5| My Family Tree
My father left me hanging
As though I was hanging from a tree
While there, I wondered how could he do this to me
A man walked by and asked me why
Was I hanging from the tree
I couldn't lie
So I said
My father did this to me
He said, He can see your suffering
How could he leave you there
I said to the man
Cause the man
By: Keith G. Walker 41|
The next day I returned home. My uncle P was in the garage, working on his car like he did so often. As I approached, he gave me a look of disappointment and satisfaction. I knew he was going to use this moment to give me a long drawn-out speech about why he was kicking me out, so before he could say anything I struck first. I said, "Uncle P, you have treated me like I was one of your own kids, took me in when I didn't have any place to go, I really appreciate it, and I thank you very much but I'm moving." He looked at me and said, "Okay," like this was something he wanted to hear for along time but didn't want to admit it. I packed my bags and moved to Maplewood with OW and her three kids. Of all the people I lived with, I would say he was the closest thing I had to a father. I really loved him for what he did for me, took me in, and didn't get a dime from anyone. It was here I lived the longest and I'll never forget what they did for me and will always appreciate them for it.
OW's home consisted of the oldest son T, middle son M, and youngest son Y, who was just a baby when I started seeing her. T and M had the same father, who was a playboy-type dude with a large well-known family from Kirkwood/Meacham Park. Y's Supposed-to-be-father was more of a gangster type dude also from a well-known family from the same place. He killed a man from our hood by shooting him and got off by pretending to be crazy. I think he was a little crazy or wanted people to think he was.
I was going into the 11th grade when I started living with her, the only guy in high school living with a grown woman with kids. As time went by, she became pregnant with her fourth child, my first. This wasn't part of my plans. I was going to go into the army and become the boxer I knew I could be if I was in the right place. I was going to make it outta the ghetto. I was going to survive all I had endured. I was going to be the exception, I would defeat the odds, prove everybody wrong, and I was going to be somebody! 42|
Everyone I knew criticized me for living with OW but no one offered me a place to live or give me anything to eat, so to me the decision to live with her was a no-brainer. Sleep on the streets or live with the older woman with kids? Duh.
Months after my son was born, I had a feeling OW was secretly seeing T and M's father and other men. In a way, I really didn't care because I had a couple of girls that I was seeing on the side. I just felt I wasn't going to be disrespected just because I was a teenager. I demanded that I be respected like the man I thought I was at the time, plus this was my home until I could make my move. I couldn't afford to let anyone mess that up.
I tried to be as civil as I most possibly could under the circumstances. I encouraged T and M's father to come pick them up, and told him how much they loved him. I could tell he envied me and was slightly jealous because I was young, and appeared to be performing like a seasoned player and had his woman that he still wanted when he wanted. Word began to get back to me that he was telling people in the hood that he was going to f-ck me up. Three different groups of people reported to me that they heard the same thing. The oldest son was the excuse for him to act the way he was, reporting to his father that I disciplined him and his brother. I actually did everything for them as if they were my own kids. I really liked them.
Their father came over on a Sunday morning to pick them up; he just glared at me, not saying anything while I was ironing my pants, anticipating the lovely day I had planned ahead. OW went somewhere with her sister to some type of get-together, leaving me at home by myself. I called a girl up that I had been trying to get close to for some time, asking her if she wanted to stop by and smoke some weed with me. She told me she would be down in a minute. We were getting high when she asked to use the phone that was in the bedroom. I soon realized she wasn't talking to anyone on the phone so I went to check hoping she wasn't in there snooping around. To 43|
my lovely surprise, she was butt naked! I couldn't believe it because I was under the impression she didn't like me in that manner. After we became much better acquainted on a personal level, she went home after making plans to get with her the next day or two. I was about to go over to my friend Anthony Holloman's house who I saw earlier at the store, but I decided to chill at home.
It was about 10:00 p.m. when the kid's dad dropped them off. Before that, OW and I were chilling on the couch, smoking weed, listening to the quiet storm when there was a loud knock on the door reminiscent of the police, I asked her if she had done anything that would attract the police: she shook her head no. I knew I hadn't done anything to spark their presence so I asked "Who is it?" The father yelled, "Open up the door!" I opened the door; the kids went straight to their rooms without saying a word, looking as though they had been crying. He begin to lay into me, saying how he didn't appreciate how my young punk ass supposed to have put my hands on his kids, and how he was going to f-ck me up. OW begged him to leave and I asked could we talk about this later when he wasn't drunk, he grew even angrier. He pushed OW out of the way after I stated I had done more for his kids in the last two years than he had. After pushing her to the side, enabling him to confront me clearly he said "F-ck you, yo brotha and yo punk ass cousins, all of y'all are gonna get f-cked up. I got something fo yo ass m-tha f-cka" as he reached as if he was pulling a pistol from the small of his back. At that moment the talking was over: no more negotiating, it was on. I ran into the bedroom where the sawed off 20-gauge pump shotgun rested like the Maytag repair man, never thinking he would get called on to perform but always ready just in case. I dove onto the floor reached under the bed grabbing and cocking it simultaneously so I'd be ready to shoot if he followed me into the room. I exited the bedroom and entered the living room where he was facing me. There stood the man that had been telling everyone he was going to f-ck me up, the man 44|
that was damn near twice my size, the man that was going to kill me, my brother, and my punk ass cousins as he so eloquently put it. My finger caressed the trigger of the sawed off, causing it to explode. Fire escaped the barrel like Mount Saint Helens erupting. POW! He screamed like a b-tch while struggling to stand upright after taking the tiny pellets to the right leg just below the knee. "Who's gonna kill who now, motha f-cka," I asked through clenched teeth. Cocking the sawed off with my left hand, while my index finger on my right hand made love to the trigger once again. POW! Full of rage, I ran to him while he was lying on the ground in front of our doorway and busted him in the head with the barrel of the shotgun, causing it to explode for the third and final time, causing me to think I'd blown his head off.
This was my first time shooting someone. So many thoughts raced through my mind I didn't know what to do, what just happened, how did it happened, and why did it happened. I was just chillin with my lady on the couch a minute ago.
After coming back to my senses I left home, ran to Anthony's house, but he wasn't there. I then went to a payphone and called my uncle P to inform him what happen. He was afraid if the racist Maplewood police caught me somewhere, they would kill me and convinced me to go back home and turn myself in.
I turned the corner with my hands in the air. I heard a woman scream, "There he is!" Two police ran toward me with their guns pointed at my head while one screamed, "Get down on the ground and don't move or I'll blow your f-ckin head off." I did exactly what he told me to do.
The next day I was just another nineteen year old ghetto kid who had grown up without both parents but facing two life sentences, one for assault in the first degree and the other for armed criminal action. Everyone's predictions of me seem to be coming true. I'll be dead or in the penitentiary for life before I was twenty-one years of age. 45|
I was looked upon with great disgust, most shook their heads in shame letting me and others know they didn't want or have anything to do with me.
After being introduced to our judicial system, being incarcerated for four months in the St. Louis County Jail, court hearings, grand jury's, prosecuting attorney's, having to take a dump in front of other people, nasty food, living with real criminals, so on, etc. The inevitable told me it was time; the ghetto had caught up with me, this was a fight that I would be declared the loser.
To make a long story short, I pleaded guilty to five years, thinking I was going to get probation. Instead of going to the army like I planned, I was sent to the Missouri State Department of Corrections with a five-year sentence minus the four months I spent in the maximum security section of the St. Louis County Jail. I was transferred to the Missouri State Penitentiary for processing. I rode over two hundred miles handcuffed alone in a cramped section of what reminded me of a dog-catcher truck that transported five inmates including myself. Before my arrival, I asked myself, "How did I get into this situation, and how did this happen?" I saw my life play out like a movie while riding bent over like I had a terrible pain in my stomach.
The van came to a halt. After hearing the gates open and close, keys daggling, and guns cocking, we were released from the small confinement. After adjusting my eye's to the light something inside of me said, "This is it. If I'm not a man now, I better become one quick because I'm about to enter the Penitentiary." We were all chained together like slaves and directed to walk in two's toward a huge brick building topped off with barb wire.
Upon entering what I had been warned about, heard terrible stories about, seen movies about, and knew one day I would go, there read a sign. 176|
They had counselors that had a particular area of expertise and trained paralegal that help with the preparation of legal documents. I took off work for this appointment only to be told the person I was supposed to meet with was having some type of difficulties and wasn't there, and I could reschedule my appointment. I asked for my money to be returned and was told they couldn't give it to me because a staff member stole their money and ran off. I eventually took them to small claims court on November 4, 1994, winning a judgment that they weren't forced to pay. I wanted to catch the guy out somewhere and have a personal discussion with him but was unable to. So I was back to square one again.
It was around this time that Dee began to visit her friends in Bremerton on a somewhat regular basis. Bremerton is a little city across the water from Seattle that you have to take a ferry to get to unless you drive all the way around, having to go through Tacoma.
It was also around this time Damn couldn't be found the weekend I was to pick D up. I phoned her mother who gave me no info on where she was. I was worried to say the least. I tried to stay in contact with her no matter what the emotional climate was like at the time, so I'd always know where D was.
About a week later, she called as though nothing had happened, telling me it was okay to pick him up this weekend. When I saw him, I immediately saw a circular hole above his lip exposing his flesh. "What happened?" I asked Damn. She said, "You should've seen it last week," implying that if I'm in shock now, last week would have been twice as shocking. I picked him up to examine him closer causing me to feel sick to my stomach. It was clearly a cigarette burn. Her explanation was he had a pimple that burst. You would have to be a complete idiot to believe what I was witnessing was the result of a pimple bursting. 177|
She became elusive when I asked who treated him knowing I would investigate.
I spent the weekend and the next week investigating, and trying to figure out what happened to my son's lip. I found out that she had taken him to her family doctor who had an office in West Seattle. I requested the records and found the doctor had stated, "The mother brought in her son stating he had a pimple that burst, It appears to be a burn so I prescribed burn ointment for the child."
Everyone that saw my son agreed it was a cigarette burn and was concerned for him like I was. I called child protective services (CPS) for the first time, since his birth, hoping they would investigate. The report was written like this.
| Referral Id: 0000000 |
Received Date 09/06/1994
Risk Tag Mod High
Response Time: Emergent
Referral Id: 000011
Received Date 09/06/1994
Risk Tag Moderate
Response Time: Emergent
Intake Worker: 745- 000000
| Neglect/Physical Abuse |
Ref. Is Biological Father Of D
He claims every time he goes to get D from the mother,
boy is filthy dirty and his cloths are filthy dirty as well.
During this visit, father noticed a burn on the boys lip.
Looks like a cigarette burn, mom apparently took the boy
to be treated at her personal physician. Dr Ku .
Ref. says he took boy's socks off and both his feet were
very red, when father called mom about boys feet she
told him. "if you don't like it, buy him some new shoes."
Ref: told the mother that we would not return the boy to
her house since it so filthy. Ref. Still has D and intends to
keep him until CPS can investigate.
Child is with father at 12440 Blvd.
Father works all day and has a friend care for the child,
he would like to be called so that he can be at home when
CPS comes to the house.
See Ref 000011 taken same day.
| Neglect: |
Ref who is the father of the child states that child
mother Is not properly caring for the child ref states the child
is always dirty, child has had severe diaper rash from
lack of changing child has had unexplained cuts and bruises.
Ref states several months ago child was taken to
emergency for ingestion of rat poison child was taken
to emergency about a month ago for a burn on his lip
when father asked mother about it she said it was a
sore from a pimple and gave him medication for the
childs lip when father called the pharmacy we was told
the medication was prescribed for burns. He said the
sore was circular like a cigarette burn he also states
when ever he picks up the child before going anywhere
he has to take home bathe him and put him in clean
clothes he has sent home clothes with the child in the
past and never sees them again. He has asked mother
to have the child ready when he comes to pick up the
child but mother just laughs at him.
Father says when he picks up the child the child has
cuts on his feet and legs and knots on his head he says
when the child is with him he doesn't get these kinds of bruises.
I phoned the police who assured me if I felt my son was in danger it was my right not to return him to his mother until an investigation was completed.
With this assurance from the police, I decided not to return him to his mother.
I called in sick at my job the first two days, making phones calls inquiring what I could do to obtain custody and getting things D needed. That was about one hundred and sixty-five dollars lost in gross income.
A woman I was seeing at the time volunteered to pay her roommate to watch D while I was at work. I had been seeing her for about a month and a half. She was a white chick. "I'll call her K" they lived in Kent in a building called Country Home Apartments. Her roommate was a woman I met a few years ago at the club I use to perform at. She was a hostess there, so we became cool with each other during this period.