Jeffrey Meranto Slipping Into Darkness
It’s odd how a person’s mind functions under stress. As I was placed “Under Arrest” and the Agent told me, “Mr Meranto you are under arrest for narcotics violations,” I didn’t think of my family, I didn’t think of the possibility of years, even a lifetime in prison, I didn’t wonder about what they were saying, or the fact that DEA Agents were swarming into my business like so many uninvited ants invading a picnic, I thought about our cat.
My wife and I had gone down to an animal shelter looking to buy a puppy and we walked away with a mangy old cat. She was secluded in a small cage away from the other animals due to a horrid case of ringworm that made her appear like something come back from the dead. Seeing her all alone and defeated in her small cage we knew she would never be adopted so we asked about her. We were told that her ringworm was “aggressive” and that she had not responded to treatment. Long story short she was slated to be “put down.”
7 months of salves, ointments, emollients, balms, creams, lotions, and dips. 7 months of scratches and bites. 7 months of plastic then rubber then finally leather gloves. 7 months of searching under beds, chairs, cupboards and cabinets to find her so we could continue her treatments. 7 months of playing “Mad Scientists” and she was finally free of her mangy coat.
And I sat with my hands cuffed behind my back watching the DEA thanking God that our cat was healed from ringworm.
Processed Into The System
The events that follow an arrest are to be best thought of as being written by some far away Russian Novelist. The only thing missing was the sound of the wind blowing across the snowy steppes as I was placed inside a van that had no windows only steel mesh where the glass should have been.
Hours of waiting, being moved from holding cells to interrogation rooms then on again to the same cells only on a different level then back to the same interrogation rooms rearranged and repainted each time but, the same none the less even though they were in different buildings. Always the same cell always the same room just in different locations.
As I was being marched towards the camera for my “booking” picture I caught a glimpse of my reflection and I was 10 years old again. We had gathered for some family event. Well fed and eager to be away from each other we scrunched together so some balding Uncle could take a Family photo. My Mother in a moment of madness attempted to tame my wild hair.
“MOM!” I exclaimed loudly, as she was using the one sure cure-all that all Mothers use for everything from cleaning a smudged face, to putting the shine back on your Sunday School Shoes, or, as was in my case, to slick down some cowlick – Saliva. My Mother had spit in her hand and was applying it with vigor to my head.
Satisfied and looking at my hair she gave the nod that all was in order. Click. One month later when our copy of the photo had arrived my Mom said, “Oh Jeffrey.” My hair had a mind of its own and while I might behave for fear of having my Mom tell my Dad, my hair had no such inclination and the picture proved it. There I was my head sprouting horns left, right, and center. The photo was framed and set on the mantel and for years I had to look at it with my many sets of wet horns.
As I stood there in the jail having my picture taken I remembered that old family picture and thought to myself, “This one’s going to look even worse.” And I think I was right.
We all have bad days. We all have worse days. From the time of my arrest until after my release from prison I view as one day, ” The Worst Day” of my life. Time stopped. I woke up, went to work, and got arrested. I went to sleep that night in a jail cell trying to determine how old it was by peeling away the successive layers of paint. Year one white, years following yellow, beige, grey, black, and blue. Years later I wake up in a hotel room with green and gold drapes after being released from prison . . next day the alarm rings – stretch then yawn. Day two.