To Love and To Fall

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Sirens deafen me, red lights blind me. I scream at them to go away, but they don’t. Men who I have never seen before reach for me. I am in the front seat of a car- but wasn’t I in the back, and I look back and there was either no more front seat or no more back seat, and my neck feels like it is going to snap. I am removed from the car. I try to walk but fall down at the first step. Policemen approach me like a scene out of a movie; we found the bad guy, I think they will say. But they say that I am the bad guy. My hands are shoved behind me. A click and I am unable to move them. Glass, blood everywhere. I see Mark with three other blue suits. He is shoved in the back of a car. I am escorted to an ambulance. I wonder where Mark is going. Black bags on stretchers go by me. I wonder who died. One of the blue suits calls me an asshole as he closes the ambulance door behind me.

I look out of the window as the scene becomes smaller and smaller. I am screaming. There must be some mistake, I am not a criminal, I scream. I am not my father. A blue suit makes fun of me, thinking I am calling for my father. He calls me a pansy. I tell him to fuck off. I feel a smack in the face, and a protest from a medic, but it is too late, I am made to be silent.

I wake up in a hospital bed. My head is throbbing; there is little light. A doctor with glasses leans over me. I scream, and there is a distinct hissing in my ear; my blue suit friend is by my side. Intense cold throbs against my head, and gentle patting. I am told I will live. The doctor leaves, and blue suit tells me I am an asshole. I want to kill the motherfucker.

Suddenly I am no longer in the hospital bed; time has jumped from archway to archway. I am now on a small cot. Bars in front of me. A woman outside of the bars wearing a blue suit, watching me. She smokes a cigarette like she is Marlene Dietrich. She sees I am awake and blows smoke in my face. I want to kill, and I throw myself against the bars. She laughs, casually shakes her head, and nonchalantly goes to the corner of the room to get coffee before turning to watch me again. I am her personal freak show. My head throbs, and I slump onto the cot, defeated. There is a small hole in the corner of my cell. I sit and stare at it. Time is meaningless now.

I am moved from the cell to a small room, escorted by my new girlfriend. She ignores my sexual comments, which infuriates me further. In the small room there is a skinny man in a suit drinking coffee, waiting for me. I could break him with my pinky. I want to.

The woman shoves me into a seat. I give her the finger. She smacks me hard on the side that already hurts. I feel buzzing in my ear. She gives no apology; she looks at me like I am dirt.

A phone is placed before me. Skinny points to it. He says something about bail. I have no idea why I am to be bailed. He shakes his head, and the receiver is shoved into my hand. I do not know if I speak to someone, or if I don’t. I don’t remember calling anyone.

Time has jumped again. I am back in the cell. The Dietrich wannabe harasses me, calling me a killer. I feel murder in me, and wish I could take myself into oblivion. I am not my father, I yell. You are and worse, she says. She knows who my father is. At least he killed a man in a fair fight. You killed a woman. Two women, one a mother. Her child too. Fear drowns my confusion, turns to rage. I tell the cop to go to hell; I tell her that I will kill her too. I scream and scream, but she is no longer there to scream at. A young man sits there instead, younger than me. I sense green blood, and demand that he tell me why I am here. He looks at me quizzically. An extension of the freak show. But if he were in my place, he would act just like me. Would he? I don’t know why I’m here. I killed—a woman? What woman? I yell at the little boy to give me answers. He looks at me like I am a crazy man. I call him an asshole. I only wanted an answer to my question.

The little boy and two bigger blues come for me some time later. I taste rum in my mouth, wishing I could have some now. I flounder in their grasp, wondering where I am going. Soon I am in a courtroom; bail will be set for me. I still don’t know for what.

I feel like I am watching someone else, part of some courtroom drama on TV. Herds of people are there, street thugs, druggies and some people who like me look like they don’t belong here. I see Denise in the audience. She looks at me as though I do not exist. I wonder how she got here, and baffled by the coldness I receive from her. The judge begins to call names. Soon enough, I will be up there. If this were not really happening, I would be laughing. But I am afraid of what is happening. I wish I could just disappear.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G—I am next. The alphabet never held such an eerie quality before this moment. I let myself fall into a numb state, nearly catatonic. Then I hear a name, not mine, but one I know; Graham–and I watch as Mark goes up to the bench, and a rushed whisper flows in the court, the judge must silence the masses. The hissing continues nonetheless.

Mark Graham. Three counts of vehicular manslaughter in the first degree. A desperate hiss from the audience, followed by the piercing cry of a child. I follow the voice, and it comes from Michelle, Mark’s daughter. I wonder if she knows what just happened or if it was the cry of the innocent who knows she is no longer protected. Mark stands by himself, says he is not guilty. The hiss is louder, and the audience is admonished. This is what I am part of. Mark is led away.

When my name is called, a burly man with a suitcase pushes his way up with me. I never recall speaking to this man but he tells the judge that he is my lawyer. I wonder where he came from. He wipes his forehead with a handkerchief as he speaks. I hear the judgement from the bench: Failure to report a homicide, open container, intoxicated in vehicle, resisting arrest. No readings of murder. The audience seems unaware that I am tied in any way with Mark Graham. I thank God. And I am not a murderer. The fat guy says I’m not guilty, and the judge sets bail at five thousand. The fat lawyer says we can pay it. I look at Denise to give her my thanks. She looks through me as though I am not there.

I look around the courtroom for Carla. She is nowhere to be found, and I wonder if she has somehow gotten off scot free. Her name is going to be coming up soon. I stand transfixed, looking for her. I would like to hold her again—

The lawyer nudges my arm, and it stings from the impact.

“Come on,” he bellows. “You’re free.”

I follow him, dazed. The lawyer reminds me of the court date that I never heard. October first. I tell the lawyer I can’t be here, I have to leave for a new job. He looks strangely at me then laughs as though I told a good joke. “You gotta stay here, sonny until this clears up.” We head towards Denise.

“Where’s Carla Madison?” I ask. I don’t want to ask my sister.

“Carla Madison?” I may as well asked him about little green men. “Carla Madison. Boy you’re out of it. The judge just mentioned her.”

“He did? How?”

“Carla Madison’s dead. She was thrown through the windshield. Your buddy’s being indicted on manslaughter for her. He also hit a family. He killed a man’s wife and only child. You sure pick the winners, boy.”

Carla Madison is dead. She sat in my seat, the seat that I usually rode in. I should have been there instead. I close my eyes, my inside numb. I wish I were dead right along with her.

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