A while back I was on jury duty and was the last person selected for a case against a young man  (30ish) who had been arrested for possession and distribution of PCP, also known as Angel Dust. It’s a very addictive and nasty drug. He was observed selling packets outside a bodega in Harlem by someone who reported it to the police.  It is typically sold in small baggies for $20.00 each.

When the undercover officers approached him they could smell the pungent odor that PCP emits and right away spotted a packet sticking out of his pocket. They arrested him without resistance. When they arrived at the police station they asked him to remove his pants and found them stuffed with 25 more packets. In addition he was carrying $350.00 in cash, all in tens and twenties. So while the officers did not actually see him complete a transaction, he was charged with “distribution” which carries a much more stringent penalty if found guilty. The jury’s job was to decide if that charge was justified beyond the significantly less onerous one of possession.

His mother would show up each day, sometimes with a young woman who I supposed to be his sister or girlfriend. How Did I Get Here? by Rob DavisHis mother would just watch…no expression…simple resignation…weary. The accused was very nice looking, even clean cut. He wore a neat shirt and tie every day, that his mom probably brought for him. Throughout the trial he sat up straight in his chair next to his attorney. He was attentive and polite, but never testified or uttered a word except to respond, “Yes Sir”,  to the judge’s periodic questions about whether he understood what was happening.

It was quite a contrasting image to the photo they showed of him in his baggy, ghetto jeans and hoodie, taken when he was arrested. Seeing him sitting there all alert and polite, one could imagine that there was a time when he’d been the apple of his Mom’s eye, the clever and happy child with such great promise. Now whatever hopes she’d had for him were about to go up in smoke. Perhaps she already knew well, why he was in this spot and those hopes had been dashed well before this moment. As a juror, there was no way to ask such questions, no way to know. But as a human, I wondered.

The trial took several days. As the case unfolded, witnesses testifying to questions posed by the public prosecutor, followed by cross-examination by the defense attorney and at times instructions from the judge, I found myself wondering what was going through the accused’s mind. In the evenings following, I’d jot down my thoughts. This is what came out.

How Did I Get Here

Written by Rob Davis 12/09/13

HOW DID I GET HERE Written By ROB DAVIS 12/09/13

Riding in the back

got the cuffs on

and the shackles biting

Grates over the windows

and the armed guard

right beside me

He looks at me from

the corner of his eye

Got to be asking himself

who is this guy

What's he doing

in this van with me

Oh well

just do your job

Just get him

where he needs to be

How did I get here

What happened to me

How did I ever

let myself

get into that PCP

Man it felt so good

when I smoked that weed

so finely laced

It took me higher

like I was flying

with the angels

out in space

But now its taken me

to this place

Two more waiting when

the van gets to the court house

Each one takes an arm

as they lead me

in the back door

And then up to the floor

where the judge and jury

wait to see

how strong a case there is

against me

There's no wondering

with these two

Not a thought in their minds

how this came to be

or what they need to do

Get him up the elevator

no niceties required

Just do the job

Not up to me

to figure out

if the charges

that got him here

are false or true

I can't help

to wonder myself

about the differences

between us

Did they have a father

who took them to his job

when the kids in school

all went with their dads

Did he take them to ballgames

and go to parent teachers day

or out for a burger

with their mom and sis

Did he give them hugs

and advice

and watch over them

Is it an excuse

or at least a reason

for what I've got

myself in now

Would I be

a different person

if I even had a dad

I mean I've got one

out there somewhere

Question is

If he saw me now

how would he feel

Would it make him feel bad

if there was a way

to let him know

what's happened

to his son

since he just

let me go

Does he even know

that I exist

Its a question I've

asked my mom

She just shakes her head

Once she said

he did know

and he cared

But then

he lost himself

And when that happened

he lost sight

of us as well

I could tell it was

a very sad moment for her

tears came to her eyes

Said she'd never spoken of it

because no matter

how she tried

he'd withdraw

a little more

Until the day

he just stopped coming

through our door

It cut her deep

but she had

no time to rest

or deal

with her own pain

With two kids to raise

and no one

to share the burden

She just went on

and did her best

But I think

I kind of understand him

pretty well

He was just

in his own private hell

He may have really tried

but just could not

give to me

whatever these cops

got from their Dads


he even went away

like I could

very well do

Maybe that's why

I never heard from him

Who knows

what their life was like

but mine

was running wild

With nobody

to look up to

or give me

the time of day

I guess

based on where I am today

that I

went the wrong way

How did I get here

what happened to me

How did I ever let myself

get into that PCP

Man it felt so good

when I smoked that weed

so finely laced

It took my higher

like I was flying

with the angels

out in space

But now its taken me

to this place

Up they take me

to the floor

where my trial's going on

To the holding room

for future cons

They let me change

into the clothes my mom

brought for me

She's waiting

in that court room now

to see her son

get sentenced

Its either possession

or with intent to sell

The first is bad

Never good to go away

But the second

Thats another story

If they get me for intent

will be a long long time

before I see

the light of day

This cannot be happening

was not supposed

to happen to me

Very soon

I will be taken to a cell

where I'll be in

my private hell

Just like my dad

just may have been

Can't believe how far I fell

Just want to scream and yell

I'm the son

who made her laugh

when she came home

From working all those hours

so I could go to school

Dress cool

Wear dope shoes

Now I'm the son

who broke the rules

The son she'll see

be taken to a place

With barbed wire

and guard towers

true brimstone and fire

The son they said

would be something some day

She waits now in that court

to see me taken away

How did I get here

thought I was so smart

Thought I was way too clever

for them to ever catch me

Man It felt so good

when I smoked that weed

so finely laced

It took me higher

like I was flying

with the angels

out in space

But now its taken me

to this place

Soon I will be

taken to a cell

where I'll be in

my private hell

Can't believe

how far I fell

To have to count

on some white lawyer

who I don't even know

to make the case

for reasonable doubt

I just want

to put my head back and shout

Hey fucker

Yea you

The fucker who's holding my fate

in your hands

you better be good

No you better be great

You have to out gun

or at least neutralize

the prosecutor

Who unfortunately for me

has a lot of evidence

for the jury to see

He tells me

stay alert

Don't ever

hang your head

No matter how bad

things may seem to me to go

Don't let it show

Ok I tell myself

Got to keep my cool

not show how I feel

Man up

I silently yell

hang tough

don't make it no big deal

You can't walk

its true

Cause they got your ass

for possession

But you can

come back from that

Your life ain't over

The sentence for intent though

is a whole other deal

Its lights out for real

That's why I got

to stay in the groove

and know they can't prove

that just cause

I had those bags

they can possibly know

what I would do

I'm not claiming

I don't buy and use

Of course I prefer

to buy a lot at one time

and lower

the chance of getting caught

Poor strategy this time

But always worked

til now

At least its offers a reason

for how many I bought

Its what the lawyer's

got to work with

Hopefully he'll come up with more

That's what he's getting

paid so much for

Not that I'm

like the monkeys who buy from me

I'm not hooked like them

I'm no addict

I can stop

whenever I want

I could never do

what I do

if I were an addict

You need your wits about you

to live my life

Yea listen to me

Now thats some good

fucked up bullshit

Where were my wits

when I got busted


I just like the stuff

It makes me feel good

forget all the bullshit

I've had to deal with in life

It takes me away

from the no father downer

and constant sad look

in my mom's eyes

Or at least

that's my bullshit excuse

for loving to fly

and for getting myself

in this fucking bind

But it doesn't make me

lose my mind

Cut the shit man

cause no matter what

You won't be taking flight

for a very long time

The lawyer insists

we have a better

than even chance

They never saw me

make a sale

or even try

all they can do

is imply

Its his job now

to win this bout

and plant some serious doubt

in those juror's eyes

They'll want them to think

the 20 bags

they caught me with

brands me as out to deal

If the lawyer man

is as good as he says

and keeps the rap

to possession

at least it will help

how my mom will feel

How did I get here

what happened to me

How did I ever

let myself

get into that PCP

Man it felt so good

when I smoked that joint

so finely laced

It took me higher

like I was flying

with the angels

out in space

But now its taken me to this place

They say its time

The two guards

each take an arm

and pull me

to my feet

Then take me

thru the door

into the court room

The judge

my lawyer

and the prosecutor

are the only ones there

My head spins so hard

I wonder

will I land on the floor

One guard holds my arm

while the other takes

my cuffs and shackles off

I hear the judge

say my name

and tell me to sit down

My lawyer sits

in the chair beside me

It has begun

What I thought

would never


High stakes game

going on here

and my life

is the stakes

How did I get here

What happened to me

How did I ever let myself

get into that PCP

Man it felt so good

when I smoked that weed

so finely lacedIt took me higher

Like I was flying

with the angels

out in space

But now its taken me

to this place

The judge

is giving instructions

to the prosecutor

my lawyer and me

about how things

will go down

He's matter of fact

in his delivery

and says

referring to the defendant

that I am presumed

to be innocent

unless proven guilty

by the people

the prosecutor

beyond a reasonable doubt

that I am guilty

I sit up straight

in my chair

and listen intently

Like every word

is the most important word

I've ever heard

Just like

the lawyer man told me

We spent time talking

about the flow that trials take

and how important it is

for me to never show

emotion or frustration

and that it would

be more tedious

then any experience

I'd ever had

No choice now

No saying

this is bullshit

no stomping out

like I've done

so many times

When I didn't like what

was going on

When I was

frustrated or pissed off

No lighting up

heading for another place

If this doesn't go well

they'll be

no lighting up

no walking away

no saying

fuck off m-f

None of it

For a very long time

While the judges voice

goes on and on

I wonder to myself

How am I feeling

being here

No bullshit

This is me

talking to myself

Not me

putting on a show

Do I feel scared

Am I angry at the world

Do I hate

the judge and prosecutor

How about the witnesses

I have to face

The cops

that busted me

The people on the jury

if they say I'm guilty

How do I actually feel

Its a question

I never really

have asked myself

Too bad

no time for it now

Just be cool

take the next step

Don't stop to think

about bullshit

Take the next step

and shut the fuck up

Get the money man

Its all about

the money

Got to have

a pocket full

Buy the shit I want

The clothes

that make me feel good

pay for my fly pad

Leave cash

for my mom

Which she never mentions

also never spends

But is paying for the lawyer

sitting next to me now

the one I'm counting on

to defend

me from the intent charges

He pushes back from the table

and stands up

to answer something

the judge asked him

that I missed

That is the end

of letting my mind

wander off like that

to something

I can't answer anyway

I'm pissed now

at myself

Can't let myself

get lost like that

Cut that shit man

I'm wearing nice pants

a shirt and a tie

Its very unlike

the mug shots they took of me

wearing baggy jeans

a hoodie and jeans jacket

I wonder

if that would help or hurt

If something like that

could make a difference

My mug shot

makes me look like shit

My eyes all glazed

like I was high

I can't say

I really believe

That the jury

is going to

ignore the photos

and see me in a fresh light

Because of my

courtroom threads

are looking tight

But what I think

in this case

doesn't mean shit

The lawyer

thinks it could help

He says

we have to present me

as the image

of clean cut and decent

Anything to give the jury

doubt that I could really be

the drug dealing low life

they see

in those photos

How did I get here

How did I get here

How did I get here

How Did I Get Here?

How Did I Get Here?