Julie Stalmer 8:30 a.m., March 23
- Community Blog
One Night in Las Colinas
Fred wouldn’t leave the house and my divorce lawyer advised me to remain there and get along with him. Funny, if I could get along with him maybe we could’ve stayed married. It was night, around 9:30 or 10 pm. The girls were both in bed. Fred and I were arguing or fighting about something. I can’t remember these kinds of things. I used to get so frustrated and I did that night, I flew at him and scratched him on his left shoulder. He was so happy when I did that; I guess that was his purpose all along. He had a tiny red mark and he gloated, “That’s it! I’m calling 911! That’s domestic violence!” He called, and the sheriff's deputy showed up at the door. He gleefully showed off his little scratch and the deputy took me into custody. I learned later for domestic violence calls, they generally remove one of the parties from the house. I guess it was my turn to be removed. I was frightened. I was so scared it affected my stomach, and I ended up with terrible gas. It smelled horrible. I was in the back of the squad car and the officer had to open the window it was so foul. He took me down to the Lemon Grove Sheriff’s Station and put me in a holding cell so that he could process me for transfer to Las Colinas, the San Diego County Jail for Women. I had diarrhea so dreadful and kept having to use the bathroom. It was embarrassing. They assigned a female deputy to me and I kept apologizing for having to use the toilet, because she had to unlock me from the cell and escort me down the hall, and stand guard outside while I stunk up their bathroom. I guess taking me to the toilet was easier than cleaning up whatever mess I would’ve made if they hadn’t allowed me to use it. I’m sure they joked about me for days afterward. Fortunately by the time they finished the processing paperwork and transferred me to the county I was done with the diarrhea. They brought me in and placed me in a holding cell with a few other women. One of them was blitzed out of her mind and her breast was hanging out of her shirt. The other women were laughing at her, kind of pushing her around. I went over to her and helped her onto the bench, and adjusted her shirt so she was covered up. Her tormentors figured I was one of those do-gooders and left us alone. Next to the payphone mounted on the wall was an announcement “Collect Calls Only.” Underneath was a sign with the phone number for Bail Bondsmen and the statement “We accept Collect Calls.” I called collect. The Bail Bondsman answered. “I’d like to bail myself out of jail,” I told the voice. “How are you going to do that?” “Well, can I use my credit card?” “Do you have a credit card? Didn’t the deputies take it from you?” “Yes, they did, but I have the number memorized. I guess all that online ordering paid off.” “I guess it did. This is the first time in seventeen years that someone who called me has their credit card memorized. What’s the number?” I recited the number, the expiration date and even the three-digit code from the back of the card. The bondsman said he’d start the paperwork and have me out in a few hours. I looked at the clock, which was placed high up on the wall in a cell of its own--covered with wire to protect it from flying debris. It was after midnight. With any luck, I could arrive home before the girls woke up. I waited on the bench as the women in the room were called out one by one for processing by the deputies. Finally it was my turn. A deputy led me down the hall to the fingerprinting machine, then had me stand facing front and sideways to be photographed for my mugshot. I told the deputy I had already called the bail bondsman so they wouldn’t have to process me all the way in to the jail, because they were just going to process me back out shortly. First she verified my story with a phone call to the bondsman and then she placed me in the room where they processed people out of the jail. The room was small, no bigger than my bedroom at home. A small room off to one side served double duty as the bathroom and the changing room. Inmates were issued their street clothes in a personal property bag, then they went into the bathroom to change into them. The dirty jail clothing was piled in a heap in the corner of the bathroom. There were a couple other women in this holding room. The older one looked exactly like the old hag witch from the Snow White fairy tale. Her straight stringy gray hair fell to her shoulders. Her crooked nose protruded from her wrinkled gaunt face, proclaiming ownership and prominence. One yellowed buck tooth leaned out of her mouth and rested carelessly on her lower lip. The other woman was a younger version of the older one. Her hair was brown, she sported less wrinkles and a few more teeth were visible but otherwise she was a carbon copy. To pass the time I inquired as to the reason for their presence in our auspicious surroundings. Turns out the younger one was the daughter. Apparently they had been living in an old car which they somehow got running so they decided to take it for a drive. Naturally it had no documentation so when they got pulled over the officers took them into custody. They had been guests of the county for a few days while law enforcement sought a reason to hold them. After meeting them I would've bet the jail officials encouraged the judicial system to release them. Their clothes were below thrift-store quality. Their bodies emanated a certain stench which soap cannot eradicate. The women actually cackled, and their conversation was nearly unintelligible. I had to ask the same question a number of times just to discern the above information. The daughter paced around the holding room like a terrier chasing its tail until her mother screeched at her to settle down. Then the younger woman entered the bathroom, scooped the dirty laundry into her arms and brought the foul mess out into the corner of our cell. She made a nest out of the nastiness and lay down in the middle of it like a dog. The mom eased back on the bench and began to snore. I found a spot on another bench as far away from the odor of these women as I could get in this confined space. Eventually one of the deputies came over to check on us. Now these deputies have seen everything. Imagine dealing with the problems and mistakes made by the dregs of society on a daily basis. It was a thankless job, fraught with risks of unpredictable behavior by the citizens in custody. Their emotions were usually kept in check. But this deputy had a look of utter contempt for my cellmates. "What the hell?" she yelled at the younger woman, who remained prone on the bed of dirty laundry. The deputy tapped on the plexiglass window to get her attention. "Get up offa there! Ewww!" The woman stirred and raised her head from her nest. "Huh?" The deputy banged on the plastic again, harder this time, and the woman left her bed and lay down on the bench next to her mother, snuggling her head in the old woman's lap. The deputy strode away shaking her head, muttering "Nasty!" under her breath. A short time later the deputy returned with a jail inmate, obviously a trustee. The door was unlocked and the trustee, wearing gloves, entered our cell with a large duffel bag. I think she was holding her breath as she gathered the discarded laundry and stuffed it into the bag. No words were spoken as the laundry, the trustee and the deputy abandoned us to our fate. Hours passed. I must have dozed off because I awoke with a start when another deputy opened the door and summoned me out to the hallway. The women snored quietly on the bench. I was ushered to the door which led to freedom and handed a manila envelope containing my wallet and credit cards. The deputy led me to the exit and shrugged her shoulders when I inquired how I was supposed to get home. She indicated a payphone attached to the brick wall of the building. I made my way over to it and noticed a sign below the phone: Yellow Cab. We accept collect calls. I called and made certain that the cab driver would stop at an ATM so I could procure sufficient funds for my cab fare back to my residence. The sun was rising in the eastern sky as I headed for home. When I entered through the front door, Fred was in the kitchen preparing his breakfast before work. His eyes got bigger when he saw me. I checked down the hall to make sure the girls were still asleep, then headed back to the kitchen. "Sit down, Fred, we have to talk."