(Dedicated in loving Memory of my friend Dean 1963-2018, sorry brother that you had to experience shit like this)
Insomnia. Ain’t it a bitch. But this is when I am at my most creative. The magazine I started is taking off and issue 2 is about to go to press but I need a draw. The opioid crisis is out of control; and I wish there was something more I could give to my readers, something raw.
Sigh. Back to Facebook. I come across this guy named John. He is a self described opioid vigilante. He lost his his daughter to an overdose and is now on a mission to save other young people from their demons. He is a bit of a character.
John & I start talking and he finds out I am a journalist. John wants to put his point in the spotlight, he asks me if I own a video camera and if I would be interested in tagging along on his next mission and film the whole experience; he’s thinking millions of hits on YouTube and I am thinking I got my scoop.
John tells me to meet him in the parking lot of Lowe’s. I question why he can’t just pick me up at my joint but I figure fuck it, I’m down with it. I head out the door with my video camera and head to Lowe’s and wait.
It’s late. Real late. I am starting to doubt my decision and consider leaving but the magazine needs this. Just then an SUV littered in Gun Toting, Gun Rights Stickers with tinted windows pulls up beside me. The window rolls down, “You Dean ?”
“Yeah, we doin’ this ?”, I say.
John asks me if I would be willing to drive. He’s never really navigated through NYC. I say sure not a problem hop in and we’ll be on our way. John says, “No I mean can you drive my SUV ?”. Uh I guess so. This guy is definitely an attention seeker. ” Don’t you think it would be better to take my car instead, you can infiltrate easier ?” John insists we take his SUV.
I never knew this decision would be the worst I would ever make. John gets out and I get in. There is a young woman in the back seat. “Hi, I’m Kim. I am a counselor. I know the girl were going to save.”, she says. “Dean, I’m here to document this whole experience.”, I say.
John tells me that Kim has some marijuana to help ease the girl off the heroin that she is on. Ok, I figure this woman knows what she is doing, they have both done these rescue missions together in the past. Off we go. As Kim and John talk I realize like me, she and him just met tonight. There is a slight knot in the pit of my stomach, but I continue to drive because I need this story.
John shows Kim his loaded 45. We are driving thru Jersey and headed towards the Holland Tunnel. Just then sirens are heard and we are asked to pull over. Both John & Kim seem panicked. “Hide the fucking weed!”, John Yells at Kim and “Sit on my weapon bro.”
“Don’t you have a permit, what the fuck ? You sit on it !”, I yell.
He shoves the gun behind me with his hand on the trigger. The cop heads up to us with caution. I roll down the window. The cop tells me he pulled me over because of a crack in the wind shield. He asks me to get out of the SUV. All I keep thinking is fuck, I’m a fucking Patsy.
What did I get myself into ?
The Cop see’s the loaded 45 and orders everyone out and on the ground. I try to tell the cop, that I’m a journalist, that it’s not my truck and definitely not my gun. He calls for back up and the truck is searched. John didn’t just have that 45. He had an arsenal of loaded weapons & body armor, where as Kim didn’t have prescription weed it was a street quality dime bag.
This is bad. Real Bad.
Trapped in this damn cell with this fucking psycho who used me. As if my insomnia wasn’t already in high gear there is no way in hell I am getting ANY sleep now.
Incompetent lawyers, family & friends telling me the the “press” is painting me in a bad way; And all I was doing was chasing a story. And here I am now, the oldest of the HOLLAND TUNNEL THREE, the one who should’ve known better. I should’ve insisted we take my car or no deal. Had I had sleep, I may have had better judgement. I should’ve been aware of everything in that SUV.
But, I wasn’t. I was used. And I might be in here for the rest of my life.
My family & friends rallied behind my innocence and convinced a better lawyer to set up a plea deal for me. Kim & I testified against John and he is serving time. Our sentences were converted to time served.
Free at last. Obviously the opioid issue of the magazine will go to press as is. I feel I need to give more with my life. A higher calling. Prior to this incident I was heavily involved with helping the homeless, while starting the magazine and making a name for myself as an award winning freelance graphic designer. After prison, I was tainted; I lost my clients, my dog died of a broken heart and I really felt like my bad decision let everyone down.
Especially my elderly parents who I live with, that I have been taking care of. My girlfriend, Jesus, even my dog. I find myself calling family and friends and begging for forgiveness for all of my wrong doings.
I call Matt, he was close to my younger sister growing up. He and I met at her funeral. Over the last 9 years we’ve become very close thanks to Facebook. I even asked Matt to sculpt me a Hello Kitty for my upcoming birthday. A true friend, wrote me the entire time I was incarcerated, never doubting my innocence.
Still tainted, forever guilty. Internet Trolls have a field day with me, what’s the point of living anymore ?
I call Matt and leave this message: I love you. I am so sorry for all those times when we were younger and I bullied you. It was wrong. I want to hug you brother, I want to kiss the ground you walk on. Thanks for everything, I mean it. EVERYTHING.
Then I swallowed a handful.
Happy deathday to me, 17 days shy of my 55th birthday…