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It was the first day of the spring semester of my sophomore year in college. January 25, 2010. It's a date that is etched into my long-term memory as securely as 9/11 and my birthday. J.K. Rowling once said, "Rock bottom became a solid foundation upon which I built my life." I may not have written Harry Potter, but I can relate.
The day went smoothly, all my professors seemed pretty cool and there were some attractive girls in my classes. I can't ask for much more than that. As I was walking home I noticed I had 3 missed calls and a voicemail from my mother telling me to call her ASAP. I gave her a call right away. After the basic hellos, she asked me a question that I never thought I would get that day. "Is there anything that you need to tell me, Mason?" she asked, giving me that classic motherly tone.
"No, I don't think so," I replied quizzically.
"Well, we got a call at home from some Eau Claire detective that wants to talk to you, so are you sure there's nothing you need to tell me?" she asked again.
"Uhhh, no I don't think so. I don't know what they would want. Maybe there was an issue with my underage ticket or something, but I DID pay that," I misleadingly stumbled. My heart began to race with those words, and my stomach dropped a bit. I always felt guilty lying to her, but this wasn't the time for the conversation I had to have with her if the detective was calling for what I thought he was. It looked like the past had finally caught up with me, so I took down the detective's number and began to try and get my story straight before I called.
It all started a little over a year before that. My friend's brother showed me an easy way to make fake ID's and told me after only 2 months of selling them he made $5,000, a number that enthralled me. Before I knew it, I bought the equipment I needed and began to figure out a smart way to set up business. I made more money in 3 weeks of doing this than in my full time job I had the previous summer, but it began to get too stressful. As much as I loved the money, I knew I had to get out. It was only a matter of time before I slipped up and ended up getting caught. I had done well, and it was time to quit while I was ahead. I got all of my equipment out of my room, made sure I had all my memory erased on my computer and phone, and thought I had left the game a winnerâ€¦ until today.
Once I got home after the talk with my mom, I stood on top of my bed and looked over the street from my second story apartment for about fifteen minutes. I don't really know why I did that, but it felt comfortable at the time. It's weird what people do in those times of extreme stress to keep their cool. It was almost like I was convincing myself this was a dream, or that he couldn't have been calling about the ID's considering I stopped almost a year ago. Once I convinced myself I was innocent, I grabbed the phone to make the call. Even after typing the numbers in, I had to fight off some last minute resistance to hit the send button.
"Officer Don Adams," the man answered after I suffered through a couple of rings.
"Hello, this is Mason Adams, my mom told me you were trying to get a hold of me," I said, struggling to sound confident.
"Oh, hey. Yeah, how's it going?" Adams asked. He sounded like he was moving to find somewhere quieter to talk.
"Uhh, I'm alright. Just was wondering if there was an issue or something." I asked.
"Well, yeah, unfortunately there is," he said, as reality started to set back in for me. "Your name came up in an investigation, and we'd like to have you come in and answer a few questions for us."
"What investigation is that," I questioned.
"I can't tell you that at this time," he answered, "because it could put the investigating in jeopardy." I paused for a second to contemplate my response. There was no way I was coming in to get interrogated about a crime that he didn't even tell me about yet. I'm not in the business of snitching on myself. I just had to think of a proper response that wasn't going to make him think I was trying to outsmart him.
"Well, I'm sorry, sir, but if I don't know what I'm being questioned about I don't think I will be going in there," I said, trying to be as nice as I could since I knew he would not like the answer.
"If that's your choice, just know that you can be arrested at any time. Are you willing to take those chances?" he sternly retorted. I could sense an immediate tone change.
"Well, I guess that's what will have to happen then," I responded.
After exchanging goodbyes, which ended up being "see you laters", I knew they would be at my door in no time. I went to my spot standing on my bed looking down at the street. I don't know if five minutes passed or 7 hours, but I was pulled out of my trance when I heard a knock at the door. I chain locked the door before opening it.
"It's Mason," I said awkwardly through the cracked door. I had no idea how to start the exchange.
"You need to open this door!" the officer shouted arrogantly.
"Do you have a warrant for my arrest?" I snapped back, raising my volume level to his.
"We don't need one under a felony suspicion, so open it!" he yelled back. Felony suspicion? I had never heard that before. I paused. "If this door isn't open in the next 30 seconds, I'm taking your roommates in! They're harboring a fugitive!" I heard coming through the crack in the door. Typical dick cop move. I took a deep breath to try and keep my cool though my heart was pounding through my chest, and prepared myself to open the door. I grabbed my wallet out of my back pocket and gave it to my roommate.
"8822 is my pin on my card. Whatever bail is get it," I told him as he blankly nodded his head. "8822, don't forget."
"There is no bail for felony charges," the officer condescendingly sneered as I was opening the door. Well, shit. There goes that felony word again.
Getting padded down and cuffed was a new experience for me. Even with my few run-ins with the law. At that point, it had only been for drinking and speeding, so just a ticket was in order. I got paraded down the street in cuffs, since the arresting officer and Detective Adams decided to park a block away. It seemed like that decision wasn't by accident. I got shoved in the backseat, which seemed to be made of the same material that my red and yellow Little Tikes car was made of when I was a kid. We drove off to the police department, with Detective Adams asking me questioning and getting no response out of me.
It was hard to comprehend the situation that was going on during check in. I was completely numb from the situation that just occurred, and I remained emotionless. From the mug shot to the fingerprints to the interrogation they conducted on me I had one goal in mind; shut the fuck up. I didn't want to say anything stupid that they could use in the courtroom. It all began to sink in was when I went to go change into their prison uniform. Wasn't I just reading over my Psychology 265 syllabus? Now, I'm butt naked behind some curtains waving my underwear around so the officer knew I had no contraband on me. Life is a fickle bitch.
After check in, now draped in an orange jumpsuit with a burlap sack of bed sheets and toiletries in my hand, I made my way to my cell, which was announced to me over the loud speaker as I walked into the prison area. When I got in the cell, the door immediately started to close behind me. It sounded like a medieval drawbridge getting dropped over a moat. The latching of the cell door was akin to the snapping of a hypnotist's fingers at that moment. I immediately snapped back into reality. A graffiti ridden prison cell door was staring at me, and I was looking at 6-12 years in prison. It was a low that, even at that time, I knew I would never let myself feel again. I had hit rock bottom, and the next day, I had to start climbing.