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Chapter 16

There were just a few days left for it now. Everyone knew it. They were all extra nice to him. Even former members of the ‘Sisters’ walked up to him and shook his hand. I guess here was something about men on death row. They might beat each other within an inch of death but when it actually came to the time when any of them were to be executed, they understood each other.

The kid was awful quiet that afternoon. Everyone noticed it. Everyone thought they knew why. It was obvious. Then the kid spoke up. He said, “There is something I need to tell you’ll. I’m not that good a guy as you’ll think I am.” “We know that already. You’re a rascal,” said Parks with a smile on his face. Everyone laughed. Then the kid said, “No. I have to tell you’ll this. I can’t leave without telling you’ll this. You’ll have to know. My mama and dada are dead. They couldn’t live with the shock. Mama had a heart attack and once she was gone, dada really had no drive to go on. He couldn’t go on. He too died. Now you guys are all the family I have,” he said and looked around at us, his eyes resting on me last and for the longest. “I have to tell you how I got into this place,” he said. “No, you do-” started Steve when he was cut short by the kid. “No Steve. I have to do this. I want to do this.” There was something in his eyes that day. We listened as he told us of the tragedy that was his life. “The case was a farce. My lawyer seemed to be more interested in hogging the limelight than winning the case for me. The DA meticulously placed all the evidence in front of the jury showing them that it was indeed me who had killed the doctor. I thought it was a futile waste of time since half the world by then knew I was the one who killed the doctor. The real question was whether or not the jury would think I had sufficient cause to have committed the crime and reduce my charges to second degree involuntary manslaughter. Now that he had proved beyond doubt it was me, he played my taped confession. He then went on at length about how cold I seemed when I was giving my confession. He was right. My voice had no emotion. I don’t think at that point when I was confessing, I could feel anything. It had been such a detached feeling. I couldn’t help it. He even brought on the stand an officer who claimed to have heard and taken down my statement who testified that I had betrayed absolutely no emotions. The tape although conveniently seemed to play only the part that had me talking about the murder and nothing about the part where I told them that Lisa and I were being molested. I tried asking my lawyer about this but he was too busy talking to some woman to actually pay attention to what I was saying. He seemed to be more interested in what he was going to say to the press waiting outside. The case went from bad to worse. Finally as a last ditch attempt, my lawyer put me on the stand. He took me through the entire case and stressed on the part of the molesting. I couldn’t talk about it so openly in front of so many people but he coaxed it out of me. I broke down halfway but I went on. Once he had cut me open enough he left me out there all alone and defenseless against the DA. The DA came up and stood in front of me, looked me in the eye and then said “Ladies and Gentlemen, a hand for the young actor. Brilliant, brilliant performance.” I looked up at him and lost my temper. I said, “You think this is funny? You think this is some sort of a joke. Why don’t you try getting yourself touched all over? Why don’t you try getting violated? Maybe then you’ll know what it feels like.” He looked at me and said, “Oh your angry? What are you going to do? Shoot me in the back? Stab me 57 times with a knife? Gouge my eyes out? Carve things on my face?” he looked at me and then at the jury and said “This boy is crazy. He cannot be allowed to roam free. Lord knows how many more people he will kill.” “Objection, your honour” shouted out my lawyer. The DA looked at me and then asked, “Are you sorry for what you’ve done?” I looked at him and I knew what I had to say. I knew I had to just say I was sorry and that I wouldn’t do it again and I’d be free. I knew it. I looked at my lawyer. He had told me this would come up. He was nodding at me, I looked beyond him and I saw her. I hadn’t seen her on any other day but today there she sat, right next to mama. There sat Lisa. She too was nodding as though trying to say that I should say I am sorry. I cleared my throat, looked at the jury, then at the DA and said, “I know what I did and I’m not sorry. He deserved it.” that was it. I knew I had sealed my fate but I could not have lied about this. No, not about this. That was the end of my case. The papers said a lot about what I said. They all said I had sealed my own fate. I didn’t understand it though. They made you swear you’d tell the truth and then they wanted you to lie on the stand. It really was a stupid system.

The jury found me guilty of murder in the first degree. There was nothing more to it. My own testimony had hung me is what the papers said. The judge gave me a lengthy sermon which basically told me that I had made a mistake and that I had been given a chance to repent and I had thrown it in their faces. So he had no choice but to give me the maximum sentence. The maximum sentence meant that I’d go to a juvenile home for six years, that was till I was 18 and then spend another 10 years in jail with possibility of parole after that if I behaved well.”

I was transferred to the juvenile home for delinquents as they called it. I had heard from my earlier home that this was the worst place to be. There couldn’t be a place as bad as this. Here they did not discipline you. They simply hit you first and asked questions later. Mama and dada I took a last look at and when I passed by them as I was being led away, I told them “Don’t ever come and see me there. I don’t want you coming to such a place to visit me. If you come there I will refuse to see you.” I then walked away without another word.

My first day in the home was the worst. The minute I entered the place I was stripped, given a cold washing over and then powdered down, and then told to stand in a line with the other kids. We were all then introduced to the head officer there. We were to address him by ‘sir’ but the word we associated with him with was ‘pain’. Needless to say my experiences in there were not the ones I would like to share with y’all.”

The worst incident that took place was on the night before my parole. I had gone up in front of the parole board and I had not told them a word of the abuse I suffered inside. I didn’t tell them of the rapes that occurred inside at the hands of the cops; neither did I tell them of the beatings we received or how they leased us out to contract laborers. I smiled and told them that I was happy in the home and that I was content. I had reformed. I had become a better person. I had changed and I said that I was sorry for what I had done. They were happy. I had said all that they wanted to hear. They were thrilled. They signed my papers and I was to go out on parole. I hadn’t been out in 6 years. I couldn’t wait to get out. That night as I was serving in the mess, the new sergeant in the block came up to us and asked where Lionel was. Lionel was the youngest amongst us. He was only 9. He had been implicated in some shooting that he had played no part in. The look on the sergeants face said it all. He wanted Lionel tonight. That night when they came to get Lionel, I offered to take Lionel to the room. Once inside, the sergeant told me I could leave. He then pushed Lionel onto his knees. I couldn’t take it. The kid was too young. This shouldn’t be happening. I saw his baton on the table and the next thing I knew I was pummeling his head again and again. I remember being pulled away from his body by three cops. They had heard the screams and come running in.” The kid had killed a cop. No wonder they had sped up the process. We all looked at each other. None of us knew what to say. He had chosen to tell us this. I couldn’t imagine it. The pain and the agony he must have gone through would have been unbearable. After all that pain he must have been looking forward to death. At least he would be put out of his misery.

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