Brad Finger

Brad Finger
Marietta, Georgia Straight

I was a teenager. At the time, I had lived in Smyrna, Georgia for two years and I was attending Wills High School. I was getting into trouble at school for skipping and cutting class excessively. I always hated the structure of school and all the nonsense that goes along with it like all the cliques/groups and who’s popular and who’s not. In the years before Straight I was smoking weed,drinking and experimenting with LSD. One time I overdosed at 11 years old on gin and vodka and almost drank myself into a coma. Plus there were times I took some pain pills and times when I huffed some things. The school thing is what was really getting me into trouble. I lived in Highlands Apartments which was right next door to the school so it was so easy to skip and go home. I skipped so much they had Court for me at school and the judge said if I cut one more class or skip one more day she was locking me up. I left the Court and walked on home and skipped the rest of the day. My school officer would come to my home looking for me when I skipped. She knew I was using some type of drug and thought I was a angry time bomb about to explode. I was 14.  I hung around with the older people.

One night I was arrested for Arson after me and a friend had been drinking. When I was arrested me and a friend had been drinking in the woods. What happened was he had gotten very drunk on Budweiser beer and as we came out of the woods into the complex I lived in, we decided to set the outdoor Apartment Complex dumpsters on fire. I remember he said, “Let’s set these on fire.”There was two side by side green dumpsters at the end of a building as we came out the woods.  Each dumpster was 6 feet tall. They were big ones. The exact same kind that Businesses use. Big green steel ones the size of a small room. Nobody saw the fire we had going in the woods. Yes, both the trash dumpsters went up in flames. Burnt the hell out of both of the two dumpsters so badly that they had to be replaced with news ones. I was caught red handed by a tenent that lived there. The guy that caught me was a big older man and he had a Doberman with him. I had no chance he grabbed my arm and drug me in his house and called the police. He was taking out his garbage, walked right up on me and he grabbed me in what is known as a “Citizen`s Arrest.”  I was so drunk I never heard him walking to the dumpster. My friend took off back into the woods. He was the only one seen.  He was on the other side of one next to the woods so he just slipped back in the woods. My friend never got in any trouble because I never snitched. The Fire Department had to put it out so it did not catch the apartments on fire. I was arrested by The Smyrna Police Officers right in front of my mother and everyone there. I was very embarrassed the people in that part of the complex all came out to see me being searched and cuffed and placed in the car. I remember the blue uniforms those Police officers wore at the time. I was taken to The Smyrna Police Department and handcuffed to a bolted down,steel metal chairs in one of their holding rooms.They gave me shit telling me what kinda road I’m going down kinda thing. I was kept there for about six hours before I was released. My mom got me out of jail.  She was devastated.This was all the school officer needed.

As I was in Court the school officer showed up and I was then asked to leave the courtroom. Unbeknownst to me, she convinced the Court that I needed Straight Incorporated. I was Court Ordered to Straight Hell without ever being given a chance to address the Court and speak on my own behalf.
I lived about seven minutes from Straight just down the road a couple miles and never new what it was. So on the one day I want to go to school cause I had planned on buying a hit of acid from a friend my mother says no we are going to family counseling. I refused until she got the school officer on the phone who told me it’s a part of my probation and she would have me locked up if I did not follow my probation. So off I went and it was my straight Day One intake.
My mom and I arrived at the Straight building around 9:00am.  It used to be an “A & P” Grocery Store. There was wood where the windows used to be.  On my intake I found myself in a 10 x 10 room with two other guys. One of them had a pen and clipboard. They were asking me all kinds of crazy things like if I ever had sex with animals along with other offensive sexual questions. They asked me questions such as how much did I drink and how many drugs I did. They asked me what music I listened to. They asked me did I steal. An asshole check list that took all day and I remember just wanting to smoke a cigarette so bad I almost just lit up one anyway. After that they dropped the bomb on me that I would be there at least six months. I was so shocked and pissed and when my mother came in to tell me bye I still remember giving her my worst I hate you look I could make with tears in my eyes. She was an emotional wreck crying her ass off.
I was then taken to a bathroom,stripped searched and then introduced to group. They were eating dinner and as I looked out over the room of empty chairs for the parents I had the strange feeling I had seen this place before in a dream or something. It was very scary.  I refused dinner. Then I saw group get motivated and did not know what the hell kinda place I just landed in. What the hell is this?  Just blew me away. My fear grew. I was horrified at what was happening. I was scared to death. It it happened to be a Monday night Open Meeting and I was introduced to everyone at dinner time. It was the worst nightmare I never woke up from. Immediately I was thinking about how to escape from this insane,crazy ass place I found myself in. My very first old comer was older and bigger so I saw no chance of running from him. Meanwhile my fear and feeling of this confinement was working on me and smothering me.I was now two weeks into my program. It was 1982 in Atlanta.
I had been changed to a second foster home and he was a younger lower phaser. I put together what I felt was a master plan that would not fail one way or another I would be out of whatever this place is. My worst case scenario would be I would be put into a mental hospital and I was ok with that because I could at least smoke cigarettes, watch television and shit and shower in private. I was so desperate. I was so afraid. I was just a little boy scared to death.
So one night I just did it as my oldcomer slept. I was in Straight for 2 weeks at the time. I was awake and in the room there was his bed, a dresser and my mattress on the floor. There was nothing else to make a weapon or a tool to harm myself. I slowly got up and unscrewed the globe off the ceiling light fixture. I put it under the mattress and pushed down read hard and it broke it up into knife like pieces.  I did not want to die but I had to convince everyone I was suicidal. So I began the process of slowly cutting my wrist in the dark room with only the outside street lights to see. I can remember having to make long slow burning cut after cut with tears in my eyes and controlling my pain and screams. In my mind with every slice I was screaming out but I had to be silent as to not wake up the person asleep 3 feet away from me. This  process took me all night long and I had to keep from hitting a main blood vein and actually killing myself. I was in Hell. Blood was everywhere I had gone past the point of return. My wrist now was completely laid open and peeling back so much I could see inside. The cut was perfect. Very deep without disturbing the main veins.  This lasted 3 hours. It was a long process because I wasn`t trying trying to kill myself. I wanted it to be so terrifying to whoever saw it so they would think I was trying to kill myself.
Now time for the show to begin. He is waking up and looks over at me. I’m standing there glass in hand at my wrist telling him I will make the final cut so he better let me out and let me go. The look of horrors came over him as I stood there bloody dripping. He started screaming for his mother and would not let me out. He said,” Oh my god !!!!! Mom mom mom help he’s trying to kill himself…call someone help…don’t do it brad please don’t do it….me..let me the fuck out of here or I’ll lay it open all the way … oh god help…please Brad don’t do it!” I told him, ” Let me out. I wanna fucking die!!  Don`t get near me!  I`ll finish it!!!   I fucking swear you stay back!!” It was loud and dramatic.
It was ok. I had no place to go so plan B was in effect and I would go to the Hospital. Staff was called and showed up. I bled enough so that when staff got there I was weak and balled up in the corner of the room. The room looked like a Manson murder scene. Blood everywhere. The Straight staff member tried to talk to me as I was now down in the corner screaming I want to die. Suddenly he dove on top of me beating me and the glass broke and sliced my leg wide open. I was rushed to the E.R. One staff member and a couple of 5th phasers took me. The Police were never called. I was taken by my beltloop. Blood and all.  I told the Doctor I wanted out and wanted to die hoping they would hold me. The Hospital was on Austell Road but I can’t recall the name.  I just remember them sowing me up without any kind of pain medication. 15 to 20 stitches. Maybe more.
After leaving the Hospital I was driven directly to the Straight Building. Immediately they took me into an intake room for 15 minutes. I was promptly brought back to group and stood up and had the snot confronted out of me.I was stood up and confronted for at least a good hour straight. I would not shed one tear and that fed the fire. I stood cold hearted and took there screaming at me until they sat my ass down. I stood there with my wrist still in fresh bandages ..they tried to reach me get me to share feelings..I stood there cold and hard but terrified on the inside.Then they got mad at me cause I would not breakdown for them. After an hour I was sat down.
The next few weeks was the same because I did not want to be there. My foster homes did not want me because of the preparations they had to make to have me.
I do remember my oldcomer getting the shit confronted out of him as well like it was his fault, like he should have known or seen it coming.  His name was Ricardo. He lived with his mother and like me he had no brothers or sisters or a father around.  That`s probably why I was sent there for him to reach me.  Anyway, it was one of those raps where we sat on the ground in a big circle. Lights were turned low and he got called on and he started talking about something that the rap was about.  Then the staff started asking him things and he brought up the fact that his newcomer had tried to kill himself.  Then the arms went up and he got confronted. Yes he started crying. At least five to ten people confronted him plus that staff member. The poor guy was trying to do good and I fucked it all up. He never asked for my bullshit.
The the end result for my oldcomer was some sort of setback, phase drop or something else I can’t remember. He never 7 stepped. I think he was pulled. I guess I had scared the Hell out of his mother. All I wanted was simply out of there and to go somewhere else for help.
I was abused and had extremely harsh punishment for not wanting to be there. In the end they broke me down. I failed and there I sat in that hell again. That night I was sent to a different home. Everything had to be removed out of the bedroom even light bulbs. They tied me up with rope to go to bed on the floor and there I laid in darkness.
I was pain…afraid. My plan had failed. I can’t recall my exact dates ..Feb 82 Jan 84 I think is the dates. I spent 16 months on first phase.  I spent 31 months total in there and 7 Stepped.
I was in the 6 month aftercare for about 3-4 months. During month 3 or 4 I got kicked out of 7 Step Society for drinking and dating. I was banned from the Straight Building.