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Archive for the ‘Florida Man Friday’ Category

SpiderFace

Simply put, Eric Rico Ortiz got a tattoo of a black widow spider on the side of his face because he was afraid of spiders. Let me quote the article: “’Everybody fears spiders,’ Ortiz told the Daytona Beach News-Journal, while standing at the Volusia County Courthouse to handle felony charges against him for habitually driving with a revoked license.” His rap sheet on the day of this hearing included burglary, narcotic possession, retail theft, prowling, and domestic battery. The crime saga doesn’t end there. A few days later, after an altercation with his girlfriend involving a box cutter and an attempted rape, Ortiz was being sought by police for kidnapping, battery, false imprisonment, attempted sexual battery without force, tampering with a witness, robbery by sudden snatching, and preventing someone from calling 911. According to HireExFelon.com, Ortiz was later sentenced for “willful child abuse” and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He also has the following tattoos as described by the Florida State Prison West Unit, where he is being held as of this writing: “Cross Cards 8Ball Rosary Banner Dragon Gun Eric Yariel Angel NY” on his left arm, “Clouds Star Prayer Hands Sun Mi Orguello Flag Clouds Boricua” on his right arm, “Heart Roses Banner” on his left chest, “Skull” on his right chest, “Love Eye” on his right hand, oh, and a “Spiders Web” on his face, opposite the giant spider that captured the media’s hearts. His release date is April 4, 2020, if you happen to live in the area.

McCoy, Terrence. “Florida Man Terrified of Spiders So He Tattooed A Giant One on His Face.” Miami New Times. New Times. February 21, 2014.

Joseph, Chris. “Florida Man with Spider Tattoo on His Face Is Now Wanted By Police.”March 4, 2014. Broward Palm Beach New Times. New Times.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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FMBoyScout

Orlando’s Eric P. Fagan, dressed as a boy scout for Halloween, was found by police slumped over in his vehicle facing the wrong direction on the street at around 3:00am. After first refusing to hand over his driver’s license, then refusing to leave his vehicle, he was “removed” from said vehicle. Police could not conduct a proper DUI investigation due to Fagan’s “uncooperative nature.” No word as to whether the costume was really a costume and not Fagan’s actual boy scout uniform—but the accompanying article photo looks pretty legit. Fagan is presumably now an ex-boy scout.

Harris, David. “Man in Boy Scout Costume Arrested for Resisting Officer.” Carroll County Times. Tribune Publishing Company. November 1, 2014.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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Stitches

Whoopsie. Looks like Stitches was also arrested at the Whole Foods. To be fair, some handicaps you can’t see…

So—there’s a lot going on here. This will involve some work on the part of the reader. Suffice to say, the rapper Stitches had four young women on stage to do coke with him and his wife was deeply unhappy about it. This story also features flour, his wife screaming “I’m going to fuck that bitch up!” off camera (yes, there is evidently video somewhere), and a mosh pit (obviously). Stiches is renowned in some circles for his cocaine doing and selling, as immortalized in the song, “Brick in Yo Face.” Definitely look into this incident—visualize the scene, view photos of Stitches, and then I strongly urge you to look up the lyrics to “Brick in Yo Face,” which I desperately wish I could reproduce here in its entirety. Preview: It’s very repetitive, but not in a meditative way, including a short refrain somewhere in the middle of “I love sellin’ blow!” (as cited in the article). When it’s not repetitive, it’s name-checking Dade County, referring to the AK-47 tattooed on his face (definitely view photos of Stitches), and, well, this: This gun will not reload/cause bitch I got extendos/bitch I got extendos/don’t play with me boy/don’t play with me boy/go play your Nintendo! It should be noted that, as a layperson, I’m not sure if by “extendo” he means an extended magazine clip, which would seem obvious, but “extendo” also refers to two blunts stuck end-to-end and packed with weed to form an extended super-blunt. I’ll assume the former, but the latter is reasonable as well. Whatever the case, well worth looking into.

Lavitt, John. “Rapper Stitches Invites Women to Snort Cocaine On Stage.”The Fix. Clean & Sober Media, LLC. November 3, 2014.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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Bathroom Meth

Nothing too flashy here, unless you count the meth making. Justin Spencer Hill attracted attention to his grand scheme of one-pot public restroom meth cooking, when a construction worker called the Five-O upon seeing chemical- and acid-smelling smoke wafting from a Detwiler Park men’s restroom. He also saw Hill running from the scene with a bag in his hand. According to Volusia Country Corrections, he was apprehended no fewer than five times in 2014, culminating in this epic arrest which included two separate charges of possession of paraphernalia, felony battery, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, possession of a schedule IV substance, possession of cannabis not more than 20 grams, battery on an emergency medical care provider, and the contribution to the delinquency/dependency of a minor—it sounds like there was more to this incident than reported.

Associated Press. “Man Set Up Meth Lab in Park Bathroom: Police.” NBC Miami. NBC Universal Inc. November 26, 2014.

 

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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FMCarSurf

In Manalapan, Jonathan Restrepo apparently left his girlfriend’s car and decided to hitch a ride on other peoples’ cars. Several, actually, including—for a brief stint—a convertible. There’s video of this as well—he told police he was on crystal meth and was convinced he was being pursued. He was charged with public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and criminal mischief. He caused over a thousand dollars’ worth of “criminal mischief” to two cars. After his arrest, he was obviously taken to the hospital. Fun Fact: The video is no longer up, but MSN posted this under “Health and Fitness.”

Hait, Ari. “Caught on Video: Man Allegedly High On Meth Surf’s On Strangers’ Car in South Florida.” WPBF News. Hearst Television, Inc. April 30, 2015.

 

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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5.2

FM10 (5.2)

They turned into a plaza parking lot after passing fifteen identical plazas (with the exception of those bedecked with various menacing fiberglass sea creatures) and pulled into a space right in front of The Gorge (Fine Men’s Clothing). Rupert had had enough time to compose himself. Jesus dialed his cell phone and waited a moment.

“Yo, I got someone I want you to meet.” Pause. “I don’t know.” Pause. “I don’t know.” Pause. “You can ask.” Pause.

Jesus put his phone to his lap and sighed.

“Have you seen a movie called Splatter Farm?”

“Polonia Brothers? Yeah. It’s been a while, but—”

Jesus put his cell to his ear again.

“Yes.”

Pause. Then he hung up, said “come on,” and climbed out of the car.

Rupert’s back was sweaty, but again, the cool air inside The Gorge (Fine Men’s Clothing) proved that something was malfunctioning with the AC at the Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet. Neither Jesus nor Rupert looked like the type to shop here, but Jesus whispered: “Act natural.”

I don’t even know what that means.

It was improbable that a single item in this store would fit Rupert. Maybe a pair of socks. For one foot. But the salesman didn’t appear to notice them. Jesus looked at some expensive shirts of some NASA-like light, breathable material, then moved on. Rupert ran his hand over the material as he followed. They moved toward the back and then tried to look nonchalant as they prepared to enter the men’s restroom of The Gorge (Fine Men’s Clothing).

“Wait thirty seconds,” Jesus whispered before he disappeared into the restroom.

We’re going to get arrested, Rupert thought.

He waited.

. . . twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty . . .

The bathroom was too bright, brighter than any room designed for the disposal of human waste should be. There were four stalls, the third door closed.

“Welcome to SIKildo Industries,” Jesus whispered.

“Sounds impressive,” Rupert leaned down and whispered back. “Why are we in a retail bathroom?”

Then the stink hit him. The foundation was a hospital smell, but Rupert couldn’t tell if that was the bathroom’s regular aroma, or if it came from the third stall, as a thin, brownish plume blossomed up to the ceiling from inside. That did not look like a good thing. The identifiable odors were that of wet diaper, fertilizer (or perhaps someone had recently used another stall), paint remover, cat piss, and a fermentation process. Submerged way beneath was a faint citrus scent. Just then Rupert jumped at the sudden, loud hiss of aerosol spritzing the air by his head. It was the store’s effort to make their bathroom smell not quite so much like urine and excrement. And whatever the hell was happening in Stall Number Three.

Jesus tapped on the door. Inside the stall, someone jumped and knocked something over. A bottle of Drainü drain cleaner rolled out and Jesus picked it up between his thumb and forefinger, trying to avoid touching whatever might have been coating it.

The latch clicked back and forth a few times, as if it was difficult to open, then Jesus pushed in. It was a tight squeeze, and Rupert and Jesus fought with the door for a moment before they were able to close it again. A man with his back to them said: “Lock it.”

Rupert was closest so he did. It clicked over without a problem.

“Hang on,” the man said. He wore saggy jeans, with blinding-white sneakers and a white t-shirt that looked three sizes too big. On the back of the toilet was what looked like a self-contained Bunsen burner on which a glass beaker boiled some pungent liquid. He stirred it. Surrounding that were bottles of things Rupert was pretty sure shouldn’t be anywhere near a flame.

Jesus didn’t look nervous, so Rupert tried also to not look nervous. Being nervous was different. It wasn’t so much the possibility of being set on fire in a men’s restroom as it was being squashed into a small, enclosed space with two other people. And potential explosives. Rupert was so tall he could see into the stalls on either side of them.

“So,” the man said as he turned around. He had a long, horse-like face and dark, unruly hair that looked factory-made, although Rupert could see that it did indeed sprout from his scalp. It looked wet, but wasn’t. He had a large scar across his forehead. His shirt had a big red and black, pointy cartoon explosion that took up most of it with “WHACKOUT!” printed diagonally in the middle. Rupert had seen the brand before. And he might have missed the next thing had the guy not said: “Who wants to burn?”

Rupert’s eyes went straight to the glass pipe in the man’s hand. In the other was a small torch-like lighter, but it was the pipe that made Rupert’s mind submerge into a land of pistachio and cream, of the pulsating sound of chanting natives, and the sensation of being surrounded by a thousand shuffling, stepping, kicking feet; plaid and fondu. His throat closed and Rupert slid down the corner joining the door to the stall. The door rattled back and forth, and he heard Jesus in the distance say: “Chále!” Rupert gasped. It was beyond him to do anything but sink and then his mind focused on taking a breath, as by now, his lungs had decided to take the predictable long break on the exhale.

“What the fuck, dude,” the guy said, more statement than question.

Rupert squirmed, legs straddling the toilet, shaking the little box lab the guy had set up. Soon, he pounded his chest open-handed, his usual last-ditch effort to get his lungs to work.

Jesus tried to act casual.

“I’m thinking he’s a salesman.”

The guy looked at Jesus as Rupert struggled for air. Behind Rupert’s eyes was all pistachio- and cream-colored swirls, growing darker, darker, the chanting receding with it. This was always the scariest time, because Rupert’s biggest fear was to pass out like this, afraid he’d never start breathing again. He’d never wake up.

The guy now stared down at Rupert and took a long, slow hit off the pipe.

“I don’t know, MeeMaw,” he said, smoke escaping his mouth and nose.

A tiny, wheezing voice deep in the back of Rupert’s mind asked, Did he just call Jesus “MeeMaw?

“He needs to work on his spin, but I appreciate a fellow B-boy throwin’ down like that.”

The guy leaned down to Rupert and yelled like he thought Rupert was deaf: “This place is too small. But it’s cool.” He straightened up and looked at Jesus. “Yeah, it’s cool.”

When Rupert thought he might be turning blue, and the chants and colors had gone dim, his lungs curtly—just like that—kicked into gear and he sucked in a huge, desperate dose of oxygen and the vestiges of the secondhand smoke.

Jesus helped Rupert up and the guy had turned back around, managing his cooking, the pipe stashed somewhere out of sight. Rupert noticed now that the man in front of him, in such close proximity, had what looked to be an 18-inch sparkle-pink, semi-transparent dildo sticking out of his front pocket. He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t seen it right away upon entering the stall. There was something written on it in Sherpie marker, but Rupert couldn’t read it, his eyesight still a bit blurry from the attack. His breathing, though, was returning to normal.

“This, Rupert, is Bill,” Jesus says. “Bill, mi pana, Rupert.”

“Rupie,” Bill said, extending a filthy cooking hand, but Rupert didn’t feel in a position to refuse. He avoided the flopping dildo and shook Bill’s hand.

“Hi. How are you?” Rupert’s hands were sweaty now, not from the attack but from this whole experience compounded by the customary trauma of meeting someone new and completely unrelatable.

“How am I, brother?” Bill asked. “How am I?”

Bill then launched into a shambolic salad of words and rhymes:

One, two, three and to the fo’
Kanye Herbert West and Tree-Two Cent is at the do’
Ready to tell the story ‘bout Splatter Farm
(Despite Cent’s shattered arm)

“Shattered . . .” Rupert interrupted.

“This is a rhyme from last year, yo, shortly after Fulva busted Osceola’s arm.”

“Ah . . .” Rupert had no idea who Osceola was.

“Fine now.”

“Mmm.”

Gimme the mic first, so I can start with Aunt Lacey
Alan and Joseph goin’ to see her, and you know she be cracy
Ain’t nothin’ but hicks in the farmland!
Old Bag Lacey and the farmhand!
Skull fuckin’, horse killin’ in the heartland!
Don’t interrupt me or you’ll dis-a-rupt my lymph gland (Hell yeah)

“Whoa, don’t want that.”

Bill just looked at Rupert—he’d interrupted. Again.

Concerned for Bill’s one lymph gland, Rupert motioned for him to continue.

But uh, back to the tale we’re tellin’
Al and Joe be talkin’ on the way to Auntie’s dwellin’
Joseph says Lacey thinks Alan’s lit
but they gotta get there quick, he’s gotta take a shit

You never know she could be druggin’ her man
And huggin’ her man, next thing you know she’s fuggin’ her man

Now you know Alan ain’t with that incest shit
(Till she serve him up that cuppa with the roofie innit)
(Yeah) but we’re getting ahead of how it goes
And now we gotta get back into the flow
before we get to the pitchforks and the fistin’
and the golden showers, yeah, you just keep listenin’

It’s like this and like that and like this and uh
It’s like that and like this and like that and uh
It’s like this and like that and like this and uh

            Bill tapered off, smiling. Rupert was transfixed in a sort of stunned silence until Jesus moved his foot over Rupert’s and pressed down hard. Rupert hardly felt it.

“Wow,” Rupert managed to get out. “Just . . . wow.”

“Right, Rupie,” Bill said. “I’ll put the kibosh there, since it better when Cent is up in it. I was doin’ both parts, ya see . . .” He was so self-satisfied that Rupert felt sorry for him.

“Who’s Dre and who’s Snoop?” Rupert asked despite himself.

“I’m Dre,” Bill said as if it were obvious. “My stage name is Kanye Herbert West. When I’m not cookin’ for Fulva, I’m rappin’ with my homie, Osceola.”

“Osceola, the primary chief of the Seminole tribe, a branch of the Creek, who lead an organized resistance against the American Government in 1836?”

Both Bill and Jesus stared at him.

“I guess not?” Rupert said, and smiled his apology for knowing things. “Is Osceola his stage name?”

“No,” Bill answered. “It’s 32 Cent.”

A moment of silence.

“We do HPSP—Horror Performance Slam Poetry; you heard of it?” Bill continued unfazed.

“I don’t think so.”

“But you seen Splatter Farm.”

“I have, a very long time ag—”

“This year, Kanye Herbert West and 32 Cent are curating a new exhibit. We’ve adapted the Polonia masterpiece to the dope-ass melodious odyssey that is Dre and Snoop’s ‘G-Thang’.”

“As in, Nuthin’ but a . . .” What is happening to me? Rupert had hit a threshold of improbability for, not so much the day, maybe, but at least since he’d walked into this store.

Bill nodded approvingly and Rupert fell yet again into stupefied taciturnity.

He felt Jesus’s foot on his toes and he laughed. He laughed and laughed. He laughed so hard he snorted, and then he stopped, feeling slightly exorcised.

“Is that legal? Copyright and all . . .” Rupert asked, not joking.

Bill slapped his own knee to indicate something funny had been said.

When he recovered: “We perform all over Sarasota County. Soon, though. Big time. Fulva manages us, and she’s pretty smart for a hippy.”

Jesus looked at his own feet.

“She pisses me off sometimes.” Bill went on, “like that time she shut down that one show. Jesus, you remember that?”

Jesus conjured an emphatic, but measured nod that said, and it was a shame, too, because that was a good goddamn show.

“Man, there was almost a riot,” Bill said, excited. His glassy eyes got both brighter and glassier. “The people went crazy. Not like I haven’t been in that situation before. Fulva said it was because Osceola was handing out coke to the mob, but I know it was my crunk-ass rhymes.” Bill rubbed the scar on his forehead to draw attention to it, and then he waited, but Rupert was quick.

“Whoa, wow,” he said. “Did you get that in a riot?”

“A riot? Naw, man, in a regular fight. Gang fight.”

“I’m sure the other guy came out much worse,” Rupert added.

“Well, what can I say? You don’t mess with K. H. West, naw’ mean?”

Rupert couldn’t help but notice how white Bill was, virtually bluish in this regrettable light.

Someone walked into the restroom, paused, and went into the stall furthest from Bill’s methamphetamine stink box. Bill and Jesus were nonplussed, so Rupert tried to follow their lead despite the fact that he could see directly into the now-occupied stall. He turned his head in the opposite direction, not concerned with being recognized now—he didn’t know anyone here—but perhaps with being recognized at a later date. Laws were clearly being broken here. The occupied stall was quiet, and an unspoken rule had gone into effect decreeing that there should be no talking until the interloper had left. Then, the smell of whatever silent holocaust evacuated the intruder’s bowels made it to their stall, and with no sound to accompany it, Bill’s horse face twisted, K. H. Westese for: No, he did not.

Not for the first time in the last fifteen minutes, Rupert wanted to be out of this stall, this bathroom, this store, this city, this state, this country if he could swing it. It occurred to him that he had—just moments ago—spent a good three-to-four minutes doing a simultaneous slowed-down/sped-up horizontal version of the Watutsi straddling a toilet on a men’s room floor. He hated everything.

Finally, the intruder, abandoning his stench for the benefit of those remaining, left and they were free to speak again.

“Maybe we get down to business, eh Bill?”

Bill looked at Jesus for a moment as if he either didn’t know what he was talking about, or maybe he didn’t know where he was, but then replied.

“Right. Crack Planet. Free crack.” Bill turned, looked up at Rupert, and yelled, “FREE FUCKIN’ CRACK!” And then he laughed and bounced twice on his toes. “I can’t believe they fall for that shit. Whatever, man. Gets us that Crack Planet long green.”

Who says “long green?” Rupert thought.

“Okay,” Bill said to Rupert. “You know the game? Jesus filled you in?”

Rupert nodded. Then Bill held up his index finger to Rupert and tilted his head to one side, as if listening. Bill’s other hand slid over the dildo in his pocket. Jesus shook his head almost imperceptibly.

“Okay. Okay, MeeMaw,” Bill said, hand gripping the dildo.

Rupert still couldn’t read the Sherpie on it.

Then: “Jesus, MeeMaw says to take Rupie here to meet Fulva. Right now.”

Fuck, Rupert thought. He wanted to go back to the Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet and take a shower. He’d had enough for one day.

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5.1

FM9 (5.1)

 

In Jesus’s beat-ass, rusted-to-shit, powder-blue 1979 Lincoln Town Car, the ample legroom allowed Rupert to recline with uncommon comfort.

“I didn’t know they made these in this color,” Rupert noted.

“They didn’t.” Jesus grinned, indicating that he’d chosen and paid for this color himself.

They had just left The Buttery Mollusk, an unglamorous joint, but the seafood was great and Rupert was now stuffed with shrimp, scallops, and pasta, all lovingly slid down his gullet with a hardy helping of butter, as advertised. He felt better. C-A-R-B-S spells comfort.

“I don’t know how far we are, but if you could drop me off at the Royal Court—”

“Ah, no, ese. I’m taking you to meet my associates.”

“Your bosses.”

“My associated bosses.” He grinned again. “Here’s what you need to know.”

Jesus then gave an articulate and informative lecture on Crack Planet, the Golden Tickets, and his employers.

Crack Planet is the tenth planet in our solar system.

“Tenth?” Rupert asked.

“Yeah, tenth.”

“Is Pluto a planet?”

“Yeah, it was, then it wasn’t, but now it is again.”

“I must have missed that issue of Discover.”

“Dawg, you gotta read. Do you mind?”

“Go on.”

It lies way, way past Pluto, and a little to the left. Jesus theorized that it was the “little to the left” part that had kept it off astronomers’ radar so far, which was good, because you know the human race couldn’t rest until it figured out a way to kill it and everything and everyone on it.

“Crack Planet has everythings and everyones?” Rupert asked.

“Well, we don’t need to get into the everyones, but I can tell you about the everythings.”

The sell-line is that Crack Planet is a planet made entirely of crack. And if that doesn’t get your water boiling, the crack on Crack Planet? It’s free. Free crack.

“You’ve never seen a Tweaker’s high beams flick on faster than when they hear the words ‘free crack.’” Jesus steered the massive boat of a car right, then left.

For a moment, Rupert thought that was the end of the story, and he supposed, to a Crackhead, that was all they’d need to hear.

“If you don’t mind my asking,” Jesus began, “what is it you do for a living?”

“I’m an entropologist at the Spliphsonian Museum in Washington, DC.”

Jesus drove in silence for about a half-mile.

“Well, then I suppose you’re qualified.”

“For what?”

“Helping us boost business. We need to sell more tickets.”

“Tickets,” Rupert said. “Oh, tickets. Golden Tickets to Crack Planet like you tried to sell me behind the FFG.”

“Man, I told you I was testing you,” Jesus said, laughing. “Check it. A few months ago, I was behind the FFG, doing my thing, when these two Junkies—I recognized one of them, Tito, used to be a clucker for another organization. I hadn’t seen him for a while, so I figured he’d been down the rabbit hole enough to buy this shit. He had a Tweaker with him, his wife, I think, but she was nice enough. She was more hard up than he was, so I knew she needed a ticket.”

Palm trees and pastel-painted stucco sped by. A pelican flew down between the lanes of cars, worringly close, but it was Rupert’s first pelican sighting, ever.

“So, after a little back and forth, they don’t just want to buy, they want to sell. Get in on the business. And well, I’m the only one out here shilling for these gringos, and I’m spread a little thin. Anyway, shit gets worked out and next thing I know, these two slags are arrested and Crack Planet’s in the national papers. I was like, fuck.”

“I hadn’t seen it.” Rupert consoled Jesus.

“You didn’t know Pluto was back in the Solar System Club.”

“Fair point.”

“So Tito is telling the cops that he didn’t care what they said, those tickets were pure gold, not the cut up two-by-fours them idiots used. Two-by-fours! Painted gold, with ‘Ticket to Heaven – Admit One’ written on them in marker. I mean, that’s pretty much what we do ‘cause these folks aren’t exactly Jack Parsons, but two-by-fours? Come on.”

Rupert was surprised at how much fiberglass marine life populated the store and restaurant fronts here, whether the establishment was marine related or not. Mucho Mattresses had a giant squid on their roof squeezing a mattress in its cephalopodian grip. “Even the Kracken can’t Krack these deals!” was painted across the windows. Rupert decided he’d absolutely buy a mattress from those people.

“But dude even ratted me out—told the fuzz that Geez-zus behind the FFG told him he should sell these ‘tickets,’ get some money, and go to Crack Planet. Then he said he’d met an alien named Stevie, and let me tell you, I don’t know any alien named Stevie. Stevie told him that he’d give this cockrocket and his woman a lift on his spaceship to Crack Planet, and I am telling you . . . that is not how you get to Crack Planet.”

Rupert turned his gaze to Jesus for a moment, studying the side of his face, trying to see what was under the double blockade of sunglasses and bandana.

There’s a certain way to get to Crack Planet?

“Anyway, I never did find out who this Stevie was. I think he was a crack hallucination, but the guy went and blabbed to the cops that Crack Planet was a place you could go and smoke all the crack you want for free.”

“Wouldn’t that be good for business?”

“Rupert, we want to push sales, but we don’t need the whole world knowing about it.”

“Crack’s pretty awesome, huh?”

“Man, crack is whack. Well, some crack is. Crack Planet crack, though . . . primo.”

“You believe there is a Crack Planet.”

Jesus smiled this time, not a grin, and Rupert could see that despite the fact that he looked like he might launch into a rendition of “You Can’t Bring Me Down,: he was maybe a pretty honest guy. But he didn’t answer.

“It gets worse. Tito told the cops they arrested the wrong guy, and that he’d be willing to wear a wire to help them nab this Geez-zus character. Man, dude was gonna set me up! Meanwhile, his old lady, I felt bad for her. She just wanted to leave earth, go to space, and smoke rock.” Jesus laughed hard here. “Then she was like, ‘Tito done sold the damn tickets to heaven. I only watched.’”

Rupert laughed. This was pretty funny if you thought about it.

“The weird thing . . . ?”

“There’s something weird about this?”

“Ha! When they got nabbed, cops confiscated over $10,000 in cash-money, some pipes, and a baby fucking alligator.”

Rupert felt a little queasy at the thought of the pipes, but the baby alligator was peculiar.

“$10,000 in cash. Do the math. That’s like a hundred tickets to Crack Planet. And they never even went!”

Rupert watched Jesus drive a little. Most of the time he didn’t seem crazy. Most of the time.

When they stopped at a light, a wild-looking man came out of nowhere, jumped onto the hood of Jesus’s car, and assumed a wide stance facing away from them. Rupert screamed; Jesus was unaffected. The man bent over and shot them a look from between his knees, waggled his tongue from side-to-side, then straightened and stomped three times with his right foot.

What the fuck?” Rupert yelled.

“Don’t panic,” Jesus watched the Tweaker. “He’s probably just warding off vampires.”

What?” Jesus didn’t seem crazy some of the time. Apparently, only some of the time.

Jesus rolled his head toward Rupert. “I didn’t say I believed in the vampires he’s trying to elude. But he does. Let’s just hope he’s done before—”

The light turned green.

“Nope. He’s a Spoosh Surfer.” Jesus accelerated and the man immediately lost his balance, rolled off the hood on Rupert’s side of the car, and disappeared into traffic.

Rupert craned his neck out the window, expecting to find the man wearing several sets of tire tracks, but he was gone. He pulled his head back into the car but could say nothing.

“Relax,” Jesus said. “It happens.”

Rupert stared at the road.

“Hey,” Jesus got his attention. “Seriously. You might as well reconcile yourself to this now.”

For the first time in weeks, Rupert thought he might cry.

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FMTwerker

The video of this really takes it to a unexpected level of fabulous, but maybe it’s just me because I’m pretty sure this is what I’d look like if I were “living my best life”—twerking atop of patrol car to Hall & Oats, then Supertramp, and being arrested to “You’re the One that I Want” from Grease. Where do the vampires come in, you ask? Christian Radecki informed officers that he was not on drugs, nor had he been drinking, and had no known mental health conditions—and that a fanged woman dropped by his place to let him know there’d be some child sacrifice to vampires, so he did what anyone would do and went to the sheriff’s house to help “save this children.” Can it get better? Of course it can. This occurred on April 7th, and he was released on April 13th, but then taken back into custody on April 23 on similar charges. And here’s where it falls apart and ceases to be fun—my theory is that he was gearing up for the April 29th twenty-two-year anniversary celebration of the adjudication of the assault that earned him his Sex Offender/Predator title in New Jersey. He’s not even a native Florida Man. Also, heads up—according to HomeFacts.com, there are an inordinate number of sex offenders in the Brookline area of Florida. It’s all fun and games until someone is a sex offender.

Cutway, Adrienne. “Florida Man Says He Twerked on Patrol Car to ‘Save Children.’” Daily Press. Tribune Publishing Company. June 4, 2015.

Read Florida Man: Battle of the Five Meth Labs: A Love Story here.

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4.3

FM8 (4.2)

 

Florida Fried Gator is a popular joint with a menu dominated by alligator-based items—there are no fewer than twenty-four in Sarasota County alone. This one was well-nigh empty. As he walked across the blistering asphalt lot and neared the restaurant, he heard a pssssst, but continued walking. It couldn’t have been directed at him, and if it was, he didn’t want it to be. He knew not one single soul in this godforsaken concrete hell.

He entered the building and this time, the AC felt rational. Rupert had changed into a pair of knee-length denim shorts and a t-shirt that depicted a vintage photo of four Native Americans lined up, holding rifles. On top, it read: “HOMELAND SECURITY, and beneath: Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.” It hadn’t gotten too sweaty on the short walk over.

He stared at the menu behind the counter for a while: There were buckets—original recipe, extra crispy, and grilled, in addition to the Family Gator Gut-Buster Bucket which included all the contents of three regular buckets of each flavor. There were gator tenders, popcorn gator, and gator sandwiches of either original, extra crispy, or grilled gator. Sides included coleslaw, biscuits, mashed potato and gravy, swamp cabbage, and much to Rupert’s surprise, turnip greens, unaccompanied by collard or ham (or gator). He contemplated the Gut-Buster Bucket, but figured that might be too much gator. (Is there such a thing?) He ordered an extra crispy gator sandwich, two orders of popcorn gator, some coleslaw, a couple of biscuits, and three servings of turnip greens, thank you very much. Two for him, and one for his mother, whose portion he’d eat in memoriam despite that she was still living.

As he finished the words “turnip greens, for my mother,” a three-and-a-half-foot alligator sailed through the drive-thru window and a car’s tires screeched a second before the driver had to come to an abrupt halt in order to make the sharp corner of the drive-thru lane around the building, and then screeched again as it launched onto the highway. The man taking Rupert’s order looked placidly at the gator, now lying on the tile floor in front of the deep fryers. This struck Rupert as ironic and unsettling, here in the FFG. The woman running drive-thru shook her head and picked up the phone.

“Goddamn Crackheads,” she muttered as she dialed. Her conversation with dispatch indicated that this was not the first time this had happened.

“Will that be all?” the man asked. He had a Cuban accent.

The beleaguered FFG employees jumped from the snapping jaws of the small alligator until Animal Control showed up, and once Rupert had received his meal, he sat down at the biggest table he could find, which was still too small, and popped a popcorn gator piece into his mouth. He thought hard about how he could avoid having to think about this study. The D.E.A.T.H. program. Why the hell was he sitting in a Florida Fried Gator 956 miles from home? Rupert stuck a fork into the consolidated pile of three turnip greens servings and noted that he was out in public and didn’t feel too anxious. The place looked vacant, yes, and after the flight and the weirdo at the front desk, it was a relief.

Someone entered, but Rupert didn’t notice. He thought about how his mom had made greens. His grandmother had made greens the way you make greens: spinach and mustard greens, diced onions, a variety of seasonings that Rupert could not recall, and a ham hock, split in two with a cleaver, so it could sit low in the pan and not tip the lid. Her sister—his mother’s aunt—would make hers with turnip greens instead of mustard and nothing but the seasonings, sans pork knuckle. As a child, Rupert’s mother preferred her aunt’s, which, of course, was a betrayal of epic proportions and led to a twenty-year sibling rivalry that bordered on ugly, and pushed a wedge between mother and daughter. At some point, Rupert’s mother was able to rebuild the relationship—as she simultaneously ruined her relationship with her own child, her only son—but it had never been as strong as it was before the day she’d said, “Mama, I like Auntie’s greens.”

“Pssssst.”

Rupert stared at his thus-far untouched gator sandwich, thinking, not for the first time, about how the fabric of his family life had unraveled due to his mother’s early preference for porkless turnip greens and subsequent career choices, then took a bite.

Pssssst.”

Across the aisle, two tables up, sat a man in tight, flared, dirty jeans (worker dirty, not homeless dirty), cowboy boots, a button-up blue flannel that looked way too hot for Florida, and a tan, suede jacket sporting sleeve and back fringe about a foot long. Rupert stopped chewing and stared at him instead of his sandwich. The man had semi-greasy, long grey hair, about shoulder length and pulled back haphazardly here and there with small braids adorned with birds’ feathers and other trinkets. He looked as if he’d been held hostage in a tanning bed every day of his life—he was deceptively dark, but pinkish. His features looked identifiably Caucasian.

Rupert watched the man get up from his single table, turn around to the garbage bin stationed behind his seat, separate out his recyclables with mindful care, and place his tray atop the bin. He then turned around, smiled a meth-mouth full of dental terror and went: “Pssssst.”

Rupert’s mouth hung open, and when the guy winked at him, then motioned with his head that he should follow, a half-chewed piece of popcorn gator rolled out and landed in Rupert’s half-eaten pile of turnip greens.

Methhead, Rupert thought. Methhead. Must contact Methheads.

Then the man was out the door.

Rupert made to follow him when the Cuban FFG employee bellowed, “Eh, preito . . . ” He pointed at the garbage bin. “Te sueno la cara . . . ”

Rupert had no idea what he’d said, but sensed it might be a little racist. The unmistakable look on the man’s face was an incommodious mixture of threat and condescension, and his gesture indicated that he expected Rupert to clean up after himself. Meanwhile, his Methhead was getting away.

Though Rupert was side-show big, he hadn’t much girth, and considering Newton’s First Law, the distance between them, and the net force of a large thing moving at a certain velocity versus the net force behind the large thing standing still . . . he opted to gather up and discard his unfinished meal. He thought to ask for a bag to go, but the man’s unibrow dipped between his eyes in a way Rupert didn’t think was possible, so he separated his recyclables, stacked his tray on top of the Methhead’s, and ran out the door. He then ran back in, grabbed his cross-body bag from the chair he’d been sitting on, and ran out again.

He looked right, then left, and caught a hint of tan fringe disappearing around the corner of the building to the back. Rupert jogged after him, assuming he couldn’t have gone that far, but as he turned the corner, the guy was gone. A large dumpster sat among an assortment of cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, plastic tampon applicators (?), and worthless, scratched-off lotto tickets. There was also a Hispanic guy standing there. Or Latino. Hispanic, Rupert thinks. Latino?

“Hispanic,” the guy said.

Rupert raised an eyebrow and narrowed his gaze.

“I could see you were struggling.”

“There was a guy,” Rupert began. “Weird. Fringe jacket, feathers.”

“You just described, like, three guys I know, güey.”

“Really?” Rupert shook off the distraction. “No, a man ran back here . . . ?”

The guy shook his head. His sepia skin leaned toward straight-up brown, and he had long, straight black hair hanging loose to his waist, kept in place by an olive green bandana tied tight, covering his eyes, a la Mike Muir circa 1983. He wore what looked like a long basketball tank jersey, but Rupert didn’t know the team, not that he’d recognize any teams. The shorts matched, dark spring green and white, hanging low about shin-length, with white socks pulled up to the hem and black dress shoes. His number was two.

Rupert stood, awkward, sweating, still hungry, his cross-body bag dangling from his hand. He was such shit at conversation, but an abrupt departure seemed rude. The sun back here was relentless and the greasy dead-gator-and-original-recipe-breading stench was overpowering. This guy didn’t seem to mind.

“Hot,” Rupert said. He didn’t like that he couldn’t see this guy’s eyes. “Bright, too.” Where did that weirdo go?

“Yes, it is.” The guy took a pair of sunglasses out of his shorts pocket and put them on, making his eyes more invisible, which made no sense, but Rupert felt the effect distinctly. He also still regretted not buying a pair of sunglasses at the airport.

He squinted at the guy’s jersey.

“Basketball?” Rupert knew nothing of sports.

Qué? Naw, man,” the guy laughed. “The Sarasota Scullers, man. Rowing.”

“Rowing.”

“Well, technically a youth rowing club.”

Rupert looked at him.

The guy didn’t appear to feel the need to defend this and he put out his hand, which Rupert took warily.

“Jesus Salvador.”

“For real?”

“Man, that’s racist,” Jesus said, offended.

Rupert’s face reddened.

“I’m just messin’, ese. It’s pretty ridiculous. You should see my parents.”

“They clearly had high expectations.”

Jesus laughed, so Rupert laughed and it felt good to. It’d been too much stress, too much weirdness for one day. And he was still hungry, and tired from the Xanax.

“Hey, you seem like a smart guy,” Jesus said.

“Thanks . . . ?”

“Yeah, man.” He leaned closer to Rupert, who refrained from leaning back. “Have you, uh . . . have you heard about Crack Planet?”

“What?”

“Crack Planet.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“No, it’s like ‘hay-soos’ . . . Sal-vad-or.”

“Crack Planet,” Rupert repeated, not knowing if he was making a statement or asking a question.

“Yeah, man. What I got here, and what I know you want, are tickets.”

“Tickets.”

“Yeah, man.”

“Tickets to Crack Planet.”

Golden Tickets to Crack Planet, bróder.”

“What the fuck am I doing here?” Rupert said as he hoisted his cross-body bag over his shoulder, about to walk away.

“Eh, eh, eh, man,” Jesus protested, tapping Rupert on the arm. “Man, I was testing you. You seem pretty smart.”

“The test for intelligence here is whether or not someone will buy a ticket to Crack Planet.”

“You haven’t been here very long, have you?”

“Arrived today,” Rupert said. “And I’m hungry, and I’m tired—I watched a three-and-a-half-foot alligator get thrown into a drive-thru window, and I don’t want to eat gator anymore.”

Jesus’s already-considerable smile widened. “Man, you come with me. I’ll fix you up.” 

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4.2

FM6 (4.2)

 

Between the airport and the Sarasota city limits stretched about a mile-and-a-half sea of concrete shopping plazas separated by isolated swamps and alien tropical prairieland, dotted with retirement communities of the ultra-wealthy and trailer parks of the poverty-stricken on every point on the condition/respectability spectrum. Most of the ride was straight down the Tamiami Trail, the name of which implied a rich and interesting Native American back story, but, in actual fact, was simple shorthand for “Tampa to Miami” as suggested by one white guy or another in the early 20th century.

The cabbie dropped Rupert off in a parking lot in the middle of one of the concrete oceans, blinking in the sun, and resigning himself to the fact that he’d have to break down and buy a pair of shitty, uncomfortable sunglasses. On the other end of this parking lot, on the same side of the road and before the next block, was a fast food joint called the FFG. He had no idea what that stood for, but his hollow stomach barked at him.

He turned to his destination—the Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet—and it was a dump. It was not helped by the merciless sun—everything in this place seemed destined to be faded by and eaten up by that fiery hell-orb, its very glare a visual chaos tearing everything apart atom by atom.

He really needed to get a pair of sunglasses.

Short palms guarded the corners of the building’s surrounding gravel/stone/shell “landscaping.” The place did look free of weeds, and free of an unreasonable amount of litter. The Spliphsonian paid for the duration, so Rupert took what he got. What he got right now was the sound of someone yelling nearby.

“Freeze! Hands Up!”

As if by genetic predisposition, Rupert’s automatic response was to throw himself face first onto the hot pavement, though he checked himself at the last second. He was melting in a Royal Courtyard Econo-Regency Chalet parking lot, about to embark on an already-doomed mission just to avoid cleaning some museum toilets, so he considered how hygienic or comfortable the local jail might be. Perhaps a little surprise racially-profiled vacation time could be the perfect excuse to not have to follow through with any of this, but the potentially-fatal consequences didn’t justify lengthy consideration.

Then, two black labs bounced by, both collarless and barking. Rupert panicked for a moment—police dogs, maybe—but one sped by in front, the other behind him, then both were gone around the corner. Not a patrol car in sight.

Rupert hitched the duffle bag higher onto his shoulder and walked sweating through the door of the motel.

Now, he froze. The AC felt set to about thirty-two degrees. His sweat-soaked shirt clung cold to his back and chest, and, to his horror, his nipples knifed at the fabric. He dropped the duffle bag, trying and failing—between adjusting his cross-body bag strap and sliding the file high up into his cold, sweaty armpit—to hide what he now realized was a phenomenon as embarrassing as it was unavoidable, no matter how you sliced it. He mentally apologized for the many times he’d covertly ogled women in the grocery frozen foods isles.

The clerk behind the desk smiled a smile at Rupert that made the flesh of his lower back crawl. Not unfriendly, but not friendly either—perhaps this was normal for the service industry. She had black hair that hung in her face to her jawline. Her nametag read “Angel.”

Really. He had difficulty maintaining eye contact.

Rupert handed her his reservation printouts and said: “Hello. I am checking in . . . indefinitely, I guess.”

Angel didn’t look at the papers, but left them on the counter and turned to the side to type away at something for about five full minutes. At length, but with no less typing, she spoke:

“Sooooooooo . . . ” And she typed.

Please, no small talk.

The “so” went on so long he had time to think of several things that might be coming out of her mouth, and he picked the most obvious.

“No, it’s a cross-body bag.”

Angel stopped typing and looked at him.

“ . . . how’s the weather up there?”

He didn’t answer and instead studied a framed watercolor of a manatee floating under the surface of the water, bathed in the glorious rays of some imaginary benevolent sun that clearly did not exist in real life. It wasn’t a bad painting. It also was not good. This was a land of ambiguity, and ambiguity made Rupert—as it does most people—feel deeply uncomfortable.

“Did you paint that?” he asked Angel who had returned to the novel she was evidently required to write before checking someone into the motel.

“Fuck no.” She didn’t look up.

Those were the last words Angel ever said to Rupert, that he was aware of. She slapped a small envelope onto the counter containing two plastic credit card-sized electronic keys with FFG fast food ads on them then pointed straight ahead, past him where a corridor stretched back into darkness. As Rupert made his way to room 220—as scribbled on the key card envelope with a malfunctioning ballpoint pen—the working light fixtures became fewer. His room was somewhere between I Feel Relatively Safe and Someone’s Going To Push Their Way In After Me And Rape Me Forever. Even Rupert recognized that this was an odd thought for a six-foot-ten biracial man.

The room was unremarkable—typical motel-on-the-highway fare. Two queen-size beds (that his feet would hang off of), plum-colored, floral-printed bedspreads made of some sort of moisture-repelling fabric. Two pillows per bed, neither of which were comfortable, alone or in combination. An entertainment center with the TV on top and the rest of it modified to hold a mini-fridge (which clicked and hummed in turns) and microwave (unset, flashing digital time that would have to be covered up with a sock). Too-small bathroom, too-low showerhead, and the toilet flushed, but struggled. The bathroom sink was outside the bathroom, before a massive mirror and fluorescent lighting that made anyone who stood in front of it look like a citizen of Nilbog. Ironing board, hairdryer, hangers attached to the rod, one-cup coffee maker. A dog might have peed on the carpet, once upon a time.

Rupert could hear the traffic of Route 72.

Much to his disappointment, he realized he’d have no trouble adjusting to living here. Aside from the cold. His shirt was dry now, but, damn, he was still cold. He looked at the heater beneath the window and hoped it worked. When it kicked on, a weird smell came and went, and he felt the heat come through.

“Thank God.”

Through the window above the heater, he saw the yellow and green FFG fast food sign before pulling the curtains shut.

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