Ball and Chain

It was the summer of ‘76 and my pimp and I were in Atlanta, Georgia. There were all sorts of things going on at that time up and down the strip. Before I hit the street, the two of us went to the bails bondsmen and my man paid him $500 just in case anything happened to me. This money was supposed to get me out right away. This was on a Friday and I actually ended up getting arrested the next night on Saturday. The whole scene was horrendous. They threw me in a van with a couple of the girls. And we got out at the jailhouse and they take us out. There are three of us and I’m on the end. They were chaining our legs together and that was fine. And then they put a ball and chain on my right leg and I thought to myself, “this is what you see on popeye”.

This cant be real. This is 1976. But that shit was real. It was real.

So I dragged the ball for quite a ways and then I get inside the jail and they’re processing me and doing my paperwork. I tried to call the bails bondsmen because I didn’t know anyone else in the city and I didn’t have my man’s number. After I made the call and got no answer, they put me in a cage that had showers. The stuff coming down from the showers was like disinfectant. I later found out it was to kill the lice in case I had lice. And then a guy came in with this additional can. This enormous can that reminded me of a huge watering can they used to spray flowers. They sprayed me again and again. All over my head and my face and my hair. I had to keep it there for five minutes before I could rinse it off. It was burning my eyes and my skin. It was one of the most horrible experiences I had. Finally, I rinsed off and that was that. Then, they took me to my room. My cell. It was a long walk there with my ball and chain attached to me. There were bunk-beds in my cell. There are two girls. One on the top bunk and one on the bottom bunk and a girl on the floor. And so there was no room for me. They gave me the mat and I had to put my mat under the bed and I slept under the bunk bed on the mat. I couldn’t believe it.

The whole thing was so backwards. The prison system down south is insane. I was like oh my god get me out of here. I was there for three days and finally my man got in touch with the bails bondsman and got me out of there. He didn’t get a refund but he did get me out of jail. We ended up going to New Orleans after that because I said I’m not putting myself in a position to go back to jail in that kind of environment for all the money in the world. It was crazy. It was really, really crazy.