August 27,1990 — May 7,1992
It was on a weekday, and the grueling twelve hour warehouse horror show was coming to an end. I recall being pleased to have been assigned to the Neely local host home that evening. Jason Neely was a 4th phaser straightling, who I considered more of the passive type than most. He came from an influential family who lived in an upper middle class neighborhood near Orlando International Airport. So, happy I was… as I knew that I would eat good that night and it would be a more comfortable stay for me, being in a clean environment.
The other guests included a fifth phaser named Rob and another misbehavior named Ryan…Which struck me as a little strange due to the fact that Ryan was from Deland and I was from Deltona, only about fifteen miles apart from each other, along with the fact that both of us were misbehavers! I had never been in the same host home with Ryan. I mean never, in the…oh, I would guess eight to nine months of being in Straight at that time! I am sure they kept us separated due to us being from the county.
Anyways, we left that hell hole on Silver Star Road and headed to the Neely residence. I remember looking at Ryan several times and the eye contact we shared confirmed that he was having the exact same thoughts as me. I just knew in my gut that it was on…We were going to take advantage of the situation and make a break for it!
After completing all the usual evening stuff…showers, dinner, M.I.’s…Well, listening to the upper phaser’s “Straight-A-Lized Bullshit” we headed for bed! Now the bedroom had one window which I think Rob slept under that night and Jason slept under the door. There was what appeared to be, a walk-in closet in the bedroom which had an interior door with one of those battery operated alarms on the jamb, same as the one on the window and the one on the hall side/outside bedroom entry door. With only two upper phasers in the bedroom the closet door was left vulnerable in my mind…Also, it bothered me that the closet door had an alarm on it! Why? I would think to myself…All host homes I had been in would just remove the closet door. In past overnight stays there, if there was three upper phasers, one would sleep under the closet door…So, I was intrigued…Hoping there might be some clothes or anything at all to help aide in our escape!
Okay, we are locked in, lights are off and I am patiently waiting for Rob & Jason to fall asleep! There was a sleeping bag in the room which had a large metallic zipper pull on it. I quietly worked on removing it, by twisting it back and forth until it finally gave way! By then, the guards were dead asleep…I slowly moved towards the center of the room where Ryan met me. I showed him the zipper pull and whispered to him that I was going to try to scrape the nail polish and/or glue, or whatever was used to glob all over…covering the phillips head screw of the battery compartment on the alarm, so that we could remove the battery. Ryan thought I was talking about the window alarm and feared that I would wake up Rob during the attempt and that we would be busted, so he wanted to just pull the window up and run for it! I told him that I wanted to get into the closet first…That maybe, just maybe there might be some clothes or something in there to help us out.
So, I slowly and quietly crawled over to the closet door and stood up to inspect the alarm. As I began to dig into the hardened substance over the screw head, I couldn’t help but feel paranoid that I was making too much noise! I remember thinking that my breathing might be too loud. I was trying to be as quiet as possible, taking my time while dealing with Ryan whispering to me, “Hurry Up!” I finally got the screw to break loose and I removed the battery. Shit!! The damn door is locked…Thank goodness it was just an interior bathroom type door lock which I was able to pick open with the zipper pull!
I open the door and Ryan gets up and follows me in…I close the door and found a light switch, turned on the light and found myself very disappointed seeing absolutely nothing but an empty room with a few pairs of whitey-tighties, (What we were wearing) and some socks! We put the socks on and I talked Ryan into letting me at least attempt to remove the battery from the window alarm. If Rob or Jason woke up, then we just pull the window up and run for it! Just as I was getting ready to turn the light off so our eyes could adjust…I looked up and what did I see? I saw an attic access door. I told Ryan that I had seen a pull down ladder type access door in the garage when getting in out of the car! Ryan was considerably smaller than me so I hoisted him up and he pushed the drywall access door up and into the attic…He then climbed up in and found a pull string light up there. Now, this next part is somewhat embarrassing on my part…However, it is part of the story and I choose to tell this story in its entirety, as memory serves me correct, leaving nothing out! So, I immediately found myself in predicament…I guess with all the excitement and emotion going on, I realized very fast that I had to shit! Yes, shit… Thanks to the extra pairs of underwear in the closet, I was able to do my business and clean up from it!
I turned the closet light off and then proceeded to pull myself up into the attic, put the lid back into the access hole and knowing the layout of the house, headed for the garage, slowly and quietly, not wanting to wake up anyone! I remember the trusses making slight cracking noises as we put our weight on them. We made it to the garage access door and I started slowly pushing down on it. This was making a very loud noise because of the long springs attached to the door which helps with the self closing option from below! DOING, BONG, PING!! You name it…It was way too loud with the echoing from the garage for my liking! I was able to grab the pull string from below and hold on to it while using my legs to push the door down as far as I could. Then Ryan climbed onto the ladder part, still all folded up, causing the door to slam down on the hood of Dad Neely’s new shiny black BMW!! My heart stopped for a second, then started beating faster than it had all this time! I even held my breath thinking that somebody had definitely heard that bang!!
We had to move fast now…I climbed down and we turned the garage lights on. The car was unlocked, but no keys…I searched the car for change and hit the jackpot by finding an envelope in the center console which had cash and written checks inside. Pretty ironic that the envelope was labeled with something to sorts of…Straight Fundraisers! I took the cash, just over $200 and found some sneakers…Which were too small, but I squeezed into them anyways! There were two 10 speed type bicycles in there…We grabbed them and headed out the side man door!
FREEDOM…OH MAN!! Did that cool outside air smell and feel fresh!! I WAS FREE AGAIN!! We rode out of the neighborhood and found the darkest, unlit streets possible to get the hell out of there as fast as we could! We eventually raided some clothes lines to cover our near naked bodies…Nothing fit right, but we weren’t being picky! At the time, I thought I was grabbing a white shirt, only to find out later it was a soft pink woman’s type top! We rode until we made it close to downtown…We then ditched the bikes and waived down a taxi to take us to the bus station. We get dropped off at the bus station and go in to get tickets home. Now, the next bus departing out to Deland was at 10am that morning…It was only 2:15am! We had no choice but to wait…So we bought the tickets and some smokes out of a machine and sat down. I scoped the station out and realized that there was only one public entrance and exit. I became paranoid just sitting in there, thinking about if they look for us in here, we wouldn’t be able to easily escape without a struggle! So, I went outside and walked into some woods next to the station. I found a milk crate and placed it next to a tree…I sat down on it, leaning against the tree facing the station. I guess that I eventually fell asleep, only remembering waking up and it’s daylight out. I looked around and had found myself sitting in a homeless people’s wooded compound or neighborhood of sorts! There was canned and jarred foods stockpiled around me, clothes, books and boxes…I remember a plastic outdoor Barbie playhouse set up with adult legs dangling out the door of it!! This all freaked me out so I got up and…against my better judgment, walked back inside the bus station looking for Ryan. I found him inside sleeping on a bench, I woke him up saying that it was not safe for us to be inside there! It was around 6:30am and even if we weren’t heard leaving the house earlier, both of us missing will be discovered anytime now! We walked outside and back into the woods…away from the homeless people and waited. At 9:45 we walked back out, found our bus and got on…I never felt so anxious in my life, wanting that damn bus to start up and take off!! The bus finally departed a little past 10am, to my relief…That seemed to be the longest 20 minutes of my life at the time!! I again had an overwhelming feeling of freedom!!
The bus ride lasted an hour or so, arriving in Deland. We walked away from the station and went into a Kentucky Fried Chicken to get something to eat. We decided that it was best for us to split up from there so that we weren’t too easy to spot knowing that a search had already begun for us!! That was the last time I saw Ryan, as he never returned to Straight. I found out later his Father had pulled him from the program after that copout!
Well, I started walking South, heading towards my home town when I saw some friends I knew before Straight at a gas station. I approached the girls, which I hadn’t seen in almost a year and asked them for a ride. I remember them looking at me, commenting on the clothes I was wearing, asking what had happened to me? I then realized what a freak I had turned into from being trapped in that warehouse…I had this fucked up hair cut, I was so very pale from not being in the sun for months, I didn’t know what to say! They told me that they were heading to the mall in Daytona, not going my way. I told them that I would just wait in the van for them while they shopped and could get dropped off later…They declined! I felt so low at that time…Like a reject!! Funny story regarding these girls…One of them ended up helping me out with other later copouts and eventually we married and had three children!
Anyways, back to this copout story… So, I knew I had to get to a safe place as fast as possible and I had a place in mind so I started walking, and walking…And I walked, and walked, and walked!! Eventually, I was forced to remove the shoes I was wearing due to the pain of walking in them being too small on my feet! Luckily, I did have a couple of pairs of socks on.
I walked from downtown Deland all the way to the first area of Deltona. This journey took me around 11 hours to complete…I recall the pain from walking on any road or concrete because of how raw my feet had become…I recall the pleasure of placing my feet on the cool soft grass anytime I could! I was so out of shape from sitting in a chair at a warehouse for months upon months…To walk that distance was only possible from pure determination not to go back…Even though I did!! I would see shadows run across the road in front of me from dehydration and sleep deprivation. I definitely hallucinated towards the end of this hike… I recall seeing a group of people hanging out in the front yard of this house ahead of me, only to realize that it was just a light post in the center of a mature bush sitting in the yard! I did finally make it to my destination, a friend’s house where I would be safe momentarily! I collapsed on the living room floor upon arrival and woke up that next morning experiencing convulsions in both of my legs! They were fiercely shaking and cramping on me and there was absolutely nothing I could do but deal with it…It did eventually subside by the next morning. However, I was in pain for several days!
Funny thing about this copout story is…That I cannot remember how I was caught and sent back to Straight! Hopefully, it will come back to me…The problem is that I returned 8 times back to Straight custody from the 9 successful copouts! I believe it was the time that my Mother convinced to come back home and that she would not turn me back in…All I wanted to do was to explain to her that I was being abused in there! She was so brainwashed by staff that when I went to sleep the first night home, I was only to be woken up by some Dads to take me back!
I do remember that charges were pressed against me for the theft of the bicycle and that the Orange County Judge court-ordered me to complete the program! Obviously, I was devastated to hear him say that to me…However, I would not give up! I would never give in to Straight…NEVER!! And I never did….
I did play along to reach 2nd phase so that my escapes would be easier…I did that five times!! So yes, I have more to write about…
In conclusion to this story, I cannot leave out the confrontation I received on my first Friday night open meeting after being caught and returned back to Straight…Dad Neely called me out and began to express his feelings of disgust and anger for what I had done to him, his family, his personal belongings, his home and that I had…”Crapped In His Closet!!” I saw staff members snickering over that one!!
Thanks Everyone, Brian