no pressure

A series of interviews – an exercise in truth:

https://i0.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/wjon.com/files/2010/11/police_tape.jpg

If you want to play along, read the following statements given to a police officer and then answer the questions at the end.

“I saw the whole thing!  I was across the street talking with my coworker, Jim, and the car jumped the curb and hit the lady.  It was horrible!”

“I saw the whole thing!  I was out walking Measles, that’s my dog, and we turned the corner from Alpine onto Fifth, and this guy punched the lady, she fell backward into the street and was hit by a car.  It was horrible.”

“I saw the whole thing!  My husband, Tony, and I had just finished our meal at the little café at the end of the street.  The lady and man had walked passed our table arguing as we were paying the bill.  They were both shouting at each other.  When we left the café, their yelling drew my attention and I watched as she slapped him and he raised a hand to ward off the attack.  Then she tripped on a fire hydrant and fell backwards into the street where she was struck by the car.  It was horrible!”

“I saw the whole thing!  I was on my bike, Agnus, at the time, and we were on our way to make a package delivery uptown.  The congestion on the street forced me onto the sidewalk for a moment, yes I know the laws, and I had to stop because the lady and man were blocking my path.  They were arguing, which isn’t that uncommon, but then the lady slapped him and that really caught my attention.  Then she pulled out a knife from her purse and looked like she was going to attack him.  He grabbed her wrists to try and wrestle the weapon away from her and she tripped on the fire hydrant and fell into the street.  The car had no time to stop before it hit her.  It was horrible.”

“Oh my gosh!  Oh my gosh!  I was on my way to see my friend, Charles, who lives up Fifth, on the other side of Alpine, and …  And I just can’t believe this happened.  I was in the far right lane, almost up against the curb because the cars around me had just nearly collided.  Some jack-hole in an Audi was traffic weaving and nearly hit a minivan.  I… I don’t see that either of them stopped.  I don’t see them here still.  And then all of a sudden the lady was falling into the street.  I hit the brakes and swerved to try and avoid her, but there was nothing I could do.  There was no room to maneuver.  There wasn’t time to stop.   It was horrible!”

“I’ll tell you everything!  My wife, Gwen, and I were fighting over her brother, who has been staying at our apartment for the last couple months, ever sense he made parole.  I wanted him out because he is a bad person.  She wanted to let him stay because she thought she could help him turn his life around.  Things got pretty heated as we approached Alpine and she slapped me when I suggested that she was blind to the truth of how bad he truly is.  Then she pulled a knife from her purse to show me that she wasn’t that naïve.  She had confiscated the weapon from him that morning.  I reached out to her, to apologize, to offer comfort.  In that moment I knew we would figure out how to make it work.  I love… I loved her.  But, her heel caught in the air vents on the sidewalk as we turned to continue our walk, she lost her balance and fell over the fire hydrant into the street.  The car hit her before I could even react to try and save her.  It was horrible.”

Pertinent information:

The car is on the street, with dark tire tracks left in the road from brakes.  The lady was thrown several yards in front of it.  A knife was recovered near her.  The interviewees all appear visibly distraught.  An agitated crowd is gathering, and the longer you take to make a decision and clear the scene, the rowdier they get.  Half are screaming that the husband of the deceased needs to be arrested immediately for domestic violence, and half are screaming that the driver of the car needs to be arrested for reckless driving.

 ………………..

Which version of the events do you believe?  Which witness(es) do you trust?  Why?  What additional information do you need?

What do you decide to do?

Quick!  The whole nation is watching…

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Update:  In a couple discussions in the comments I remembered and brought up a video I had watched in one of my psychology classes in college that showed how unreliable eye witness testimony can be.  I went looking for it on youtube, and while this isn’t the study I remembered, but it is close enough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSzPn9rsPcY

it hurts my heart

Head held high, she strides into the system,
(Did they handcuff her?  Did she tell her beloved goodbye?)
Unashamed but tired of fighting,
She knows her fate is not yet written.
(Will it really be a year?  Did they tell her why?)

So much time had passed, her life had gained some peace,
(Statute of limitations? How long could they leave this?)
Shattered but no time for crying,
I want to pick up the banner and march in the streets.
(I’m disappointed in our nation. I want to call it quits.)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Do you remember when you were a child and had complete faith in the police, our government, and our systems?  You knew that good people would be proven innocent and that bad people would end up jail…

As we aged, and saw that the world is much more complex than our naive minds could process, a bit of our faith died.  We realized that there are still humans behind each of those systems and humans are frail and prone to error.  We aren’t even smart enough to put in the checks and balances that would ensure our mistakes were caught by others.  We try, but we fail.

I’ve only met her in person 3 times, but, in the time I have known her, I know her to be a good person, and I am proud to call her a good friend.  But, right now she is in a bad way because the system if failing her.

Today I grew up a little bit more.  Today I can see our world a little bit clearer and I don’t like what I see.  It isn’t pretty and it hurts my heart.

…..

A Sign of Life: We Are Not Bloggers

Not a Punk Rocker: I don’t Know What to Say

Behind the Mask of Abuse: Innocent paying the price again…

To Breathe is to Write: My Heart Hurts Today

guidance

I got back in the truck, my cheeks burning from embarrassment, and turned to my roommate, “I don’t see any damage.”

He angled his head so he could look into the rear-view mirror and see the car parked directly behind us.  He frowned and then a moment later his features set into the resolved expression I had grown to know so well over the previous five years.

“You should leave a note, anyway.”

I sighed.  I rolled my eyes.  I pretended to protest, but I knew he was right and I would leave my contact information under their windshield wipers.  I motioned for him to open the glove box and then reached over and pulled out a pad of paper and pen that I stored there.  I scrawled my details out, as legibly as I could, considering the rush of adrenaline that was still coursing through me from having backed into the vehicle.

I still couldn’t believe I had done something so stupid.

With another sigh, I got back out of the truck and walked across to car.  I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t help but steal another glance at the bumper to confirm that I still saw no evidence of damage from the slight impact.

My vision narrowed so all I saw was what was necessary for my current task.  I reached the front of the car, propped up the drive side wiper enough to slip my note under and then let the blade fall back into place.  I was so focused on my anger, at myself for having hit the car in the first place, at the unknowns of what would come of giving them my information, at the universe for fating me into that moment, that I almost missed the slight movement of a head ducking down in the back of the car.

There was someone in there!  A child, perhaps, left in the back seat while one of their parents was shopping inside?

Shaking my head, bewildered by the whole situation, I retraced my steps to the truck, stepped in, and turned the ignition.

“Happy now?” I sarcastically quipped.

“Not really.”

“Me either.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

This tale is a twist on a true story, and was written for this week’s Tale Weaver’s Prompt:

Remember an event that really happened to you, then take a fictional character and insert him in the story. Rewrite the event to include both you and the character, change the outcome of the situation, for better, for worse, however you desire.

Some ideas and guidelines:

– The fictional character can be anything, like: a superhero, a protagonist of a book, a part of your personality imagined and shocked alive as a character and a person that in reality does not exist, archetypes, a character from a dream you once had,  and so on.

– You can rewrite the event and create a real story branching off into a fictional one, or you can write a speculative story, as in “What do I think would happen that day, if instead of person N, Snoopy was with me?”

Word limit: 500

…..

In the true version of this story, I was in the truck by myself, and didn’t have the guiding voice of a friend to help me do the right thing: I didn’t walk back over to leave a note.  Therefore, I missed that there was someone in the car.  They wrote down my license plate and when their mom finished shopping they called the cops: hit and run.

Whoops.

Live and learn.

I fired once, “Bang.”

He handed me the rifle, and I gladly accepted it.  I was surprised that it felt like a toy, despite the name.  It was a toy, despite the name.  Plastic.  No heft.  It was a pellet gun, fueled by air: an air rifle.  It was nothing like the real rifles I had been target shooting with for years.

Still, it was new, it was exciting, it was forbidden.  In my house, guns were not toys.  We hadn’t been allowed to own pellet rifles or b.b. guns.  We had only been allowed to play with cap guns at our grandparents’ house, and those had been purchased by the grandparents without parental consent or knowledge.  It was clear, that at home, guns were not toys.  But, I wasn’t at home.  I was at the neighbor’s house, and there I could be free of my parent’s draconian rules.

I looked down the sight of the rifle and fired twice in quick succession.  Nothing happened.  No kick against my shoulder.  No loud report of gunpowder discharging.  No sound of the projectile striking home.

I suspected it wasn’t loaded.  I suspected it was broken.  I couldn’t have possibly missed.  I had fired real weapons.  I knew what I was doing.  It had to be something wrong with the toy.

The younger sister came out of the house, all mouth, singing and yelling and her noise was a distraction to my concentration.  I turned the rifle on her to scare her into being quiet but she was undeterred.  She knew it was a toy too.  She knew I wouldn’t really shoot her.

I fired once, “Bang.”  I spoke the word to increase the illusion of the toy being real.

Her singing turning to screaming.

I thought she was bluffing, playing along with my pretend firing, until I saw the blood.  A small trickle crept beneath where her hand had slapped against her ear.  She wasn’t pretending.

I had pulled the trigger.  The rifle had fired.  I had shot her.

My mind scrambled.  The toy was supposed to be empty, or broken, or…  It was supposed to be a toy.  How could I have hit her?  Something was wrong.  I was a good kid.  I didn’t do things like that.

And then I made the third and final mistake of the day.  I did the only thing I could think to do.  I fled.  Scared.  Confused.  I jumped the fence and sought the sanctuary of home.

I’m not sure what I was expecting.  The thinking of a child is naive in the ways of the world, hopeful that bad things will pass them by, expectant really.  When the knock sounded out on our front door I rushed to answer it.  One last effort to stave off the inevitable.  The next several hours were spent making apologies, talking through what had happened with parents and the police, receiving disappointed looks,  wallowing in my confusion and regrets.

The regrets lasted the longest.

It was only years later that I realized the full scope of how my life could have changed that day if the neighbor’s parents had decided to press charges, or sue my family, or if the pellet had been an inch to the left.  I try not to think about it.  I try not to picture how different my life would have been and how different the little girl’s life would have been if things had been worse than they were.

Keeping those thoughts at a distance during the day doesn’t keep them from haunting me at night.