Not long after my bust in Boston, I came home from work one night around 10 pm. I walked up the unlit staircase telling myself I needed to replace that damn bulb. At the door at the top of the stairs I could make out a note taped to the panel, but I couldn’t read it because the staircase was dark. I went inside and immediately got the empty soundless sense that no one was home. I snapped on the light and expected the note to tell me where they were; but it wasn’t a note. It was a court order addressed to me. It was a notice to appear in court in seven days. She filed a complaint against me and wanted me to move out.
“What have you done?” I said aloud.
She had taken our daughter. I was standing alone in my apartment, realizing that, for the first time since she was born, I didn’t know where my daughter was. My wife did not answer her cell phone, and I called a few friends who hadn’t seen or spoken to her. My mind was reeling. I saw myself standing before a judge trying to explain my unlikely life.
“Where do you work, Mr. Cusick?”
“I’m the ad director for a magazine in New York, your Honor.”
In my mind I saw the judge flip through the copy of High Times that my wife would certainly provide. My heart and hopes sank.
“Where’s Dylan?” I said desperately to no one. My voice was shaking.
What have you done?
I got undressed and pulled an ounce of Hash Plant out of my backpack. Normally I did my after-work toking in the bedroom behind closed doors, but since my daughter wasn’t home it didn’t matter. I sat on the living-room couch in my underwear and took multiple rips off a seasoned bong trying to calm down. My hands were shaking too. All the marijuana on the planet would not have diminished my anxiety at that moment.
Suddenly there were three loud knocks on the front door directly behind the couch.
Another hammering on the thin wood was followed by:
“OPEN THE DOOR!”
The room was filled with smoke. The burning bong and the bag of weed were on the coffee table. The police were five feet away on the other side of a quarter-inch plywood panel. It was over. I had lost. Oh my God! Where’s my daughter?
I opened the door just enough to squeeze out onto the landing on the staircase. I knew what to do. I closed the door, raised my hand as if to signal Stop! and said, “You do not have permission to enter my home”.
There were three cops on the shadowed staircase. I could make them out from the moonlight pouring in through the window.
“We don’t need your permission,” said a voice in the dark. “You’re leaving. We have a temporary restraining order here, and you have to quit the premises.”
“I already have a notice to appear in court,” I said.
“I know,” the cop replied. “We put that on your door. This is a restraining order. You can’t stay here tonight. Turn the light on so I can show you the paperwork?”
“No, the bulb is burned out… I have to replace it,” I said stupidly.
“Well, you can come downstairs to the squad car and read the papers.”
What good would that do? I thought. I knew what was on the other side of the door and judging from the smell in that hallway so did the police. It was over. I lost. Oh my God! Dylan…
I said, “Do you give me your word as a gentleman that those papers in your hand give you the right to enter my home?”
“Yes, sir” the cop replied respectfully. My eyes were adjusting to the dark, and I could see his face in the moonlight.
“In that case…” I said, opening the door, “Come in.”
Three cops in my living room with an open bag of Hash Plant and a big bong smoking like a chimney. The room was opaque with a grey cloud of smoke. The cops surveyed the scene and I surveyed the cops.
“Well,” I said, “Now what happens?”
“You get your things and you leave.”
“That’s it?” I said, incredulous.
“That’s it,” he said meaningfully.
“I – I’ll pack a few things.”
Shooting from the hip and under the watchful gaze of three policemen, I picked up the bong and the bag of weed and started to walk towards the back bedroom.
“Go with him,” I heard the sergeant say..
I was three steps ahead of him, and I saw my backpack on the bed. Almost without thinking I tossed the Hash Plant in the backpack, spun on my heels and smiled at the cop as he entered the doorway. I put the bong on the dresser, opened a drawer and took out a few socks and a shirt and stuffed them in the backpack right on top of the weed.
“That’s all I need,” I said cryptically.
Down on the street there were three cop cars in front of my house, and the neighbors were looking out the window.
“Do you know where you’re going?”
I can stay with friends in the next town a couple miles away. “But I don’t have a car,” I told him. “I gotta call a cab.”
“Officer Scott can drive you to the town border,” the Sergeant proposed.
“That would help. Thank you,” I said.
“Good luck,” the sergeant said sincerely. Officer Scott opened the back door of his patrol car, and I climbed inside.
For the first mile we drove in silence. Finally, the cop carped, “You know, we could have busted you back there.”
“I’m well aware. Why didn’t you?”
“I said, ‘It smells like marijuana’ going up the stairs,’ and the sergeant said, ‘If that’s all it is, we’re not going to do anything about it’. It was his call. We were just following orders.
“We knew there was a kid involved. Cops don’t like to do this kind of shit,” Officer Scott complained. “We got better things to do.”
“Well, you know… I’m… grateful.”
After a few seconds of quiet, Officer Scott said, “You’re wife’s a real piece of work, you know that?”
“I’m well aware.”
“Thanks. I’m going to need it.”