Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How it went down - Part 1

“Do you wanna see the inside of a police car?”

I did not want to see the inside of a police car. In the aftermath of what is now referred to as the Rodney King incident”, police were not held in the sort of national esteem that would render instantaneous acceptance of an invitation to tour the inside of a police car. Besides, such an offer was an inherently condescending, if not outright disingenuous.

But the burly, black police officer insisted. I should see the inside so I did. He may as well have raped me, or thrown me down a stairwell, or called me with news of my parents (or my own) imminent demise. That was the magnitude of the thing, it turns out. Nonetheless, I obliged.

Truth be told, I cannot imagine how a police officer can be excited about showing a child the interior of a police car. To the extent that children harbor Vatmobile-type illusions about the things (which again, I did not) said illusions are surely deflated by the cornucopia of rote functionality within. There was a radar, gadgets and switiches, none of which held the promise of fulfilling curiosity (which again, I did not possess).

No matter. The tour de 5.0 was simply a ruse to get me out of the house. Investigators needed to investigate. At that point, I imagine that my father was at the center of some sort of intrigue. He had witnessed something, and the police (prone to beating blacks as they may have been) needed his assistance. My father had taken me to see Goodfellas the year before. Maybe we were going to join the witness protection program. Not an unpleasant diversion, I supposed, to myself, in vain.

After an hour of chatting up Officer Smalltalk in his unimpressive police car, I was allowed inside to eat some dinner, an impromptu macaroni and hot dogs scenario that reeked of desperation on the part of my clearly distraught mother. And then…

“Mmmmm… Looks good.”

So said a woman with a commanding visage which would present itself intermittently throughout the next year of my life. Under no fathomable circumstance did the concoction I was devouring look “good”. Like the offer to tour the police car, it had all the appearances of being a charade.

At that moment, I got the distinct impression that this investigative visit was not related to my dad’s heroism. An impulse of rage and injustice welled within me. I snuck off to my parents bathroom and stood in front of the mirror, gesturing angrily at invisible demons who would threaten my father, my reflection flailing in the imperfect lights of the nearby hallway.

After some length of time, the entourage left with little fanfare, taking with them this or that envelope. An hour later, we picked up my father, not as a witness, but as a prime suspect. Sexual assault of a minor, the holy grail of sins, and my father was said to have committed the act.

We rode home in my mother’s Corolla hatchback, my father’s exasperated eyes recalling the humiliating things he had to deny or admit. My father had been observed for the previous several weeks as he went to and from work (or not), commit acts of sexual infidelity, shirk parental responsibilities and generally do everything but molest a minor. Shaken and terrified, our lonely family came back to our thoroughly searched house.

I remember laying in my bed that night, unsleeping, my fingers moving vigorously back and forth across the lines and divots of my red-orange blanket. My dreams were truncated by the stabbing pangs of worry that find their way into our fantasies at such times, jolting me awake with smooth cloths of sweat.

For those who are understand what it feels to be numb, this was numb. Unhungry, unwanting, defeated and mangled. My life was entirely different from anything it had been before, and it was only about to get worse.

The date was September 11, 1991.

4 Comments:

Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

Wow. You are going there, eh? Good for you. Thanks for writing.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous peter said...

Nice work, Kevin. This was excellently written and very thoughtful.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

I just want to encourage you to do what you need to Kev. Your friends support you and all that stuff. Sorry, I wish I was better at the sentimental stuff.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous b-nut said...

I am glad to have stopped bye. I want to read more...

5:34 PM  

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