the officer returns and reads off ten digits.

"can i get a do-over, officer?"

"no, ma'am."

what are you looking at, you fat bitch? 

i'm going to sit right here next to you, just to piss you off. think you're all bad and shit. fat bitch ain't got no bra on. and who does your hair, girl? stevie wonder?

how is my hair anyway? i wasn't ready when they did the mug shot. good, i got it pulled back.

black people love their pit bulls. i bet i could get Angel bred with a killer from here. sell the pups, then i could hire a lawyer. why didn't i call my dad again? he was cool last time, really.

and how did ricky get to be such a fuck-up? i mean, we're good people. i mean, our parents were. are. we wasn't raised by wolves or nothing. dad and mom worked. work. we weren't rich, but we never went without.

i should visit ricky more. he's going to be old and crooked by the time he gets out.

ricky said the fool had it coming. i don't think so. i think it was just that mile wide mean streak of ricky's.

that's a terrible thing to say about your brother. i should be ashamed.

he broke mom's heart.

and i ain't lying.

"you got a dog?" she asks the woman with the torn blouse.

damn, she got a lazy eye, too. a mess.

"yes, i do," the woman drawls after a moment.

"male or female?"

"he's my little stud, Arthur is."

"is he tough?"

"meaner'n shit, if you get round his food bowl." the woman chuckles.

"you ever think about studding him out, this Arthur? my Angel has papers. we could sell the pups. i'm good at selling. leave that part to me."

"ha ha ha, honey you don't need to be in no drunk tank. you need to have a Psych Eval!"

the other women laugh with her.

wait, do they all know each other? are they all together? what the fuck?

"i mean, i would have to check Arthur out, of course, before. but Angel's got papers. pedigree pit bull terrier... from english blood."

"honey, that sounds good. but i don't know if Arthur could get it up into your Angel."

"why? what's wrong with him?"

"sweetie, Arthur ain't no bigger than a minute. he's a little guy. a rescue. maybe pom. and maybe shi tzu, maybe five pounds. and maybe tasmanian devil, i don't know!"

the other ladies cackle.


"and he's fixed. like yours should be. too many dogs out there ain't got homes already, sweetie. don't need no more."

don't you tell me what to do with my dog, bitch. i love animals. all animals.

always have. i was the one when ricky brought them frogs home from school and put them in that aquarium, i was the one who yelled at him for shooting them with a squirt gun full of rubbing alcohol. little bastards just shriveled up. i was the one that took that aquarium and dumped it into the sewer drain. set them free. that was me. animal rights activity, there, bitch. and what did you do? you cut your friend's balls off.

my angel is my best friend. i don't know what i would do without her.
i certainly wouldn't let no vet do surgery on her.

even dog girls deserve some, too!

am i right?!


hell, the guy didn't even do anything. i was trying to get his dick out of his pants. he was pushing my hands down. making out in the bathroom like middle school kids.

what is wrong with you, ricky?

that was sweet.

and you had to go and fuck it all up.

you're in a better place, robbie. miss you. RIP.

what does "RIP" stand for, anyway?

Really Is Permanent?

Ride In Paradise?

probably a biker thing. Ride In Paradise, robbie. i hope god gave you the hog you prayed for.

i think that was robbie.

didn't really know him. i think the harley dreamer was matt, actually. the house painter.

well, robbie, Ride In Paradise anyway.

are we going to get tuna fish up in here or what?

oh great, now the big one is doing the little one's hair. gross. is this going to turn into some nasty lesbian prison movie?

yeah, i'm looking at you bitch.

what? you got something to say? your fat lips ain't movin...

the officerwith the chins and the keys opens the door and summons, "Tracey Washington. this way, please."

the woman who was sitting on the bench braiding the smaller woman's hair unfurls the plaits and walks toward the door.

that's right, bitch, i ain't lookin away. matter of fact i'm going to stand up when you pass.

"officer, this here bitch been threatenin me. i want to file a constraining order."

"step back, please, ma'am."

the hair braider scoots swiftly behind the officer and out the door.

"you hear me, Officer Wendy's? i do not have to put up with this abuse. that criminal made terroristic threats to my person. and you are going to let her walk free? she'll probably be waiting with a gun when i get out of here! do you hear me?! do you?!!"

the officer says nothing and backs out the door. he locks it with solemn finality.

"the blood is on YOUR hands, motherfucker!!"

she rushes the door and begins pounding on it with fists, wrists, elbows and shoulders, screaming all the while at top volume, "DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU HEAR ME? DO YOU FUCKING HEAR ME, MOTHERFUCKER? DO YOU? DO YOU HEAR ME?"

the thunder does not subside, so after a few minutes of this tirade, the officer's face reappears in the window.

"ma'am, please stop striking the door."

she backs up one step, then throws herself at the door with redoubled effort. this time she employs every part of her body in the battery: fists, wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, breasts, her chin. this time she is shouting so loudly that her voice cracks every few syllables.


the woman with the torn blouse pulls herself up from the concrete bench and approaches her slowly from the side.

"honey sweetie, this ain't no good. shhh ,now baby. you jus pissin em off, baby. come here. come here..."

she has a hand on her back when the door bursts open.

both women pirohouette together against the wall and bounce back three quick, unsteady baby steps.

they wobble to rest in front of two cops in protective gear.

she sees the taser, so the woman with the torn blouse throws up her hands and says, "now, there ain't no need for all that. she ain't drunk. she needs HELP."

she points to her temple.

her index finger makes a circle.

the cop fires an instant after the woman with the torn blouse throws her companion against the wall. for a split second she is a defensive end coming down hard on an unprotected quarterback.

and then she is twitching and flopping on her back, an unsecured garden hose full of volume.

my god, look at her eyes, the other woman thinks, on her knees above the writhing body's face.

she's looking but she can't see nothin.

i seen this before. the blind squirrel.

fucked up. i was too young to see that shit.

the squirrel staggering up the path in the back yard. aaaww, poor little guy is blind and can't find his tree. he's looking but can't see nothin. first he skitters to the left. then he staggers to the right.

maybe i can help him. catch him and nurse him.

i touch his fur. he coughs and falls over dead, radioactive green shit foaming out of his nose.

then i see ricky.

my own damned brother. he's laughing with that asshole neighbor kid behind the tree.the one with the mole. what was his name?

and he has a jug of antifreeze in his hand. and he's laughing because he baited and poisoned a fucking squirrel.

my own damned brother.

and now this big woman ain't moving and she's coughing.

oh shit.

she is going to die.

can't deal.

must get away.

away away.

away away, no i ain't gonna do your hair.

away away. this is so fucked up.

here here here. don't move don't move.

this is so fucked up.

are those pigs trying to smother her? i should say something.

no, they're cleaning her face.

she's sitting up, thank god.

jesus, it smells like shit in this place.

"Ariel Larson. this way please."

what? is Mr. Wendy's saying my name? oh fuckin jesus, yes get me outta here.


is that?



what is that hat?

you're a fool. a high as hell asshole fool.

be cool. he don't like hugging and stuff. where's my shit?

"what took you so long, asshole?"

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