There was no hiding from myself.
This was it.
There was no way I could deny who I was or what I did. The sound around me was the humming of overhead fluorescent lighting. I could hear some of the drunks howling and retching their dry heaves and vomiting sounds into the mouth of the stainless steel commode, which is a stainless steel toilet in the back, left hand corner of their little holding cell; no seat to lift or shut, and statues up to a small basin with a drinking fountain for water at its top. The lighting was dim. The aroma was damp and reeking of body odor, bathroom function, and cleaning solvent. The place stunk from regret. Then again, so did I.
I could hear others in the cells on either side of me. People talked to themselves. Some talked to their temporary cell mates.
But me, I was alone for the time being. I was by myself and free to consider my mistakes, like, for example; why the hell did I stay when I knew I should have left.
I was free to look up at the windows that lined across the top of the wall, which was adjacent to my holding cell. I was here again. Back to a place I never thought I would see again. Back in the holding cells
I was back in the saddle again. Only this time, I used my get out free card. I lost the chance my first time offender’s leniency. In addition, I was already on probation, which meant I would inevitably have to face the impending problem of a likely violation.
My co-defendant, a good friend of mine, was sitting in the cell next to me. He was alone as well. The hour was late but there was no sleep in sight. Besides, the late hours are the hours when drunk drivers arrive.
This is when the late night drinkers come staggering in, escorted by guards, angry as ever and complaining about the conditions of their stay. This was certainly true for the man I eventually celled with would. My cellmate smelled of liquor. He smelled of everything. He just came from a bar, taken in for a drunken disorderly and a few warrants.
The guards take our shoes so that we do not string our laces around our necks and hang ourselves before facing the judge in the morning. In my case, however, this proved to be a problem because my cellmate already smelled like something awful. But his feet smelled even worse.
Too bad for me . . .
There was nowhere to go. There was no place and nowhere run from the smell. There was no way to escape what I did and what was about to happen. There was no way for me to deny or explain why I acted the way I did. All was now in the hands of the judge.
In fairness, no one expects things to go wrong like this. No one wakes up in the morning and figures, “I think I’ll get locked up today.”
I know I certainly didn’t.
I was supposed to go away for the weekend.
My partner whose name I will exclude out of respect for anonymity had come to my house to do whatever it was we planned to do. We found ourselves at a fast food place with a video arcade in the back. This was a common place for us.
We were here often. We were here because we did minor business for the manager. In truth, we were puppies at the time; we were just two kids trying to prove ourselves. We were trying to be more than what we really were, which was young little puppies or guppies in a pond.
I was clean in name only. I was clean from drugs and alcohol but my life was not clean. I could not handle life without an edge or an identity. I needed something. I needed help to explain feelings I had no language for.
I hated feeling weak or vulnerable. I hated feeling average or mundane, like I was some everyday, faceless mope, no different from anyone else, nothing remarkable, nothing spectacular, and nothing of interest. I couldn’t stand this.
I tried to be good. I swear I tried to be good. I tried to wear the halo but something angry caused my horns to knock the halo from my head.
That’s right. I was angry. . .
I was angry because I felt different, I was angry because I did not have the same rites of passage as other people I knew. I never went to a room or experienced a high school graduation.
I never went to driver’s education class or had a real high school experience whatsoever.
I missed out on my teenage years. I missed out on first dates and drive-in movies or whatever it is kids did at that time.
I believed I could not relate to anyone. In fact, I felt alienated. I was isolated. Alone. I was angry, pissed off, and willing to do whatever I could to extract my revenge.
Months before the evening in question, I recall a cold night on Old Country Road. My partner and I were waiting in the same fast food place. He and I were waiting on a job to come through so we could make some money.
Suddenly, a tall, thin and very feminine man burst through the side entrance door. He was flamboyant and dressed very colorfully in a bright red jacket. His head was shaved close. His nose was bony and long. His jeans were fashionable but yet, very feminine as well.
This was long ago before the age of cell phones and fast technology. This is back when people used pay phones (Remember then?)
The man was frantic, screaming, “She’s been hit. Oh my God, she’s dead.”
I asked.The man was too frantic to understand; however, I directed him to the payphone to call for an ambulance.
My partner and I decided to investigate the scene. We walked outside. The hour was late but with the Christmas rush and the nearby mall, traffic on Old Country Road was still very busy.
Apparently, a small Mexican girl with almond, slit-like eyes, pretty features, like that of a pretty little Indian girl, Azteca, or something of that effect; she lay dead in the street.
She worked at one of the eateries across from where we were. She was crossing the street, anxious and fast, proud to be working and proud to deliver her very first paycheck to her husband that worked nearby.
I suppose she didn’t see the cars. I’m not sure. I know one car hit the girl and sent her flying upwards. On her way down, the girl was hit by another car and then run over by a third.
The third car was a limousine. This was the car that flattened her stomach.
My partner and I approached the body with no hesitation.
I’m not sure why. Maybe this was a stupid tough guy thing. Maybe we wanted to see if one of us would flinch. But neither of us did. Instead, we both looked down as if we were looking at nothing.
I remember her face which was still in perfect detail, motionless; her eyes fixed and her expression stuck in a shocked position, as if to facially explain this young girl understood she was about to die.
Her head was split open and blood leaked out in a large pool that circled from behind her skull on the blacktop pavement. Her blood was black too, glistening beneath the streetlamps on a busy street, which had suddenly become standstill.
I recall the streets were wet from a previous rain. The traffic lights shone with halos around them and swayed like pendants in the cold December wind. The street lamps lit overhead to define the scene as gruesome at best
Her stomach was mashed flat from the tires that rolled across her torso. She was small in size. Short is a better word, but beautiful, like a young angel. But this angel had flown.
I recall my rage at the time would not allow me to feel anything. I did not feel pity. I felt no sympathy or empathy. I felt literally nothing. I had just witness the bloodiest sight, and what did I do? I went inside and ate pizza.
In a strange way, I was proud to feel nothing. I believed this made me tough. I believed that if the time called, I could commit murder and it would mean nothing.
In my head, I achieved a state of perfect detachment. I was warmed by my hate and protected by my contempt.
Fuck the world, I’d say.
And I could say this now a little louder because I had no cares or concerns. I had no feelings. I was numb, which is what I always wanted to be—totally indifferent if you were to come or go, live or die.
It was always my opinion but never proved the first car that hit the woman was driven by the feminine man. He was nowhere to be found when the police came
Back in my holding cell, I knew there was something for me to deal with. This time the charge was assault in the second degree, which is not a pretty charge. There could be time with this. I sat there, indifferently about my rage, about the man I hit with a baseball bat, about my ability to endure and inflict pain.
Yet, at the same time, I wondered, “How the hell did I become like this?”
Someone told me about their boy and how they never knew he was capable of such terrible things.
The parents said, we never raised him to be this way. I
had news for them, no real parent raises their child to be this way.
But we love our son, I was told.
I nodded back, “Yeah,well, my parents loved me too.”