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In & Out of Solitary (Part 4)

While I was still living in SF I tried to grow weed on Mt. Tam. I was in my late 20s, but still pretty much of a teenager. My plants got to be one foot tall and then someone cut them down and just left them there to die. Must have been law enforcement. So, I was back to zero as far as growing goes. I didn’t want to work in construction, which I had been doing. I wanted to work for me, and my wife, Ako, not for someone else.

We moved to Nice in Lake County and found that there were more fuckin’ drugs there than in the city. We both got jobs at Cobb Mountain Spring Water. I was on the loading dock and Ako was on quality control. By then I had given up selling coke. I could see that it wasn’t doing anyone any good. But I was still selling weed. I didn't have a moral dilemma with weed as I did with coke. We left Cobb Mountain Spring Water because quality control on the assembly line made Ako dizzy.

So she got a job as a housecleaner at the condo place for rich people in Nice. I bought a dirt bike and went into the woods and looked for a good spot to grow. I had no insurance and no registration on the bike and was setting myself up for disaster. One day, I came out of Lake Pillsbury and hooked a left on Highway 20 and headed east when a cop came up behind me. After tailing me for ½ mile, he put on his lights and siren. I took off. He chased me and then two more cop cars joined him, but I kept going, off the highway and on unpaved trails.

I thought I had eluded all of them, but I came down a dirt trail and there was a cop standing with a Billy Club in his hand. “Get off the bike,” he shouts. I say, “Out of my way. I’m coming through.” I gunned the bike; the cop hit me over the head, but I got away and went back to Highway 20. I stashed the bike in some guy’s yard and walked up to the house, and there was a cop sitting and waiting for me.

“We know it's you,” he says. “Where’s the bike?” I say, “I don't know what you’re talking about.” I was about to get away when one of the cops shows me the backpack I’d tossed. He reaches inside, comes out with a little bag and asks, “What's this?” I said “rat poison,” and he dropped it immediately.

I was using it to keep rodents away from my plants, just a few pellets at a time so the poison didn’t get into the food chain. The cops found my bike, arrested me and charged me with evasion and assault with a deadly weapon. My lawyer advised me to cop a plea. “You’ll get a month in jail,” he said. The judge sentenced me to a year in Lake County jail, which was full of guys like me who weren’t really dangerous but who were caught doing something stupid. I did 210 days behind bars. During that time they threw me into solitary because I talked back to a big, fat, nasty, evil woman named Sondra Miller who was jail staff and who called all of us inmates, “losers.”

I worked in the kitchen peeling carrots and making muffins for all the inmates. One day a muffin turned out imperfect, which was a big no-no. “Get rid of that muffin, Munson,” Miller says. I threw it into the garbage can where it broke into pieces. “That’s it Munson,” she says. “You’re outta here.” Cops come into the kitchen, pat me down and find the porno playing cards that I had in my pocket and that I’ve been trading with other inmates for their cards. I forgot I had them in my possession. They confiscated the cards, charged me with disrespecting jail staff and for possession of pornography and put me in solitary.

After two days I was cracking up. I’m hard of hearing and couldn’t hear anything at all, and the only thing I could see through the keyhole was a payphone on the wall outside my cell about 30 feet away. There was one light in the cell that came on at 6 a.m. and stayed on until 10 p.m. I snapped, started screaming. The jailer unlocks the door and comes in and I tell him, “You gotta give me something to read or I’ll go totally insane.” He gives me a booklet with all the jail rules. I read it so many times that I memorized it.”

I was still pretty bad off. Next time I see him, I tell the jailer I’d do myself in by banging my head on the wall unless they give me a real book to read. He gave me a paperback romance, which I read four times in six-and-one-half days. It was stupid but it distracted me and then they let me out of solitary. From then on, until I was released, they called me “Muffin.”

In April the cops let me out of jail just in time to start my crop. I also had a sponsor, a guy with money. He tells me, “You’re a miserable failure, Munson and I’m a born gambler. You never give up, so I’m going to back you.” He gave me a Kawasaki 650. I got insurance and registration. “When you get money,” the guy says. “You can pay me $4,000.” Now I had wheels to get into and out of the mountains and I had seeds, too. I was raring to go.”

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