“Chic, what the hell are we gonna do? Do you really think all of this is real? Am I going to get out?” He just kisses me on the top of my forehead as usual when I am worrying. He always says that “We will figure something out” and we always do. He keeps giving me words of encouragement and reminding me of who I am and who I was and that these people don’t know who they have started a fight with. Tears just keep rolling down my cheeks. I can’t get them to stop. I just let them flow. I feel like I have been to hell and back and may be going back to hell again if this shit doesn’t work out.
I feel bad about the way I think I smell and I don’t want Chico hugging me or kissing me. I feel nasty. I rubber mat on a linoleum floor will do that to you. The sounds of that awful toilet flushing, the clicks of the high heel shoes, the rattling of the blood pressure machine, the beep after scanning everybody’s bracelet, the meal cart, Daniel throwing trays against the wall, Lieutenant speaking in tongues, the smell, Maria wailing, Felonius screaming and cussing, food that tastes like shit and lingers in the back of your throat, Ghetto popping gum, Prisoner looking at you and masturbating, the Jenga blocks falling on the prison table, Deborah’s big ass laughing, John rustling his books and newspapers, Carol picking up and slamming the phone on the wall trying to call someone over and over again, and Susan wailing over the death of her parents.
These sounds and visions are forever embedded into my head and the more I think about them the more I feel dizzy, weak, and nauseous. I am starting to sweat and I feel shaky. My heart is pounding. My breathing is fast. My hands are clammy. I think I hear Chico say my name. I am really not sure where we are right now. Is this a dream? Then I fade to black.
Sofia runs back into her office only to find me holding onto Jacinta. Cint has literally passed out or fainted. I am sure that she was having one of her panic attacks and I am asking Sofia if she can get me some help. Sofia calls out to one of the nurse’s and asks if they can also get Dr. Sunni. As I am trying to wipe the sweat from Jacinta’s brow, Sofia says “They approved her Baker Act Probation”. I am so focused on Jacinta being passed out that I don’t even realize that she is even talking to me. Louder, she says “Chico, they approved Jacinta’s Baker Act Probation”. I’m stuck. Somewhat in disbelief myself. I am holding Jacinta and now I am excited. I really don’t know what the next steps are, but I think that what Sofia is telling me is the news that we needed. “Wake up baby! Your probation got approved! Cint, wake up baby!”. I am interrupted by Dr. Sunni and her smelling salt. Jacinta jumps up and is more than confused. “Congratulations, Mrs. Daniel, your Baker Act Probation has been approved. You can go home this evening if you can get off of this floor.” Jacinta is still rattled and confused. The nurse gives her a shot, which I have no idea what kind of medicine that she is giving her. I look at the nurse questionably and she says that it is a small dose of Adavan to calm her down. At this point I am physically lifted Jacinta up into a chair. I explain to her again of what is going on. She is slowly coming around, but that shot kind of has her groggy.
Before I can let this opportunity get away with me, I am all in Sofia’s face asking about next steps. She says that we both have to sign documents confirming that we understand the terms and conditions of Jacinta being on Baker Act Probation. Probation does not mean that she is “free” to do anything outside of what has been approved by a Baker Act Court. In Jacinta’s case, she is allowed to do the following:
1.) Confined to home or approved housing from 10 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. (They aren’t putting a bracelet on her, because she is not high risk, but they may well have done so because they are treating her like she committed a crime. )
2.) She will be assigned a state Baker Act Appointed Psychiatrist. This means that she will have to attend every single appointment, unless a court or clerk deem otherwise of her presence and/ or whereabouts.
3.) She will be drug tested weekly. No illegal substances, non- prescribed medication, or alcohol can be consumed during Baker Act Probation.
4.) She will have to report to a Mental Health facility 7 days a week from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., unless otherwise stated by the court/ clerk assigned to this case.
5.) She will be assigned a state appointed Baker Act Social worker and must attend a minimum 1 appointment a week or as needed by the order of the court.
6.) While on Baker Act Probation, she is not allowed to use a motored vehicle if her prescribed medications are Class C and would inhibit her ability to operate that motor vehicle without harming herself or others.
7.) She is not allowed to leave the state of Florida with the understanding that she is still a ward of the state and will continue to be a ward of the state until a Baker Act Trial has deemed her fit to be a citizen of the state.
Ain’t this some shit!
I nod my head yes to everything, everyone in the room is saying. I am agreeing to everything. I am doing it more so because Chico is agreeing and nodding his head as well. If this is what gets me out of this shit hole so be. Sofia sets out to gather all of the signatures that are needed from the Social Worker, who I never saw in the first place. I only met the crazy bitch that asked me a thousand questions that she never believed any of my answers. I am told by Sofia to get any of my personal belongings in the meantime. This makes me feel somewhat awkward. Nothing in the “Doom Room” is private or personal. Everyone notices everything about everything and anyone. After all of this shit that I have been through, I am actually nervous about leaving Sofia’s office and collecting my things to leave. Most people would have been taking the stairs two at a time to get the hell out of there and believe me, my head is saying “run like hell”. My heart is saying “take everyone with you”. I know that this is not a possibility. I know that I have to do what’s best for Jacinta and I will have to leave without saying goodbye.
I am not sure which mental facility that they plan to assign me. It could easily be back here at the “Doom Room”, but since I have been here I haven’t seen anyone come and go as if they are on some special probation. This is going to be the last time that I see this place and I know it. My heart is pumping back up again and my courage comes back to me. Chico is on the phone with Nicole letting her know that I am being released. At this point, I just need for them to let me go through the matrix. I run to my rubber mat. I am trying to see what little I have there and it hits me that I never want to see or touch these clothes or brush or anything that is lying there. I take the snacks that I have been hiding and I put them on Felonious’ mat. Everyone is still in Group, but they are everywhere but there and my feelings of guilt are awful. I feel like I am abandoning them. This is a trigger for me.
If you know me personally, you must know my heart first. I wear it on my sleeve and it has been through every battle that you could possibly imagine. It is openly taken advantage of and I allow it. Most say that this is something absolutely stupid on my part. I beg to differ. I do believe that the “Doom Room” has been one of the worst things that has ever happened to me, but it is not the number one thing that has cut my soul. I know what it is like to be abandoned. I know what it is like to lose someone. I know what it is like to love and not be loved back. I know how it feels to be pulled along and given false hopes. I know what it is like to lay every thing down on the table an still no one believes a word that you are saying. I know that holidays are the worst. You should truly only celebrate your birthday and really you should be the only one to do it. I know what it is like to be alone. I know how it feels to wait on someone who has never shown up and never will. One thing I can say about the group of people that I have met here, is that despite our dire conditions, both in our reality and in our minds, God still opens our eyes every day. This alone tells me that there is a purpose to that person’s life. There is a testimony or an adversity that allows God to use you in a way that you can never imagine. So if I had to go to the “Doom Room” to understand what God has truly planned for me, then so be it. I am still living and he is still opening my eyes every day.
Chico interrupts my thoughts with asking me to sign some paperwork that Sofia has given us. There are “discharge papers” that give me specific instructions as to what I am to do next. I have already been given an appointment to see a state appointed Baker Act Psychiatrist in the morning at 9:00 a.m. in Riverview. Once I leave that appointment I am to report to a state mental health facility in Brandon, which is not far from my home address. I have to call a local number in the by morning no later than 6:30 a.m. to provide my status and my whereabouts. My guardian must also attest to confirm my statement. Additional instructions will be provided to me at the mental facility in Brandon where I will be every day from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. until my Baker Act hearing has cleared me to become a citizen and not a ward of the state anymore.
The cool thing about being me is that I handle business. As I am sitting in the lobby waiting on Chico and Jacinta, I am on the move. I have already gotten my itinerary confirmed to a flight back to D.C. tonight. I also have Jacinta’s purse. Why oh why am I so clever. In addition to Jacinta being Ace, I am also a trustee to her estate. I am liaison to the world. I know all of her business and even some business that absolutely no one else would ever know about. Having said this, I am already on the phone to Well’s Fargo. “Hi, My name is Jacinta Daniel and I currently issued a Cashier’s check. I would like to place a stop payment on the check as I will no longer be needing any of those funds. How soon can this be processed and when will the funds be allocated for my use again into my account.” They go through the hoops of what is my date of birth, PIN number, social security number, etc. Standard procedure. Once I have provided this nice lady at the bank all of this confirmed information, she has indicated that everything has been processed and I should see at least half of the funds in my account within the next 90 minutes. The additional funds will be available on the following business day. I thank her kindly. Next! “Yes, Attorney Fernandez, it is Nicole Binion. I am afraid that your actions weren’t as swift as Chico and myself would have expected. We are no longer in need of your services, so there has been a stop payment placed on the cashier’s check that you currently have in possession.” He starts to cut in and describes the efforts that he has done so far and the favor he had to call in, blah… blah… blah. “Look Sweetie!, we all have favors that are owed to us. This shouldn’t be a problem for you. I am sure you have many more where that came from. But for your inconvenience and time, you can forward me to your billing department and I will be glad to offer a stipend in an amount that I think is fair for the small amount of time that we did take from your day. I will hold.” And with that, I was off to billing and paying this woman in his office $100. So much for that shit.
I finish signing the papers and I hug Sofia. I apologize for my hygiene, but I really need her to know just how much I appreciate all that she and Dr. Sunni has done. I ask if I could use her office and some paper for a few seconds. She allows it while she and Chico talk about what he may have to expect going further. I sit at Sofia’s desk and I write a note to the “Doom Room”. I wanted them to know that we will all be better and God is using all of us as a vessel. I will never forget them and they are always in my prayers. I cry as I write this. The crazy reason is because I was able to write something on my own in pen and not crayon.
Chico and I quickly walk through the “Doom Room” and I feel like I am on a Paparazzi run. I do not want any of them to see me leave without me having said anything. I’d asked Sofia if she would mind reading my note to them in the next group and she of course agreed. I get to the matrix and I still don’t feel “Scott Free”. The officer looks at the paperwork that Chico has passed to him. He gives us a slight “good luck” smile and unlocks the elevator for us to go to the lobby. I am scared as hell and for some reason, I feel as though I am in the middle of escaping prison. Technically I am, believe me when I tell you this.
Well, well, well… Stick girl, what are we going to do with you. I run to Nicole, but I stop myself because again she is pregnant and I am filthy. She tells me a line from the “Color Purple, ‘me and you must never part!” We laugh and Chico tells us to get the hell up out of there. Nicole speaks up and says that she has a car waiting for her outside. “Chico has it from here. YOU ARE OK. YOU WILL BE OK. I need you to know that. Chico, I have a courier coming to your house to pick up my things. He will bring my items to the airport to meet my flight. I love you and I will call you in a short.” She kisses the both of us and she walks away. I hate when she does that and I start crying all over again. I hate to see the people that l love leave me. She doesn’t look back and partly because she is crying too. It’s a thing between the two of us that always happens. I am sure that this is why she has a car waiting, plus she is Nicole Binion, why wouldn’t she have a car waiting.
Chico and I hurry to the car. For the first time in days, I am smelling the air of the outdoors. There is a hint of salt in the air from the Gulf. Chico is treating me like I am glass vase. He seems to be overwhelmingly nervous himself. I can tell that he doesn’t really know what to say or do next. He just wants to make me come alive and smile. I know that that he is tired of the tears. So whatever he can do to make that go away, the world is my oyster and he is right here to make me know it. “Babe, I know you must be starving, what do you want to eat? I will take you anywhere you want. Just name it.” I am sitting there thinking to myself that I smell so bad and I look so bad that I want no one to see me. I mean no one. In the most serious voice I can muster at that moment I say one word…..”Penske”. “Huh, baby what’s a Penske, what are you talking about?” “Chico it is almost 6:00 p.m. I need you to take me to the closest Penske and rent me the biggest moving van they have on the lot and I want you to back all of our shit and I want to go HOME!” Chico is somewhat caught off guard and I am sure his head is spinning trying to figure out what the hell I am talking about. I repeat to him that I want him to rent a Penske truck, pack all of our shit, and take me home. “Cint, you know you have to report into the Psychiatrist in the morning, we are not all the way out of this mess.” I look him dead in his face and I tell him… “PENSKE!”
I sit in the car, while Chico is inside Penske signing a rental truck agreement. Florida….. you can kiss my ass.