Wait Until Dark
GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:
Now, we're going to start off the day's "Sex, Lies, and Audiotape" episode with a story about the lengths some guys go to help a friend out of a tricky spot.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
ADAM LINN: So one night I'm sitting in my apartment, and it was late. It was 1 in the morning, and I was practicing my Braille. And I heard a knock at the door. Surprised, it was really late, and I went over and listened for second. And I open up the door, and whoever knocked didn't say anything at first. I knew someone was standing there, and I reached out. And I felt my friend Ryan's arm. You know, we were close. I knew what his arm felt like. I felt up - I felt his shirt, and he's just standing there. And he's shaking. And I just brought him in and sat him down - Ryan, what is wrong with you? And he says, they got sex tapes of me, and they're going to have a listening party. I was like, Ryan, what the hell are you talking about? Sex tapes?
Ryan was my best friend at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. I had gone to the Louisiana Center for the Blind to learn how to use a cane, to learn how to read Braille better - just some basic life skills I thought I needed. And the first time in my life, I'd found a blind best friend from Amarillo, Texas - always had a straw cowboy hat pushed back on his head, can of cold Coors Gold in his hand - Ryan. There were only two girls at the center, Doreen and Stacy. They hung out with these guys Max and William. In contrast to Ryan and me, they were really confident. Ryan had been blind since about the age of 3. I'd been blind since the age of 11. These guys had been sighted and recently lost their vision, so these guys had known how to drive. They had a confidence about them - certainly around women - that Ryan and I didn't have. So this was the main reason we didn't really like Max and William all that much.
Now Ryan was shaking on my couch, talking about some sex tape. (Laughter) I was like, what? It's like, what are you talking about, dude? (Imitating Ryan) William and Max, last week, got themselves this scanner. They're real popular down here in the South. They're these radios you can use to listen to police dispatch, EMTs, the fire department and apparently can listen to cordless phone calls, too, 'cause the other night, they caught me on one of my sex chat lines. And they recorded it, and now they're going to have a listening party. Everyone at the center's invited. Everyone's going to hear it. I came over here to tell you I'm quitting the center. I can't take it. I'm going to jump the first bus to Amarillo. I'm out of here, buddy. I was really annoyed at him.
I was really angry with him for getting caught doing something that was so dumb. But I mean, you have to understand - I was 23 years old, and I'd never had a real blind friend before. So there was no way I was letting go of Ryan. There aren't a lot of blind people, and so when you meet one, the chances that the two of you will click is actually really, really low. So to have this guy who felt like my blood brother, I thought, what are we going to do?
The most important aspect of the center, really the spirit of the place, was learning to be independent. No one was going to give you anything. Life is not easy if you're blind, but you need to understand you can do what you need to do to survive. And that's when the idea hit me. I said, Ryan, we can do this. We can sink this listening party. All we got to do is break into William and Max's apartment, rifle through all their stuff, find the sex tapes, destroy them and escape into the night, and you can stay at the center. I don't think he initially believed that we could actually go and get it back.
So Wednesday nights at the Louisiana Center for the Blind are dedicated to bus trips to Monroe, which is 30 miles south, for country line dancing. And we would have a small window of time in which we could pull off the break-in. But there was one very large obstacle in our way - the night watchman. Now, all of the roles at the Louisiana Center for the Blind are fulfilled by blind people - including that of night watchman. OK, so there's blind-blind people - people like Ryan and me, who literally cannot see at all, not even any light perception - and then there are people who are legally blind, which means they have 2,200 vision - is actually fairly good vision. I mean, they can see a lot of things. And when you don't want them to, they see a lot. And this was Roland, the night watchman. His job was to sit right in the middle the parking lot to make sure that nothing like this ever occurred at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.
So we're just standing there in my kitchen - I remember I couldn't even sit down, I was so nervous. I was pacing back and forth. We had put on the black sweatshirts. We put on some black sweatpants. It had actually occurred me that we could put socks on the end of our canes to be like sound condoms, this kind of thing. And I got more and more nervous because, like, you know, a lot of things could go wrong. I mean, first of all, we'd get thrown out of the center. Second of all, I mean, this was breaking and entering in Louisiana. My mouth was dry. My hands were shaking. My heart was pounding. There were a million times it occurred to me, I didn't want to go through with this.
Finally, I knew we couldn't wait any longer. They'd be coming back from country line dancing soon, so open the door to my place.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR OPENING)
LINN: As we start making our way across the parking lot, it is hot, hot, hot. It is really humid, probably still in the 90s. The sounds of the bugs down there were just filling the sky around us. It's like you couldn't really even hear our footsteps. And I had this moment, about halfway there, where I just got this shot of adrenaline. I thought, you know what? This is freedom. We are doing this ourselves. It may not be smart. It certainly isn't legal, but at least we're giving it a shot, a couple of blind ninjas making our way through the night. Any moment, I thought, I'm going to hear the night watchman scream, what are you guys doing? We're going to hear some gunshots - nothing of the sort.
We got over to William (ph) and Max's (ph) apartment. I turned the doorknob. It was unlocked. We stepped inside, closed the door behind us. It is surprising how exotic a dingy, little student apartment can feel when you're committing a crime. The apartment was small, and it was set up identically to my own. So it wasn't very difficult for us to feel our way around the living room, find where the stereo was set up and next to it, find one of those plastic racks from the '90s with the little slots that people kept cassettes in. We had brought an old boom box that I had found in my apartment, started popping tapes in...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAPA LOVED MAMA")
GARTH BROOKS: (Singing) Oh, my Lord, how she shined. Papa...
LINN: Garth Brooks...
(SOUNDBITE OF TIM MCGRAW SONG, "INDIAN OUTLAW")
LINN: ...Tim McGraw, "Indian Outlaw" - a song we heard all summer...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'LL MAKE LOVE TO YOU")
BOYZ II MEN: (Singing) Anything...
LINN: ...Boyz II Men. Who are these guys? So now I find this - I found this - you know, I felt a Maxell tape, so I knew it was a, you know, a homemade job. And I put it in, and I hear Ryan's (ph) voice coming out saying
RYAN: I'm going to flip you out of them tight Wranglers and start touching up on you.
LINN: And I was like, oh, my God, pulled the tape out of player. We snap the tape and toss it on the floor. Ryan stomps on it. We have sunk the listening party.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LINN: Ruston cops could come in right now, guns blazing, and this party isn't going to happen. We might go to jail, but we've at least sunk the listening party. We run to the door. We actually had the forethought to lock the door behind us. We run out to the parking lot. I nearly break my leg on this low, iron fence that was set up around the parking lot. We - I grab onto Ryan. We stagger our way across. We hear wheels on the street. We make it to my place, throw ourselves to the door. We made it.
So the next day after class, I went and got a 12-pack of beer and went back to the apartments. And I'm walking up the concrete path to Ryan's apartment, and I can hear his voice. And I went and knocked on his door. And it took him a long time to answer. And I'm like, what is he doing in there? So finally, he opens the door, but he only opens it a crack. And he's like, hey, what's going on, man? I'm like, hey, I, you know, brought some beers over. Don't you want to, you know, celebrate? And he hesitated, and he's just like, well, actually, I got Dorian (ph) in here. I'm telling her about what we pulled off. So maybe you want to take those beers over to Stacey (ph) and you can tell her yourself what we did. So I took the 12-pack of Dixie beer over to Stacey's, and they knocked on her door.
(SOUNDBITE OF KNOCKING)
WASHINGTON: Thank you, Adam Linn. You can catch Adam performing in New York at the only storytelling event that serves ice cream cake. Yum's the word. We'll have a link to that show and to Adam's website at snapjudgment.org. That original score and sound design was by Renzo Gorrio. And the piece was produced by Anna Sussman and Ana Adlerstein.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
WASHINGTON: Now, when SNAP JUDGMENT returns - robots gone wild and the hottest hotel south - way, way, way, way, way south of the border. The "Sex, Lies and Audiotape" episode - stay tuned.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.