I sat in my car and waited. By then it was about 3 pm. I listened to the Christian radio station and fiddle with my phone as the time slowly ticked by. Now it was four, I had my eyes fixed on the area the bondsman told me my husband would be released from. Was I ready to see him? No… I wasn’t prepared for any of this. Then again I wasn’t prepared to be horribly betrayed by my spouse and left a grieving single mother of four children back in September either, but somehow we did with it right?
Now it was 5 pm. I watched as several different inmates were released and caught buses. Still not my husband. My phone rang. “Shemeaka? I’m outside, did you bail me out?” I looked by I didn’t see him. Around and around I drove but to no avail. “Where are you?” I asked. Apparently, there was a second facility. I drove over to the second facility, which was conveniently located right down the street from the bail bondsman. I didn’t make it all the way down the road before I saw my husband walking with another inmate down the road. I barely recognized him with a beard. I had never seen him, not clean-shaven. He got into the car.
“Where are the boys?” he asked. He must have been out of his mind. There was no way I was going to bring our children with us into this situation. “They are with my aunt,” I replied. He was quiet as we drove back up the road to sign the rest of the documents with the bondsman. The ride home was awkward, to say the least. A 2-hour drive where I watched him twitch and flinch. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with trauma out of this entire situation. He spoke to me again as we crossed over the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville. I don’t recall what he said, but I replied “God I hate this city…” He put his head down and said, “I know.” He apologized for how quiet he was and explained the last two weeks in the jail had been particularly rough. I just held my tongue. I knew I needed to give him time to adjust.
As we drove my mind flashed back to the conversation that I had with my friend on the way to bail him out. Set boundaries. What will you talk about, what won’t you talk about? Draw lines. Be honest. I could do that. Could I do it without beating the snot out of my husband? That was yet to be determined. I took him to Walgreens to the local Walgreens in Orange Park to get him some toiletries. I called a good friend of mine to find a pay-by-week hotel to put him up in. I took him through a drive-through to get something to eat. As we parted ways at the hotel I hugged him. He awkwardly wrapped his arms around me and patted my back. It was like seeing an estranged friend. I told him I would bring the boys by in the morning to see him. He was out of jail right in time for our youngest son’s first birthday and of course after that, Christmas.