Chapter 1: The Incident
“Ah, Azrael, it’s wonderful to meet you! Please come in, pick a chair and have a seat”
Doc had four small green sitting chairs in front of a large green lounge couch; separated by a small coffee table. The doc stood there watching me as if he was judging me on what seat I decided to sit in. I chose one of the small green chairs and sat down. Dr. Mace sat down on the lounge couch across from me and began to open my file. I peered around the room, behind him his large mahogany desk stood covered in pictures of his family I presume, the pictures were followed by a computer screen and keyboard. Behind his desk, the wall was covered with certifications and degrees, one in psychology from Harvard. I was impressed. The room was a darker green than the chairs I sat in, the floors were grey with a large white shag rug that stood underneath the coffee table. Two of the walls were covered with bookshelfs, full of books.
“Looks like you do well for yourself,” I said to the doctor as I continued to peer around the room
Dr. Mace looked up at me from my files and looked around the room as well.
“Yes, well I’ve been in business a while. I’ve helped many people, I would like to think at least."
“Help? Huh, that’s good to know,” I said sarcastically
Dr. Mace smiled and looked down at my file again, he said,
“Do you want to start by talking about the incident”
“I see, well eventually we will have to talk about it Azrael.”
“Why?” I asked the doctor defensively
“Azrael, you’re being charged with attempted murder, two counts of wanton endangerment; and you discharged a firearm several times outside in your home division. You shot a man for god's sake! Now tell me, why do you think we need to talk about it?”
I refused to respond to the doctor after he said this, in my head I thought
“what does he know anyway”.
Dr. Mace continued
“That’s fine Azrael we don’t have to start by talking about it yet, in fact, I think I want to get to know you better anyway. What do you feel comfortable talking with me about?”
“I’m an open book doc, ask me anything”
“Right… an open book, so let’s talk about the incident then.”
“open to anything, except that”
“not very open then, are we,” Dr. Mace asked, smiling sarcastically.
I didn’t respond
“Azrael, I get you don’t want to be here, that’s okay. Most people don’t when they're forced to. However, I hope you become more comfortable soon. I truly only want to help you Azrael. Now let’s just start with the basics. Tell me about your childhood”
“Where do you want me to start?” I asked
“What’s the first thing you remember? Let’s start there and work our way up your life. I feel the more I know about your life, the better I will be able to help you at the end of our mandated time here. This rage you have inside you, this monster of anger, it was created. I just want to understand how.”
“Fine!" I said as I exhaled deeply. I began to tell the doctor about my life.
"My first memories are probably when I was about four or five. I don’t remember a lot, bits and pieces really. I was born in Anaheim California. My parents had been together since my mother was fifteen, by the time she was nineteen, I was born. My parents were extremely loving to me, we were always constantly surrounded by family. My father’s parents, my grandparents, were amazing people who loved me very much. They spoiled me rotten, even helped my parents buy their first home. I had a dog named max, mean son of a bitch, but he loved me to death. He would protect me whether I was in danger or not, you couldn’t walk ten feet to me before that mangy mutt would snarl and growl at you. I loved that dog to death. From what I can remember at least, life in my early childhood was wonderful. My father had his demons though. He was never anything but loving and kind to me. I saw his monster once. I was playing outside, my ball rolled across the street into the neighbor’s yard. I ran over to get it, the man who lived there stormed out of his door, shouting at me to get off his property. I was terrified as he got closer and closer to me hollering louder and louder. I was only four, my father came running from across the yard. He got in between us and started to scream back at the man to back away from his son. The man became enraged and started poking my father in the shoulder with his finger, pushing him back slightly, he told him,
“you better watch your kid next time”.
That was all it took; my father snapped. He picked the man up by the throat and slammed him on the ground. He began to pound the man to a pulp, blood-splattered as he broke the man’s nose; a tooth flew from his mouth. The man begged my father to stop, apologizing profusely, my father kept going. I never saw my father like that before, the anger erupted from him almost instantly. If my mother hadn’t run over to stop him, I think he would’ve killed that man. My father did a lot of time in juvie for assault when he was a teenager. I never really knew what created my father’s monster, I never asked. My father was also a drug addict, as well as a dealer. He did a lot of coke amongst many other drugs. In the end, he refused to give it up. A few months after my father almost killed our neighbor, my mother left him. He refused to quit the drugs and drinking, he loved the life he lived. My mother met some guy in an online chat room when the internet first started, he lived a few cities away. My mother packed everything while my father was working one day and left. I never got to even say goodbye, I never understood why she would do such a thing, nevertheless, it happened. Just like that at five years old, I was torn away from my father and his entire family. Everything I had ever known was gone in one day.”
“your mother, are you two close?” Dr mace asked
“We are, now that I’m older.”
“I see, can you tell me anything about your mother? Do you know much about her early life?”
“My mother had a very rough upbringing, when she was a little girl, her father molested all three of his daughters, my mother, and her two sisters. The man had three daughters and five sons. Most of them had different mothers. My mother and her two sisters all shared the same mother, she was a drug dealer and left her family when my mother was young. The girls lived with their father and endured years of constant sexual abuse. Till one day, one of them spoke up at school about it. They were taken away from their home and put into the system. My mother told me they lived in many foster homes throughout the years, all of the siblings were split up, except my mother and her twin sister. My mother was abused physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and sexually in her foster homes. She was transferred to several different homes over the years. I could never begin to imagine the pain she had to live with all her childhood. She ran away with my father eventually after meeting him at a young age, leaving the system, together they started a new life, and... well you know the rest.”
“Oh my, your poor mother, a life like that couldn’t have been easy on anyone.” Dr. Mace said.
“No, I knew nothing of it either till I was older, her past traumatized her deeply. She was a strong woman though. Throughout the years I realized nothing would break her.”
“So, what happened when you two left your father?”
“We moved a few cities away, to where this man my mother met on the web was living. He had a small apartment and worked for a computer company. That didn’t last long, in less than a year the man lost his job and they couldn’t afford the apartment anymore on my mothers' income alone at the local sub shop.”
“What was this man's name? Tell me about him, what did he look like?” Dr. Mace asked
“His name was, Marcus, he was tall, about six foot four, two hundred and ten pounds maybe. His mother was Japanese, his father was Black. He had a flattop for a haircut and many people had mistaken him constantly for Will Smith in public.”
“Will Smith! Really? That’s interesting, were you close with him?” Dr. Mace asked
“That's a one hard to answer,” I said
“Oh, why is that?”
“Marcus is the man I almost killed… but you knew that, didn’t you doc?”
Dr. Mace stared at me blankly for a second and then flipped through the pages in my file.
“I’m sorry Azreal, it was an honest mistake, I hadn’t looked at his name. Let’s move forward, continue telling me about your childhood.”
“After Marcus lost his job, we moved from the apartment into a tiny six hundred square foot bedroom. No bathroom, no kitchen, just a bed on the floor. My mother decided this was no condition for a child to live in. She called her twin sister and I was sent away to live with her and my cousins in Oregon, I was five when this happened.”
“Do you remember what emotions you felt during all this?” Dr. Mace asked.
“That’s a dumb question, how do you think I felt. I was a child who was ripped away from his father and everything he ever knew. I was placed in a home with some stranger and had no one but my mother. I was angry, I was upset, I was lonely, I missed my father. I remember crying myself to sleep at night sometimes. All I wanted was to be home again with my dad, I wanted to play with max in the backyard one last time. I wanted to see my grandparents. I wanted my life back. In fact, my mother tells me constantly, I was bad at that age. I was diagnosed with ADHD and OCD at five. The schools demanded my mother put me on medication my first year in school, but she refused, I was never medicated my entire life. I was an angry child and I never really understood why until I got older.”
Dr. Mace began to write something down in his notes,
“What are you writing?” I asked him.
“Your medical history, untreated ADHD can have life-changing effects into early adulthood. Please continue Azrael. What happened next?”
“Well, I was shipped out to my aunt, I don’t remember much, I didn't stay long. Somehow my father caught wind of my location and immediately came out to Oregon. He knocked on her door and demanded to see his son. My aunt didn't refuse, how could she, I was his son. Her husband didn't even try and stop him, I wouldn't either, he was dangerous. I ran to him; I was so happy to see him again. He picked me up and hugged me tightly, his eyes were watery as he held back his tears. He told my aunt to get my shit, he was taking me. She protested and started to call my mother. My father didn’t wait around, he took me and bolted out the home just as I was and left everything there; he brought me to my grandparents. They were filled with joy upon seeing me again. I remember feeling so happy again, I couldn't comprehend the severity of the situation then. Eventually, my mother called my grandparents and they told her I was there. She was furious and threatened to have my father thrown in jail for kidnapping me. My grandparents calmed her down and convinced her to let me stay with them for a while, at least until she got her feet on the ground again. I spoke to my mom on the phone often, they had a child together, a son, named Damien. I was a big brother, I couldn't wait to meet him. I did well in school when I lived with my grandparents, I made friends, I lived like a normal kid, I was happy, but all good things come to an end. It was a little over a year that had gone by before my mother told them they were coming to get me. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to stay with my grandparents and father. They were all heartbroken, but what could they do. My father was gone the week this happened, he was working a job and would be back the following week. I would be long gone before then. He never knew, once again, I would be ripped away from him without being able to at least say goodbye. Even then I didn't understand the situation.”
“So, we have a lot of built of aggression from a broken family I think, have you ever been to therapy over it?”
I began to laugh after the doctor said this.
“You think my problems stem from a broken family. That's rich doc." I finished saying while chuckling still.
“Fine, tell me more then Azrael."
“You’re a psychiatrist doc, so I imagine you’ll have the stomach for what happens next.”
“I’m sure I can handle it Azrael.”
“We went back to California, nothing had changed. They were still broke and had nothing. My mother told me she just missed me too much to leave me there any longer. She always lied to me, thinking it was protecting me. I would later learn, my grandparents couldn't keep me any longer unless they adopted me, due to strict rules in their retirement community and age restrictions. My mother would never allow them to adopt me. Marcus and my mother had upgraded from their rented-out bedroom to a tiny studio apartment. I was six at the time, my mother was pregnant and I was going to be a big brother again soon. We immediately moved to Beaumont, Texas. We stayed with Marcus's family. I don’t remember much, but a huge fight happened in the family, so we left; we were there for a short time before we went back to California. My mother was pregnant again with her third child, a girl this time. They had no money, no jobs, nothing. They were practically homeless, my mother was desperate, so she contacted her father for a place to stay for a while."
“Her father, the man that molested her?” Dr. Mace asked
“The very same one.” I responded.
“Wow, had she been in contact with him very much when you were young?”
“To my knowledge, this was the first time they had spoken since she was young. Like I said she was desperate.”
“Okay, so what happened next,” Dr. Mace asked as he wrote down more notes in his journal.
“We moved into the master bedroom of his house, we never came out of this room. We never spoke to the man or his new family. This is also where my memories start to clear up. Marcus took several sheets and made a small cube in the corner of the room by the closet. He called this my room. When my mother wasn’t there, I was not allowed to come out of that space. He and my brother, who was now almost two, played and laughed together. He had his son now. I was discarded and kept out of sight. I finally got tired of being in that small space every day while my mother worked long hours. I defied him and came out of my corner. It was the first time he had ever shown any sort of violence I could remember. He grabbed me by the back of the neck, hard. I remember the pain of it, white spots blurred my vision, my ears rang with static. I was hurt, emotionally and physically. He threw me back into my corner and told me the next time I came out it would be worse. I never came out again unless my mother was home. I remember being confused, I had no idea what I did wrong. Why didn't he like me, what was wrong with me? I was almost eight. Shortly after we moved in, my mother gave birth to my sister. I remember holding her as I sat on the hospital bed with my mother. I was so happy to be a big brother again. My mother came home from the hospital and in just a few weeks she was back to work. Marcus was fine at first, but as the months went on with my brother, he started to really cry a lot at night. Marcus couldn’t handle it. I woke up one early morning to someone choking. I peeked through my sheet to see what was happening. I saw Marcus as he had his hands wrapped around my young brothers throat. Fear filled me. The sounds of him gagging still haunt me to this day. He would cry and Marcus would get so frustrated. He choked him in spurts. The gags of my brother woke me up almost every morning, he would choke him and let go as he would gasp for air and begin to cry harder. Marcus would do it again and again until Damien passed out. I was such a coward, I covered my ears and pretended I wasn't there, I cried and silently screamed out for him to stop. One day my whispers to stop became a full scream. He put Damien down immediately and rushed over to my corner, upon realizing I had seen it all. Marcus ripped all my sheets down and yelled "what did you just say boy." I was terrified as I crawled farther into my corner to get away from him. My mother's father came banging on the door, asking if everything was okay. Marcus calmed down and changed his tone. He fed my mother's father some bullshit excuse about a rough breakfast with the baby. We left that place the next week.”
“Wow, I’m so sorry you had to go through that Azrael” Dr. mace said
“Don’t apologize to me, I wasn't the one who really had to go through it. I’m just thankful my brother doesn’t remember it. I'm thankful he's still alive.”
"But you did go through it as well Azreal. That's a traumatizing experience whether you were the physical victim or not. Did you tell your mother what was happening?"
"No, I was too scared to say anything."
My eyes began to swell, I looked away. Dr. Mace changed the subject and said,
“When you left your gradfathe- “
“Don’t call him that, he’s not my grandfather. His name was Bob, He was my mother’s sperm donor, nothing more.”
“I’m sorry Azreal, I meant no offense, please continue, where did you move to after you left Bob's home?”
“We just left, I don't know the reason or how my mother justified it. I honestly don't even remember what city we lived in. All I remember is we were homeless for a while. We lived out of a mercury villager, an old minivan. My mother got a job at McDonald’s and Marcus a job at Blockbuster. In the beginning, if my parents had conflicting schedules, they left us in the car at the parking lot as they worked across the street from one another. They left the keys in the car and told me to turn it on if the car got too hot. This happened a few times before my mother had finally convinced her boss to let her bring us in and play in the play place during her shift. It was every kid's dream, I practically lived at McDonald’s every day, we ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I took care of my baby sister and my brother every day as my mother worked not too far away. Finally, Marcus received a promotion and now they had made enough money to afford a hotel suite. We were left in the room alone as they went to work every day, I watched my brother and sister every day until school finally began. I remember watching a lot of cartoons most days until they got home. Mom picked up extra shifts and Marcus came home every night. He loaded us all up in his van and took us to his Tae Kwon Do school. It was my only escape from that room at the hotel. I loved watching them as they spared and learned to fight. I wanted to join so bad, Marcus told me no, they could only afford one. So, we watched from the bleachers as he trained every day. He would train for years to come and master not only Tae Kwon Do but many other martial arts as well. He ended up becoming an instructor at one of these schools and finally, we were able to train too. Eventually, I had to go back to school, I barely finished elementary school since I was behind. I lasted six months in sixth grade before getting kicked out of school. My mother still refused to medicate me. She feared it would lead me to drug addiction. The teachers and school staff could no longer deal with my outburst and disruptive behavior. My mother told me when I was young, they had to take me out of school because my brother and sister needed me. I would take care of my brother and sister again while they worked."
“Why do you think she told you this Azrael?” Dr. Mace asked me
“to protect me from the truth" I answered.
"What truth was that?"
“My mother didn't want to tell me there was something wrong with me. I was being rejected because of my untreated ADHD; I think she felt giving me a sense of responsibility instead would have been better. Unfortunately, I resented this decision, even as a child I felt this was unfair, I loved school, I was finally making friends. I never got to really have one of those before. Yet again, I was ripped away from something I began to love."
“What did they do about your education after they took you out of school?” Dr. Mace asked
“Well, they decided to homeschool me, quite some time went by without any school. I can't remember if it was summer, or if they just didn't know how to do it yet. Eventually, Marcus quit his job and homeschooled all of us the following year. My mother finally got a real good office job and could support her whole family now. School with Marcus was unbearable. He yelled at us constantly, many times I was struck for giving him wrong answers. I received the worst of it, my siblings were never hit. I was his own personal punching bag. He busted my lip a few times, he backhanded me a lot in the mouth if he felt I was getting smart with him. It didn't matter how I said it, I was smacked almost every time regardless. I think he just enjoyed hitting me. I had to tell my mother, my brother or sister did it while we were playing, every time it was a different excuse. I hated school. On his worst days, wrong answers were seen as disobedience. I was brought into the room and told to pull down my pants and lay on the bed. He removed his belt and whipped my bare ass. I flopped around off the bed onto the floor, hoping if he couldn’t hit my ass he would stop. He still beat me, the belt hit every part of my stomach and legs. I screamed out in pain and begged him to stop every time, but he just kept going, in a blind furry. These beatings lasted over a whole minute sometimes, as he screamed at me and struck me over and over again. "Do you think you're smart boy, I'll show you fucking smart!" He would scream at me in between strikes. I wasn’t allowed to wear shorts or short sleeves shirts when he left marks on me. My mother never saw the welts. We finally moved out of that roach-infested hotel into a nice three-bedroom apartment right before Marcus quit his job to teach us. Marcus found god right about this time but still was unsure what religion his god fit into. We tried many different ones. I thought this would be good for us, I hoped this idea of a god would save me. But no, things only got much, much worse from here on out.”
"I see, wha-" Dr. Mace began to say
I interrupted him and said
He looked at his watch and said.
"You're right, ... well, well congrats on surviving your first session Azreal. I'm looking forward to talking with you again in a few days for our next session."
"Right, till then."
I ran out of the room as far away and as fast as I could, holding in all my pent-up emotions. I wanted to cry, but I promised myself long ago, I would never cry again.