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Monday, November 28, 2005WTF do you say to a murderer?
A few years ago one of my neighbors was arrested for murder. It was a case movies are made of, in fact Law and Order based one of their episodes on it. It was only when the NYPD went on the local news that the victim's identity was discovered. Several weeks later my neighbor was arrested. I didn’t follow his case too closely in the papers because I figured it was a done deal, given the evidence against him. Last I had heard his wife was in town and the judge had to decide if she was going to be allowed to testify against him. The prosecutor argued that because they had been separated for several years before the murder took place (his wife lived in the same complex) she was not violating the spousal privilege. The defense argued the opposite, citing they were never legally separated. I never saw the decision in the paper but I thought that even without her testimony they’d be able to convict him.
Given the gruesome details of the case (I spared you) you would figure that the man would get put away for a life right? Nope, he was acquitted! Imagine my shock at finding myself riding the elevator with him the other day. He stared at me; my parents had been acquaintances of his family for 14 years. He had seen me grow up, until his arrest his kids had been friends with my younger siblings. I fixed my gaze on my sneakers, noting that the laces needed to be washed. “Mia!” I looked at him and he smiled at me, “Hello mama my God you’ve grown up so much. How are your parents?” It had to be the longest elevator ride in the history of man. It seemed as if the elevator stopped on almost every floor. He tried to make small talk with me asking about school, boy friends etc. regular things my parents friends always ask me about. I could only reply in one or two word answers. Complete sentences seemed incapable of being formed by me.
As he talked I kept thinking about how his children had to be moved to another state when the news broke about what he had done… How his elderly father, a highly respected and beloved gentleman’s health just took a nose dive after his arrest, leading him to be committed to a nursing home. I thought about his poor mom in her late 80’s all by herself in that apartment, with no one there for her at night. Her family shunned her because of her staunch defense of her only child and her refusal to accept the facts.
I remember my mom being really upset one day because the old lady in a fitful state told my father that a local neighborhood thug a dude in his 20's had taking to knocking on her door every night,late at night tormenting her. All because he knew what her son had done. My dad handled it though he made sure the thug didn't bother her again. That whole scenario was running through my mind as he spoke. Do I tell him about this, or about all the times I had found his mother crying in the laundry room? Or how the newer tenants would point and whisper every time she walked through the lobby? Should I tell him of all the pain and devastation he caused? Does he even know this? Does he regret it? My mind was racing; I had nothing to say to him.
Finally I reached my floor, he said good bye and asked me to give his regards to my family. I nodded my head and looked straight into his eyes; wondering what happened to this man? I remember him as always being so sweet and attentive to everyone. Not one person could walk by him without him greeting them in such a personal way that it brightened the person’s day. He had this magnetic personality and this aura about him. I gave a half assed goodbye wave as I stepped off the elevator. He called to me, “Mia you’re a good kid make sure you go all the way with school.” I looked back at him and nodded my head as the elevator door closed. WTF do you say to a murderer?
9 comment from: December, Aisha, Mia, Aisha, jen, Fouad, Jane, Mia, Steph,