zingmagazine10 autumn 1999







about zing


8 poets making it new
generation z
lutwidge finch
the back of beyond

There were vehicles careening with screeching tires, all coming to a stop in front of the Accord, blocking off any possible escape. A swarm of agents, with their handguns drawn, surrounded the car. Peter yanked open the door on the driver´s side and yelled, "Motherfucker, hands behind your head! Don't move a fuckin' inch!"

I did not recognize this Peter at all, this was a crazy man coming down on me and Mo. I didnšt know what to do. Another agent grabbed MO and dragged him out of the car and onto the street where they pushed his face to the ground and handcuffed him. I watched as they shoved MO into another agentšs vehicle. The amazing thing, as I look back on all this, was that the events I have just described beginning with me stepping into the Accord, up until the time MO was placed in the agencar, and all the vehicles cleared from the street, took no more than five minutes. Pedestrians passing by probably thought they were witnessing the filming of a scene out of an upcoming "cops & robbers" flick.

After all that excitement, I found myself in Peteršs car, riding along with Tom, the Chicago agent. I felt I had to say something to clear my head, if nothing else. "I'm sure MO suspected something. He must have started putting two and two together.

First, Isabel in the hospital.

Second, Maria too shook up to come with me to New York.

Then I come in by taxi, not by limo. Finally, the UPS visit. He left the office. His sixth sense must have told him something. Why did he come and pick up the heroin? Peter said one word: "Greed." Then he contacted his office over the car phone. "We almost lost it," Peter said into his phone, excitement creeping into his voice. "But thanks to Mel, from the jaws of defeat we snatched victory!"

I let out a long sigh of relief. I didnšt realize how tight I was holding myself. That night, February 22, 1995, I returned to Chicago. I was incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The following morning, I went to court for arraignment. I was charged with and informed of the statutory penalties. The charge was "Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin."

The statutory custody provision was: ". . . any person who performs unlawful acts attributed to controlled substances, and if it involves one kilogram or more of heroin, shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which may not be less than 10 years or more than life."

The statutory monetary penalty was "a fine not to exceed $4,000,000."

My stomach dropped to the soles of my feet. Ten years to life! My emotions had been on a roller coaster ride: falling when arrested, rising when flying to La Guardia, plummeting when the delivery plan was blown, ascending with MO's arrest, and finally, plunging violently with the reading of the charge.

This was the culmination of so many things that had happened to me. It wasn't the beginning. The beginning? It all began in Danbury, Connecticut, January of 1993 . . .


'the Back of Beyond'

Prologue Chapter 1 JAWS OF DEFEAT Chicago/New York City February 1995

Chapter 2 THE WILL OF GOD Danbury, Connecticut January 1993

Chapter 3 TASHKENT ODYSSEY Tashkent, Uzbekistan October 1993

Chapter 4 THE EAGLE HAS LANDED Lahore, Pakistan November 1993

Chapter 5 DECEIT Brooklyn, New York December 1993

Chapter 6 PLANS OF MICE AND MEN Karachi, Pakistan March 1994

Chapter 7 LAHORE REVISITED Lahore, Pakistan May 1994

Chapter 8 EUROPEAN PASSAGEWAY Frankfurt, Germany September 1994

Chapter 9 PSI New York City October 1995

Chapter 10 COURTROOM 2230 New York City December 1995 Epilogue