Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Friday, April 9, ~11:00pm: A Clean Getaway and the Police

I am given ice to apply to my mouth and as the feeling begins to return to my face I notice that my tooth is in the wrong place. I try to remember what it felt like to loose my teeth as a child. It's almost the same feeling. I want to wiggle it, see if it really is loose, but there is too much blood and too much pain. "Ma thuth dis en da wong pathe." That is all I can get out. I say it over and over again, trying to make him understand.
"He must have knocked a tooth loose," Jesus explains. "That's why your bleeding from your mouth. Just hold the ice there and press the cloth to your ear tight."

From my chair in the middle of the driveway I watch all of my neighbors rush to get the man's truck out of the ditch. They are muttering something about the police, shouting at one another, knowing they must hurry. Just as the truck emerges from the ditch, we here the sirens around the corner.

Jesus runs toward the first squad car to arrive and points to the truck, explaining that it belongs to the man who just assaulted me. He tries to explain that the man is no longer in that truck, but in another vehicle, and to give them the license information for the correct vehicle, but they will not listen. They chase after the truck.

Another squad car arrives, then another. Suddenly there are police everywhere. They want to ask me what happened. They want the details, my name, my social, and all I can tell them is "I cammot muv ma muth, I cammut" before leaning into the grass and letting the blood run from my mouth. I cannot spit the blood out. My mouth will not move. I can only lean over and pout, waiting for the bloody saliva to spill.

A policeman assures me that an ambulance is near as he examines my face. "Guess you ripped off an earring," he determines non-nonchalantly. "No, Ith wuv nah verring erring." I try to find the words, but they won't come out. I want him to know that I was not wearing any earrings; that the blow hit me with such direct severity that it ripped my ear with only a fist. I can't. When I receive the police report weeks later, there is no mention of any injury to my ear.

There are so many of them trying to ask me questions that I cannot answer and Jesus is too busy with one or two to stay with me. Frustrated, I begin to cry. I don't know what else to do.

A tow truck arrives with the man's white pick-up. The police have brought the driver, one of my neighbors, back to the scene and they are testing me for drunk driving. As he struggles to walk the straight line, one of my neighbors shouts at me from across the lawn, "It's not even the right guy! You got the wrong arrested, you stupid bitch! It's not even the guy who hit you!"

Now it is the siren of the ambulance I hear and there are two men lifting me into the back. Their voices are calming and reassuring. Maybe they will give me something for the pain. It is growing so intense. Or maybe something to make my ear stop bleeding so, and stinging. Something. Anything.

An officer enters the ambulance and asks to take pictures of my injuries. I try to show him the tooth, but my mouth won't open. I struggle to remove the piece of torn t-shirt from my ear where it is sticky with blood. I point and moan, hoping they'll understand that I want to see the photos - I want to know how bad it is, what is wrong with me, but Jesus will not let me see them.

They close the doors and start for the hospital. My face is throbbing now, the ear stinging sharper, and the ride just up the street to the hospital is too far away. When I point to my mouth enough they give me a bag that I can let the blood drip into. Jesus asks them to give me something for the pain. They offer Tylenol. I look up at them in heartbroken dismay and shake my head. To swallow now is beyond impossible.

Things are beginning to blur now. Time is standing still or moving too fast. At last we arrive at the Emergency Room but I'm not sure I can stand it any longer. I just want them to rip out the tooth. I want them to knock me unconscious. I want them to shoot me in the leg just to take the pain away from my face. I want to sleep. I'm tired and just want to sleep...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday, April 9, ~10:00pm: The Assault

"Did he hit you? He hit you! He hit you!" Jesus says to me in disbelief. The man is still standing there, staring at me. "You hit her." Jesus turns to him, half expecting concern or even panic. "You fucking hit her!" I look up at the man, my face covered in blood. He runs.
I feel strangely ashamed. I saw him lean back into the punch. I saw it, yet I couldn't believe it. I still can't believe that this man, twice my size, would so randomly punch me with all his strength and anger. I didn't put up a single hand. I didn't move. I stood there and let his man crush his mass against my face. All I could do was brace myself against the force.
"Where did he get you? Are you okay?" Jesus's shirt is torn from the fight and he rips off a piece of it and places it on my ear. "You're cut," he says. "Hold this here. Hold it tight." I want to answer his questions. I want to tell him that I am okay, ease his panicked tone. I want to hug him, even cry. Yet my mouth will not move. My mind is not yet processing the pain. I only know that I cannot move my lips to speak and all that comes out at him is "ughmmm! mmm!" I motion towards the man who is now in his truck about to get away. I think that I realize what has happened now, what this man has done. I hardly know that half of it. I think that he has caused me pain, made me bleed, yet I have not yet begun to know the pain and hardly started to bleed.

Soon Jesus will tell me that the man drove his truck into the ditch and was ushered into the vehicle that had been parked in my driveway. He is explaining to my neighbor, Sean, who has just arrived in his driveway that he needs to call the police. Sean shouts up at his wife, Sonia, who is now peering outside her bedroom window and looking down upon the driveway. “A girl has been assaulted and the guy fled the scene. Call the police and an ambulance.”

My other neighbors are all hard at work trying to get the man's truck out of the ditch. When Jesus mentions the police I hear one of them say, “wait a minute, that bitch deserved it. That bitch was asking for it.”

Sonia has come down from her bedroom and finds me a chair. "The police are on their way," Jesus explains softly. "An ambulance is on its way. We're going to get you to a hospital."

I look up at him, confused, and shake my head. No hospitals, I tell him with my eyes. I don't have insurance. I don't need a hospital. I'm strong and I can take pain. I survived that terrible motorcycle crash, nothing broken, no hospital. He looks at me with a new intensity, his eyes telling me that no hospital is not my choice. "Your ear is hanging off, baby. It's hanging off! You won't stop bleeding. You are going in the ambulance."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, April 9, 9:00pm: A Fight In The Driveway

It's just before 9pm on Friday night and I dash into the garage where my boyfriend, Jesus, is working on his motorcycle. "I just ordered Chinese food!" I declare. "But they are closing now so we have to hurry. Let's go!" We've been craving Chinese take-out for a while and leave the house excited about the prospect. We spent a lazy day at the movies and now, working on the bike too, we are happy as we gather our things to go. As we walk outside we discover that we cannot go anywhere.

There is a strange white sedan parked in my driveway. It's parked diagonally so as to block in both my truck and my roommate's. I'm trying to understand why anyone would park like that when there is plenty of room in the driveway to just block in one car and ample parking on the street. My neighbors have double-parked in my driveway before and have done it so as to block me in even when one space was empty. They've always been pretty hostile since that one time I asked them to turn their music down so I'm pretty sure they do it on purpose. I send Jesus over as an ambassador to ask them to move the car. If I ask them, no matter how politely, I tend to get screamed at and insulted.
Jesus returns from the neighbors confused. "They said they have no idea who the car belongs to." Thinking that my roommate must have a friend picking him up I call him and ask him to come down and move the vehicle. He says that he doesn't know anything about it and isn't expecting anyone.
We decide to try and wiggle one of our motorcycles around the car.

As we open the garage and begin to gear up for the bike, large group emerges from my neighbors' house and walks toward the mysterious sedan. A young girl holding a baby approaches the car and looks at me with reproach as though I should not be standing near her car, parked in my driveway.
"I thought you said this car wasn't yours?" I ask my neighbors collectively. Their response is part mocking and part ignorance. I look toward the girl expecting an apology, but she is busying herself with things in the front seat.
"Excuse me, why are you parked in my driveway like this?" I ask her. "If you are going to park in my driveway, couldn't you at least just block in one of the spaces?" I gesture to my truck. She stares at me and I'm not sure what to say. She makes no motion to leave.

She stares back at me and says quite softly, "Well, I have a baby."

"Okay, so you have a baby?" My tone is sarcastic now, amazed by her strange audacity. "How does that give you the right to block in my entire driveway? How does that give you the right to be so stupid?"

Suddenly there is a man standing in front of me. I've never seen this man before but he is screaming at me with pent up fury, as though I'd wronged him for years. "Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch! You fucking cunt! Don't you fucking talk you fucking whore!" The screamed insults are so sudden and shouted with such violence that I can scarcely make out the individual words.

Out of sheer instinct I shake my finger at him and scold him in disbelief. "Do not speak to me like that. You are on my property. You can't speak to me like that. You need to leave now." Yet the man will not stop shouting at me.

Then it all happens quickly - the part I keep reliving in my head. I feel my hand pushed away and stumble back. "Hey," I hear him say. It is all he can say before the man throws his first punch. Later Jesus will tell me that the man had reached out to push me when he stepped in, but I never really felt it, only the a force against my hand and then stepping back. It is only the man flinging fists and Jesus dancing quickly around them. His arms are up, covering his face. He does not through a single punch in return.

The girl is pleading to the man to stop screaming, to calm down. She is frightened and yet expectant. "Stop, please stop," she pleads. He doesn't seem to even realize that she is there. She is so small and I fear that Jesus will not fight back in hear of hurting the girl.

I reach out and pull her aside. "No, let them fight," I tell her.

The fight moves away from us toward the other side of the driveway. Jesus is thrown to the ground. I've never seen anyone I love in a fist fight. Hell, I've never seen a real fist fight. The strange man is so large, so much larger than Jesus, and so furious. I have never seen a man so angry and violent, yet so calculated in his movement. 'Jesus's shoulder has popped out,' I tell myself. He's dislocated his shoulder twice this year and when he doesn't get up from the floor I run towards them.

I tug at the man and shout at him. "Your problem is with me. If you want to call me a bitch, then go ahead. Leave him alone. Tell it to me!" He backs away. Now that Jesus has been beaten to the ground the man seems strangely calm. He has tired his violence and can go home. He takes a deep breath and stares at me. "Now, don't you ever talk to me that way again and get the fuck off my property."

Now I feel only force. I feel the muscles in my legs tighten into a squat as I try to remain standing. I'm fighting a force that wants me on the ground. I don't know what has happened, but there is suddenly wet everywhere. Everything is blurry and sticky. Jesus is talking to me but I can't hear what he is saying. Blood. I can taste it. Blood running down my face and filling my mouth.

Here I Am

It has been over a month since I was assaulted and I have just been told that the District Attorney will not take my case. The man who broke my jaw and ripped off my ear will never be arrested. He ran from the scene of his crime and will never face justice. They tell me it is due to "conflicting evidence." They tell me that an investigator was put in charge of my case, but she never spoke with me or my only witness. I have so many questions for her but she won't return my calls. Is it because I sobbed a bit on the first message that I left for her? No one will tell me what is in my file or why Officer Tweedie, the investigator, will not return my calls. I spent nearly a day at Houston Police headquarters meeting with every department I could, bounced around Homicide, Internal Affairs, Records...no one can tell me anything except to keep trying to contact this one person. Their words dance around the point they inevitably make: there is nothing I can do.

So here I am, doing the one thing left I can do - telling the world my story. If this had never happened, this strange turn of events that left my hospitalized by one man's random and bizarre actions, I would have gone on believing in justice, in the system, in society's recourse to the law. I many no longer belief in justice, but I belief in the power of words and I want the world to know: I was assaulted in Houston by a man whose name I may never know and the Houston police think that is just okay.