The Death of a Childhood

March 12, 2008
By keenan ward, Park City, UT

I still see the red and blue flashing lights of the patrol cars every time I close my eyes. I don’t know which is worse: seeing the flashing and realizing my chance of a real life was gone, or the cells bars, knowing I was not going to have a real childhood. As I look back on it I was screwed from the beginning. This is how my childhood ended.

I sat in my room, thinking absentmindedly. Speaking to no one but myself, and I was saying the stupidest, most random things. I heard an obnoxious buzzing; it got louder, then faded. Then all of the sudden a loud “BEEP”, and I jumped up into the karate stance I learned two years ago in P.E. class when I was fifteen: feet spread apart at shoulder width, arms covering my body mass with my fists clenched tight. I then realized that the noise was my cell phone on the edge of the desk. As it buzzed for the second time, before the second beep, I slammed my hand down on the phone, my fear slowly disappearing, and answered the call as if nothing happened.

It was Johnny. “Hey Toni!!! Come down to the park with us! We need you man. Football. Hurry.” The line unexpectedly cut to the blank buzzing that my receiver now makes when inactive, due to the sand that got in it on our family vacation to the Bahamas. I changed into my shorts and jogged to the nearest park, at the edge of our gated community.

As I arrived at the park, breathless and tired, I dropped my phone, I-pod and jacket into a pile. I sprinted into the game and immediately got an interception, despite being tired from the one and a half mile warm up I received running to the park. I heard crunch after crunch, hit after hit. All the impacts of out delightful game of football left enormous craters in the ground, the size of two, three, or however many people were involved in the tackle.

After four hours of hard-hitting football I checked my phone. Five missed calls, eight texts, and three voicemails. All of the assorted messages said the same thing: call me. And all of the messages were from my brother, Jesse. Jesse was one messed up twenty three year old. He was kicked out of school as a junior, after getting arrested for possession of ecstasy. I get to visit him every once in a while if I have a parent with me.

I called him back as a started the long and after long hours of exercise, now painful walk home. He told me he was in trouble (trouble for this kid usually meant drugs or serious injury.). It turns out that this time that’s not exactly what it was. He had “found” a body in an ally, he told me. He was freaking out, tripping HARD, and to make it all worse, he was on heroin. I didn’t want to be within ten miles of him while he was like this, but there was nothing I could do to get out of it. He was my brother, and I can’t leave him alone in times of trouble. I went to go pick him up in my 2007Porsche 911.

When I arrived to pick him up at the place he told me to come to, a 7-11 in the middle of a strange city, he wasn’t there. I was scared. I called him again. Didn’t answer. I was in a completely different city than where I was from and I couldn’t find my guide. Bad luck. He called me back after ten minutes. He was around the back of the 7-11. Now I felt like an idiot, not looking for the druggie at all. When I found him, he still had the body with him. He kept rambling on and on about the stupid man in his stupid blue uniform with the stupid shiny badge, and how he had made Jesse so goddamned mad…

Before I knew what was happening, Jesse loaded the body into my trunk. I looked at the dead police officer. His head was swollen and bloody. I had one single thought, “OH SHIT.”I screamed it in my mind but on the outside I was too petrified to twitch, much less yell. My brother threw a rock at the dead police officer and laughed until he was rolling on the ground. I hate drugs.

After I had gotten over the blunt trauma, we drove. Though I didn’t know where to go. I was speeding. The limit was fifty-five, and I was going sixty-five, seventy. Then I noticed the highway patrolman tuning around with his red and blue lights flashing, like a strobe light in my mind. I sped up. I didn’t know what to do. Then there were two cars, then three. One caught up, rammed me. We swerved to the right, and off the road. Both my car and the policeman’s car rolled. My brother jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped. He was mumbling something about being dizzy. With the half of the bat that was in my trunk, that Jesse had killed the first officer with, he walked at the damaged patrol car. He hit the policemen before the man could protect himself. The officer’s partner had been killed it the crash. The second car pulled up, a black magnum pointed out the window. Three cracks in quick succession made my world revolve at double speed. Next to the police car, my brother lay lip and lifeless. I stood, kneeled and then collapsed next to my brother. As the third car pulled up, I got up and walked toward it. A large man in blue, holding a pistol, got out of the car. I still don’t know what happened. I was shoved against the hood. My head hit the windshield and everything went black.

I woke up with a pounding headache. I looked through the bars of my eight by eight cell at four bodies. There were three policemen: one from my trunk, one that was killed in the crash, and one that my brother had killed before being shot. The last body was my brother, his face stood out to me more than any other. I could feel the burning hot tears running down my face. I was lost in my own body. O didn’t know what to do.

In court, I was charged with speeding, resisting arrest, and aiding a fugitive of the law. I had lost my childhood. I was dead to my family; my friends were scared; and even my teachers hated me. I wished I could die, and knew I would, in my small, dank, musty, cell. As I sat and cried, wishing to be dead, I knew that I owed it all to the life destroyer, bran killer, money burner, known as common day heroin. I wish my brother had recognized it for what it was. In this case, I guess, he was not my guide. I’m still not sure how it happened and I ended up where I did. But one thing was for sure: childhood was over.

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