Uncategorized

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail

By Theresa Asiedu*

My phone rang.

”Theresa, I am so sorry.”

I heard my mother’s quivering voice.

”He’s burning everything, all of your belongings.” I let the words digest and hung up.

I stared at myself in the mirror, the red marks around my neck slowly turning blue; my forehead was still bleeding.
I had lost everything within the last twenty-four hours by the same man who had been in my life since I was three; the man who had tormented my family for as long as I could I remember; the father of my two younger siblings and the reason my mother decided to move to the Caribbean from Germany many years ago.
That morning, all I wanted to do was take a jog. It was a morning too beautiful for such ugly things on Dominica — the Caribbean island so often mistaken for the Dominican Republic.
The sun was shining, the fresh mountain breeze was gently touching my skin and I still had the scent of pink blossoming hibiscus flowers in my nose.
My stepfather popped in and out of our lives trying to maintain control of our family. He would yell at everything, from the house that was never tidy enough to the food that didn’t suit his taste. I would find myself holding my breath when he spoke, my body tensing with every word he uttered, his voice leaving goosebumps on my skin.
That day he had come by and ranted and raved as usual. My younger brother and sister were crying terrified by his behavior. ”I will kill all of you and line you up in graves,” he screamed. This man did not need a reason to ignite his rage. The smallest things would make him act like a mad man. Before I knew it I said,”Then kill me!”
I swallowed the lump in my throat, my heart pounded, in my chest and throughout my body. All my sense of sanity must have left me in that moment.
”Kill me, then,” I repeated. ”If that’s what it will take for you to leave this family alone!” I was only fifteen but I felt so strong.
His eyes red filled with rage, shocked at my audacity.
Before I knew it his, hands were around my neck choking me. I felt nauseous, stars appeared. He banged me against the metal gate. My forehead began bleeding profusely. He just left me there lying at the gate.
I managed to get up. I was disoriented, my clothes were torn. I walked down the graveled roads filled with pot holes without looking back, until I found someone who took me to the hospital. I later found out that my mother had run to the neighbor who was five minutes away to call the police after my stepfather had ripped our phone cords from the wall.They didn’t show up, something that wasn’t unusual for such a small island. It wasn’t until after I appeared battered at the station that they finally took action.
Before the police arrived that day to forcefully remove my stepfather, he had enough time to single me out and burn all of my belongings childhood photos, school books, all the clothes I owned.
Unfortunately the Caribbean police tend to be slow and didn’t show up in time. He burned the things right next to our house with my mother watching too scared to do anything, an act of revenge to show me one last time what he was capable of. I was left with the torn shirt on my back, my sweats and a pair of sneakers.
He was gone, though.
____
*Theresa Asiedu, from the island of Dominica, is an international student at San Joaquin Delta College. She is currently finishing her degree in Business. Contact her at theresa_heitz@hotmail.com.

 

 

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail
Uncategorized

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail

By Matthew Garcia

I close the door at work behind me. It’s 2 a.m.

I look up and see a car up ahead. It’s my coworker Cecilie. She got off an hour before I did. I go to the window and say ‘’What are you doing?’’ in the cuntiest voice I can come up with.

She laughs.  ‘You know, just hanging out.’’

I see someone in the back seat; her boyfriend. I roll my eyes. She smiles and then says, sorry, I can’t give you a ride tonight. But come in the car and kick it with us.

I remind myself that I need to be back at work at nine in the morning. I need all the hours I can get.

I look up to the night and feel the breeze as wraps its arms around me. I pull out my CD player and put on my headphones. I start my walk. I only live five blocks away, but five blocks feels like 50 after having to clean most of the store on my own. There are no cars, though.  This is one of the busiest streets in town.

I cross and turn the corner I can see my friend’s house where I am living for now. I am excited because I was given some fruit cups from my store that was set to expire in two days. They were perfectly good but you know how food regulations are. There was a recent Taco Bell outbreak where people got sick from the food, so nobody wanted to take any chances. But to me, food is food and this means one less trip to the dollar store this week.

As I cross the street, I see a car coming and the lights get brighter. I am one step from making it across and the car turns in front of me. Time freezes. I don’t close my eyes. The car hits me and I am on top of the hood. I hear the screech of the tires and the smell of rubber burning. My head then hits the windshield and my sight goes black for a second. My body flip upside down as if I were on a roller coaster. The car isn’t done with me. It is as if the car grows arms and grabs me and spins me around — just as in wrestling where after being spun around you get slammed into the ground. My body is tossed to the side. Silence. The car takes off.

‘’Don’t leave me here I don’t deserve this,’’ I say.

My face is bleeding and I cannot feel my legs and blood is running all over me. My mouth is bleeding but the blood is mixed with saliva. I spit out as much blood as I can. I feel like I am drowning in a pool of my own blood. I try to move my legs and I hear a scrape. My left leg bone is sticking out and scraping against the asphalt. I feel like my legs are being cut open with a hacksaw. I can feel flaps of my skin dangling from my body and bones.

‘’Is someone going to help me or what?’’ I yell.

I cannot stand the pain in my legs. For some reason I think to myself that I need to spread the pain. So I start to scratch the concrete with my nails until they start to bleed. Then I start to bite my hand as hard as I can until I bleed.

I can hear someone running up. My roommate. I know this because I can always tell what his steps sound like.  Andrew is 6’2″ and 200 pounds and a strong person. Growing up with him, he always did the heavy lifting. He was never scared or one to be queasy. In high school a senior hit him in the face with a bat, and he never cried.

“Matt! Oh my God. Oh, my God!”

He sputters his words I can hear them break and crackle like when you sit on an old chair that needs to be thrown out.

“I’m calling 911.”

He runs back to the house but just a few footsteps away I hear him stop and the sound of splashing comes to my ear as he throws up. My best friend comes out with her boyfriend. She is crying and screaming. Her boyfriend who I had just known for only a few weeks is talking to me saying, ‘’Don’t fall asleep.” But it’s too late. I have already invited death to come put me to sleep. The pain is intense. If I can just close my eyes and go to sleep the pain will go away. I feel the cold wrap around me. The breeze gentle before is now a grip on my body. The back of my head starts to feel like there is a drill going inside. I really wish my brain would shut up. I just want to sleep.

I can hear the sirens coming. Within seconds, people are around me asking me questions. I wait for death — even mocking it, saying, ‘’What are you waiting for?’’ People around me stop talking; they think I have lost it. I tell the police officer what happened as I lie on the ground bleeding. His voice is over all the others. I can hear the empathy and his touch is light. His hand is shaking as he puts his arm on my shoulder. I can feel him crying. He says to me ‘’Its okay. We’ll get them. Don’t worry.’’

The chorus of the song I was listening to is in my head and playing over and over.  ‘’It cannot be, it’s not me my heart is weighed down with grief for not being made of stone when the heavens asked me for patience.’’ The song is of two people who fall apart, a memory of my family comes to mind.

I was in a wheelchair for a year and from the waist down my legs are filled with metal. I still have foot-long rods in my hips and legs.

Lying there that night, I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or some stupid shit you hear on Oprah. I was not depressed or feeling upset when I thought I was about to die. I just thought it was my time. At times I feel death was feeling annoyed with me and wanted to see me scared before taking me away.

 

*Matthew Garcia is an honor-roll student at San Joaquin Delta College, working on transferring to San Jose State University in two years. Contact him at Zelkova2297@gmail.com.

 

 

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail
True TalesTYTT Export

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail

By Gina Reyes*

This is the story of Joe. He was a helpful, loving, compassionate person. He did his best to prove he was worth the air he breathed.

In my time of need, Joe was there for me. I had just found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend, the father of my son, decided he was going to be with both me and another woman at the same time, until I found out. I confronted him. I told him I was pregnant. If he was not ready to be a father, be responsible, then goodbye. He did not care, so I left and never turned back, though it was devastating. I fell into depression, stressing about what I was going to do and how I could do it alone.

Joe was my shoulder to cry on. He was my companion to keep me occupied. He was there for me to kill time and help me keep my mind from getting stuck in a rut. We would lie around making jokes, laughing, playing spades over and over, and having a fun time together to pass time.

In the time we spent together, we built a stronger bond that turned into a love that was unmistakably precious.

He was willing to accept me and my unborn child, as well as the child I already had. He was willing to support us knowing he was not the father. He cherished my children as if they were his own. How many men out there are willing to do that? Boy was I lucky.

Joe came from a broken home. His mother was a single mom raising four children on her own. He was the oldest, so he took on the role of the father in their family. His mother did have boyfriends who would come in and out, but they treated her children poorly. In comparison, I was raised in a family that had more structure. I have two brothers and one sister; I am the youngest. My mother and father are middle class working people. He was raised in Guam and I was raised in California. Through our differences we created a powerful bond that we thought was invincible.

We had our differences. He felt the need to constantly prove his worth to others. I accepted him no matter what his struggles were, as he did with me. He was going to school, and trying to earn his GED. He was attending classes with my brother, David, and my brother in law, James. He was struggling on the essay portion of the exam partly due to English, which he didn’t speak well. He tried over and over, and failed and failed again. James and David passed the exam easily and on occasion would call him “stupid”. They made jokes like, “Are you ever going pass the test?” He also struggled getting a job. He was so driven. Out of determination, he would go to temporary agencies that pay the same day. When he was short on cash, he would ask his mother, but she would also call him “stupid” and tell him to go get a job.

In our relationship, I learned he hated the word “stupid”. It extremely offended him. I learned this because I would use the word jokingly. No matter how the word was used, it was offensive to him. At the time, I did not really understand why he was bothered and offended by the word.

Then, one night, we were fighting and in the midst of anger, I told him, “Get out. Leave me alone.” After that, I went to sleep for the night. It was a heated fight and I even put his clothes outside.

In the morning, when I awoke, he was gone. I was over the anger, so I looked for him. I could not find him, but his clothes were still outside. Later that day, I went to his mother’s house to see if he was there. He was not. His mom said she had not seen him, which made me feel worse. I continued on with my daily errands, wondering where he went. What was he doing?  I stopped by all of the places that he would go. Nobody had seen him.

Feeling bad and confused I returned home. I began telling my mother all that had happened since the fight and she said, “He was probably just upset and when he calms down, he will be back.” And I remember telling her how weird I felt because I looked everywhere and I had this funny feeling that he was watching me.

A while later, Archie, my cousin, and Marky, his friend. Marky’s car was in my garage and they were working on it. The car had been there for about a week. It was up on jacks with the hood open. The right corner of the garage was blocked by the car; the garage was a mess, so I did not bother going out there at all.

They opened the garage opened, so they could work on the car. The next thing I heard was, “NO!” “NO!” ”JOE! “

I ran out. Joe was hanging there in my garage from a rope connected to the wood studs in the roof. He was wearing a grey windbreaker pants and a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his head.

I screamed, “Oh, my God!” and repeated his name over and over. Why? Joe? Why?

How could a person go so far as to take their own life? I used to think it was impossible for someone to go to that extreme.  Use your words wisely. The wrong ones can break a person’s soul.

___

*Gina Reyes is a student at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

 

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail
True TalesTYTT Export

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail

By Christian Lockwood

I once had a house with a white picket fence. In it, I lived with a wife, and two children. Life seemed pretty good. But the shell shock from a tour in Libya fighting the war on terrorism tore me up, and drugs and alcohol became a way of life from which I could not free myself.

That is how one warm August day in 2009, well into my self-medication, I awake on the seat of my pickup after another night of no place to rest my head. My pickup, my dog Batman, and my cell phone are all I have left. My wife and kids have been embarrassed by me for the last time. They have disowned me.

I am sweating profusely as most junkies who need a fix experience. The gagging has started. “I need a drink,” I say to myself. If I don’t get one I could die. I am in the DT’s. My skin is crawling as if overrun with bugs. I am drenched in my own bodily fluids. The hallucinations are starting now. It’s  as though I am being pursued by little green men coming from everywhere. A full blown seizure is sure to happen soon. I need a dose bad.

I scuffle across the street to get my medicine. I gag the entire way, only bringing up yellow bile. It’s 5:56 am and this damn storekeeper better not be late today. By 6:05 am, with no store owner in site, I’m getting sicker by the minute.

Finally, at 6:12 he drives up and notices me and my condition. He exchanges pleasantries with me and hurriedly opens the door to let me in. He knows what I need. The storekeeper doesn’t stop to turn the lights on and upon entry goes immediately to the shelf to pull down my elixir.

A pint of Jose Cuervo and a tall Coors are my usual liquid meals. I’m infamous here at this store. They know me all too well. I pay for my stash with change I’ve bummed from passing folks and leave. I barely get away from the storefront and I need to get the first couple of pops in me. The sooner I down it, the better. The first couple never stays down anyway. As predicted up comes the burning alcohol through my nose and mouth. My Boston terrier gazes up at me with a look of “Really?” Then he smells the frothy discharge and laps it up. Wow, I’m turning the damned dog into an alcoholic too. I need to sit down and let these first two swigs work. After a minute or two my gag reflex has given me a reprieve and it’s time now to completely bury my torments in life.

I was once a proud United States sailor with an impeccable service record and receive citations for Honor and Expert Marksmanship. In civilian life I  was a well-respected member of the Tri-County Gang Task Force and had a reputation as a tough cop who was known for fighting gang crime and drug interdiction. Now, in fact, this is more of a hindrance when it comes to copping my dope. Too many of these street people know me. Only my selected posse at Gibbons Park know me as Rocky, just another park dwelling bum like them.

Speaking of my posse, it’s time to get back to the park.  I finally feel fit enough to navigate my way back to my home, the park. I get to our favorite picnic table where we all hold court and share our harrowing tales about surviving the night before. We begin to pass our bottles between us as if in attempt to see who could out-drink who. Then the talk always turns to who has weed, and eventually someone comes up with some to smoke. Then it moves to crystal and soon we are all snorting meth off of a paint chipped picnic table.

Eventually it happens. Black-and-whites drive into the park from all directions; everyone runs but me. I am as if frozen in time. Was it that I was surrendering? Nope, really how fast can a man run with a little black dog tethered to his leg? A cop car stops in front of me and the officer jumps out and immediately opens the back door.

“Oh Jesus,” I say to myself. I know this officer.

I quickly drop my head hiding my face and obey every command. I am frisked, and out comes my driver’s license. The officer puts his hand on my shoulder and yanks me toward him forcefully.

“Lockwood?” he asks.

“Yes, it’s me bro,” I reply. I used to work Gang sweeps with this officer on multi-agency procedures.

“What in the world has happened to you?” my buddy asks. “You need help.”

My cop friend for some reason lets me go. My posse, on the other hand, is not so lucky.

Once again I am alone, the dog and I. It was time for another drink. I feel lucky. I stumble to my truck and upon trying to get into the driver’s door I see my reflection in the window. My cop friend’s voice rings loudly in my head as I stare at somebody I don’t even recognize looking back at me. I have checked out of life completely.

The day before a church guy had stopped by the park and gave us all sandwiches, talking “God” the entire time. We all pretended to listen because we were actually thankful someone was feeding us. He quoted the Bible and said something from the book of Romans that while we don’t want to do wrong, we are powerless to stop. He quoted scripture that didn’t make sense to me at the time. But it was all making quite good sense now.  I was a proud United States Military Veteran who was trained to adapt and overcome. But I can’t figure out why I am destroying myself when deep down inside I don’t want to.

I recall a saying I saw on a flier I saw at the VA Clinic. It said, “It takes the courage of a warrior to ask for help.”

The time has come. I need to ask for help. I pull out my dying cell phone and make one last call. They send someone to come to the park and pick up Batman and me.

I haven’t had a drink or a drug since that August day in 2009.  I have started a new journey in life. That’s who I am now.

____

*Christian Lockwood is studying at San Joaquin Delta College and Bible College at Fellowship Church Community in Stockton and aspires to be an ordained pastor and serve military veterans in San Joaquin County.

 

Share this story on social media
Facebooktwitterredditmail