“Don’t ask questions you don’t want to know the answer to” Lola says.
I pull over into a nearby parking lot and say, “I want to know the whole story. You asked me to hear you out, and that’s what I want to do. So, to rephrase the question, what actually happened?” I want to know the truth. Even if Lola is a murderer I know her, she didn’t do it because she wanted to. Like everything else she must have been out of options.
“Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s a pretty long story just a heads up.” She says while nervously playing with her hands.
“I’ve got time,” I say.
Lola takes a deep breath and begins. “So, as you know my dad was an abusive crooked cop. He used to beat us all, I mean he hit me the least of the three of us, but he still did. My brother Lucas was gay, and that made my dad target him. He wanted him to be straight and he thought he could make him change. My mom was dependent on my dad, he made sure she had the drugs she needed both for her bipolar disorder and her addictions. Anyway, by the time I was 7 I knew what he was doing was wrong and I tried to tell people. I told my Abuelo and Abuela. They contacted child services. After one visit my dad figured out it was them who told and threatened them that he would get them deported if they did anything else. They were both illegal immigrants so that worked. Then I told the cops and teachers, like a lot of them. My dad would either threaten them to scare them away or they wouldn’t believe me. By the time I was 10 I had given up that anyone would help me. I watched as he beat my brother and mother almost daily. I don’t know what he saw in me, but he wasn’t as cold, he always said that unlike my brother and mom I didn’t need to be taught as many lessons. He said I was smart and tough as nails just like him. I hated him but I let him say those things, so he’d leave me alone. But in the end, he was right I am just like him, ruthless.”
“No, you aren’t you are your own person,” I tell her.
She gives me a sad look and continues, “when I was 11 a man moved in next door. His name was Carl, he was a retired cop from Maine who moved to Phoenix to be closer to his granddaughter. I found out later she moved here to live with her maternal grandparents after her parents were killed by a guy Carl had sent to jail while on the force. Carl had sent this guy away knowing he wasn’t the guy who committed the robbery, years later the guy got out and decided he needed to pay him back. Carl moved here with a heavy conscience. This made him want to do something for his granddaughter, he got involved with a cartel so he could make money to leave her. I think his conscience also made him want to help me. At least that’s what I think it was,” Lola trails off.
She blinks a few times and then keeps going, “he knew exactly what was going on in my house within the first week he moved in. One night he found me crying and beaten in the back alley. He knew with out asking what happened and he promised he’d help me. He kept talking to my dad and pressing him. This made my dad angry but unlike all those before he couldn’t scare Carl, the man had nothing to lose. Well except the money for his granddaughter. My dad never found out about that before he died though. For the next few months Carl was who I went to whenever things got bad. I eventually told him everything that was happening. He tried something like 20 times to get CFS involved but it never worked. My dad was good at getting out of trouble. So, Carl and I came up with a plan, he taught me self defence to use when things got too bad. He also taught me how to use a gun. It wasn’t like Will said, I didn’t spend months planing out how to kill my father, things got out of control, and I shot him to make him stop hurting us.” Lola says and starts to cry. I let her take the time she needs. She grabs some Kleenex and blows her nose before going on.
“The stuff Carl was teaching me was to make me feel safer. It wasn’t meant to be used unless I had to, and one night I had to. It was a school night and Lucas was out watching a football game at his school past curfew. My dad went to get him and found him making out with a boy in the locker room. He brought him home and said he was going to change him for good. When they got home my dad said that I needed to go to my room and stay there until the morning. I decided to get one of his guns and watch just in case. I had done this before, it made me feel safer I guess like I could step in. I had only ever held the gun and then put it back. I thought it would be like that again.”
Lola takes a shaky breath, “I hid in my room until there was so much noise, I knew he wouldn’t hear me, I took a gun and hid in the hall watching. He had tied Lucas to a chair and told him to watch. He then proceeded to rape my mother in front of him. I watched in shock, he had done this to her before, but it was always in their bedroom, never for us to see like that. It went on for so long. I sat there and watched him rape her. I was so sacred. By the end, her blood was all over the floor. The whole time she cried for him to stop while my brother tried to close his eyes and block out the noise. When my dad was done with her, he turned to Lucas and said, ‘that’s what real men do, they fuck, they conquer, and they control what is theirs’.”
At this Lola looks down and chews her lip. She starts to shake her head, “he threw my mom on the ground, she laid there bleeding. She was too exhausted to fight anymore. He went to the storage closet, grabbed a broom, and came back. Then he took out a knife and cut the ropes he tied my brother with. Lucas tried to get away but couldn’t, he was so young. My dad pinned him to the table, the same spot he had my mom pinned, and said, ‘you know what fag boys like you do? They get fucked’ then he pulled down Lucas’ pants and grabbed the broom. That’s when I realized what he was going to do, I couldn’t let him rape my brother with a broom. I just couldn’t,” Lola says through tears. “I ran down the hall and yelled at him to stop. He told me to go back to my room. I said no and shot the window. Then he laughed and said that I wouldn’t shoot him. He ignored me and was about to shove the broom, so I shot him in the head. He died instantly. Carl heard the shots and called the cops; they were they minutes later. From the scene and our statements, it was deemed self defence.”
“Oh my god,” I choke out. My entire body is shaking after hearing her side. They never should have had to go through that. I watch her as she gazes away.
She turns and gives me a heartbreaking stare. Her eyes are bloodshot and her mouth shakes.“I told them that I had never used a gun beyond the few times my dad showed me, I said that I wasn’t trying to kill him. They believed me.”
“Oh, Lola that doesn’t matter,” I say.
“But it does, I didn’t plan out killing him but in those seconds between the first and second shot I decided that I wanted to kill him, it was my only chance to get him out of our lives. I’m a good shot Cade, I always have been. I could’ve missed and injured him. That evidence would have been enough to get him fired, sent to jail, and for my mom to get complete custody. But I choose to kill him. I’m not, I’m not a good person, it wasn’t a choice between 2 hard decisions. I decided to kill my father.” Lola says.
“Don’t you get it Lola, you are good. The fact that you blame yourself, that you know you did something wrong, that makes you good. What you told me tonight doesn’t make me think less of you. In fact, it makes me love you even more. You are the strongest person I’ve ever met.” I tell her honestly. I feel tears steam down my face as I tell her this. When I’m done with my speech Lola starts to cry even harder. I wrap my arms around her and hold her while we both cry.