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Family v. Crime
It's been forty years since the incident. I was only ten years old at the time. It was the best day ever and the worst day ever. I still don't know how I feel about the outcome, which is why I decided to become what I am. I read over the report often and it urges me to be better at my job. As a police officer, it's incidents like these that make my job difficult: when relationships get in between crimes and breaking the law, I struggle to do the right thing. I know I have to though, despite what happened to me: The outcome couldn't have been better for me and I can't imagine what would have become of me. Reading this report again brings me back to that day like it was yesterday...
October 17, 1964
I successfully convinced my lovely foster parents, Mary and Jack to let me take a day trip over the weekend. They said as long as the babysitter, Anne, goes with me I can go. I don't like the babysitter, but it gets me out of the house for a day. I have three long days to wait until we leave. Today is going to be a long day.
Two days until the trip. I hate Thursdays, needless to say today has been a bad day.
One day. Friday is finally here, but why oh why can't it by Saturday yet?
It's here. I am finally going to go to Long Island. It is a place I have never been to before. The babysitter is late as usual and I see no sign of her. Mary comforts me and promises the dreadful girl will be here any minute. I don't know why she does that: promise me things that she can't control. I thinks she is afraid I will get mad at her, but I never do because I know it is not her fault.
The babysitter finally arrives and stares at us with a blank face, no remorse and no care. As the girl and my mother talk about our plans, my mind drifts off and I wonder why Anne agrees to "watch" me. She doesn't like me and doesn't take care of me. She always has friends sneak in and I've seen her take small knick knacks around the house. I don't tell I guess my parents give her a lot of money. Mary gives me a hug and I come back to reality once again.
"I love you," Mary said.
"Love you too," I replied. I know Mary really cares for me, but she is not my mom. I try to reciprocate the feelings but I can't. I don't remember my real mother because she died when I was young, but my father is still out there. As a soldier, he was sent overseas to fight in a war. I can't wait for the day he returns. Mary promises it will be soon, but I know she doesn't really know when he will be back.
Anne starts walking down the street and I practically have to run to keep up with her. When we make it to the train station, a gentlemen leads us to the last car. The man grabs my arm before I get on the train car and tells me, "have a safe trip kid, it's gonna be ok."
I was a little baffled to say the least, but tried to forget about it. I had more important things to think about, like what we were going to see at Long Island. I'm most excited for the park and cool playground equipment. I have heard from my friends that this is the biggest playground they have ever been to and was the most fun park to visit.
Finally situated in our seats, Anne gave me a snack and a coloring book to keep me busy. Of course she has her cassette tape player and headphones, and a book entertain her. How naive she is to think this will occupy me; I mean I'm not complaining because I love to color, but it gets boring after a while. I guess I will just people watch when I get bored. That seems to last a while.
The train whistles blows all of a sudden and we start with a lurch. We move at a slow crawl before we slow to a stop. I look around at the other people on the train to see if anyone else thought something seems unusual and finally take notice of my surroundings. I guess I'll people watch now. There are three other people in the car with Anne and I.
A man in his mid-forties, who is sitting across from me. He looks up from his newspaper, takes a glance around, but doesn't seem to care about what's happening. The lady sitting in the corner across from me looks very familiar but I can't remember where I've seen her. She is too busy, anyways, restlessly digging in her purse to notice our sudden stop. Her restlessness makes it difficult for me to see her face, but she looks to be around thirty five years old and is dressed well, but I know there is something she is hiding under her pompous appearance. She is too jittery, so I look over at the next person. It's a young man probably in his late twenties, who is also wearing those bulky headphones, but I couldn't see the tape player because the cord disappeared into his bag. While his bag and other belongings seem neat and orderly, his outfit surely isn't. His jeans are too big, along with his T-shirt, and he is slouching so low it doesn't even look comfortable anymore. Whatever floats your boat though, I mean, I personally like to sit with my legs crossed—
The train starts with a jolt, and my position no longer seems like a good choice as I basically fall on Anne. She looks at me with disgust, but I ignore her. I look back at the fidgety lady, and finally, she is sitting still! But I notice she is looking around the train confusedly. I look at the older man again, who also looks confused. I finally understand why they are baffled: we are moving backwards. But we are the last car of the train, and the caboose doesn't have an engine, so what is pulling us? I pull back the curtain from my window to see a sprawling field zooming by. Nothing seems strange to me, but I suddenly hear a gasp. I thought it was because I looked outside, only to turn around and see the woman holding the curtain back on the door at the front of the train. I couldn't see out the window, but the older man could, and he was also astonished.
The man walks over to the other end of the car to look out from the back door's window. He pulls back the curtain and I can see another car. By now everyone has stopped what they are doing to look at him.
He looks at us with a bit of fear and tells us, "I don't think there is a need for panic, but I'm going to go to the other car to see what's happening."
With that, he grabs the handle to the back door, which is now the front, and opens it with a struggle. He is about to reach for the other car's door, but stops and stares at it. He snatches something off the other car and slams the door shut. He turns back to us and says, "this note was on the door:
'Stay in your car, you're safer there. Figure out who you all are and why you are here. I'll give you a clue, it deals with the young boy. You have twenty-two minutes or someone dies.'"
Everyone whips their heads around to look at me. The fidgety lady speaks almost immediately and demands, "alright it's 10:03 now and we only have until 10:25. Who are you and how do you know me?"
I guess I'm going to be doing a lot of talking for the next twenty mins so here goes nothing: "I'm Vincent Turner and I—”
The women looks like she has seen a ghost and says, "it can't be. I'm your aunt, your mom's sister, Diane, I know you don't remember me but—” she starts crying, but continues, "but I was supposed to watch you. Your father insisted he go fight in the war and I had to agree since I am your only relative. But stuff happened and they took you from me. You were only two and I... It doesn't matter anymore. We are wasting time, who is next?"
"I'll go," says the young man. "I am 22 years old, I'm..." I zone out as the young man tells his life story, and I think of what my aunt just told me. I knew she looked familiar! I have a picture of my whole family in my room from when I was a baby. At least I figured out why I recognized her. I still wanna know what happened to her. Why did I have to leave her and why didn't Mary tell me the truth? Mary always told me Aunt Diane was severely ill. I realized I wasn't paying attention and my thoughts are interrupted when I hear the man again: "Well I mean you don't look familiar to me so I don't know how I'm connected to you."
"What'd you say your name is?" the older man replied.
"Oh that's what I forgot! I'm Justin Alvarez."
"You're Parker's brother. He was the one who killed my sister– I mean Vincent's mother! Your brother was drunk that night, but you couldn't drive since you were only about fourteen at the time. He ran a stop sign and hit her car, putting her in critical condition. Your brother was also hurt and useless, so there was only you. And you ran away from it all."
Justin looks at me like a deer in the headlights and says, "I'm so sorry! I was really scared that night and I didn't think she was still alive. That must be why I'm here! I remember the report said the lady was dead when they arrived at the scene, but the evidence showed that I could have saved her if I had gotten help! I thought about it constantly for weeks, so I guess this is karma–”
Aunt Diane cuts him off saying, "No time for apologies, It's 10:21! Who's next?" She looks at Anne and says, "you obviously know Vincent but why would you be here. I mean our lives are in danger so why would someone threaten you for taking care of Vincent?"
Anne looks frightened, but before she can say a word, I blurt out, "she's an awful babysitter and has friends over when she babysits and takes things from Mary and Jack!" Anne looks shocked, but knows it is true and starts sobbing.
Aunt Diane looks peeved but turns to the older man, and says hurry it's 10:23"
The man seems calm but has a knowing look in his eye. He starts off by saying, "I know what I've done, I now see it was the wrong thing to do. I am the one who had to tell Micheal, your father, what happened to your mother." I'm confused and he can tell so he continues on to say, "the police notified me of the incident and said I should consider letting your father return home. I didn't feel it was necessary and besides, why would I want to find one soldier and give him special treatment. We all have our struggles and I wasn't going to waste government money so a father could come home to care for his son when there were other relatives to do so."
"How could you do such a thing?" Justin shouts. "It's easy to see you don't care about anyone and you obviously didn't have a father–"
The older man begins to defend himself but starts coughing. He falls to the ground gasping for air before he passes out on the ground. Justin kneels next to him and checks his pulse. "He's dead," Justin exclaims.
My aunt looks at her watch and cries out, "it's 10:25! We made it one time so why did he die?"
We are all startled when we hear a knock on the door. Looking around the train, I see everyone doing the same. Justin stands up and nervously asks, "should I go check it?" We all nod in agreement and Justin stands up slowly, cautiously approaching the door. He opens it and I see him relax as he grabs another note. He quickly shuts the door begins to speak, "okay here is the second note:
'I know I didn't do as I said, but that man doesn't let anything get to his head. He knew I was coming for him and had nowhere to hide. He decreased my army rank and stole my pride. I finally returned home to retrieve my son, only for him to stop me with another task. Long story short, I think you know who I am.
P.S. You have five minutes to make a list of reasons why I shouldn't kill you next. Vincent, this should be apparent that this doesn't include you.'"
Justin at each of us before he sighs, and bravely states, "I'm going next. I hate anticipation and this man is obviously past the point of reason and is getting even with everybody for hurting Vincent. I hope you two ladies know you're both going to die soon too. Don't bother with the list, I'm going to talk to the man. Before any of us could do anything, Justin opens the door and walks into the other car. The door slams shut and we are all silent. Within a few seconds I hear a shot fired. This startles all three of us and moments later there is another knock. Without a word, Aunt Diane swiftly walks to the door in search of a note. She snatches the note from outside and sits back in her seat. Anne and I watch her closely in anticipation.
"'Who's next?' That's all it says," Aunt Diane states. She looks to Anne who seems to know what is about to happen.
Anne stands up and turns to face me. "I'm so sorry Vincent," Anne cries, "for everything. If you see Mary and Jack please tell them I'm sorry."
"I will," I replied. I didn't know what else to say. I don't like her, and I would rather be with my aunt right now than Anne anyways. I look at the back of the car so I wouldn't have to watch Anne leave. This means I have to look at the dead man. I think about why he was cold hearted and bitter. He probably wasn't a father since he had no understanding of my father's case. I feel sorry for him, since he just didn't understand what it means–
I'm drawn out of my thoughts as another shot is fired and seconds later a knock on the door. My aunt retrieves the note and comes to sit next to me. She holds the note out for both us to read it. It says:
'Send Vincent. You're safe.'
My aunt looks at me and quickly says, "you know your father won't hurt you. At least if you don't I know he won't. I'll be right here, okay?"
"Okay," I reply.
She walks me to the door and opens it for me. I look down to see the tracks racing by. I quickly reach for the other door and push it open. I quickly step in and shut the door. I take a deep breath before I turn around to face my father. When I do I see the man from this morning, looking at nervously. I don't understand but I guess he is afraid I'm scared of him. I do feel conflicted about what he has done but I have to give him a chance.
He suddenly blurts out, "I'm so sorry."
I'm pulled out of the past as I hear the intern say, "Captain, we're ready." Finally the day has come: my retirement. As the captain of the police department, my coworkers are throwing me a retirement party. I think of my father as I am about to leave the position he held before me. After the train incident, it was decided that my father was unstable from the war. They kept our case quiet and let my father go free. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity I was given from the train ride. I still, to this day, don't know how my dad figured out that I was going on that train and how he got all of those passengers on the same train car.
I visit my aunt often, but she forgets who I am every time I go. She is in a nursing home, but it is as happy as can be. Ever since my dad died a year ago, she has gotten much worse.
I have moved on from the past though, and excited to what will happen in the future. I'm so proud of my son, since he is taking my position as captain of the department. I make my way to the conference room for my party, sad to leave, but happy to be home with my wife.