Although this isn’t 100% accurate, the only changes are to specifically muddy anonymity not for some creative story reason. If anyone I know, knew I was even on Medium I wouldn’t be writing this. It’s cathartic for me, but should be educational for everyone else. Lastly, I toned this way down from real events. If I provided the detail I could, it would be too painful for most people here to get through.
This is very tricky to analogize.
This is what I have decided is the closest thing to how my last week has felt.
Let’s say you are pulling out of the driveway on your way to an important meeting. Not ‘deciding between chimo and amputation’ important, but it matters. Something that needs your full attention. And you hear something. Look out the car window and its a box with three puppies.
Two are dead, and one is crying. Really crying.. What do you do?
On the one hand, odds are this little guy is too far along to do that much for him. You didn’t create this situation and others are relying on you to be at the meeting.
On the other, its a baby and its hurting. What are you if you are capable of letting that sound go? A sociopath?
Let’s be realistic. I’m not a veterinarian, I’m not a mother, I barely kept my dog alive, and he requires almost nothing at this point. So what in the hell can I do to help the puppy?
Before you say, “I’d run over grab and nurse the puppy to health, raising him/her as my own!” Cool, you are statistically anomaly, and my guess is your job pays minimum wage if you have that flexibility.
Back to me…I’m 45 , single, sans kids and as I previously mentioned, I have a dog. Not to get all Joe Ego, but I date. I have as active a social life as I want. I live in Los Angeles, and I work 50+ hours a week. I don’t collect stamps or coins and I don’t have a lot of free time.
So If I come across the puppies, not going to lie, I weigh my options. But I know I would do something. Depends on circumstances what, but it would haunt me otherwise. Call it defensive, not altruistic, whatever. Dog lives.
Enough of that.
A couple of years ago, I was at a friends house, and we’re hanging out. His daughter and a friend come in, ask for something, and runoff. My buddy leans in as the girls leave. “The girl with my daughter has had the worst time.” “If I told you Emma’s entire story, you’d be sick’. “We took her in.”
Took her in?
-”She had no place to go.”
A year later, he passes away. Kind of out of nowhere, but not entirely. He was able to secure a situation for his kids, but not Emma. I was curious, but I wasn’t going to dig around. Not my box of puppies.
A few months go by, and I get a call out of no place. I guess my number was passed along at some point as a “break glass in case of emergency.” Although we didn’t know each other very well, Emma needed some glass broken. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say everyone reading this would either cry or want to beat some justice out of some people if they heard the story. I wanted to do both. Emma’s brief uptick my friends family offered was balanced by a very bad downtick after he died. Emma’s life is what an average person would call, “fucked up.”
It’s important to make the distinction between, ‘loser-drug addict-petty thief’ and ‘father died when she was 13’. They didn’t have much, and she had been isolated because her dad was controlling’ = “fucked up.” Could you imagine being released into LA at 13 without anyone? People have said I raised myself because I was such an out of control kid, but I was never hungry, homeless and had people (I may not have listened to, but that’s on me) who loved me.
She walked in like she owned the place. Went straight to the kitchen and made a sandwich. I was like, “this is going to be interesting”. She didn’t say much, and it was late, so I told her it had been lots of fun, but time to go.
That’s when she started telling me about her situation. My friend was wrong; this was beyond fucked up. Some will say “she’s playing you,” but she was terrified. Started to shake uncontrollably. No one can shake like that. That requires very ugly stimuli.
I sat there with her shaking. Shaking like the puppy was crying.
I don’t care what other people think. Not to the point of disrespect, but lacking confidence isn’t my issue. Is that cocky? Well, if you need someone to take charge when something very bad happens, you’ll be good with the ‘cocky asshole’ who was willing to step up. The other 99% of the time I’m just an asshole I guess.
One of the few people I always listened to was my grandfather. He had a few rules that were sacrosanct. One of these rules was, MEN DON’T HIT WOMEN. “What if she’s bigger than you?” Stop her without hitting her. “What if she has a knife?” Restrain her, and try not to get stabbed. “What if she has a gun?” Hope she misses your organs… Point is, you don’t get any wiggle room with this.
Emma was around a 100lbs the night she called and came over to my house out of the blue. This is a very small human. Frail. Armed with the aforementioned rule to filter my already aggressive attitude towards conflict, the story she told me of her boyfriend beating her until she was unconscious did not inspire me to seek diplomacy. Her shaking (like a chihuahua shakes, so afraid it was almost as violent a shaking as a seizure) will never leave me. Her fear makes me feel something so heavy that I just stopped writing, lost in that memory.
She stayed in the extra bedroom and had me check the windows and doors about 10 times. (found out later he said he tracked her and was outside and going to break in) Traumatized, terrified and alone she begged me to not send her home in the AM. She had a day worth of options and she agreed to use them. I was seeing my then girlfriend that night and if I could avoid explaining all this, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. My then GF would have accepted this and been very sympathetic. That is, once she got passed the smoking hot 20-year-old who was staying with her BF. Like the Donner party just getting past that hill and the snow..etc..
I had a ton going through my head. Could I trust every word? Was this potentially a little enhanced cuz she was angry? If I saw what she said happen, happen I’d feel no guilt no matter what happened to that POS. As you might hear in a movie, if what she said was true, “He needed to die and his family needed to because they raised him and his neighbors needed to for not doing something earlier” Or if the police were given….say a road map to sending him away on one of his many probation violations. Without some kind of evidence, I couldn’t go off half-cocked.
“Never fear to hurt another man as long as you know its in just cause”. The word here that was causing problems was “KNOW”. Or was that word an excuse I was using to avoid walking the walk so to speak? Based on what I saw that night I could have stopped a lot of pain had I been more of a man about the situation.
She called that night and I was weird with her on the phone, my GF was hovering and went nuts on what little bit she heard. If she only knew. But Emma must have heard it differently. Can’t blame her after what she had endured for the previous 7 years.
Her phone died and I couldn’t reach her. Emma told me the POS would go through her phone, tracked her like you track your child or dog and always carried a gun. I think she saw a few of my reach outs, but she saw me as another person who wouldn’t really help her. ‘All talk’ i assume.
You can accuse me of doing this to appease my ego, or to satisfy a sense of self, but you can’t argue it isn’t the right thing to do. So I didn’t give up. I knew she had to decide what her life would be, but I wanted her to at least have a place to go if she wanted to leave. And she was pretty f’n indifferent. Another weird quirk of my personality seemed to manifest itself (I don’t give up, ever) so I hung in there. I felt like I should have done more earlier. But who the fuck knows. Maybe she’s fine, happy and living life.
But mundane happiness does not a blog make.
“Everyone in the universe knows right from wrong.”
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I always liked that quote. It’s like a reminder not to be a selfish POS. Maybe it inspires you to vote, campaign for a better option, turn your boss in for filling a river with carcinogens or defend someone who can’t protect themselves. Or can they?
Smart is better than tough. But when you combine the two.
I’m ahead of myself.
Guys, we are a bunch of bitches. Not only the whole giving birth thing, but we don’t have the emotional skill set to deal with separation, we are children when its not on our terms, we are usually the ones who cheat.
Abused women have been known to murder abusive husbands while they sleep. To go there with someone you believe will kill you if you fuck up is pretty deep. The point is, when they are done, they are done.
Emma was done.
I get a text.
“What’s up? “
Who is this?
WTF? where have you been?
“I’m fine, forget I reached out.”
Fucking kids, won’t even let you help. I badger her she vanishes for a couple days. This was going on over and over for about week then I get a…
“Can I stay there tonight?”
I have plans, how about tomorrow?
“No, I really, really need it to be tonight.”
I adjust, she comes over. During the previous week I offered to let her stay for a while but said there would be rules. And they would be zero tolerance rules.
Given the freedom (comes at a cost obviously, but what teen has foresight?) she’d enjoyed for the last few years I represented a prison camp. She couldn’t lie to me, couldn’t leave without my knowing where she was, no guests, she’d have chores and don’t hurt my dog. Plus 50 other ones, and I felt it was a small price to pay but expected her to last a day, maybe 3.
That’s when the surprises started.
“Never surround an army on all sides, always leave them a route to retreat.”
Another of my favorite quotes. If you leave an army, a man, an animal, a woman 1 path (fight to the death or die) they fight to the death. I guess her BF never read the art of war. Too bad, good book.
Come to find out Emma had a plan to put the man she loved (past tense?) away for a long time and secure her safety. In theory. She had zero idea what she would do to start over, had no money, no roof over her head, but if he goes away he can’t kill her.
This poor idiot had no idea who he was fucking with. He was, to begin with (Emma is bright like the lights you use to light up a baseball game — bright as fuck) but there is another reality. Until a man is 30 he’s the same 3-year-old boy mommy feeds and washes. Oh, you disagree? Have you ever been in a college dorm room? A post school roommate house with 3 or 4 guys? Before turning 31, I ran a company with 50 employees, made more money than I knew what to do with and used paper towels as toilet paper or stole it from work. Is what it is.
Young men do stupid flippant things; we own that. We shoot each other, beat each other up, caveman stuff. Women plan, scheme, playing GO while we play with blocks and our dicks. Ever see MEAN GIRLS? Funny movie about average 16-year-old girls. I’m telling you, they are evil. Or at least capable of it if pushed.
Where does that leave Emma? As I said, homeless,
penniless and the key witness in a severe trial of a gang member. I’m sorry, did I mention this asshole is from one of those color-coded groups in LA? From what I hear, those gentlemen are supportive of one another get sad when a member is unavailable for some reason. This is how I knew she was telling me the truth about everything (to that point). If you were going to keep a secret, that is the one you keep when you are going to stay in someones home your being the potential target of a gang is the thing you keep to yourself. Of course, as she handed me the phone to speak to a social worker (oh, the not lying thing was new. She was 18, not 20 and still technically award of the state), then the next call was the police.
Not like Sgt. O’Doyle, local PD, this was someone from ‘victims of gangs who need protection’ type thing. (I changed the name to protect, well.. me) The officer asked if she could stop by, I said of course.
The next day, three large (1 woman and 2 guys, all larger than I am and I’m 6″1′ 200) police people show up. I accept full responsibility for my not seeing this one coming. Nonfamily member of a murky association to an 18-year-old girl takes her in out of nowhere, ya think they were cool to me? They sat me down and flanked me. And politely interrogated me. As I am doing this because I’m an idiot, not for personal gain, they eased up.
CONT. WHEN I HAVE TIME…OH, it gets better…