I watched my co-defendants waiting patiently for their bail paperwork. You could feel their excitement and relief. As for me, the Marshals marched me right back to the holding cells. The older Marshal said "Tough break Christie" - the only words exchanged. As they put me back in the cell the same older Marshal told me he would try to speed things up. I just nodded feeling a little overwhelmed.
A lot of things were running through my mind and I was analyzing the scenario. Clearly I was a target here. On the docket was an unresolved crime from 2007 that hadn’t received much previous attention -- the botched firebombing of two tattoo shops. Oh how I fantasized about telling the Magistrate "Your Honor, it’s obvious I wasn't involved, the job was sloppy and the buildings are still standing!!" I laughed aloud as I gave that thought a moment's play then quickly swept it out of my head. There was no room for humor here. I needed to get mentally organized and manage my thoughts carefully. As a leader you need order then you need vision. My vision was freedom. I could see it but I was still a long way from feeling it.
Footsteps against the cement floor brought me out of my daydream. Not the same rhythm as before, this was a young stride, fast and light in movement. “Christie! Attorney visit!” echoed off the walls. The young Marshal now escorting me was in his prime -- fit, funny and full of conversation. “Your buddies are just about out of here. Maybe your attorney has some good news. Is this one of those million dollar Beverly Hills Attorneys?” I just laughed as we approached the cluster of small glass cubicles. My laugh empty as the many small glass boxes divided by a sheet of clear plexiglas, a phone on either side. I asked the Marshall how long I had. “All night if you want” he replied. One last laugh and he was on his way.
I was now locked in a transparent square--waiting. Waiting is one thing you better get used to quickly in jail. Time is no longer yours. You have absolutely no dominion or control of your physical presence. If you let this affect you and your command of your senses you will quickly find yourself in a downward black spiral from which many never recover.
More footsteps. This time the sounds were street dress shoes. I could hear the leather soles scraping ever so lightly against the cement. It sounded like an old, tired soft shoe dance routine. It was my court-appointed Lawyer. He looked like he was on the far side of seventy. I wondered how many more miles this old warrior had left in him.
I always use a formula I have developed to evaluate attorneys -- for myself or for my clients -- this gentleman was getting high marks. As we moved the conversation forward it drifted into the very limited details about my charges that we had at that point in time. He identified the first collaborator by name and we, for security reasons, tagged him Informant # 1. Sure I knew him, a former member who had been forced to resign under pressure. “Were we close?” was his next question. He pressed on “Do we need to concern ourselves with possible taped conversations?” “Close? No, not by any means” I assured him. "In fact" I told him "I had warned the entire chapter to stand down when the subject of tattoo shops had come up on more than one occasion." He diligently took notes and within the hour his yellow legal pad was filled with fragmented sentences connected by circles and arrows only he would be able to decipher. The time had breezed by and as he looked at his weathered Timex I knew it was time for him go.
He had passed my initial evaluation and I would soon find out he had plenty more miles in him. Together with my daughter, Moriya, they would wage a war against the most powerful government in the world. This was no million dollar attorney but the legal team they put together would have made any million dollar attorney proud. For the next three years we went after the indictment like a Navy Seal team on a search and destroy mission.
Within minutes I was once again being escorted by two very sturdy looking U.S. Marshals as we wound our way through unfamiliar halls that would lead me to my final destination -- the main housing unit for all prisoners. The steel door echoed, metal on metal, as it rolled open. A sound quickly familiar and one you never want to get used to. They marched me to the end of the line -- the SHU (Segregated Housing Unit), more famously known to the outside world as solitary confinement.
If there is a hell on this earth it’s certainly the SHU. I protested this was an unnecessary measure. The Marshals said “Orders are orders but we will tell the Lieutenant you want to be moved to general population.” The door rolled open and I entered. I didn't bother to turn around. I stood in silence as I heard the steel wheels start rolling and waited for the deep clang of metal as the door locks hooked... the sound bouncing off the walls of my inner sanctum. Keys banged against the rectangular door slot and with a quick twist it opened with just enough room for a food tray or for hands cuffed from behind to be squeezed through. “You know the drill Christie” yelled one of the guards. I stooped down to me knees and shoved my hands through the slot, all in one smooth motion. As I presented my wrists to have my cuffs removed I grimly noted my muscle memory was still in place from my last 12 month stint in an SHU unit.
Anyone that's ever had to wear a set of cuffs for an extended length of time knows this feeling. For those of you who have never had this experience, let me take you there. When the cuffs are placed on your wrists you pray they set the double locks. If they don’t, the steel circles continue to close in diameter as you fidget and shift your wrists in an effort to get the steel off your wrist bones. The more you try to manipulate your hands to find comfort, the deeper into the skin they cut. It becomes a real exercise in both mental and physical discipline to keep your hands and wrist stationary. In the end, double locked or not, the cuffs cut deeply into your skin preventing blood flow. Eventually your hands go numb.
The cuffs were removed and I dropped my hands to my sides to return blood flow as I opened and closed both hands in rapid movement -- bringing them back to life. At first they burned as the blood returned. Then the white circles, the imprints of the jaws of the cuffs, began to disappear and feeling began to return to my now free hands.
I turned to protest one last time “I belong in general population”. The Marshall responded it was up to the Lieutenant. As they began to walk away, one of the guards looked back over his shoulder and said “You should have been here last week Christie! You just missed Whitey Bulger”.