I watched Manual take off and join his mother on the beach. They then disappeared.
I looked into the kitchen window and saw Father Ben pouring himself a cup of coffee. The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafted through the open door, causing my stomach to flip flop, and my salivary glands to go into overdrive with desire so much so that I entered the rectory without invitation.
Father Ben quickly looked toward the outside entrance to the kitchen, and upon seeing me smiled and said, "Antoine, my boy, it's good to see you, come on in, come on in!"
We walked to each other and joined in a deep, deep hug. His strong arms felt good. I was in no hurry to break apart however he said, which changed my direction a bit, "I was just about ready to get a pan of cinnamon rolls out of the oven. Of course, I'm sure you don't want any…"
"I'll get the hot pads…"
Father Ben laughed. I was dead serious. A teenaged boys' stomach overrules all rhyme and reason!
I handed Father Ben the hot pads then looked around for already made icing. Seeing none, I got into the cupboard, retrieved the box and began its preparations, in short order.
Thirty minutes later we sat at the table, filled to capacity, unable to move. The pan was empty… we'd eaten every last crumb, and had licked the pan clean using our fingers, like little kids have been known to do, on occasion.
Eventually, after small talking for over an hour, I got up and began kitchen clean-up while Father Ben went outside.
While tending to the task, I noticed the floor had a lot of dried sand and salt so I grabbed the broom, started sweeping, and then remembered that most likely the particles were coming from my skin and clothing.
I dropped the sweeping chore, went outside and told Father Ben of the difficulties, that I wanted to take a bath and put on clean clothes. Of course, he approved, so I returned to the kitchen, stripped naked so as to not track even more sand through the house, and then headed to the bathroom, closed the door, began filling the tub. While it was running I sat on the toilet and deposited several presents into the sewer system.
I had to change water three times because there was so much sand and silt. The last time, the rinse water, I laid against the rear tub wall and 'took care' of that which designates me as male, sending jets of hot molten lava up my chest, down my belly, finally finishing with minor trails into my burgeoning pubic patch.
After drying off, I washed out the tub, went to the door, opened it and listened for Father Ben's presence. Hearing nothing, I took off for the clothes pantry on the second floor, found the large jeans I'd worn previously, put them on and then pinned them so they didn't fall off.
I then finished kitchen clean-up and did the same for the bathroom.
Father Ben walked through the hallway and commended my attention to detail, and for cleaning up after myself. I told him that cleaning up after myself was the right thing to do. He said, "I'll be in the parlor. You look like you have a lot on your mind, son."
How he was able to read me was amazing. I nodded that indeed I had a lot on my mind, and needed to talk to him.
A few minutes later I entered the parlor. Father Ben was doing some paperwork while humming a religious hymn, realizing the song was Amazing Grace.
We sat down at the settee in his office, facing each other. To break the pregnant pause he said, "There's nothing you need to be afraid of. I've got all day. Take however long you need."
I started to speak a couple of times but was unable to articulate anything, out loud, though my mind was going ninety-to-nothing. Finally, stealing strength from somewhere, I blurted: "I'vesinnedbyspillingmyseedandiamsexuallyattractedtoanotherboywhichiswrongcuzgodsaysointhebible."
I then sat back and waited for verbal bashing which was surely to come.
Instead, he just looked at me clearly perplexed surely trying to figure out the mumble jumble of words that had just tumbled from my vocal cords. Meanwhile, I found a spot on my big toe to stare at, all the while thinking I needed to cut my toenails.
Then my emotions started breaking in that a lump was forming in my throat, my chest was getting tight, I had an urge to pee, my appendage twitched and the muscles in my legs felt as though they were made from jelly, perhaps apple butter. Because of Father Ben's silence, shame overtook and became prominent causing my eyes to well up with unshed tears… but then, within seconds, those unshed tears became shed.
Father Ben got up from his chair, closed the distance between us and then urged me to stand. He drew me into an embrace, which allowed me to release fully and completely.
My heart was aching, my temples were pounding, and my chest was breathing irregularly in short quick gasps. The more I attempted to suppress my emotions, the stronger they came, until they passed some minutes later.
When they passed, Father Ben handed me the Kleenex box. I pulled two and used one to blow my nose and the other to wipe my eyes free of water. I took several deep breaths to regain composure.
I looked down and slowly said, "His name's Matt." That's all I could say for a few minutes as yet another wave of emotion passed through, though I didn't cry – but I was ready to so I looked to the floor, found a small dust bunny and honed in on it.
He patted my hand. I looked into his eyes. Nothing but love and understanding, and yes, approval emanated from them. In fact, he had a warm smile on his face, nodded thus urging me to continue.
"Father, I have urges. He… his… uhm, I can't stop… the images… of… him… of his… uhm, well, we sorta hugged… and well… Father, I'll do penance, I promise… but I can't… stop… the Devil has me in its clutches."
Musingly, the priest said, "I should have listened better. Mildred told me… she told me you were special… and that you would probably have trouble coming to grips with who and what you are… a fine young man who walks a different beat – though not bad, not bad at all. Come, let's take a little walk, I want to show you something."
He urged me to stand and to follow him.
We went to the garden, urged me to sit on the glider chair underneath the arbor, where Mildred had… had… where she'd gone to heaven or wherever we go after departing this body we carry around, if we go anywhere at all.
Very softly he said, "Antoine, son look at the flower garden. Go ahead check it out."
I looked up and away from my lap where my eyes had been boring holes through the fabric of my jeans. All I saw was flowers. I looked at him then shrugged my shoulders, not knowing what to say or think or feel. Yeah, they were pretty but I didn't know the kinds of flowers that they were. I had none of those in my room at home nor were they planted out in our yard. I recognized two species that the Blake's had on their property but did not know their names.
"Really look at them Antoine. What do you see?"
"I don't know what kind they are… err… uhm, well they're pretty …"
"That's right. What do you see? What are your observations?"
I didn't get what he was telling me … "They're pretty. There are big and small ones, some are bright, others dull, and there are many colors, different ones, same ones… I don't get it."
"That's right. Each of them are pretty but when you put them altogether then the whole garden is beautiful."
"Think of the garden as being humanity. Aren't there big people, little people, and average people, of all walks of life, with all different skin colors, with all sorts of sexual preferences, likes and dislikes? My, my, the world would be a boring place to live if we didn't have differences, yes?"
"Ahhhh, yes, I guess, but the Bible says… God says we're not supposed to…"
"You're not supposed to what? Antoine, I've been a priest for a very long time, at least 3 times your age… you know what?"
"I've come to believe that the Bible teaches us, thus making God's word known, is that we're not supposed to hurt and harm another person, and that other person includes us, individually. I always thought I was supposed to have straight hair, not bushy, and a shorter nose, and well I thought and was taught that a priest was not supposed to have sexual desires. That last one gave me serious doubts and wonderment if I was even supposed to be a man of the cloth."
He continued, "One of my early spiritual mentors told me of the flower garden analogy, that there are some things about us we cannot change, that, at best, all we can really do is to accept that which we were given. With that in mind, altogether the flowers, individually or many of them, together, are beautiful. He told me to apply this to the human race. It helped me a lot. I also spoke with an enlightened physician who told me that sexuality is normal and natural, however it turns out, or whatever our inclinations are."
"So… it's really okay that I don't find women attractive… you know… uhm…"
"Better than okay. You're a part of the great whole. Look see – there are more flowers of the same kind that you picked out. Think of their different colors, textures, heights and weights as making the entire garden nice. I think that's how God sees everything. He loves you, Antoine. He made you exactly the way you are supposed to be. Our perceptions tend to be filled with crap, which is we often cannot see the forest because of the trees. Just be who and what you are – you're good enough. You are good, Antoine, don't let anyone tell you any differently. Don't believe them if they do or say things to you that are not true."
When I didn't say anything … I was taking in and processing what he had just said, deciding how I fit in, deciding IF I fit in … then sensing my confusion he continued "Antoine, we do not choose how we are made, and we cannot pick and choose who we love – we just do, or we don't. Who we're attracted to is predestined. We can't help it. What people do is to become, or try to become someone they aren't. Lots and lots of people walk around with guilt hanging from their shoulders – needlessly, no less."
"I can't help it … I can't stop being attracted to Matt. Something about him draws me close. That's not wrong? But he's a guy."
"So? Look at those flowers again. Tell me what you see."
I got up then walked over to the flowers then picked out a specific kind to pay attention to. I laughed then deadpanned "These flowers have very large stamens."
Father Ben cracked up. I did too. The belly laughs were excruciatingly painful … but … I could not stop them but I had to so I did although I could not tell if letting them out or keeping them in was worse. Tears streamed down my face – I laughed so hard, yet I hurt so badly at the same time.
When we recovered, I sat back down next to him then asked sheepishly "But how do you have sex with a guy … I mean they don't have … well, you know, a, uhm, you know?"
"That, my boy, is something that you and your partner will have to work out. Have fun. Enjoy your sexuality. Remember the three sins – always keep those in mind. Pleasure your mate. Let him or her pleasure you. Work out your hang-ups with your partner. Let him or her do the same thing. Find something mutually exciting, run with it, play."
I nodded happily.
"I must tell mom of this. I must know how she feels before the adoption. I do not want her to be ashamed or disappointed with me. I do not wish to embarrass her."
"Remember this Antoine: we cannot help who we love … we just do. The wrong, the shame, the disappointment is ours when we do not or cannot accept who and what we are. When someone else is ashamed, disappointed or as you say embarrassed … well then that is theirs to deal with. You do not need to make their feelings yours. I don't believe your mother will be any of them by the way. She was given birth and raised by a very open minded woman. If she has a problem with your truth, whatever you decide it is, then tell her to come see me."
"Thank you Father. I love you. You've given me a freedom from that demon." I said then the tears began flowing once again when the full ramifications of what we had just talked about hit me like a ton of bricks.
Quickly, I dried them up by running my fingers like a squeegee goes across a window pane.
"Father, I hurt Matt … how do I make it up to him? I was afraid."
"Oh… how did you hurt him, son?"
"We kissed. We kissed more than once. I mean we really kissed. I became… uhm… charged with electricity, you know, <I pointed to my south of the border area>… and well, I got afraid and pulled away. The look in his eyes when I did that – hurt him… deeply."
Thoughtfully, Father Ben said, "If you're so inclined then apologize and tell him your feelings, what we've talked about here today. Tell him that you're afraid, and that, perhaps, you were taught incorrect information. Go with your feelings, child. Follow your instincts for they are never wrong."
Inside of myself, I decided I could do that, and would do it. I said, "I can do that."
I felt the beginnings of a freedom from the chains my father and The Padre put around my neck. While I couldn't say they were wrong… I felt that they weren't right.
My mentor then asked me a question, "Antoine, about the conceptions you have regarding spilling your seed… have you ever used your sexual powers to hurt or harm someone? Have you forced yourself on them?"
"No, of course not. I would never do that!" I said fully entrenched in my belief that I am not to intentionally hurt or harm someone, unless they were bringing danger to me or my family.
"Of course you wouldn't. You're kind, sensitive, giving and protective. Let me ask you another question then… if you don't masturbate then surely you have wet dreams; am I safe in saying this?"
I thought about the many times I'd soiled my underwear and sheets, how I'd tried to wear multiple pair of tight underwear – and yet 'it' happened anyway, and how I couldn't stop that from happening, much like my needs overwhelmed me so much that I had to take the organ… and cause it to explode. "Yes. It will not stop."
"That's what the good doctor told me too. It's been true in my life, Antoine. Though I've not fallen in love with anyone, my needs were present and continue to be present. I've simply channeled the instinctive desire unto myself, and God."
"I will hurt him though. I'm too big to pleasure him…"
"Maybe that's true. Maybe, though, you two will work out something that works… if that's what you choose to do… I can't speak for you. But… I will tell you that very large men and very small women… they have children all the time… they've worked something out to share their love in all ways."
I looked at Father Ben, all the while thinking about what he'd just said. Much to my consternation, I found my prong fully elongating with need and desire – with a need and desire to pleasure Matt… Maybe, just maybe…
Father Ben suggested we go into the rectory to obtain a drink. I agreed so we headed into the kitchen. He ran a glass of water through the faucet while I retrieved a Coke from the refrigerator. I slammed it down and then, unplanned for and uncalled for I let out a huge quiet-shattering burp followed by a regurgitation that sprayed from my mouth and, thankfully, into the sink. Following that, I rapidly sneezed four times in a row, then another one then one final one. I was laughing between sneezes then continued laughing when the sneezes finally ended.
When I recovered, Father Ben handed me a kitchen towel which I used to wipe up the sink counters then my bare chest that had been splattered with this and that from my nose and bronchial tubes … and from my stomach too for that matter.
When I had fully recovered, we sat down at the table across from one another. He was smiling broadly. He took my hands into his then said "This is the Antoine I have been waiting to see. Do not change who you are son. You are going places. Your true self will help people during their times of need."
"Thank you, father. There is one more thing we need to discuss. Can I?"
"Yes, of course. Speak freely. Shall we go back outside? I kind of like watching the flowers, for some reason…"
I nodded. Once we were seated, I said, "It is about my skills, and where I have come from, and what I am still capable of doing when the need arises to protect myself and my family." I said knowing full well that we'd previously discussed the specifics … I was still filled with shame and guilt which seemingly was becoming more and more troublesome.
"I understand and share your concerns, Antoine. Listen to me carefully."
"Okay. I'm listening."
"How many people have you taken away their heartbeat? Was it seven?" He asked without a trace of shame, condescension or judgment in his voice.
I nodded. Remembering the boy on the beach during the first confrontation with him, I corrected myself and said "Eight. The guy who was on the beach the first time they attacked me. My life was in imminent danger. I had no choice."
"You've not sport killed just for the hell of it, right?"
"No sir. No way. There was danger. I see that the underlying reason – why I was there in the first place – was absolutely wrong … but like you said, I had no choice about that. I would have never chosen to do that on my own … and I will NEVER do it again. I would not do it for any reason. But I will protect my family at all costs. I will give my life if necessary. I promise."
"Then tell your mother the same thing. Answer her questions truthfully. Do not lie by omission. Do not deceive. Feel to her your contrition. Be open to her feelings. Give her the latitude to hurt."
"Yes. I do not lie. Not anymore. I had to lie before though. I had to tell them what they wanted to hear, my parents included. They did not know me, not really, Father."
"Son, they put you into a very difficult position, they put you into a position that no boy should ever have to experience."
I was just getting ready to respond to his statement but the air was shattered by a woman screaming and wailing, frantically. She was screaming over and over again, ""Pablo, detener, parar, parar. Dios te Blessy hijo! STOP! STOP! STOP!" Pablo, stop, stop, stop. God blessy you son! STOP! STOP! STOP!]
Immediately, fully alert, my senses screaming and my body reacting to the stimuli like a leopard ready to pounce, I jumped up to survey the situation, to determine from what direction the screams were coming from.
Father Ben also arose from his chair, equally terrorized. He looked at me with terror filled eyes, then and said, "I'll call the police. Go. It sounds like Momacita."
With that, I tore out at the speed of lightening, turned the corner of the rectory, looked around, observed, and found the source of the screaming. A boy was seen to be hitting something about 200 yards away, between the rectory and a house.
My vision turned acute. I saw that the boy was the oldest son of Momacita. He was pummeling her face unmercifully. Danger!
I took off, heading for them as fast as I possibly could, faster than I'd ever run before.
The Warrior was alive.
Pablo, while standing, was beating his mother who'd been knocked to the ground. I readied my body to body slam him into oblivion, to kill him. The murderous rage was fully engulfing me. And there was nothing I could do to stop it.
At 15 paces, I was prepared to push off with my strong legs, with every ounce of determination to take him to his Maker… but then he did a cowardly thing – he lifted her up by the hair and placed his mother between him and me.
There was only a split second to decide… actually there was no decision to make… I rolled right, avoiding any contact with them.
Being hyper aware I saw that Father Ben was running toward us. At the same time, I came up behind Pablo who had fallen to the ground. He had his mother in a choke hold, all the while beating her without mercy.
I grabbed his neck and was preparing to snap it like a twig when Father Ben screamed, "NO!"
I had to do something though.
Instead of killing him like a dog, I grabbed that space between his torso and shoulders and pulled both of his arms out of their sockets, causing him to scream in agony.
Meanwhile, Father Ben gently lifted Momacita from the carnage maker, but, in the process, Pablo connected his foot with Father Ben's face, causing the pastor to wince though it did not stop him from removing Momacita to safety.
Pablo then began stomping my legs with every ounce of strength his body had. With his arms disabled, not caring how much pain I was inflicting on him, I rolled right, taking him with me, and then dislocated his hips from their sockets without regard to the level of pain I was dishing. He screamed. He became inert. He was no longer a threat. Despite my overwhelming desire to forever end his life, I removed myself.
Despite all that Momacita had endured she screamed, ""No, no Antoine, que es mi hijo. Manual, lo necesita rápidamente! Go!" [No, don't Antoine, he's my son. Manual, he needs you quickly! Go!]
My adopted brother?
He needs me?
I grabbed Pablo's hair, violently twisted his face to look into my eyes. Devoid of all emotion I whispered into his ear, "Su madre, salvar su vida. Si el manual está herido, voy a volver a matar, que Dios me ayude." [Your mother, she save your life. If Manual is hurt, I will come back to kill you, so help me God.]
Despite his excruciating pain he laughed. I raised my arm to deliver the fatal blow, but Father Ben stopped me by screaming at the top of his lungs, "Don't do it. Manual needs your help. Hurry!"
I went to Momacita and asked, "¿Dónde está Manual?" [Where is Manual?]
"Ayuda de él, por favor. Date prisa Antonio. Ejecutar. No pude salvarlo." ["Help him, please. Hurry Antoine. Run. I could not save him."] Momacita wailed as Father Ben circled his arms around her, attempting to comfort her pain and agony.
"¿Dónde está, Momacita? Tengo que saber dónde está …" [Where is he, Momacita? I have to know where he is...]
"En la casa, date prisa." [In the house, hurry.] She wailed.
I looked to Father Ben and said, ""Padre, perdóname." [Father, forgive me.] I said then tore toward their house of horrors.
Nothing else mattered. Not then. Not now.
Within 30 seconds, I ripped the door off its hinges and entered the house after seeing nobody around.
I tore through each and every room, smelling but not really paying any attention to the stench of feces throughout the house. That is until I saw AZ huddled in a corner of his bedroom, with terror written all across his little his face.
"¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está Manual?" [Where is he? Where's Manual?] I screamed.
It was then that I saw the boy sitting in a mass of excrement. It was all over his stomach, groin and legs, and on the bare wood floor. He couldn't or wouldn't speak. All he did was point toward the front side and left of the house, where the kitchen was located.
Without one other thought I tore into the kitchen, looked all around, but did not see the boy of my focus.
A loud booming thud came from the pantry door. I raced to it. Opened it, and immediately saw Jesus, the middle son, standing. Naked, he too had feces and dirt and blood all over his body, from head to toe. He was crying. He pointed to the sink.
Totally perplexed, I screamed to him, "¿Dónde está? ¿Dónde está Manual?" [Where is he? Where's Manual?]
He fell to the floor where he cowered with terror written all over his stained face.
My mind and body filled with a sense of dread…. but I quickly cast that aside, walked to the sink, and like a dumb ass looked into it. Of course, a boy would not ever fit in something as small as that. But then I heard a very weak, tiny, muffled, gurgled cry from its depths. I opened the door to the cabinet beneath the sink and saw a pair of feet lying on the floor board, heard weak and gasping whimpering, and sensed impending calamity, pain and suffering.
I opened two other cabinets to the right, which would have been toward the head since the feet were pointed one way…
Finally, I found a little boy pushed against the back-most part of the under-counter. His hand was reaching for mine. With a terror and fear filled, weak and getting weaker by the moment, muffled voice he said, "I love you."
Wasting no time, I gently and carefully removed the naked boy of my dreams from the cabinet, pulled him into my arms, whispered soft and hopefully soothing words of love and commitment and longing.
He looked into my eyes. His were dim and they were dimming even more very quickly, and then his hold on my arms, relaxed. His eyes closed. He relaxed, totally and completely.
With tears streaming down my cheeks from my eyes, I pleaded, "No te vayas, Manual. Por favor no te vayas. Despertar. Vamos a ir a la mar. Nos divertimos tanto … NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" [Don't go, Manual. Please don't go. Wake up. We'll go to the ocean. We have so much fun... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!]
I began lightly slapping his face, just to wake him from a deep sleep, whispering all the while, "Dont 'go, por favor. Llévame contigo. Oh Dios, Manual. No haga esto. No eres más que un bebé." [Don't' go, please. Take me with you. Oh God, Manual. Don't do this. You're just a baby.]
I pulled him to my chest, wrapped his arms around my neck, and held him tight, hoping against all hope that what I knew to be true, was not true.
It was then that I contrails of blood and feces and other bodily liquid and solids within the cabinet, and on the floor, and on the jeans I was wearing. Unbelieving, not believing the worst case scenario had actually happened to this sweet and loving baby, I turned him on his side, separated his cheeks… and then saw that he'd been violated in the worst possible way. It was then that I saw the large laceration running from his little anus to his perineum.
At the same time, I looked up and saw the other two boys standing in front of us. Tears were freely flowing from their eyes… all the while holding Manual protectively in my arms, I turned Jesus to face away. With the same delicate touch I spread his cheeks. It was then that I saw blood and feces escaping from his most private of places.
What bothered me even more was the fact that his penis and groin were covered and smeared with those same raunchy fluids and solids.
AZ turned around on his own volition… but before he did move away I saw that his genitalia were in the same condition as his brothers'. AZ then spread his cheeks… the same was true for him.
Angrily, I slammed both boys to the cold hard floor. All that my mind registered was the condition of their penises and groins, putting aside the sights of their backsides.
A crowbar was lying under the counter, within arms' reach. I reached for it… I seriously thought about smashing their heads into pulps but then another thought supplanted itself. Instead of smashing them, I grabbed hold of Jesus' nuts and squeezed as hard as I could, sending him into a scream of pain, agony and terror. He scampered away on the floor. AZ then reached for the crowbar that I'd laid down on the floor.
Before he could poise it, I grabbed his nuts, squeezed them without mercy, and as he fell to floor screaming and crying in pain, I heard footsteps, heavy footsteps on the stairs leading into the house.
I picked up the crowbar, held it as if it were a missile, pointed it toward the doorway, and waited. I didn't have to wait too long… all of a sudden a police officer entered the doorway, with his weapon drawn and at the ready.
He screamed at the top of his lungs, "PUT IT DOWN! PUT IT DOWN – NOW! DO IT! I'LL SHOOT! I'LL SHOOT! I'LL SHOOT. PUT IT DOWN! PUT IT DOWN!"
In my anger, in my rage, I pulled my arm back ready to launch the metal piece into his heart but then he clicked the trigger on the gun and pointed it to my head, and then began screaming for me to put it down, over and over and over again.
At that juncture, I no longer cared. Manual was gone. He was dead. And because he died, a large part of me had also passed into the oblivion of rage, pain and grief. I just didn't care anymore.
Defeated, I laid down the weapon and then pulled Manual's lifeless body into my chest, put my head down into his neck and began crying softly.
The officer entered, kicked the crowbar aside, knelt down and felt for a pulse in Manual's child like neck.
He then screamed into the microphone resting on his shoulder, "In the house… 187/419/261/428. Get the paramedics in here NOW! The scene is secured. Hurry for God's sakes!"
He looked into my eyes… it was Officer Ramirez, the policeman I'd met the other day when I'd been assaulted on the beach.
He reached for Manual's head. I swatted his hand away, and dared him to reach for Manual again. Thankfully, he didn't reach out for Manual but he did reach for my face… not in a malevolent way. I sensed, through my grief and pain that he was there to support me in my time of need, though I had no idea that it was a need that I had, or would have.
When he made contact, I cried, "¿Por qué? Es sólo un niño pequeño, tan lleno de vida, el amor y la energía … ¿Por qué?" [Why? He's just a little boy, so full of life, love and energy... why?]
"I don't know why, Antoine. I never understand it. I hope I never do."
"I failed him. I didn't protect him. Please, just shoot me. Make my pain go away." I cried, and then held Manual even tighter to my chest, as if that were possible. It was possible. A little breath escaped Manual's mouth.
Officer Ramirez heard it too. He screamed into his microphone for those damned paramedics to get in there NOW! And then he said to me, "I can't shoot you, Antoine. It wouldn't be right."
I heard footsteps, many of them. They entered the house, stood at the doorway to the kitchen, then parted as the paramedics entered, walked to us. One of the men, a very large man, knelt down, took hold of Manual's little arm, felt for a pulse, and finding none, shook his head 'no' then he got on the radio and called for the coroner.
"He's breathing, he's not dead!" I shouted. I knew it wasn't true, and I wasn't about to relinquish this child lying limply in my arms.
"Antoine, son, there's nothing we can do. Manual is deceased. Please, very soon the forensics team will be here and they need to investigate."
Jesus, being held in another officers' arms said, "Nuestro hermano, Pablo. El daño a mi hermano, Manual." [Our brother, Pablo. He hurt my brother, Manual.]
AZ, being held in another officers' arms, nodded knowingly.
With that, AZ and Jesus were carried from the room and taken outside. Where they were being taken… I had no idea. All I knew, all I could feel, was that Manual was lying in my arms, safe and protected.
I must have fallen asleep because the next voice I heard was, "Antoine, honey, son. Mommy's here to take you home."
I opened my eyes. Her eyes were filled with tears. They were streaming down her face. She was sobbing. Without any consideration for herself, she sat on the floor in the filth and blood, and then took both me and Manual in her arms and held on tight.
I cried, "Momma, Pablo killed Manual. He raped him brutally. Manual was just a little boy. He was my little brother in my heart. I couldn't save him. Oh God, mom, I tried. I tried so hard."
"I know you did son. You did all that you could do. Honey, when his soul left his body he's safe and will never again be hurt. Antoine, Pablo will pay with his soul because he committed the worst sin known to man."
"Mom, I wanted to kill Pablo. I wanted to tear his heart right out of his chest – and I could have done it too – and would have too. My Father would have forgiven me even if no human could or would have."
"You didn't though. Honey, you would have been taken away from us and then treated as a common criminal, which you're not. You are not a common criminal son. Exacting revenge is not inside of you. Your soul is pure. You do good, boy. You're are good. You had no way to know that Manual was in mortal danger. You cannot blame yourself. If you would have known, you would have stopped them but you didn't know. He loved you. He's proud of you."
To Officer Ramirez, I said, "Where were you? He needed you."
He knelt down and said softly, "Antoine, we were too late too. There wasn't anything we could do, just like you couldn't do anything to save him."
I looked into his eyes. He was telling the absolute truth.
I turned my attentions to mom and Manual. Manual's skin was cool to the touch. His lips, despite everything had a faint hint of his impish little smile on them.
Mom saw it too. She reached down and kissed the boy on his cheek and said to me, "Son, we need to let these guys do their jobs. There's nothing more we can do here."
Slowly, the realization passed through me that Manual was okay, that he was indeed safe, and yes, there wasn't anything more we could do, except to love him, and to keep his memory alive.
With steel in my voice, I said to Officer Ramirez, "Sir, I swear to God that if Pablo is released, I will find him, and I will kill him. I will go to prison for the rest of my life – it would be worth it!"
Mom put her hand on my cheek. I resisted at first but then turned to face her. As if reading my mind, then with a slight shudder she whispered into my ear words that would forever change our lives "Matt. He needs you. You need him. Don't mess it up."
To be continued
Authors' note: Some codes that were used by the policeman to inform dispatch of the crime scene need a brief explanation. Here they are:
187 = homicide
p> 261 = rape
p> 419 = dead human body
p> 428 = child molestation
This chapter was very difficult to write, however, unfortunately, it contains certain excerpts from a real life situation recently reported and followed in the media, though names, places, times, and details have been somewhat obscured to protect the innocent, and yes – the guilty, too. The guilty party is currently on death row.
Generally speaking, under most situations and in most circumstances, I am against the death penalty, however there are exceptions. I am against the taxpayer from supporting such filth for the rest of his natural born life. Violent crimes committed against society should not be supported by that same society – some things are just wrong, and this is one of them when it happens, all too frequently.