• Cindy Marabito

Beaumont city jail hornytoads....The Legend of Sky Diamond


There was a family poker game every weekend across from the high school. Gene and the guys had hit the Romano fast and hard like a Cottonmouth striking its prey. They met up at our apartment late that night drinking and laughing. They were so giddy, they didn’t think to lower their voices and I could hear them rehashing the job details. They went over it again and again as they divvied up the take. Gene got two parts and the other three took 20 percent each. They’d gotten over five thousand dollars. The Romano family had some pull at the Beaumont police department. The very next night, Saturday the Castle Mo-Tel was raided. It was retaliation for the Romano family poker game. All four of them, Apache, Duck, Skitz and Gene were hauled downtown. Gene called me and told me where he’d stashed his payload so I could come down and go his bail. I knew the jail backwards and forwards. This wasn’t my first time to put up bond downtown. Plus, that old Beaumont city jailhouse played headquarters to what seemed the world’s largest population of horntoads. We’d go down and catch them in the hot summertime. The old wrought-iron bars filtered over the faces of male prisoners who’d yell catcalls at us kids. It was a strange old jail and like a movie. Everybody got out, but Skitz. He had an old warrant and the night judge wanted to make an example out of him. It was on a Sunday and you know what they say about how slow the wheels of justice grind.
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