Storytellers takes a glimpse into an artist’s inner psyche through a story of their choice.
In this edition, Chicago thrash-metal outfit Oozing Wound tell us a story called “Cop Shit.” We’ll let them take it from here…
There were nine of us between the two bands, crammed together with our gear in the back of a conversion van in what could only be soft-balled in as “unsafe.” Two got to sit in the front where leg room was ample, but the fumes were worse. A couch had been shoved in the back, pressed against the drivers side wall it allowed three to sit facing the side door window, while two others would sit on the floor. This left the last two to make a seat where they could, which often meant sprawling out over the pile of gear in the back or inserting themselves into it. Either way, over the course of the drive, every seat was uncomfortable.
We were on the way home to Chicago. The journey home is often a blend of emotions, but it takes a special kind of awful to experience that sense of glee mixed with dread that goes with having to end something so terrible only to go back to one’s own miserable life. This tour had not been positive for many reasons, not the least of which had to do with the van itself which had been replaced a week before the tour started. This van was nearly half the size of the original vehicle, but there weren’t many options. With everything set, vacations cashed in, and shows booked, we didn’t have a choice.
The drive from St. Louis to Chicago is roughly four and a half to six hours depending on the driver, the traffic, and the desire to get the fuck home. Illinois is a big state when you drive the vertical length of it, and outside of Chicago you might as well be in the deep south as far as weirdos are concerned. It’s one thing to get stared at in a city, but in small towns those looks come with an unhinged animosity.
I’ve never known my cars, but I guess this was a typical conversion van, probably a Ford or something. It had been purchased by two friends who had taken our original van on tour and promptly fucked it in some way. I imagine it died after years of punishment and neglect; it was old and none of us knew dick about maintenance. And it was in that prescient state of mind that they purchased the first piece of shit they saw fit to drive back to Chicago. With plates switched, no registration, no insurance, and no fucking clue as to working order of the thing, we took it across the country in a very large display of stupidity. We also had drugs and nine fucking dudes crammed in there.
Geographically, Grundy County is slightly south of Joliet and maybe an hour and a half outside of Chicago, but it might as well be in fucking Arkansas. It has nothing of note for a band trying to make its way through the paste; another piece of fuck all stuck between the places you actually want to be. It was here in Grundy that we pulled into a gas station, our last stop of the tour, pleading with the van gods to just let this fucking thing live until we made it back home. I had already been pulled over in Providence and given quite the lecture about the illegality of our situation, and yet here we were almost home and still alive.
Nine people in a van equals roughly thirty minutes a pit stop. Between the pooping and smoking and walking that any number of dudes do it is inevitable they will all do it on their own time. We were already dying to get away from this fucking tour so waiting for people to dillydally was not a big priority. That was especially true when the Sheriff pulled in and started staring at us; bunch of a fucking hippies in his town, it would appear. On a hunch we huddled back in the van as quickly as we could and sped the fuck out of there. Took about 30 seconds until we heard sirens.
Illinois law states that you must have a front mounted license plate, or it must be readily visible on the dash. The license plate holder was fucked so we plopped ours on the dashboard with all our accumulated bullshit to boot. Cop never saw it. Our driver had also managed not to signal his way out on to the highway, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Fake ‘em out! With all the fucking stupid shit we had going against us, these small town pigs figured they had themselves a pretty good bust.
Of the nine of us, three had weed, one had acid, and there was a bottle of open liquor the guitarist in my band had insisted on sipping from time to time. We had a fuck ton of gear and clothes, and merch, and bullshit; it smelled about as bad as nine unwashed dudes in a van can smell. The first order of business was to hide the drugs. I shoved mine underneath a pile, our driver stuck his weed in an umbrella and his acid into the speedometer, the other guy just shoved his down his pants. The bottle got flung into a drum hardware bag.
They pulled us all out of the van and stood us at the side of the road while they looked through our arrest records or whatever. There were two cops and a dog, though the dog stayed in the cruiser. One cop looked like a transplant of the Chicago super fans, fat as fuck with aviators right above his shit kicker mustache and all this encased in an inhumanly bad smell. The other cop, younger, leaner and an angry mother fucker had the kind of face that was at once completely forgettable and yet plastered on the face of every LA Fitness douche I’ve ever seen. While the younger cop ran the names, fat fuck straight up told us that, “You guys er fucked.” Which was, of course, followed by a cartoon like spit bomb onto the road.
The younger cop got a little frustrated that our names were clear but that the registration was fucked up. I tried to explain our situation but he was more curious about finding something worthy of impounding the van than my story of my shit friends breaking our old van. He began to search through our gear and clothes, and I distinctly remember there being a pair of super shitty underpants in our drummers bag. We all waited for him to find those.
It took about 40 minutes for him to emerge with something, a piece of tin foil and the dingiest dirtiest looking weed I had ever seen, but I had never seen that package before. He thrust it in our driver’s face and screamed, “So what the fuck is this?” Our driver wasn’t the right one to try and intimidate, had it been me I would have probably just pissed myself. To our collective amusement though, he looked that cop dead in the eye and said, “I don’t know what the fuck that is, but it is not mine. And you can fucking finger print me and give me a lie detector test because that shit is not mine.” I imagine getting that bullshit shoved back in his face must have thrown him off because angry cop backed off afterwards.
Now, I’m not sure what the technical term for something like this is, maybe blue balls, but this shit was a straight up fucking miracle. The number of laws we were breaking just by being in that van must have been enormous, and this cop knew we had drugs somewhere, and yet nearly two hours after we get pulled over he gives up. He got tired of looking, tired of manually going through our things, deflated from being screamed at by our driver. Must have been a sight to behold. He actually let us get back in the van and drive off. No citations or warnings, more of a cryptic stay the fuck out of my town kind of spiel more fitting for the stoner comedy we were impersonating than what a real life fucking pig would say. We lit a joint in his memory as we drove back to Chicago, slowly allowing the situation to settle in our minds. We were fucked and we knew it, but somehow it hadn’t mattered.
I had to drop the van off, which also meant I got to play cab driver around the city dropping everyone off at their houses. When I finally managed to make it back to the Blog Cabin, a former squatter-cum-show space where my friends lived, I found the dudes playing music in the attic. I got their attention, dropped the keys in front of them and said, “I fucking hate you guys.”