Chapter Twenty-Seven: Local Couple Wanted for Child Abuse
This is a story I wrote based on a real news article that occurred about 5 years ago.
James: I didn't understand why they wanted to hurt me. Mommy and her boyfriend said "We have to go away now." And then they dropped me off at a building with bright lights and lots of people were wheeling me on a big boy bed into a room. Then they told me they would be there when I woke up and I fell asleep. I must have been really sleepy. I had dreams that we lived in a big house and that Mommy's boyfriend went away. The little bags of powdered sugar that he sucked up with a straw were gone, and we had a freezer full of ice cream and chicken nuggets. Nobody ever wanted to make purple spots on my skin that hurt when I poked them. When I woke up, I couldn't see anything and I didn't remember anything from before I went to sleep. I didn't know why the lights were off, but the strangers in white coats told me that I couldn't see 'cause I was blind. I think that means that they put a blindfold over my eyes. Mommy told me I couldn't talk to strangers 'cept for her boyfriend who didn't like me. He always hurt me. So I didn't talk to the strangers 'cause I was scared that he was hiding and watching me and he would punish me if I talked. The strangers became peoples I knowed, so I talked to them when they came back. They asked me if Mommy and her boyfriend told me where they were going away. I said I didn't knowed. I had burns all over me that felt like that time Mommy's boyfriend twisted my skin over and over. He said a 'lil Indian sunburn never hurt anybody. But it did hurt me. They always hurted me. And I didn't ever know why.
Jessica: I didn't mean to do wrong by James. It was just so hard to keep him happy and keep Roland happy. Roland was always -- and I mean always -- angry. He was into a lot of hard drugs, drugs that ruin lives, and I never wanted to be a part of that. But somehow I always was. I couldn't stay away. His love was addicting to me as drugs were to him. He came up with a plan, and it was hard to resist. He said, "We'll drop the kid off at the hospital, and we'll run away together. They won't look for us, because it's not a crime to not want your kid anymore." I loved James, but I was so young. I was much too young for a kid. And I should've realized that before he was born; I thought I could do it, but I was wrong. That's why Roland's idea sounded so good. James would be left with his grandma or something, or adopted by a family that could actually take care of him. When the plan came from Roland's mouth, it hadn't sounded so terrible.
On the day we were supposed to bring James to the hospital, he was especially fussy. We were packing his bags, our bags, and everything valuable in our apartment into our little car. We were ready to get the hell out of here and into the sun. James kept crying and crying, and Roland was getting pissed. James sat at the table in his booster seat, eating a bowl of cereal. I felt like shit that I was going to abandon my kid. But I knew I wanted to be with Roland. Forever. And I was afraid that he would leave me if I didn't do what he said. Roland was getting so frustrated with James that he punched a wall. "Finish your cheerios, James! Stop crying and bitching!" he screamed furiously from the other side of the table. James didn't stop crying, and he didn't eat his cheerios. He started wailing. I was packing dishes and food into a cardboard box, and I decided to stay out of it, because I was afraid he would hurt James. That is, until Roland picked up James and shook him, hard. "Don't, babe, you'll hurt him!" I yelled.
"Shut up, he's fine." Roland said, setting him back down in his chair. "Go get dressed, James," he said sternly and loudly. James wiped his nose on his pajama sleeve and jumped up, running down the hall to his bedroom. I cleaned up the cheerios and put the dish into the box. Roland sat down at the table and began to snort lines of cocaine. A few minutes later, James came into the kitchen. He was wearing his dinosaur footie pajamas, which were backwards, and an inside-out Christmas sweater. James sniffled and looked up at me. "Is this good to go to Florida?" he asked, and I broke down into tears. Roland shot up and cracked James in the head, sending him sprawling across the floor.
"You're NOT going to Florida, James!" Roland shouted at him. James was screaming and crying bloody murder. "You're upsetting your mother! Stop being stupid!" he screamed down at James, who was laying on the floor, curled into a ball. I shook my head.
"No, Roland, he's not." I said carefully.
Roland whipped his head around to look at me, narrowing his eyes. "Shut up, Jessica!" he shouted at me, and he gave me a wild look, daring me to say something else. James wailed louder from the corner of the room, and I went over to him and scooped him up carefully. He was bleeding from his head and had a black eye.
"I'm sorry Mommy, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Mommy," he sobbed, and Roland came over and grabbed him from me.
"Stop crying, James," he said again, and threw him carelessly onto the couch. Then he put the television on and flipped to Sesame Street. James calmed down a little and watched his show, but he was still crying. Roland and I continued to pack up the apartment. A little while later, James said, "Mommy, can I have some of this powdered sugar?" And I didn't realize until too late what was happening. Roland was there in a heartbeat, and I heard him scream and a large thud as I ran into the room.
"Roland! What have you done?!" I screamed. He was holding James in his arms. James had blood all over him and was unconscious. There were several burn marks on his wrist and fingers. Roland's face held an angry expression.
"Guess we're going to have to bring him to the hospital early," he said, and smiled evilly.
James: I was in the hostable for a long time. It felt like a bajillion years. The doctors said it had been almost two weeks since I had got there. The peoples had stopped asking me where my mommy and her boyfriend were, because I tolded them I didn't 'member anything. My grandma stayed with me the whole time, sitting next to my bed, and she didn't ever sleep. Sometimes I could tell she wanted to go home, but she never did. I kind of missed my mommy because she always got me toys and gave good hugs. She didn't like me sometimes 'cause her boyfriend was there. But the people at the hostable were nice, too. The nurse ladies sometimes gave me lollipops and stickers and cuddly animals and soft blankets. A doctor gave me a toy ambulance and told me it was funny because we were in a hostable. I didn't laugh though. I had lots of burns and purple marks on my arms and a big cut on my head for a long time. I didn't feel good a lot, because it hurted to move. My eyes hurt when the lights were on, so they had to blindfold me when they looked at my hurt parts. One time I asked the peoples why my mommy didn't want me no more, and they just got real quiet and said that she was on vacation. I didn't know what vacation meant. I thought I 'membered something about the bad day that mommy left me here. I 'membered wearing jammies and watching Sesame Street and wanting some powdered sugar. Roland ran in and hurted me and I fell asleep. But I also 'membered Mommy talking to Roland at night about something. She said "Who will we be in Florida?" and he said "Just some people on the beach. No one will know who we are. But that's what we want." So I told a lady in the room who was fixing my beepy machine, because grandma was going to get food. She called the doctor in and made me tell him my remembery, and he called a lot of guys with guns who came in to ask me questions.
"Where are your mommy and her boyfriend, Roland?" they asked me. Then I said on the beach in Florida. Then I asked to go to sleep because I had a hurt head, and they let me. When I woke up the TV was on, but Sesame Street wasn't on. It was a boring show with a man talking about how two people were caught in Florida by police at somewhere called Universal Studios. I didn't listen to it too much 'cause it was boring. The next day when I woke up there was lots of peoples in my room and grandma was gone. There was a lady there who told me I was going to live with her now, because mommy and Roland couldn't make it back. I asked her where mommy was and she didn't answer, just shook her head. But I was glad that I would never see Roland ever again. She told me that I would never get hurted again, and I believed her.
Jessica: It had been two weeks since I'd seen my baby boy. I never thought I would've said this, but I missed him; his smile, his laugh, and I even missed his crying. I missed the way he ran up to me when I got home, and hugged my legs. I thought I could just leave him and leave my life in New Hampshire, but I was wrong. Roland and I had made it to Florida about eleven days before, and we were on the beach every minute, soaking up the sun. One day, we were supposed to go to Universal Studios, and I wished that James was there to see the amazing sights. Roland and I got there and were watching a parade, and then he spotted a police officer. The officer was looking right at us, so we started to slowly turn away and walk towards the car. I turned back and the officer was following us while talking into his walkie talkie. We started to run, but officers came at us from all angles and tackled us to the ground. My face was shoved into the pavement and from the corner of my eye, all I could see was Roland fighting. Always fighting. He was tased, thrown to the ground and handcuffed and all I could think about was my baby, James. I asked the officer if he was okay, and he said "He's fine, no thanks to you." That was when I realized how fucked up I was. I was with a man who beat my three year old child, my flesh and blood, my world, and who did so many drugs that he didn't even remember what it felt like to be sober anymore. My child could have died, he could have died, and I was the only one to blame. I could have gotten rid of Roland at any time, but the truth was that I just didn't WANT to. It felt better to be loved by a bad person than to be alone with just my kid. I was blinded by the idea of "love" and my sad excuse for a little family. And I should've acknowledged that way earlier. Maybe the rest of my life in jail is what I really do deserve, because I should've stood up for my son. And that is the truth. And when I go to trial, that is exactly what I am going to tell the world.
TEN YEARS LATER
James: I am in eighth grade now. I live with my family; my mom, my dad, my two sisters and three brothers. They adopted me when I was four years old. To tell the truth, I don't remember much about what happened to me when I was younger. I remember the awful nightmares I used to have, and I remember my mother's boyfriend beating me all the time. But I don't remember being in the hospital for two months, and I don't remember being in court, testifying against my own mother. Today, Roland is still in prison. So is my birth mother, but they are in separate prisons. She was only sentenced with five years in prison, but when she was released, she tried to kidnap me from my home here, just ten minutes from our old apartment, and got five more years. It all seems like a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from. I'm not sure if I will ever recover from this; every day is a struggle. People still remember me as the kid who got beaten nearly to death and dropped off at the local hospital so his parents could spend their lives on a beach.
I hope that someday, my mom can get the help she really needs. And I hope that someday, Roland gets what he deserves and they'll never get back together, and that they'll never have another kid to do this to. I hope that they learn. And I hope that nobody else ever has to go what I went through, especially a little kid. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.