Jeremy's Justice

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
After being shot wrongfully by an officer, fifteen-year-old Jeremy is trapped in a catatonic state, unable to move or communicate. However, he can still see, feel and hear all that is around him. Trapped in his mind, Jeremy learns many important lessons and harsh truths about the world that we live in.

Submitted: July 14, 2013

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Submitted: July 14, 2013

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Was it all my fault? The night it happened? Did I deserve this? That's all I've been thinking the past few months as I lay motionless in a hospital bed, dead to all who see me. My pops always told me that good things come to good people, and bad things happen to those who act against God. Had I acted against God? Had I betrayed my faith? I wasn't a model son, but I did my good deeds in life. I took care of my siblings, I help my parents around the house. Sure, I had my share of sins. Don't we all? I have asked redemption of them countless times since my "accident". I attended church regularly before that night, and each night since, I have prayed in my mind for God to give me answers. Not a miracle, not a cure. Just answers. I want to know why. Why, at fifteen, has my life come to an end? Forgive me, Lord, for I'm thankful that I survived the shot; but this is no life for me. "Comatose state", I heard the Doc once say to my parents. My Ma fell to the floor and begged the Lord for mercy. She pounded her dark fists on the cold tile and my pops kneeled down to wrap himself around her. I heard sobbing. That of a man. At that moment I begged for the disability to feel emotions, too. Rage filled me and I felt like punching a wall or flipping the silver medical table that sat beside my bed, but I couldn't. It's like being so mad, but not able to scream. Almost dream-like. My heart stung in my chest and I thought: I did this to my parents. I made them feel this pain. God, they don't deserve this, please! Please, God! Many more times that day, and since, I've asked myself "why".

And suddenly, I began to unravel the answers.

+ + +

The night it happened I will never be able to forget. It was my last "real" memory, how could I forget it? Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was the rowdy midnight bike-ride through the 'burbs, or the fact that I was dressed head-to-toe in baggy clothing. What mistake I made that night that contributed most to my shooting, I don't know. It must have been something. It couldn't have been nothing. I was chilling-out at my best friend's place after school that day. It was Friday, and we were planning on getting high as Marley and watching old episodes of the Boondocks online. Thick smoke filled his basement room, as he had no windows there. We were twice as high as we thought we were, and things were feeling great. Mike's parents were never around, and his older brother dealt, so we had no worries. At around 10 p.m I got a text on my phone.

Yo cme to Bretts we got beer

I wasn't a drinker. I felt like lounging all night and not moving a single muscle. Funny how things in life can change so quickly. I knew that Mike would be down to go over, so I didn't show him the text. I turned down the volume on my cell and shoved it beneath me on the couch. A few minutes later, Mike's phone beeped. I was too stoned to think anything of it. Then, I realized it was Luke. The same guy who texted me earlier. I rolled my eyes and began to pack myself a bowl of weed.

"Hey bro, Luke texted me and said he has beer. You wanna head over late?"

I kept my eyes on the bong. I didn't want to move. As I began to smoke it, I heard Mike's phone beep again. He chuckled at the text and looked at me with squinted eyes. As I exhaled smoke, he showed me his phone screen. A photo of my crush was on the screen. I widened my eyes and smiled at Mike, who knew exactly what I was thinking. A text popped up below it.

She here, man, tell jerry to get his skinny ass over here too

And so we headed over. We grabbed our bikes and began the ride six blocks down to Brett's place. He lived in a nicer area than the rest of us, because his Mom was in real estate. She didn't make much, but she made enough to live in a good community full of middle-class white people. Like Mike's 'rents though, she was never around. I guess money doesn't make a better home. And a better house doesn't make a stronger family. After three blocks, I felt something in my stomach suddenly. I turned around to Mike, who I could tell was feeling the same thing. Munchies. There was a convenience store gas station a block from Brett's and a block from us, so we texted him to meet up.

When we got there, Luke, Brett, and two pretty girls from our class were already waiting outside. We could hear them from down the street, laughing, and the girls screaming for no apparent reason. Girls... Mike and I jumped off of our bikes and threw them on the grassy area beside the bike rack and fist bumped our friends. The girls stood, arms linked, smiling a pair of flirty smiles. I looked up at my crush, who was on the left. Her dark hair was in a long braid, beneath a large OBEY beanie. Her thin legs emerged from a pair of cut-off denim shorts. She caught me giving her the once-over. 

"I'm Lea. You're Jeremy, right? We got English together."

I knew that. I pretended I didn't.

"Do we? Yeah, I think I seen you." English was my favourite class, and in it was my favourite girl. Though I didn't know her, I swear I was in love with her. Of course I had seen her.

"ME TOO!" Her friend screeched, lightly punching my shoulder before breaking in to laughter. I gave her a "what the fuck" stare and rolled my shoulder. "I'm in your class! I sit with Lea! I'm Brynnie!"

It was clear to everyone that Brynnie was that one friend that you brought along no matter what, even though she wasn't invited. The stereotypically loud, obnoxious, and socially awkward one that you feel bad for. They make good friends, and are always loyal to your kindness; but, God, are they hard to handle sometimes. I tried to keep as many friends as I could, and I definitely had a few like Brynnie. I didn't chill with them on a regular basis, but I was never hesitant when they invited me around. Love thy neighbour, the bible taught me. Though many people at church were discrimatory towards different people, I preferred to be open to them. 

"Yeah, I think I remember you, too." I didn't. I was surprised.

"Let's go in already, I want some Doritos, man!" Brett raced towards the glass door of the gas station convenience stop.

The remaining five of us made our way in, too. When I reached the door, I held it for the rest and looked back at the cashier. He was a grey-haired man with a thick belly. He gave us the hawk-eye glare as we entered and I quickly realized he had been watching us since we arrived. We were a group of black kids in hoodies and sagging jeans, minus Brett, and were loud as any doped-up kids would be at near midnight. I was pretty sure that our friends had been drinking already, too. There was a faint smell of cheap booze in the air. I made my way to the jerky aisle alone to grab some pepperoni sticks and Hot Rod's. I could have eaten those things by the hundreds and still hungered for more. My pops used to make his own beef jerky with his Uncle when he lived out in the country as a kid. Every now and again, his uncle would send down a big package of it for our family, knowing how much my Dad loved it when he lived with them. As far back as I can remember, I'd sneak in to his stash in the fridge and eat as much as I could before I got caught. My Ma would smack my on the hand and make me skip dinner. She quickly caught on to the fact that I didn't much mind feasting on home-made beef jerky rather than that nights dinner. After a while, she introduced me to a passage from the bible that depicted "thou shalt not steal". It made an impact for some time, but I returned to sneaking bits here and there. Maybe that's why I deserved this. I would never steal from a store, or a friend. Maybe that made it all the worse... I'd steal from my father but not from strangers. 

I grabbed four Hot Rods and a spicy beef stick. Heading to the back of the store, I felt the eyes of the cashier pinned on to me. I turned around and looked his way, quickly spinning around again to avoid his stare. Though I had done no crime, I felt as if I had. I started to sweat under his judgmental eye. 

"Hey man, next time answer your damn text!" Luke joked as he approached me. The rest of our group was up at the counter. "She been asking all night if you single."

I opened the drink cooler in front of me and grabbed a Monster energy drink. 

"What you say?"

"Step in line, bitch!" He laughed hysterically and I pushed him backwards. 

"Fuck, Luke, what you actually say?" I grinned.

"I had your back, bro. You know that." Luke replied, and we both looked up towards the counter at Lea. I lost myself in a fantasy, but was quickly snapped from it by the cashier's voice asking if we were planning on buying anything. We rushed up towards the counter and paid for our snacks, leaving quickly to get back to Brett's house.

It was a few minutes from midnight now. As we rode down the street on our bikes - slowly, since the girls were walking - we smoked a joint. A few house lights would come on as we loudly passed by, and we would laugh and run a few feet down the street. Fifteen minutes later, we all realized that we had passed Brett's place. We had reached the park a few streets down from his house. Realizing this, we all collapsed in the grass and began to chuckle.

"I don't want to walk anymore! Carry me, Jeremy!" Lea said dramatically, rolling herself over and dropping her legs across my stomach.

"If I take one more step, I'm gonna collapse on the ground." I replied, feeling worn-out.

Soon I realized that Lea and I were the only ones in the grass, and she was balled up close to me. I sat up and looked around to find our friends. They were on the play equipment behind us and calling out "get it, Jerry!". Lea sat up beside me and looked in to my face. Her dark green eyes contrasted against her mahogany skin and dark hair. Our friend chanted, mockingly singing the "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" song. Mike threw in a rap verse, making us all lose our shit laughing. Realizing I was frozen with shyness, Lea grabbed my face and came in for a quick kiss. Suddenly, we heard sirens. Police sirens.

"They comin' for us!" Brett joked, leaping from the highest point of the play equipment and racing towards his bike. Really, the sirens were suspicious. In this neighbourhood, it was rare to see the cops around. Especially with their sirens running. We all got on our bikes and began to ride back to Brett's place, making sure this time we wouldn't pass it by. When we got to his house, we threw our bikes on the lawn. I reached for my phone to check the time. There was nothing in my hoodie pocket.

"Shit!"

"What?" Mike asked.

"Man, I dropped my phone somewhere. My parents are going to lose their shit, I lost my last one a few weeks ago."

"Oh shit." He replied, beginning to lightly kick around the grass in Brett's front lawn. Lea, Mike and I decided to walk back down to the park to find my phone and Luke, Brett and Brynnie made their way inside.

My stomach was tickled with butterflies when Lea volunteered to help out. When we started walking down the road, I told Mike that he should go the other way and check the park, and that Lea and I would walk to the store and back. He agreed, and ran off. I knew I'd be picking up a phone that was filled with suggestive texts from my best friend when I found it. We walked all the way to the store, talking the entire way. She told me about her family - her little brother, Ty, and her older sister, Kiara. She wanted to be a singer, but knew that was an unreasonable dream. I asked her to sing for me. Her voice was perfection. I told her that I write a lot. She asked me to show her something, and I promised that I would. I had some poetry saved on my phone. Then, Lea asked me to write her something. I one-upped that.

"Hair like night, eyes so bright, denim shorts that fit just right. Flawless complexion, got my attention, can I make you my girl tonight?"

"That's so cute!" She cried out, leaping towards me for a hug.

"Yeah, it wasn't that great..." I said, sweat building on my palms. If the guys were here, I would never hear the end of it. I made her promise she wouldn't tell a soul about my cheesy poem. She sealed the deal with another kiss. We reached the store, which was still open. We walked inside, not saying a word to the even-more-suspicious cashier. We slowly searched the store for my phone, with no luck. Disappointed, we left the store and stood by the bike rack outside. Then, I heard a buzzing. I looked to my feet. There it was - my phone.

"As if." Lea remarked. 

"Don't you ever do that shit again, phone." I joked, making my new girlfriend smile.

"Want to race back?" She asked. Before I could say yes with words, she was off. Her long legs propelled her feet ahead of me while I struggled to run in my baggy jeans and sweaty hoodie. I heard the police sirens again. I turned back and saw the cop car driving towards us in the distance. When I looked forward again, Lea was nearly out of sight. I called out to her. Something felt wrong. She didn't respond. I called out again, louder. I heard the car stop and the officer holler. I kept running, oblivious to the fact that he was talking to me. I slowly came to a stop, out of breath, and saw Lea do the same twenty feet up the road.

"Put your hands in the air! Now!" A strong voice called behind me.

I turned around, my heart racing. When I saw his gun, it pounded at a speed I had never experienced. My jaw dropped. I tried to speak, but no words came out. I was frozen. I was in the very same state that I would soon be in for the rest of my life. I heard feet behind me, Lea's feet. I feared for her life. Somewhere in my jumbled, terrified thoughts, the words "Lea" and "gun" came together and forced an image in my head of her lifeless body laying beneath me on the ground. I couldn't let that happen. The next few seconds seemed to unfold in slow motion. I spun around. I slowly raised my hands from my side. I began to motion her to stop. I screamed her name. I heard a shot. Then, another. I felt a numbing warmth on my back. I felt my bones, like glass, shatter. She screamed. She ran towards me. Then, everything happened in reverse. As if to tease me. As if to teach me. Then again, I was brought to this point. All went black.

+ + +

I didn't see Lea again after that, and I will never hold any disdain towards her for that. I understand. I wish that one day, she can forgive me, and that the images from that night don't stay with her. I pray to the Lord that she can forget me. Much happened in the next few weeks. My pops spent the night in jail that night after punching a male nurse in the teeth. There was an argument leading up to this, but I wasn't awake. Apparently he had made a racist joke about my situation with very bad timing. I heard my Ma talking about it to his Uncle the next day. My siblings weren't at the hospital for a few weeks. I can imagine that I was hard to look at. The officer who had shot me was being held pending trial on disorderly conduct and second-degree murder. Since my Mom refused to leave my bedside, I heard a lot of things once I woke up.

Woke up. I wish I could say more. I opened my eyes, that's all. My mind woke up, my body still sleeps. Two months in to my hospitilization, the Doc dismissed my "waking up" as a nerve reaction. He said that "many comatose patients experience muscle spasms that are not to be confused with the presence of progress" and apparently, the opening of the eyes was one of these things. Still, I was not bitter with him. How could he, or anybody, know that I was in here? They couldn't.

A few times leading up to now, my lawyer visited the hospital. She was a younger woman who always wore something blue and spoke with words I couldn't understand. I'd wait until my Ma told my pops or his uncle about the present situation to understand what was going on. Sometimes, she or the nurses would watch the updates on the news in my room. I wish I could have shown my thanks for this. There was a huge community of support fighting for the officer who shot me to be criminally charged and "prosecuted". They wanted him to rot in a cell. I prayed for no such thing. That night was sprinkled with mistakes, from many people, and I asked God for no harm to come to anyone involved. There were too many "what if's" and possibilities to consider, and the best thing to do was move on from what happened and ask God "what next?". Or, in my case, "why?" was the question. That wasn't the view of many.

Officer Larry Mattel was a father of three in the wealthy side of town, they said. He was an established man with a good heart, who often contributed to society, they said. How, nobody told. His claim was that a suspicious gang of black kids was seen disrupting a suburban neighbourhood and he was called to the scene to check it out. That was the first time we heard sirens. Since we ran back to Brett's place, he found nobody and continued with his night. Officer Mattel told the news that he was called again to the same neighbourhood by a gas station clerk who told him that two "hood rats" had just robbed his store for the second time that night. Apparently the first time, the cashier had "mercy" on us because we had bought "a portion" of our snacks and believed we couldn't afford the rest. On the news, he compared himself to a saint for allowing us to shoplift the first time. We never had. The officer caught myself and Lea racing back to Brett's place, and claims that we were racing away from the scene of the crime, pockets full and seemingly armed. He says we refused arrest. That he only pulled his gun out when we resisted him. Office Larry Mattel told reporters that I had turned to my partner-in-crime and removed a gun from my pocket, ready to run again and that I would "shoot him without thought". The irony of his statement catches me, but still, I hold no disdain.

It soon was cleared up by Lea's mother, who is filing an emotional damages suit and losing, according to News5. Lea let her know that my "gun" was actually the cellphone we had gone looking for back at the store and we were only running to race each other back to Brett's. Speaking of Brett, he had appeared on the news as well. All of my friends had. My pastor. And a few of my teachers. They praised me, offered their prayers, and described how good of a person I had been to them. I asked God to allow them to heal. I hated myself for what I had caused in them; the hurt and the anger. I think about every single person in my life every day. When it starts to turn me bitter, I think about the people in Officer Larry Mattel's life. The hatred towards him due to his actions must take it's toll on his family. We both had chosen paths that deeply affected our loved ones. I imagined that, much like myself, he was contemplating and criticizing every choice and mistake he had ever made and somehow linking it to this one. What if I had never started smoking weed? I would have never started hanging out with Brett and Luke. I would have never been at Mike's that night. What if I never fell for Lea? I wouldn't have been so easily persuaded to go to Brett's place. I would have never felt the need to protect her. To tell her to stop coming closer. What if I had been more careful with my phone? I would have never needed to return to the store. The officer would have never been called a second time. I wouldn't have forgotten my phone if I wasn't high. What if I had never started smoking weed...

This was to no fault of any of those things, though. This was an accident. An unfortunate accident. God has a plan for all of us, and this must be a part of mine. Maybe, it's a part of somebody else's. Maybe I was only here to set in motion a series of events in somebody else's life. Mike's? The cops? Lea's? My family's? Somebody I don't know? Only the Lord has that answer. I wish he would share it.

I hear my Ma coming in to the room. She is with my pops. Beside her is the doctor. They all look distraught, and stare directly at me. 

"Are you sure that you want to do this, Mrs. Lloyd?"

"Can he breathe on his own?"

"No, Ma'am..."

"Can he ever move again?"

"No, Ma'am..."

"Is my baby even in there?"

"We can't be sure..."

She gulped and began to cry. My pops held her closely, chin vibrating and lips pursed.

"You know, he was let free today. The officer who shot him. They say he did what was needed. That Jeremy was armed and raised his weapon. That it was... self=defence." 

"I'm very sorry, Mrs. Lloyd."

"Sorry. Yes, everyone is. Sorry for our loss, sorry for the accident, sorry for the injustice. Sorry comes, but not from the person that needs to say it."

"Mrs. Lloyd..."

"Jerry was a good person. God took him because... he must have needed another angel up there in Heaven. Another soul pure and good enough to serve in his faithful army. This world of prejudice and injustice and discrimination, of hate and ignorance, it's not for people like him. So the Lord plucks them from us, for the better. And Jerry will spend the rest of his days in a better place, now. I love you, always, my baby boy." My mother kissed my head softly. I could smell her rose perfume, it was beautiful. I imagined that if Heaven had a scent, that would be it. I understood what my parents were about to do. I embraced it. I understood now. My father did the same before gripping my hand tightly and looking woefully in to my seemingly dead brown eyes. I watched as the Doctor moved towards my bed and out of sight behind me. Soon, all began to fade to black. I felt nothing, only peace. With my last thoughts, I prayed that my loved ones feel peace as well. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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