Chapter Five

The 56-day reprieve had ended. That horrible escapade had only postponed my inevitable desti- nation -prison. The final page of the story of the notorious Ricky Sinclair was forever etched in stone. My future was vanishing right before my eyes. The officers pulled me out of the attic, ap- plied handcuffs and leg irons, and gave me a free, taxpayer ride to the parish jail.

I was escorted into the jail. They added simple escape to my charges. They took finger prints and mugshots; my appearance had changed plenty. Finally, they took me to a cell, the drunk tank. The detox cell was in plain view of the jailer. It had a glass wall through which the inmate could be watched for alcohol or drug withdrawal problems. The detox cell became my home. I was caged like an animal. The lights stayed on around the clock. They wanted to be able to see me at all times. I wasn’t going anywhere.

During those first few days, I began to realize that there was something wrong with me. There was something really wrong. I wasn’t like most people. My idea of life was a can of beer and a half-naked woman playing volleyball. Life was a party, nothing else. And now, at age 22, my life was over. It was really over, no second chances. Everybody knows that 3 felony convictions, all drug-related, means life in prison. I would never see another beer or any women playing volleyball. I would never see another day outside of jail.

How much time would the escape charges add to the 80 year sentence facing me? Who cares? It doesn’t matter. I’m just different. It’s me. It has to be me. The police, the narcotics agents, and the judges can’t all be wrong. I’m the one that’s wrong. I deserve a life in prison.

I began to search the depths of my soul for answers. How could this be possible? Where had I gone wrong? I had started out as such a good kid. I came from a good family. My life had only been one of fun. I hadn’t hurt anyone.

I could remember passing by a state prison as a child out riding with my dad. I must have been five or six years old. We talked about the inmates. I remember telling my dad that those gators out there must be some kind of bad. Now, 17 years later, I was on my way to being one of those bad gators. It was my worst nightmare, and it had come true. I kept thinking back over my life.

I really had a strange childhood. At age seven I developed spinal meningitis. It’s a rare disease that normally leaves its victims either dead or severely brain damaged. I was in the hospital for a long time. I had fever over 105 for many days; I almost died. I took spinal tap treatments to remove fluid from my spinal column. It was a painful ordeal, but I managed to survive. Many people lose hearing from the high fevers, but I didn’t. I came through it without any permanent damage.

I had my appendix taken out at age seven and my tonsils removed at age eight. I contracted spinal meningitis again at age twelve. The doctors were perplexed that I had gotten it again. They told my parents that the odds of getting that disease twice were comparable to being struck by lightening twice. I went through the spinal tap procedures again. Fortunately, I was able to survive it again without any lasting effects. To pull through spinal meningitis at any one time is truly a miracle, but to have gotten it twice and to have survived both times without any permanent damage was simply astonishing.

My dad played music as a hobby during my childhood. He would take our entire family with him to parties to watch him play. I began sneaking beer out of other people’s ice chests at the age of nine. It seemed to be the “grown-up” thing to do.

My dad caught me; he was mad. He didn’t want me to drink, but I kept sneaking around doing it anyway. Surely I was old enough to drink. Besides, they did it.

My parents were both good-hearted people. They were well respected in our community. We were members of the local Catholic church, though we didn’t go regularly. We were wealthy. My dad owned a successful meat packaging company, 1,900 acres of farm land, and 600 head of cattle. We owned bulldozers, 18-wheelers, airplanes, cars, and plenty of money. My parents were the type of people that would help others, and they had lots of friends. They took legal custody of several of my friends, kids who were the children of several of their friends. These kids grew up in our home. I really loved my parents, and I wanted to be just like my dad.

Both of my parents were afflicted with a dreadful problem -alcoholism. I can’t remember a single day that my parents didn’t drink at least a fifth of whiskey. The drinking really had a hold on both of them. I guess that’s why they were so against our drinking. They were also against drugs. My dad told me to turn in anyone that I caught using dope. He said if anyone pushed dope on me, that I was to knock them out and drag them to the principal’s office.

My dad had good morals, but I’m afraid that the power of money must have gone to his head. When I was around twelve, he got drunk and made a statement that he was god. He said that nobody could take him down. He bragged about his company, his land, and his money. I’ll never forget it; he just seemed to believe that he was invincible. Six months later, he developed cancer. The doctors gave him less than a year to live.

During my dad’s sickness, he began to vomit profusely. The cancer was taking its toll. One of his buddies was a doper and suggested that dadtry marijuana to relieve the vomiting problem. He did. Then one day, I walked in and caught him getting high. It was a confusing moment. There he was getting high, and he had instructed me to turn in anyone that I caught doing that. I was thirteen. I asked him what he was doing, and he explained. He told me that he had just started smoking it, and that it wasn’t that bad. He let me try it. We got high. It was my first time.

At fourteen I was getting into anything and everything, everything but school work. Dad’s condition had declined. He was taking lots of radiation treatments, so he gave me the bulk of his responsibilities around the house. He lay in bed for a year taking thorazine. I would usually be the one to give him the thorazine shots. His condition improved, and soon he tried to take over the house again. I became rebellious; I liked the responsibilities and didn’t want to start minding him again, so problems developed between us. We started fist fighting and other crazy stuff like that. Things were never the same. I had once worshipped my dad, but after the fighting, we never really got to be close again.

I really had a rough time of it at age fourteen. During that year we lost about $2 million. I contracted hepatitis. Later that same year, I totaled out my mother’s Mazda. It was a bad wreck. A friend and I were riding around smoking pot and throwing bottle rockets out of the window. One of the rockets hit the door, ricocheted into the back seat, and went off. Startled, I let go of the steering wheel and turned around to look, losing control of the car. We hit a tree, turned three flips, jumped a fence, and landed sideways in a field. We were taken to the hospital. I underwent surgery twice on my elbow. As you can see, I was no stranger to the hospital.

At fifteen I wrecked my pickup truck while coming home from a bar one night. I left the truck, along with a bag of dope which I had forgotten about, and caught a ride home. The next morning, a state highway patrolman came to my house. I was still asleep. He talked with my dad about

my condition. This was during the time that I was rebelling against Dad. They decided to try to teach me a lesson, so the patrolman came into my room and woke me up. He pulled me out of my bed, handcuffed me, drug me out of the house, and put me in the back of the squad car. I begged him to let me put some pants on; I was still in my underwear. He told me that I wouldn’t need any pants where I was going. Dad thought the whole thing was hilarious, but it didn’t help me a bit.

Looking back, it’s amazing that I’m alive. I have probably been through at least seven or eight major car accidents. Why am I still alive?

I always hung out with guys that were older than me. Most of my friends were at least three or four years older than I was. They were into things that kids my age didn’t do, like heavy drugs. One of those guys was really into cocaine. He was the first one to ever stick a needle in my arm. I was about fifteen. I had taken lots of pills and stuff, but the needle is like crossing a line. I had been doing Quaaludes, valiums, and speed since age thirteen, but I crossed the line into intravenous drugs at age fifteen.

At that point, the drug thing was really on. I did it all: cocaine, tulenol, seconal, morphine, Demerol, delaudid, heroin, meth-amphetamine, acid, and mushrooms. I smoked Sherman, cigars dipped in formaldehyde. I did it all. I continuously smoked marijuana. I didn’t even count smoking pot as getting high. I smoked pot like most people smoked cigarettes. I smoked it all day, everyday. I wasn’t completely dressed if I didn’t have at least a half an ounce of pot on me.

I was a dealer, a walking drug store. If I didn’t have it, I could get it fast. I started out selling weed stolen from my dad, then began ordering speed out of the trucker magazines. You could buy 1000 hits of caffeine for $20; they looked just like black mollies. I would sell them for one dollar each. I sold LSD, pot, Quaaludes, cocaine, everything.

I remember selling some Roach 2’s to some kids in high school. It was a powerful drug that was used by the guerrillas in El Salvador during war. It works as both an upper and a downer: with adrenaline flowing it’s an upper, otherwise it’s a downer. It was to be broken into quarters. I told those kids that, but they didn’t listen. They each took an entire hit. It really tore them up. At lunch, they couldn’t even hit their mouth with a chicken leg. I was worried. Luckily, they were too wasted to tell the principal where they had gotten it. It was a close call; I had plenty of it on me.

During those years, I sold drugs that I couldn’t even pronounce. I learned the name of some of those drugs from the police and the judges. I was really out there. What happened? I wasn’t born a dealer, a drug addict, or smuggler. I was born a baby, but through situations in life, I had gradually become these things.

My life was a mess. One time, I went to Pensacola, Florida, on a chartered airplane with a friend’s dad. We tore the town down. Coming back, he and I were both broke. We rode home, from Pensacola to Baton Rouge, in a taxi cab. Another time, I flew to Los Angeles, partied on the beach, and flew back the same day, a trip of less than 24 hours. I was a real knucklehead.

During high school, there were plenty of times that I stayed up all night shooting dope. I would get my buddies, dopers who were 35 to 40 years old, to drop me off the next morning at school. It made school rough. I would go there high and looking bad: no sleep, bath, or clean clothes. Everyone knew. During second hour, I would be coming down, “Jonesing,” and would fall asleep in class. It was bad. Then, after school, we had football practice. How did I make it?

My football coach really liked me; I was good. I scored 26 touchdowns in one season. I would score two or three touchdowns during the first half, then they would sit me on the bench during the second half to keep from running up the score. They gave my dad a trophy for bringing me to practice. I lettered every year that I played. If it weren’t for drugs, I could have really gone somewhere in football. I was out my sophomore year with “car-wreck” elbow, the Mazda wreck. I came back my junior year, but the drugs were really bringing me down. Everyone knew it; the football coach would check my arm for needle tracks at practice. I was bad news.

I missed 60 days straight during my senior year; I didn’t even attempt football. I would rather do drugs than play ball. Drugs were my life. I missed many days of school out partying. My uncle, a medical doctor, wrote me a doctor’s excuse for two months. That excuse was vital to my graduation. All in all, I must have missed 80 days of school my senior year.

It was during my senior year that I got busted with my first felony conviction. A so-called friend of mine ratted on me. He set me up. I sold some valium, marijuana, and cocaine to several undercover narcotics agents, and they busted me. The judge allowed me to finish my senior year before requiring me to serve out my sentence.

I was seventeen and my attitude deteriorated from its normal lousy state. I was looking at jail time at graduation, and it really had me bummed out. I went crazy with the drugs. Right after graduation, I pulled up 300 units of morphine in a rig and rammed it home. It was three times the dosage I normally did. It was my first overdose – the first OD, I just went out, that’s all I remember. When I came back, I started looking for another hit. I didn’t care; I was looking at jail time.

Soon after graduation, I went to jail. They put me in the same cell with the guy that had set me up, and we fought. I nearly beat him half to death before they could break us up. It didn’t help matters at all. I was moved to a cell by myself. During my jail term, there were very few visitors. Where were all of my buddies now? My aunt from Texas, who had been praying several years for me, sent me a Bible. I never even opened it. Jesus was far from my mind.

My dad died while I was in prison. He was 44 years old. I had served over eight months, so they reduced my sentence to time served and let me out to attend the funeral. I went to the funeral, and then it was back to the drugs.

I was a junky, a bad junky. I wouldn’t sit down with less than an eight ball of cocaine. Less than that wouldn’t be worth coming down over. I was the type of junky that would take a big hit of free-based cocaine, hold it, then stick a needle in my arm at the same time. I would do drugs until either someone went to the hospital or we ran out. I was a fool, a nut.

At eighteen, I picked up a 28 gram rock in Houston. A buddy and I stayed in the bathroom for three days shooting it. We broke out the big spoon. That was some powerful coke. On the third day, they took my buddy to the hospital. He had been straining so hard that he developed a strangulated hernia. He lost a testicle. I never left the bathroom. I kept on shooting it, alone now.

That afternoon, another friend stopped by. He was a Vietnam veteran who was once hooked on 11 grams of heroin per day. I loaded the big spoon up with cocaine, then drew up 70 units. It was pure yellow cocaine. I offered it to my buddy. I told him that it was the best hit that anyone had ever offered him, or ever would. He started shaking, but managed to turn it down. So I did it. I did the whole spoon. It was my second overdose. I just went out. That’s all I remember about it. When I woke up, my chest was pounding and my mouth was bleeding. I wanted another hit.

“No way man!” my wife cried. “You just nearly died!” They had kept me from swallowing my tongue. I was a very sick man.

While sitting in the cell looking back over my life, I realized that it was simply a miracle that I was even alive. There was no other explanation. I had been through so much: I had overdosed three times, taken lots of drugs, come close to death many times, and had stared down the wrong end of several guns. I had even been kidnapped. Surely my being alive was a miracle.

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