Running the Streets and the Chaos that Comes | Mike Gardipee

prison life, inmates having fun and taking pictures while incarcerated, glamour head shot | Michael Gardipee | Resilience2Reform

The reason I am sharing this particular story is to help you, the reader, and my family to understand the life experiences that led me to where I am today.

My intent is not to glamorize or glorify these events or my actions. I want you to see the darkness of addiction, through my actions, in the hope that you don’t have to personally experience it for yourself.

Back in the late 90s, I was heavily involved with the distribution of methamphetamine.

Looking back now I believe I was more addicted to the lifestyle than the drug itself. After reflecting on this story, however, I realize that both the lifestyle and my use were equally responsible for the events that unfolded. What I loved most about the lifestyle was the power that I thought it created within my life.

To be honest, I may have watched too many Miami Vice shows because I would often fantasize about what it would be like to be a Kingpin. I would dream about possessing that power, controlling people that were willing to risk their lives to do your bidding, and of course, the money, being able to buy and do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. I didn’t realize it then but I can see now how my fantasy was beginning to manifest into reality. But what I failed to see or understand at the time was the darkness it was bringing into my life that would eventually have much more serious life consequences.

I was running the streets only thinking of myself and removing anyone or anything that got in my way. My family included.

My pride and ego began to evolve and I believed I was untouchable and the crew I was running with backed it up 100%. My ego was out of control, I had florescent lights in my Bronco with the word “Kingpin” flashing on my Sony CD player with the detachable face. Ya, I know high-tech boss player stuff. I feel pretty stupid now if it’s any consolation. Who did I think I was, Tony Montana? Because he got mowed down in a hail of gunfire at the end of that movie, yet I still dreamed of becoming him one day. The story I am about to tell is my journey of trying to become just that, Tony, Al Capone, the Kingpin.

I had a system of picking up my dope. I didn’t want anyone to know where I was going to get it, when I was coming back, and where I was bringing it.

Partly because of paranoia, because when you are in the drug game, some people don’t play by the same rules. When you are at the top, and that is exactly where I thought I was, there is always someone trying to bring you down and take everything from you. So for me, it was all about smoke and mirrors, because my shipments were always brought to a very nearby town. Still, to not let anyone know this fact, I would always take a trip shortly before it arrived, to give the impression I was getting it from much further away.

So when I would pull back into Butte, Montana, I would drop the dope off at a safe house, that only I knew about, in Rocker, Montana.

Then I would go party. Let the dope sit, enjoy the successful run, and make sure the coast is clear before I made any moves.

One night, before we got the night started I went home, to my girlfriend’s place, where she had our newborn twins. When I arrived she informed me that her mom was going to watch the twins for the night. So I brought them over there and returned home, ready to go. She and my friend Baby Joe already had the pipe loaded for me when I walked in the door and my mind went blank, my being became consumed by that first hit.

I don’t know how much time had passed between when I came in and what happened next because I was somewhere else, but next thing you knew I was in a real-life scene from that show I was infatuated with growing up. It is hard for me to picture exactly how it went down, but I remember two guys, armed with pistols, both wearing ski masks to conceal their identities, well built and muscular.

By the way, they were moving, I knew they were both high out of their minds, screaming for us to get on the ground. I obeyed, as multiple scenarios started running through my mind, how I could get the upper hand, overtake them, and do to them what they intend to do to us.

One of them kicked me in the side and it felt like my ribs cracked, they had my attention. They told me, “Get the fuck up.” As I was getting up, I grabbed my rib cage, trying to feel for a fracture because the pain was so intense they had to be broken. The same one that kicked me, put a gun to my face, and said, “Where’s the money and dope?”

The second one came out of nowhere before I could even say anything and hit me in the face with brass knuckles. My head started to pulsate, my ears began to ring as if an explosion had just gone off, and I almost blacked out. Blood ran into my eyes and blinded me. He screamed again, “Where’s the shit?”

Not knowing what to say, and fueled by rage, I told him it was up his ass and spit in his face. As I stood there watching him wipe my blood and spit away, I should have been thinking about our lives or what the twins’ lives would be like without their parents, but my anger mixed with the high only allowed me to think of revenge.

I was thrown to the ground and the two proceeded to beat me to a bloody pulp and somewhere along the way I lost consciousness. Just before I went out, I remember thinking, how could someone have the balls to come into my house and try to steal from me. Eventually, the beating stopped and I came back to as one of them was combing through my pockets. I only had a few hundred dollars on me and that is nowhere near the score they were looking for. He told me that he knew I just got back into town and demanded I give him the shipment. I didn’t say anything at this point, and I don’t think I could have if I wanted to.

As one of them stepped over me and stared down the sights of his gun, he told me that my girl is going to get it next. She screamed. She told them there was nothing in the house other than what was laying on the table. It was only a half-ounce of meth and they clearly were expecting much more than that, based on the actions they were taking to get it. The guy in charge began to pace and quickly directed his attention back to me. I couldn’t see anything because my eyes were swollen shut and my face was covered with blood, but I felt the cold steel touch my forehead.

She screamed again and pleaded for them to stop. Next, I felt the butt of the pistol hit me three more times on my left temple. Suddenly, I felt her throw herself onto my body. Can you feel the love this woman had for me at this moment? She risked her life to save mine. At this point, I’m not sure what happened because they left as fast as they came in. My girl and Baby Joe cleaned me up and laid me on the bed. My head was still throbbing. I knew I needed medical attention, but I also knew a hospital was out of the question, and then the thought came back to revenge.

This situation is the true darkness of living an addictive criminal lifestyle. There is no other reason for me being alive today, other than God. He touched her in a way that caused her to put her life in danger to save mine. I would have to say he also touched the heart of the man that was about to kill me as well. Think about the rage that was flowing through the man about to take my life at that moment.

I knew the second they came in they were willing to take this thing as far as they needed to, yet they didn’t. Divine intervention. The fact that this all happened after I dropped the twins off is another blessing in this dark situation.

I can also see the true danger I involved my loved ones and community in, based on my actions. I lived a very selfish lifestyle back then that blinded me to the true consequences of my actions.

I pray that my writing will help others see the darkness of addiction, for they (you) won’t have to experience the pain that my family and I have gone through. Now that I am serving my 188 months sentence, I realize I got off lucky, I didn’t get killed as Tony did at the end of Scarface.

I will eventually have a second chance to be a father, grandfather, and maybe even a husband. This journey of mine has been very difficult for everyone involved, and I plead that if you are reading this and it resonates, pick a different path.

I know there is more I should be seeing or learning in this situation, but in God’s time, it will come.


Mike Gardipee

All In or Nothing | Mike Gardipee

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