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The Unluckiest Guy I Ever Met The Mattress Incident Burglarizing His Own Apartment Art Gets Even The Marijuana That Wasn't His And then the lawyer

The Unluckiest Guy I Ever Met

by Clifford A. Schaffer

This is a true story. The facts have not been embellished. In fact, I left a lot of stuff out.

The Mattress Incident

Art got out of prison and enrolled in the local junior college. Art had no money and his parents had been effectively bankrupted by the legal experience so Art was in a daily struggle just to keep food in his belly and clothes on his back. But there was no question that he was trying to get an education and point himself in the right direction.

Because of the financial strains at home, Art moved out of his parents' house and got a small two-room cottage. "Small" is the operative word. The "bedroom" was literally not big enough to put a double bed in, and the kitchen was smaller. Mice and roaches? Of course. It was simply the best Art could do.

Life was extremely tough for Art. There wasn't much employment available for anyone, let alone ex-cons, and he lived a day-to-day, hand-to-mouth existence. Beset by financial pressures, he turned to dealing marijuana on a small time basis, using some of the contacts he had met in prison. That income was "iffy" at best and Art had to use nearly all of it just to eat, pay the rent, and support his dilapidated pickup truck, which meant he didn't have any furniture. That is, the only thing he had to sleep on was the linoleum floor.

He went out driving with his friend John one night and noticed a mattress that someone had dumped at a Goodwill donation box. They talked it over and it seemed pretty clear to both of them that Art was just the kind of person for whom such a donation was intended, so they proceeded to load it in to the back of Art's pickup truck. As they were doing so, the Sheriff pulled up. John, a tall long-legged guy, had an ounce of weed in his pants so he quickly hurdled two or three six-foot fences and was gone into the night. Art was stuck.

The deputies started their standard routine of harassing Art for everything they could think of. They first hit him with every kind of mechanical citation they could on the truck, but that wasn't much. Then they told Art they had found a joint on the running board. Art, by this time, had learned the drill and pointed out that, realistically, such a charge would never stick and would just be a waste of time for both of them. Frustrated, the cops decided to charge him with stealing the mattress. Art, of course, clammed up and said nothing.

They stuffed Art and the mattress into the back of their patrol car and drove down to the main jail in downtown Sacramento, about fifteen miles away from where Art was arrested. When they got downtown, they talked it over with their superiors and decided that - despite all the danger that mattress-stealing represented to the community - there was no way they could make the charges stick in court. The reason was that they had caught Art with the mattress half in, and half out, of his pickup truck and they couldn't tell for sure whether Art was stealing the mattress, or dropping it off. I am sure it disappointed them.

So they went to Art, gave him the news and showed him the exit door. He asked for a ride back to his truck which was greeted with great hilarity all around. Art just turned slowly and walked to the door. As he reached the door they called out "Wait! Don't forget your mattress!"

They explained that he certainly couldn't leave his mattress there and would have to take it with him. Art considered telling them that the mattress wasn't really his, but quickly realized that, if he did so, and refused to take the mattress, they would bust him again for stealing it. He asked for a ride again which, he later told me, provoked absolutely panic-stricken laughter. "They were in tears!" he said.

Art left the building dragging his mattress behind him, and went out on the street to try to hitchhike home. He was tired, looked a little scroungy anyway, and was carrying a mattress, all of which is a real hindrance to efficient hitchhiking. He considered just dumping the mattress and walking home, but there were regular police patrols going by to watch his progress and make sure that he didn't litter. Then it began to rain.

Holding the mattress over his head allowed him to keep the rain off of himself, but it meant that the mattress got progressively heavier with each step - and he still had more than ten miles to go. Late that night, after several hours of struggle with the wet mattress, an undercover narc picked Art up, allowed Art to stuff the wet mattress in the back seat of his car, and gave him a ride home, pumping him all the time for information on where one might find a little weed. Art didn't tell him anything.

Art finally got home, propped the soaked mattress up against the wall in the bedroom, and went to sleep, exhausted, on the linoleum floor again. An hour after he fell asleep, the mattress fell over on him and, because the room was so narrow and the mattress was so wet and heavy, it wedged him in so tight he couldn't get out until his friend John came looking for him the next day.

Burglarizing His Own Apartment

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