Chapter 1: The Awakening
“As you are I was, as I am you shall become…” I can’t recall the first time these words were spoken to me, but they seem to ring truer every time I hear them. When we are born, we are like a blank canvas; perfect, untouched by the harshness of the world. The possibilities are endless of which way our lives will go… and end. You see, that’s the part we never like to think about; the end. It is the most inevitable and scary thing that each one of us must face. So then we come to a decision that must be made: we can live in fear of death, or we can accept it and just… live. I was perfect once, Born out of my mother’s womb, a new, perfect little boy; perfect eyes, perfect hands and feet, I even had a perfect smile my mother once told me. Sadly, things seldom remain perfect. That is how my story began, and God is the one who will decide the end.
So, what’s your deep dark secret? We all have one, even I have skeletons in my closet you would never believe, or maybe even want to. The thing about skeletons, they have an awful habit of returning to light. Little things, you know. Small things you keep from your wife or your husband, maybe your children, or even little white lies between lovers. Or are your lies darker than white? I guess you only know the answer to that, but the fact is that they ALWAYS come back. You can’t turn scared and run, you put those demons there. I remember it was my first year of college, I believe it was autumn, yes, that is when it first happened to me; the first time my skeletons pain me a visit…
It was my first time on my own, like all high school graduates going to college; my ego was big, bigger than it should have been. I was a full state away from my parents, and I felt free. I wasn’t the man I am now; my eyes were not open, not yet anyway. I left my past behind me, like a shadow at sunset; I wanted to start off new, a clean slate. My past wasn’t exactly one I was proud of, you could have considered me a bully in my high school days, I’m not proud of it now, but I was then. In high school I wasn’t what you would call a model student, I did everything I could to break the rules, and then some. Now it was time to move on, so off to college I went, thinking that would be then start to my new life, I guess in some strange way… it was.
I had one roommate, a little twitchy guy named Stan, but everyone called him Rocky, I guess for the same reason fat men’s nicknames are usually something like “Tiny”. He was a nice guy though, he studied late, was always at class on time, every time. His bad habits were few and far between. We met like most college roommates do for the first time, at the dorms, before the first day of class. Our dorm was on the fourth floor, there were no elevators, only stairs. I can still remember the noises, the smells, the different things I seemed to appreciate so much. With no elevators I was forced to carry all my belongings up four flights of stairs. I remember I was breathing hard when I finally got to our door, room 413. I put in the key the R.A. gave me and unlocked the door. As I entered I noticed that the room felt eerily vacant and empty, it gave me chills the first time. I set my bags on the bed nearest to the door. I began to unpack my cargo, and I found I was thinking to myself that I really didn’t car if I liked my roommate, just as long as he brings a TV.
No sooner that the thought crossed my mind, I hear that “click-clack” of the lock as the key is turned, and then the door creaked open. Out walked Stan, my new “roomie”. He looked like the poster boy for colleges everywhere. His clothes were a little baggy, and he wasn’t a big man, not by any means. He wore an orange t-shirt that had the word “T-SHIRT” printed on them in bold white lettering. His shirt looked about as old as the jeans he wore, and his shoes, even older. Yet he came in with a laptop, a backpack filled with clothes, two suitcases, and yes, even a small TV.
“The names Stan, but my friends call me Rocky.”, he said as he extended his hand to me for a hand shake, His Texas accent so thick, you could only compare it to John Wayne.
I introduced myself with a smile and said, “Nice to meet ya.”
“Yea, we’ll git along great.” he kept chattering, “So what kinda music do you listen to? You got a girl? I do, she’s up north in Witchataw Falls, where I’m from.” Man he like to talk, so we did. We sat there for about an hour, getting to know each other, “real friendly like” as Rocky put it.
We got all unpacked, and set up as best we could with the small space we were given. When we were done, we both agreed we needed a smoke break, so down the stairs we went, all the while passing up countless college students and parents walking up the their dorms, all eager to see where they would call home for the fall semester.
Now, we both smoked marijuana, but at the time neither of us had any, so I bummed one of Rocky’s cigarettes instead. He smoked Maverick full flavor, in a box, it would soon become my brand as well. As we sat down on the steps of the dorm and smoked our squares, I could hear a lot of hooting and screaming. It was coming from a group of three guys. Two of them tall and black, built like diesel engines. The other was a small black guy with a big mouth, about my height, but he defiantly had some muscles on the two of us. They all strutted around in Ecko brand clothes; they looked like they are longed in some ghetto marching band they matched so well. Then I noticed them head toward our dorms, and suddenly I became very aware of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. They began to approach us on the steps, each one laughing at us under their breath. “What’s up there honkies?” the small one jeered.
“Nothin’ much, just catching a smoke.” Rocky said his southern drawl worse than ever.
“Just catchn’ a smoke?” the small one repeated, trying to mimic Rocky’s thick accent.
“How about ya’ll just go along ya’lls way?” Rocky said very politely. He then reached up to take a drag of his Maverick, when the small one very arrogantly took the smoke from Rocky’s hand, and took a few drags himself.
“Look here honky,” he said as he blew smoke into my roommates face, “you talk wrong to the wrong people, your ass is liable to get fucked up.” He took on last puff off the cigarette and flicked it into Rocky’s chest, burning a small hole in the middle of his bright orange t-shirt.
“Get it?” he snarled, then he, with a swift hand, slapped Rocky on the top of his head like he was a toddler that had just talked back. Then they turned, and proceeded into the dorms, Rocky still sitting on the steps, frozen, still paralyzed with a mixture of anger and fear. I said nothing. What could I say? So we just sat there, in dim silence as Rocky pulled out another cigarette and smoked it as if nothing had happened. Ah, the first day of college.
Three months later
Three months have gone by, and we are deep in school work, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t know how to have a good time. We would go to the frat parties like regular on Cheers, everyone knew us, or I guess everyone knew Rocky, with his accent and rowdy behavior; he was a tough person to forget. They problem was, that the jerks knew him too. We nicknamed them the “fucketeers”, on account one was rarely seen without the other two. They gave Rocky shit at the parties constantly, stealing his beer, talk shit, pushing him around, embarrassing him every chance they could when he would talk to a girl. But Rocky was a good man, probably still is today, so he took it in stride. That was Rocky’s life, and he lived it the only way he knew how.
Then the beatings cam, the “fucketeers” would sometimes catch him at night, usually after a party or a bar, and on his way home they would jump him. A different place each time, like they followed him. Sometimes they would take him money, and each time, the small one named Jamal would threaten to kill him if he told. Rocky believed him, so he kept his mouth shut.
A couple of weeks went by, and the trio hadn’t messed with him at all. I always wondered why they didn’t pick on me, but nonetheless, rocky was as happy as “a fox in a hen house” as he would put it. He was talking an Art History test that after-lunch, and I lay in bed watching the 12 o’clock news… That was the day everything changed… I remember, I didn’t sleep well the night before, so I skipped my 11 o’clock class. So I lay there watching the news, seeing how depressing the world can be.
“Today on the news at noon,” the overly excited announcer said, "a woman and man, slain in their own house, the police have no leads, but they say it appears to be a botched robbery.” It flashed to a beautiful house, with a perimeter of police tape around the yard. It then flashed them taking out body-bags on stretchers when the announcer’s voice came back on, “Mr. Ryan Lords, and his wife, Kayla, returned home late last night when they found their house was being ransacked. They were both shot in the chest three times. The neighbors said they heard the shots, and say three individuals in dark clothing fleeing the scene. Still the police have not detained anyone for questioning, apparently with no suspects. If you have any information at all, please call 1-800-CRIMETIPS.”
Two dead, no leads, so three people are going to get away with robbery and murder. “Where is the justice” I remember thinking to myself. People take life for granted sometimes, heck, all the time. People don’t like to think that how ever great your life is, it can be taken from you in an instant. People worry too much about what others have, instead of being happy with what God has given you. Everyone needs to learn that life, itself, is the greatest blessing of all. It’s said that most people never see the beauty of life until they are looking down death’s dark gaze. People need more respect for life. Did you know that the Kato Indians believed that when they asked for strength the gods would give them hard time to make them stronger, just a thought.
Then there are “the others” These are the people with no respect for life and the gifts God has bestowed on us. Of course I mean the rapists, the child molesters, murderers, and people like the three who go away on the news. These people are like a disease on our society, they occupy our television, our radios, our news papers, even our billboards. Now sure, some get caught by the police, but sadly, with power comes corruption, and the police are no exception. Some officers are as crooked as the demons they bring in. The evil leaks into our schools, our churches, our very way of life. Just depressing. Then Rocky suddenly busts in the door.
“I just aced that fucking test, we are going to celebrate, pack the bong!” Ah, I love it when Rocky is in a good mood.