IN THE BACKSEAT OF A SEDAN
I’m sitting in the backseat of a sedan, and the
sun is shining. It is a cool, but not unseasonably cold February morning.
Three of us are driving east on Route 17 from Elmira to Manhattan. The
trip should take about six hours, but we are making great time. It’s
early, and there aren’t too many cars on the road, but then again
there are never very many cars on this road, far between cities in upstate
New York. The driver has no real consideration for the speed limit.
A State Trooper is not going to give a Corrections Officer a speeding
ticket. I’m in a pretty good mood.
We have stopped at a rest area. There is a small bathroom shack and a soda machine. There are a couple of picnic tables and trashcans. There are trees all around. It looks like the Garden of Eden.
The officers aren’t really paying attention to me. Around us are carloads of other people. They seem oblivious to my presence. Is it possible that a man in chains is not such an unusual sight to them?
Wendy heads for the ladies’ room. Officer McCoy lights a cigarette and then follows me to the men’s room. He is a big Irish cop with an equally big beer belly. He knows I am not going to run off anywhere, and lets me take my time walking.
At the urinal, after taking forever to get unzipped, what with the handcuffs and chains, I can’t go. I really have to pee, but I can’t. I’m suffering from stage fright. Relax, I think. Just then, what seems to me as a whole troop of boy scouts come charging into the tiny bathroom. Oh, that is not helping matters. Not at all.
When McCoy and I finally come out, Wendy is back at the car. McCoy buys a soda from the vending machine. I wish he would buy one for me, but I don’t ask, thinking that then I would have to hold the can all the way to New York City, and also wait until Manhattan for another bathroom. Some gifts are not really gifts at all.
You can read Sitting in the Backseat of a Sedan in its entirety in issue 2 of Swink.
Jesse Friedman and his family are the subjects of the 2004 Oscar-nominated documentary Capturing the Friedmans. Friedman began writing in prison after he was falsely accused of child sexual abuse. “Sitting in the Backseat of a Sedan,” his first published piece, is an excerpt from a longer narrative in which he explores life behind prison walls and his release, after thirteen years, at the end of 2001. In 2004 Friedman filed an appeal motion to vacate his conviction, based upon newly discovered evidence of Constitutional violations. He is currently working on a memoir about his experiences. For more information about Friedman, go to www.freejesse.com. To contribute to his legal defense fund, please visit www.friedmandefensefund.org.
© 2007 Swink, Inc.