The place to come to wag more and bark less...

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Arizona Sands Nightmare, Reprise

I created this blog as a safe place for sharing knowledge and viewpoints related to all things Disability in a spirit of fairness and kindness. Such a places have proven difficult to find at times, so it brings me comfort to know it always exists here.

Because it is my hope that the encounter I am presenting here today generates increasingly more like-minded visitors, I am also hoping at least some will find a home of sorts here and become regular visitors.

After all, one needn't be "disabled" in order to find common ground here for, no matter anyone's physical state, we are all differently-abled.

That said, I've done my best to present my experiences from Havasu and Flagstaff, Arizona in early February, 2017 as factually and completely as possible, and without malice or judgment.

Rather, I come from a place where I regard the law as being, like the mindset of an officer at any given moment, open to a wide range of interpretations. In my limited experience, this interpretation, for better or worse, is typically decided on the spot by their best judgment.

When that best judgment cannot adequately size up a situation, mistakes will be made. It's where experience and the wisdom that comes with it counts most. Not every situation is as cut-and-dry as running a red light with a straightforward, by-the-book resolution.

Further, since no black and white court transcript can convey the sum total of all that occurred in Arizona last February, the humanity behind this account is conspicuously absent.

Curiously, this court case is, as usual, based upon a subjective determination of an encounter between two people as interpreted by only one of them-the one with the badge, the gun, and the uniform.

However, the most relevant aspect of it all is missing. Namely, the human side. It contains the real substance of these events, i.e. What really happened between these two people, and what were they thinking at the time?

No one has asked me and, as far as I know, the other person has never been asked either. It's as if it doesn't matter and, I don't believe it does to anyone else.

Keeping in mind that my perceived legal infraction is not having run a stop sign, I think more consideration of the circumstances is deserved. I can speak of what I was thinking when all this occurred and, in the absence of input from the aggressor here, I'll use my best judgment.

It's a task I'm well suited for, and one I am confident I can accurately present.

Please Note: I dedicate this account to all those who, like me, are service animal handlers, subject to the whims of an often ill-informed public on a daily basis. You all will always have my unrelenting support, and a special place in my heart.

What Really Happened in Arizona, February, 2017
The Complete Account

I'm a man in my early 50s who has only recently begun work on a lifetime of complex-PTSD (cPTSD) related trials and tribulations.

Facing the finalization of a divorce and the fourth anniversary of an accident in which I lost my left arm, I set out in a motorhome to make some sense of things. At my side, as always, sat Sophie, my eight-year-old Belgian Malinois service dog.

Together, we traveled from the Pacific Northwest last summer and fall down through the American Southwest and into Mexico for the winter.

We admired the beauty of the volcanic peaks along I-5 North through Portland, Seattle, Bellingham and beyond.

In the fall of 2016, we traversed the Arizona desert into Mexico, where we spent the winter.

There, we commingled with a fun mixture of American and Canadian snowbirds. While we all missed our summer hometowns, we nonetheless made the most of the time.

Sophie, as usual was a well-received fixture at many gatherings and a welcome ice breaker for me. I'm not really shy but, as I said, I'm in the midst of a lot of introspective inner healing work that's not really conducive to socializing. Sophie's influence provides me a healthy excuse to break away from all that when things get too heavy.

In fact, throughout our travels, I'd been doing a great deal of research on my cPTSD symptoms and its aftereffects in the hope of gaining some understanding of the value of my life up to that point.

My research indicated it's not an uncommon question in the minds of many PTSD survivors; I am among them.

For me, the open and unpopulated expanses of US public lands were the best place I'd found to allow my mind to safely open up and be vulnerable to questions I'd been afraid to ask myself anywhere else before.

It was a highly emotional time to be sure, with me studying my own story while also contributing heavily to online forums, e.g., to offer feedback to others. It was a very healthy routine for me.

After a stint throughout January camped on a Mexican beach with other snowbirds, I returned to the States with Sophie and began making my way home.

We were returning in February in order for me to attend some annual medical appointments in my home state of Colorado.

In Arizona, however, Sophie and I had to make a detour through Havasu, where we visited a veterinarian; I believed Sophie needed some help, e.g. an antibiotic, that I couldn't provide.

Havasu wasn't my choice of locations, but vets aren't easy to come by in the desert, so we had little choice.

After learning Sophie was okay, we headed north of town onto some public land. Aptly named Craggy Wash, it was the location of some dispersed campsites. There, I continued my inner healing.

A few days later, I felt good about my perceived progress, and also enjoyed some pleasant hikes along the rocky hillside trails there with Sophie.

Within the first day there, I'd noticed some sketchy-looking campers but past experience taught me to steer clear of them and camp elsewhere.

There's so much room for everyone and, besides, only a really desperate person or people would venture into anyplace where Sophie might be on guard.

Sophie, in fact, came from an Arizona breeder where I understood many of her litter mates went off into police and military duty.

As it went, on the evening of Friday, February 10th -about two months ago now- I wanted to reward Sophie for her patience all day long while I'd been immersed in yet more inner healing work.

Though I didn't expect we'd see anyone else, I clipped Sophie's service dog ID badge to my shorts, grabbed a t-shirt and water bottle and headed out.

Our goal was a trailhead with a hillside trail we'd seen on a previous hike. It was located just past a campsite where an older, 60-something couple were camped.

Sophie and I hadn't stayed often at such campgrounds, opting instead for the open lands. It's why Havasu wasn't a good choice for us.

Still, Sophie and I had met these campers before, and they were very friendly. Their actual role there was to be the "campground hosts" who'd document the arrival and departure of campers.

In actuality, they seemed to be babysitters who had the unenviable job of monitoring the comings and goings of people there.

As I mentioned, there were some sketchy people there and, had I not been with Sophie I wouldn't have stayed.

Plus, I learned much earlier that some people actually did live pretty permanently on public land and, if not made to move every two weeks as mandated by the rules governing public land usage, such people might stay indefinitely.

Upon arriving at the hosts' campsite, I could see they had two visitors, a guy dressed as a park ranger and a young female adult.

We had no reason to believe there'd be any trouble with them, as we'd met the hosts before. Plus, Sophie has always been welcomed by park rangers and law enforcement officials in general, and she seemed to have an affinity for them. I jokingly chalk it up to her pedigree and it's probably true.

As we approached, I held out Sophie's ID and, for the sake of those who hadn't yet met Sophie, I announced her role as my service dog.

But this park ranger was unlike any Sophie and I had ever met, a very brusque person who simply had bad energy; he came across from the start as a not very nice person.

After all that's happened with this young man, those are still the best and only words I choose to describe him.

When he quickly ran up to face me and issue his edict that Sophie needed to be on a leash or else, I knew there'd be trouble. So did Sophie, and she came to sit by my side.

My head was still swimming with thoughts of what I'd been working through all afternoon, and it was on walks like this one I'd take with Sophie where I'd wind down from such days.

His request clearly made no sense, and I didn't hesitate to tell him I'd a right to not have Sophie on a leash provided doing so would create a danger for me due to my physical disability. Climbing a rocky trail while holding a leash, shirt, and water bottle in my only hand, I believe, qualified as such a dangerous situation.

In effect, this ranger was literally ordering me to do something dangerous.
He was half my age if a day, and armed to the teeth with a handgun and a belt full of other supplies.

He also had a youthful belligerence to match and, in his misguided view, because he was the one wearing the badge and uniform and carrying the gun, I could tell by his tone that my rights, or those of anyone who had stood before him at that moment, were secondary, if that, to his need to aggressively voice his authority.

So there I stood, most likely twice his age, with one shriveled half-arm and the other arm sorely overworked. I don't look-and I'm not-in good physical condition.

Given the presence of the campground hosts and the young girl who was apparently a love interest of this young man, it seemed he felt a need to save face. An obvious element of insecurity was clearly at work here, and I was an easy mark for him to display his aggression.

So, while I'd only intended to go for a walk with my service dog, there was instead going to be trouble; he'd make sure of it.

Sophie rubbed up against me and pushed me away from this guy, her cue to me that I should get out of there because she sensed danger.

That same cue had spared me at least one other such potentially violent situation, and this was clearly another.

By now, I was unable to see a badge or a gun or anything except in front of me, only an angry person who wanted to hurt me, staring back at me.

I'd seen that same angry and irrational look many times before in my father's face, forty years earlier. I'd also relived those old experiences many times earlier that day through a psychological technique called Progressive Desensitization.

Heeding Sophie's cue and an age-old fight-or-flight defense mechanism, I turned and ran toward the only sanctuary I knew, my motorhome, about 50 yards away.

I didn't get far enough, fast enough though, as the kid got into his SUV and chased me.

The sound of the tires crunching the rocks behind me, plus the smell of the rubber tires and the flashing lights all took me back to yet another trauma-related experience, my bicycle accident, four years earlier.

The kid got out and tackled me; my legs became rubber and I went limp.

Though I didn't feel a thing, I recall the young man having trouble getting handcuffs on me since I only had one hand. He later claimed that, because my body twisted as he tried to wrestle me down to the ground, I was resisting him. In reality, I was off balance and in a constant state of falling down. It was just an excuse he used to brutalize me. Sophie's instincts were right, as usual; I was being assaulted by a thug wearing a uniform.

In retrospect, why restraining me in any way was necessary makes as much sense as insisting I use my only, already occupied hand to hold a leash while climbing a rocky trail where there were no other people who might be present to perceive Sophie as a danger.

If he was having trouble handcuffing me, and I was unable to stand while he held my arm, how could he conceive of me holding a leash? In trying to restrain me, he was really proving the irrational nature of his request. This is a place where any reasonable person would, in exercising good judgment, understand the irrational nature of his order.

But I wasn't dealing with a reasonable person here, just a young and inexperienced kid who was probably also scared to be seen as such, so he tried to hide it through his brutality. Again, I was an excellent mark for him to do just that. I recall getting dragged through the rocky sand and, though my legs were already cut quite severely and already bleeding, I didn't feel a thing.

The blood thinner I take added to the fearful scene, and I doubt my mind responded to the sight of my own blood again under such circumstances in any way but to block it out entirely.

Reliving a scene so closely related to my accident years earlier, and only moments after reliving horrific physical abuse from decades earlier was surreal, to say the least.

The next memory I have is of this young man sitting on my back as Sophie approached me.

I have a lifelong history of intractable seizures, and she is trained to come to my aid if I should be down on the ground; it's something we practiced daily in Mexico, as I knew it could make the difference in my safety.

As she approached, the young man took a little canister from his belt-presumably one of his toys-and proceeded to pepper spray Sophie in both eyes.

"What are you doing?" I asked, coughing and in disbelief. Again, I don't recall feeling any pain then, just a thought in the back of my mind that told me that this should be hurting, it just isn't for some reason.

It was the exact same thought I had lying broken on the street in August, 2012; the pavement then was so hot, I knew, but after my collision with the SUV I was in shock and just couldn't feel it.

Then he was dragging me through the rocky sand again, and left me to lay next to the truck he'd used to chase me. My face was right up against the tire.

That's about the moment I had a weird feeling in my back, as if some kind of pain was fighting to get through my shock to hurt me.

"What are you doing?" I asked him once again, in complete confusion. He gave no answer, though I knew he was responsible. Who else could it be?

A few moments later and I realized he'd deployed yet another of the toys from his belt; he was tasering me, standing right above me as I lay face down, defenseless.

Though I didn't realize it then-I was in survival mode- the degree of cruelty perpetrated on both my service dog and I-despite doing all the right things and even calmly speaking up for my rights, and certainly not resisting anything afterwards-was criminal.

All this, because he couldn't - or wouldn't-concede that putting a leash on Sophie was a distinctly dangerous idea.

Hurting Sophie and I as he was demonstrates the sort of thing a sick person who is bent on hurting another person would do if he could be certain to do so with impunity.

That's why I say that, still, the most accurate description for this young man is that he's a very not nice person. Cruel would be okay, too.

Ultimately, after the kid struggled to figure out where to attach my right hand he found the only suitable place to hook me was the brush guard on the front bumper.

I don't know how long I sat there, staring at the bottom of the car, watching the emergency lights flicker and listening to this kid revel in telling everyone everyone in earshot how he'd dragged me here and sprayed my dog and how my body convulsed as he tasered me, "just like in that movie," he repeatedly said.

It was like being in a grade school lunchroom, listening to little boys talk about their hero from a recent action movie, only one of them was in his twenties and carrying a gun, and excitedly kept describing  himself as the hero.

Call it another survival mechanism, but I remember making mental notes of the scene and thinking of how I'd write about them later, as I'm doing now.

Perhaps I knew then that going over it in my mind while still on-scene would make going back over it later, as I'm doing now, somehow less traumatic.

As I mentioned, writing about my cPTSD is my primary way of dealing with it, always has been.

Keeping in mind that my only goal here was to only take Sophie for a walk and wind down a bit. There's something so wrong with what was happening  there that I hadn't the presence of mind to figure out what it was.

It was the exact same situation as the abuse I received as a kid, lying down, broken, with no idea why it was happening or how to escape it.

This time, however, I knew better. Even though I couldn't put my finger on it, I knew I'd done nothing wrong and that, in reality, I was the one who had been wronged.

The campground hosts, I later learned, did their best to clean the pepper spray chemicals from Sophie's eyes.

Chained to the front of the truck, all of this was out of sight and earshot.

Beyond, a couple of nerdy, skinny guys in uniform, apparently sheriff's deputies, showed up. They brought to mind, like the kid who just beat up Sophie and I, kids who'd been beaten up and pushed around all their lives and sought to get even by pushing others around simply because they could.

The young park ranger/thug who'd just beaten up Sophie and I earned both my distrust and also the nickname Billy the Kid. He had confiscated Sophie's Service Dog ID from me. He then proceeded to approach me where I sat three or four times to "inform me" that Sophie is not a service dog, and then to accuse me of having an ID for the sole purpose of taking her places with me.

As I said, this young kid's behavior transcends belligerence and overlaps into cruelty.

Although I answered his question affirmatively the first couple times he asked, I just looked at him thereafter.

He was trying to goad me into some sort of aggressive reaction in front of his uniformed buddies so he could prove to them how "dangerous" I was.

Perhaps they had pointed out to him that what he'd done to a disabled man in front of the few witnesses of the event might have made Billy the Kid guilty of a crime here.

Afterward, Billy was a lot less outspoken about what - and how - he'd hurt Sophie and I. It reflected poorly on them all.

After all this, I don't believe any of them have a conscience, just a need to cover their own asses, just in case. Not exemplary or brave behavior from those entrusted with the label of public servant.

Later, I've no idea how long, I remembered -how could I forget?- Sophie running over to me while I was still chained to the truck.

Billy the kid wanted to make Sophie out to be some kind of attack animal, bent on killing him. He wouldn't have to admit to pepper spraying a defenseless, unsuspecting service animal.

Sophie, of course, was scared too, but Billy the kid could never have counted on the affinity she has for cops. So, I guess, they "let" her live.

None of those cops who showed up that evening-because a one-armed old guy didn't have a leash on his dog-were very nice people.

Finally, after proclaiming that he "didn't care if I froze my ass off," he drove me literally ninety miles an hour to Flagstaff, four hours away. I could clearly see the speedometer from where I sat.

He'd turn on the lights and siren anytime someone else was visible up ahead, watching them pull over as he sped on by. He was having a great time playing policeman, and was a danger to everyone he came near.

It appeared that, somehow, because I spoke up for myself about being a disabled amputee and having a right to not have to hold a leash on my service dog, I'm somehow responsible for triggering this young man's reprehensible behavior.

It would be a week before I'd see Sophie again, and just as long until I knew she was okay. That's how long I was in jail, having been charged with assault.
Yes, in keeping with the completely backwards nature of this entire episode, he charged me.

Once we arrived in Flagstaff, Billy next turned his attention to whispering threats to me through gritted teeth. He wanted me to know that Sophie was going to be euthanized, that my RV would be towed away and destroyed and that I'd spend "all sorts of extra time in jail."

Keep in mind this person is still roaming the public lands, wearing a badge and carrying a gun, with a head filled with dangerous overconfidence and an exaggerated idea of the limited albeit important purpose he must fulfill as a park ranger.

What Billy didn't know as he tried his best to intimidate me is something I suppose I'd never have thought of as a silver lining to all my father's abuse. Namely, it's the fact that Billy is a rank beginner when it comes to such tactics.

Having just beaten up Sophie and I, not unlike my own dad once pushed me around, the fact that the kid was a coward was clear.

But I was only afraid back when I was a kid, and in the rare nightmares I still have today. Here, though, I knew I'd done nothing wrong. So listening to Billy try to intimidate me was quite awkward; I was in a situation I never thought I'd find myself in again and, since it was already happening anyhow, it was worth it to know I was above it.

Billy just came across as an angry kid who resents his job because he's not Border Patrol, or State Trooper, or something more glamorous than a BLM ranger who mostly deals with senior-aged campground hosts. Only he, however, can come to terms with that. Pushing innocents around, like Sophie and I, won't change a thing for him.

Further, there are certain weapons a person can have at his disposal that can't be clipped to a belt like Billy wore, and Billy has no idea what they may be. Wisdom and experience that comes from studying the styles of older men, like a mentor, would benefit him immensely.

Maybe someday he'll actually be able to come across as a badass when he feels the need to, but he'll have to direct such energies toward someone who hasn't seen the likes of sheer nastiness and brutality that I have.

I'm not a criminal, and I don't have a criminal mindset, whatever that means, exactly. But I've been on the receiving end of criminal behavior, first as an abused kid, and now as an adult, abused by a kid.

Again, the words best used to describe Billy the kid are "a not very nice person."

The Big Miscommunication Occurs- A Grave Misunderstanding:

Among the things that took place while I was in their county jail was a meeting with the public defender. During our initial meeting we talked about what happened.

By this time, all I knew was that something really wrong was happening. And there was no one to trust, for everyone I met along the way simply assumed I'd done something wrong and, by association, was lying in every way about everything.

I was really out of my element, and more interested in how I'd react to being in jail than anything. It was like being in a life-sized sociology experiment, and I was both guinea pig and experiment administrator.

Most important, however, for the first time in many years I had none of my medication, nor would I receive any for the duration of my stay. It had, I'm sure, a profound effect on my ability to process information and to understand even the most basic things that were happening.

When it came for my first time to speak in court, I deferred to the public defender to do so. I had no clarity of thought and my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptom of dissociation was taking place.

I had nothing of nutritional value to eat, and was severely dehydrated. It was in this state that I did everything, including meeting with the public defender. After gaining his assurance we were speaking privately, I told him how I'd been assaulted by this kid and that I had a flashback to some previous traumas throughout this whole episode.

I described the situation as best I could, under the premise that I couldn't hold a clear and deep thought. He summed it up for me, I think in an attempt to spare me from having to rehash the details. He reiterated my details about this kid irrationally and wrongly insisting I put a leash on Sophie, because of the legal right I had to not do so, as well as the obvious dangers involved in hiking a rocky trail off-balance.

Given that I sat right in front of him and he could see I am an amputee, I thought he'd get it. But, as I realized many weeks afterward, he didn't. Nor did he understand the importance and purpose Sophie has in my life, and the training that was behind it all.

Though I didn't know it, he was coming from some other place, with some other source of information, some details corrupting his understanding of what happened. In short, though he didn't outwardly show it, he was listening to me with the belief I was guilty, too.

He ended his brief summary-and I agreed with him, that after the kid tackled me and I fell to the ground, "...things went downhill from there."

With wounded legs still raw and yet to scab over, and an upper body that felt as broken as it had when I was healing from my bicycle accident, I totally agreed.

But what he meant by "things going downhill" was his watered-down way of referring to me having committed the assault.

To me, “things going downhill” meant that was when the kid really started to beat me up. Something I probably would have caught-or at least clarified-had I not been in shock and had my medication.

In the mind of the public defender, I was already guilty and the only question was how to prove me not guilty. Also, in the report the public defender drew his information from, Sophie was some kind of menacing, vicious threat that needed to be neutralized.

How much more wrong could any of this be, I now wonder. It's obvious the case should have been thrown out, and the kid reprimanded, at least, for his criminal behavior. But I had no grasp of the situation, which never would have occurred had I not been traveling alone; again, I was a perfect mark for a dangerously sick person.

It's all a part of living with BPD, which allows little room for others. As Dr. Judith Herman states in her book Trauma and Recovery, "those with BPD are condemned to live a lonely life."

Again, this occurred solely because I'd not had my service dog on a leash for my own safety.

As I say, the so-called justice system is geared toward keeping inmates in jail, or somewhere within their custody, i.e. via some form of parole. Recidivism is the order of the day.

They call mine "Supervised Release," which is to last for a year. But the restitution they've saddled me with is meant to financially break me so that I must stay near them as long as I haven't paid in full. Clever, eh?

Not really; it's not rocket science, just a more civil form of being a thug, as they made a point of telling me that if I didn't do what they said a whole squad of federal marshals would arrive in swat gear at my door.

They would, I presume, take enjoyment in pepper spraying Sophie and tasering me once again. It's a violent and irrational world they live in, one I remember growing up around.

One thing is certain; I am as incapable of understanding it now as I was then.

Anyway, when I was in jail, I felt truly safe there. It was the clearest connection I had with my childhood, and the memories of the many times I was grounded for some picayune "infraction" that my old man used to call "being on probation."

So why did I feel safe? Simple; nobody could hurt me there, only my emotions could be hurt, if I were weaker. But I had the strength of knowing I'd survived such treatment before, and would have no trouble surviving it again. Having lived much of my life in survival mode, jail provided a situation I was well suited to handle. The mere thought of it frightened me.

However, I didn't know if Sophie was safe until the fourth or fifth day in jail, when I was slipped an official looking document- a photocopy- that said in so many words that Sophie was scheduled to be euthanized "or given up for adoption" if I didn't pick her up by a certain date.

Coincidentally enough, the date came before the date I'd be out of jail should I choose to have a jury trial and be found not guilty. Also, my RV - with my medication still in it, I hoped- would have been on public land beyond the two week limit and likely would be towed.

Those weren't risks I was willing to take, particularly regarding my absence of medication. The hope was, I'm sure, that I'd have some kind of violent episode in jail so they could justify keeping me there longer, and possibility sending me to some kind of institution.

For these jailers as well, I was a perfect mark. Again, none of these things would have happened if I weren't traveling alone. Clearly, having BPD is a crime.

To reiterate, all this because I didn't/I couldn't safely have my dog on a leash and spoke up on my own behalf about it.

I was put in a position to plead guilty and probably see Sophie, or risk losing Sophie in order to be found not guilty.
And I should never have been there in the first place.

What they didn't know, and still don't know, was that I have nothing to lose in pleading guilty. Life without Sophie would be meaningless to me, so the concept of guilt meant little.

I'd already survived being beat up by Billy, and the wounds on my legs were still healing. All the old injuries from my bike crash that Billy had aggravated by sitting on me were gone.

Nobody in jail was going to hurt me except maybe one or two of the guards - just more not very nice people-and nobody was going to attack me if I dropped the soap, either. They all had girlfriends anyway and, by the look of it, they were having a great time in there. Still makes me laugh!

Card games, playing football with rolls of toilet paper, etc., took my mind off my PTSD.

The first few nights I could not sleep in there, nor could I drink water. My eyes were so bloodshot that I figure the guards thought I was either going cold turkey from some pretty heavy drugs or crying myself to sleep. It didn't matter, for everyone I've run into since then treats you as if everything you say is a lie.

But I kept in mind what my ex-wife told me about how messed up people who work in prisons are, and have to be. She grew up in CaƱon City, Colorado and attended school with some guards’ kids, so she has some insight into the idea.

Not to take anything away from those who may well need to be chained up to make the rest of us safer, I think any human who makes his/her livelihood about chaining up others falls into a special category that isn't quite all right.

If some things I overheard among staffers there are a true reflection of their behavior, I think the public in general would be safer if some of them were behind bars next those who already are.

Anyway, if I remember correctly it was 28 degrees and snowing when I was released, wearing the shorts, t-shirt and sandals I had when I went in.

For no apparent reason other than to inconvenience me, they confiscated my driver's license and, for good measure I suppose, Sophie's service dog ID. Who knows what trouble a danger to society like me could cause with those items.

If it weren't for the need to make sure Sophie was okay, none of it would have mattered.

Keep in mind, though that I received none of my medication in jail. The whole so-called justice system is meant to encourage recidivism and, if possible, death to all who enter jail.
I'm not kidding.

I've since read accounts of others who've had a significant other in jail where, for example, a woman had a heart attack and died because she'd been denied her medication.

If I hadn't personally experienced this myself, I'm not sure I'd think twice about reading it, or if I'd bother reading it at all. But now, however, I know this to be very real.

Beyond its obvious dangers, it's a very disparaging thing to be denied your medication by strangers who are indifferent at best, and most likely simply uninterested.

The truth is, though they appeared few in number, the only people who were really, truly awful were those who, like Billy, wore a badge and a uniform.

They are the only ones who threatened me and tried to scare me, etc.
Or they were just so downright vulgar they came across, to me at least, as embarrassingly reprehensible.

But I was so struck by how young they all were that one of them trying to intimidate or threaten me was a lot like someone's smart-alecky nephew acting up.

Perhaps a jailhouse is exactly the sort of place someone like that ends up spending their working lives. Someone's got to do it, I suppose, and if the job fits, then why not?

Anyway, once I got out I first went to Kingman where I was told Sophie was being held.

When I arrived at the animal control office first thing in the morning she was sitting outside. At first, she didn't know it was me approaching.

Then, when she looked at me closer, she immediately looked like she knew me, but not quite from where.

Then, I couldn't keep a straight face, and as soon as I began to laugh she started talking. I think she was asking me where the hell I'd been.

The real truth is, though, that I was really glad that, because dogs live in the moment and, given my memory problems, so do I.

It makes it easier for us then, to forget about what's just happened and move on until we get to someplace where we can work through it.

Just not Havasu.

Once I had the RV again, I got my medication and some good food. Jail food sucked, mostly sugary crap that, at best, tasted like dorm food, except without the hangover.

Then I went back to Flagstaff to visit the parole people. They were nice enough, and said "Call us when you get to Colorado..."

I felt dirty just being in Arizona anymore, as if plastered with a viscous layer of green, napalm-y stench.

I wanted to go home, back to Colorado right away, where I could feel clean again. The fastest route out of Arizona was to take the long way, through California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Then I called the people in Flagstaff and they gave me the number of their cohorts in Denver.

The Denver people called me back right away and said (they didn't ask) "What are you doing here? You weren't supposed to leave Arizona."

I didn't have the heart to tell them that, not only did I leave Arizona but I've been through four additional states, too.

We've since met and, though they told me they usually work with felons, not those who commit lowly misdemeanors, they wondered out loud why they had to see me at all.

So, I guess I learned my lesson; always be sure to have your dog on a leash, even if it kills you, and for god's sake, don't dare speak up for yourself or your rights. This isn't a democracy, you know.

If I ever go back to Mexico, I'll likely never return. I'll just wait for my Canadian friends, and Sophie and I can grow old together in peace, then die on the beach.

Sounds kind of cold for me to see it said in writing like this but, given the hail thundering outside my windshield on this chilly April afternoon, a warm Mexican beach sounds perfect.

These events have been horribly nightmarish to rehash, particularly the scenes of violence and the corrupted view held by the public defender.

It's much like revisiting the experiences from my youth. But this entire account needs to be told if I am to justify its having happened at all. It's been healing for me to have done so.

And after this hail stops, I am going to go for a hike with Sophie, hopefully unhindered, and wind down in peace.

Thank you for reading this. Please share your thoughts, if you like.

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