The afternoon turned into evening and the evening into night. The only change was the fourteen people that joined us in the holding cell. The newcomers forced me to make a decision between sitting with murderers or with vomiting drunks and strung-out druggies. I chose the five MS-13 homies and behaved myself.
Do you remember how bad school lunches tasted when you were in first grade? Dry bread, chalky-tasting peanut butter sandwiches, and soggy potato chips served with stewed prunes and a dollop of day-old whipped cream. All of it ladled out on a yellow compartment tray.
Well, let me tell you, my first bite into the peanut butter sandwich made me yearn for the good old days of first grade. I gagged and spit up a mouthful into a napkin.
“Hey, old white man, about three in the morning, you’ll be wishing you ate this garbage,” said the youth with the teardrops tattooed under his eyes.
I shook my head and offered my tray to him. He took it and consumed both his and mine. I admired how he and his friends adapted to their situations without so much as a single complaint. I supposed being in jail was just a normal part of their lives.
But the smell!
Nineteen guys in a ten by twenty room with vomit, diarrhea, normal toilet usage, and BO swirling around us without a fan to alleviate the stench. My poor stomach tried its best to unload itself, but somehow everything remained below deck. Steady as she goes, I thought to myself in a moment of humor, which quickly passed
If I leaned back, my back hurt because of the iron bars, but leaning forward moved my nose closer to the vomit and diarrhea on the floor. I compromised by slouching down like an old sweater midway between both positions. I dozed a little here and there throughout the night, but around 3 a.m., I had a vision.
In it, I was seated high above the city of San Francisco, maybe in the heavenly places looking down on the city. I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart, “I am going to use your time in jail as an opportunity to take on the spirit of depravity, which is the main principality governing San Francisco. Be bold and allow me to speak through you. I will give you more than enough grace for this experience.”
I then fell into a deep sleep, comforted by the gift of faith which enveloped me like a warm quilt.
(Continued in Part 4…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)