Birth of a Dream
“Yeah, I had a dream once. I really believed it could happen too. I spent years trying to make it come true. Ten years of my life were fully dedicated to that damn dream. Look where it got me,” I said, staring at the prison psychiatrist.
He was the typical Freudian shrink. Hell, he looked like his idol; white beard, beady black eyes sticking out from a pair of glasses that looked too small for his head. He wore one of those stupid dinner jackets and smoked a pipe. What I hated most about this creep was his smile because he kept showing it. He seemed to be teasing me to a point where I had to restrain myself. I could feel the veins in my neck stick out as I sat on that damn couch clenching and unclenching my right fist.
“Are you implying that your dream put you here, in prison?” he asked.
“Yes, what are you, an idiot? Why do you have to repeat everything I say?”
“For the simple reason that I know I understood you correctly. Please, Miss Parker, don’t get so offended. Now, tell me more about this dream.”
“Why should I tell you? I have this philosophy about old people like you and your friend Sigmund, so I just won’t tell you about my dream. Can I leave now? These sessions, as you call them, are pretty useless.”
I stood and headed for the door when old boy grabbed my arm hard enough to make prints. He glared at me with his kooky smile and started this psychotic laugh.
“Guard!!!” I yelled.
Nothing happened. With my free hand I gave him something to laugh about. He kept up with that sound, and he didn’t let go. His glasses broke when I hit him. I kept punching his hideous face trying to shut him up. It wasn’t working, but it felt good. I was letting go of ten years of frustration and anger. When I was really getting into it and starting to really hurt the guy he grabbed my free arm. I was surprised by his strength, and it was starting to scare the shit out of me!
“Let go! I’ll sue your ass so fast you won’t have anything, AND you’ll be stuck in this hell hole. Let go shithead!” I screamed trying to sound threatening.
He didn’t even flinch, but instead pushed me backwards to the bookshelves in the wall. There weren’t any books so I could feel the shelves digging into my back. I thought he was going to break my spine. I heard something crack and felt my knees buckle. I fell, but not far. Psycho was still holding tight. I thought I was paralyzed because I couldn’t feel my feet. As this thought registered tears came. I was pissed, so I willed my knees back into the standing position. Then without even thinking my knee aimed, fired, and made a direct hit. Psycho let go only after throwing me to the ground. His laugh stopped as he rolled on the floor in agony. My senses were out of whack. I couldn’t stand, so I crawled toward the door. There were two measly feet between me and freedom when psycho came up behind me and kicked me back to the ground. He attempted to grab me again, but I rolled away from him. I jumped to my feet prepared to fight.
“Yeah, come on, I dare you to even try that again loony, just try me,” as I said this I heard a low growl start to get louder.
Psycho appeared to be drooling almost like a rabid dog. Instantly I thought of “Cujo.” He looked more like a bull though. He was crouched and ready to ram the door which happened to be directly behind me. As soon as I saw him move I dodged out of that way. Unfortunately he slowed and stopped. For a minute he just stood there staring at the door as if he had lost me. I watched him grunting in front of the door. There weren’t any windows for me to crawl through and escape. With psycho blocking the only exit I was trapped. He seemed quite harmless just standing there so I slowly got closer. I couldn’t hear anything other than his breathing. I stood right behind him for two minutes expecting him at some point to turn and grab me again. Nothing happened!
I walked around him cautiously watching his every move. He had that stupid grin on his face again. I reached for the knob. Surprisingly he didn’t do a thing. My heart started pounding as I anticipated getting away from this quack. The metal shocked me, but I didn’t care. I would finally be out of the room with the most psychotic person in the prison. I was getting anxious.
With my fingers wrapped tightly around the knob so psycho wouldn’t be able to stop me, I prepared to run. My pulse was almost too fast for me to be standing. I started to turn it, but it didn’t move more than a quarter of an inch in either direction. My stomach flipped and my arm dropped to my side as if it had lead in it. The damn door was locked!
Just then psycho started that damn laugh again. It was almost as if he was torturing me. He just kept laughing as he stared at the door. I turned and looked for a phone or intercom to contact the guards. Apparently this asshole didn’t believe in such devices to interrupt his “sessions.” I knew I was stuck with loony-toons. Without anything to read or look at I had to entertain myself. Psycho sure as hell wasn’t helping.
The Difficult Childhood
I started to think about my dream. The one that landed me in prison. I was ten years old, not as innocent as most ten year olds. I lived in this tiny shack with my dad just off the highway. My father worked at the truck factory on the assembly line. He worked the night shift, so he didn’t usually get off until eight in the morning. After work he would go to this tavern three miles from our shack. He spent a few hours there wasting all his money on beer. Usually I was at school when he got home and passed out.
School was hard to deal with sometimes because of the rich kids. They all knew I didn’t come from a rich family, but they had no idea I was poor. I did my best to hide it from them and all of the teachers. After school I didn’t go home like most of the other kids. I had a job at the local store. I did a lot of work in the back since it wasn’t legal for a ten year old to be working. Occasionally Mr. Evans, the owner, would let me stock the shelves in the back so nobody would see me. I got paid $3.50 an hour, so I tried to work from three to closing everyday. Monday through Thursday the store closed at seven, so I would walk home. It was a ten mile trek, but it gave me time to think of how I could spend the money I earned. That’s how I came up with my dream. Friday the store closed at nine, so Mr. Evans always drove me home. I think he knew how bad my life was at home and that’s why he treated me so well. On weekends he never scheduled me to work, but he let me work anyway. One Saturday Mrs. Evans was there. She took me into town and helped me find the clothes that made people at school believe my family suddenly inherited a fortune from a rich relative, of which I had none. All the kids in the rich neighborhoods started inviting me to their houses. It was nice, but I knew it wouldn’t last once they found out I wasn’t rich. After I saw the kind of houses rich people lived in, I thought of how nice it would be to live in one some day. That’s how my dream began. After one of the weekends when I went to the rich neighborhood, I was daydreaming on the way home. I had only been working at the Evans’ store for a year. Most of the money I used to buy clothes because my dad didn’t have the money to spend on me. After I owned enough clothes to get by for two weeks at a time, I started saving all my money in a jar under my bed. Of course it wasn’t the safest placed to put the money. That became obvious after I got home that day and couldn’t find the jar. By that time I had almost five hundred dollars saved. I knew my dad had taken it. I needed a better way to save it, but a bank wouldn’t open an account to a ten year old without parental consent or some such rule. I thought I should talk to Mr. Evans about it. Maybe he could help me!
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At the time I was so excited about getting help from Mr. Evans I forgot about my dad’s temper. I didn’t even think of it until he came home early. He only came home early when he was angry. The people at the factory understood and usually let it go. He always made up the time somehow. He slammed the front door and I knew I’d be missing school long enough for the bruises to heal.
“Samantha!” his voice shook the walls, but I didn’t move.
He opened the door. I couldn’t see his face, but I knew he was ready to kill. There was a dim light on in the other room. He blocked out most of the light. He looked like a giant standing there in the dark. I smelled the beer. He’d been drinking before he got home, which meant he was really mad. I didn’t move an inch and tried to play dead so he wouldn’t hurt me. My dad was no bear, he knew I was alive.
He didn’t say anything else. The first thing he did when he got mad was hit me with the back of his hand. He usually didn’t stop until my nose started bleeding. That would always scare him, which angered him further. So he made me stand, then he would kick me in the stomach once or twice. This time he kept kicking until he got tired. I couldn’t breathe and I remember thinking I was going to die. He left for a while and I thought he would be gone long enough for me to get out and go to the store. Within minutes he came back. By this time I had started coughing up blood. He didn’t appear to care. He had sweat dripping from his face. He started kicking me again until I stopped moving. I don’t think he realized how much damage he could do. I guess he really did love me or at least need me because he carried me to his big bed and put me under all the warm blankets. Then he left for the rest of the morning.
When he came home, I lay in a pool of blood. I had been coughing up blood for six hours while he spent my money on beer. Now he was really scared. He put me in the old, rusty, brown pick-up and drove to the hospital. Doctors told him I was inches from death. They worked on me for seven hours before I was okay. My dad was gone by that time. I suspected he went straight back to the tavern. Mr. Evans was called because I told a nurse he was a family friend and I needed to see him. He stopped by immediately. I breathed easier knowing he was with me.
“Sammy, what happened?” he asked.
“Nothing. I was climbing a tree last night and I fell,” I lied, covering for my father.
He knew the truth, but he didn’t say a thing. I saw the concern in his eyes. From that moment on Mr. Evans hated my father.
“Listen Sammy, Mrs. Evans and I want you to stay with us from now on. We don’t want him hurting you anymore.”
“No. That’ll only make things worse! Please, don’t make a big deal out of it,” I begged.
“But Sammy, why?”
“Because he’ll kill me,” I whispered.
Mr. Evans was silent because he knew what I said was true. He suddenly lost the strength to stand. Fortunately he stood in front of the chair my father would never sit in. Mr. Evans sat there and watched over me for the rest of the night. When I woke in the morning he was still by my side, wide awake.
“Mr. Evans,” I said.
“What, what is is it Sammy? Something hurt? You need something?”
“Yeah, I need two favors.”
“Anything. What?” he asked, eager to help.
“First please, please take me home!”
“Sammy, the doctor won’t let you just up and leave. You’re still healing.”
“Please, Mr. Evans!” I begged.
He didn’t respond but stared at the wall and pondered my first request. I waited patiently for him to decide. As the silence grew I listened to my heart; I felt it pounding against my ribs. I started to nod off again.
“Sammy,” he mumbled.
“What is it?”
“I’ll get you out of here. I promise I’ll take you home.”
“Thank you Mr. Evans,” I smiled.
“Sammy, don’t be thankin’ me. I can’t save you from your pa. He’s the real danger.”
“Look Mr. Evans, I know he’s bad. You have to understand he is the only family I’ve ever known. Even if he is bad, he’s all I’ve got,” as I said this I realized I was wrong. Mr. Evans frowned and a hurt look appeared on his face.
“Sammy, you don’t need him. He’s hurt you a lot. I don’t want anything to happen to you. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him from hurting you.”
“Thanks Mr. Evans. It’s good to know I really do have someone besides my father. About the other favor,” I said.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Well, could you help me get a savings account?”
“Sure Sammy, why?”
“Um. . . the reason I’m here. . . my dad found my money jar. He took it all and he got real mad. I knew it wasn’t a safe way to keep my money, but I never thought I’d be able to open a savings account on my own. I certainly wouldn’t want my father to be the one to open an account with me. I mean he just went out and spent five hundred dollars on beer.”
I knew Mr. Evans never expected my father to be a responsible parent, but I don’t think he realized just how much time my father spent drinking. I watched his anger grow. He looked ready to shoot someone. I thought he might have shot my father if he owned a gun.
“Sam, I will not allow you to live with such an incapable father. I don’t understand how he can qualify as a human being,” he said.
Then he stood and left me without another word. I didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Evans hated my father more than anyone. I knew when I told him what my father did with my money he wanted more than anything to slowly torture my father to death. About an hour later he returned with the doctors.
“Samantha, Mr. Evans tells us you’d like to go home today,” one of the doctors said.
“Can I?” I asked.
“Well, we’d like to keep you here one more night. You can leave tomorrow morning,” the other doctor replied.
“Sam, that’s almost as good as leaving today,” Mr. Evans said.
“Okay, I’ll wait. I guess one more night won’t kill me.”
So the doctors left me with Mr. Evans. He sat by the bed and watched me. I knew he thought I hated him for not getting me out a day earlier, but he was wrong.
“Mr. Evans, don’t look so upset. It’s probably better that I stay. I know my father won’t be scared if he sees me at home. I don’t want to go back home. He’ll hurt me again. As it is I can’t go back to school for a week,” I said.
“Sam, please just live with us. It can’t do any harm. I know a lawyer in town who can get a restraining order by tomorrow, but that’s all up to you, Sam.”
Silence built as I thought about his offer to help. It seemed impossible to decided with Mr. Evans sitting next to the bed. He sighed heavily, anxious for an answer.
I swallowed a sigh and gave him the answer I knew he wanted, “Okay, Mr. Evans. I’ll go home with you and Mrs. Evans tomorrow.”
Elation lit up his entire face. He made a very ginger attempt at a hug, but it hurt and I groaned. Mr. Evans jumped away from me immediately.
The Evans legally adopted me without much fight from my father. The kids at school teased me for several months after the news of the adoption. Their cruelty never hurt me because I knew the truth and I was happy to finally have a normal family.
I continued my work at the store once I recovered, but I cut back my hours. I wanted more than anything for the Evans to be proud of me. I felt I could achieve that goal through scholastic success. Every minute I was not in school or working I studied Math, English, History, and Biology. By my senior year of high school the Evans needed an extra wall to hang the awards. When my SAT results came back I got a 1430, the highest score in the county. Harvard and Yale both vied for me to be their student. Scholarships poured in. I had saved up $5,000 from working. Clearly my labors finally began paying off. Unfortunately, my father heard about my good fortune. He began calling the Evans’ home, my home, and harassing us all. I took after him in the temper department. His attempts to break into my life angered me. By May of that year his threats became bold enough to warrant a new restraining order. On memorial day weekend he violated the order when he walked up to the Evans’ front door. Mr. Evans called the police who came out and arrested my father. He spent one week in jail. When they released him he vowed not to come near me again.
Graduation approached. I was valedictorian. Two days before the ceremony my father called to inform me he would be present. I did not ignore this information, neither did I share it with the police, the Evans, or school officials. I rationalized that my high school graduation need not be a police protected fiasco. But without police protection I needed something to make me feel safe when I was on stage giving my speech. So, the night before graduation I stashed the gun Mr. Evans kept in the store for protection with my cap and gown. There were nights, not many, when I would have to close the store. Just to ease his own mind Mr. Evans taught me how to use the gun. I slept very well that night knowing I had the protection of a gun.
The next day graduation and my speech went off without a hitch. As far as I could tell my father had reneged on his promise to ruin my day. I had kept the gun under the red gown. Right after the tassel flipping I escaped to the gymnasium so I could change from my dress to jeans in the girl’s bathroom. When I came out of the stall there was only one other person in the bathroom. It was one of the rich cheerleaders who had spent all of high school making fun of non-rich kids. She epitomized shallowness, but I didn’t care because I knew I would never see her again. I was carrying a shopping bag with my dress, cap and gown, and the gun. I was about to leave her royal shallowness and the school behind when my father barged in.
I retreated to the furthest wall, bag still in hand. Even from ten feet away I could smell the beer. He looked ragged. His hair was wild, he was unshaven. My father turned his back to lock the door and Miss Shallow screamed. He looked away long enough from me to grab the gun. When he turned around he had a foot long kitchen knife held in his right hand. I did not hesitate. I fired all six shots from the revolver. My father lay in a heap near the door. Blood pooled around his body. I dropped the gun and then ran to find the Evans to tell them what happened.
By the time police arrived the cheerleader and kitchen knife were gone. I was taken into custody. At the police station I gave a full confession. The Evans were there the whole time. The police kept me in custody until Monday when I went into court with a lawyer the Evans found to help me. I plead not guilty because my lawyer told me we could win a jury trial. The judge set my bail at $10,000. Mr. Evans paid it and took me home. That night at dinner we all decided I should not work in the store in the month before trial. I had three attorneys working as my defense team. For the next month I spent much of my time in their conference room repeating what happened. They nitpicked every detail of my story.
My defense was not solid. When the lawyers deposed Deirdre Alexander, the shallow witness, she lied and told them she wasn’t even in the bathroom at the time. She was playing one of her “I’m rich and you’re not” games. The rest of my life was in jeopardy because she couldn’t get off her high horse. I had actually saved her lousy life. When they called me and told me what Deirdre said, I wished for a split second that I had shot her too. I also realized I would never have the attitude to be a rich woman.
The trial arrived and it was a joke. Before the first day ended I knew I was as good as convicted. It was easy to read the jury. Three days of trial formality lead to a fifteen minute wait for the guilty verdict. The judge sentenced me to life in prison with a chance for parole after twenty years. As the officer escorted me by the handcuffs out of the courtroom I saw Deirdre in the back row. She wore an evil smirk and I knew she had done everything possible to sabotage the trial.
My trip down memory lane was interrupted when a guard unlocked the door. Before the door opened the lunatic came after me with a knife. By the time the guard pulled him away he had stabbed me twice in the right shoulder. The guard had gotten the “doctor” restrained and then he called for help. I walked out of the office with two guards who escorted me to the infirmary. The prison doctor cleaned me up and gave me thirty-two stitches in all.
“You will be out of here in no time,” the nurse smiled.
“And back to my cell at the Hilton,” I commented.
The nurse, named Martha, who was busy copying the doctor’s notes onto a chart at the counter stopped what she was doing and turned to stare at me.
“What? It was a joke!” I explained.
“Samantha, you don’t understand. You’ll be a free woman as soon as you recover from your wounds. I guess the guards didn’t have a chance to tell you.”
I was stunned. The nurse was smiling at me. She was the only one in the prison who ever called me by my first name. During my first six months there I landed in the infirmary no less than twenty times. A kind of bond developed between this nurse and me.
“How, Martha?” I asked.
“A witness came forward and the police found a kitchen knife with your father’s prints stuck in a crack between the bathroom wall and the floor. The guards were coming to get you. The judge wanted you released today, but now you’ll have to stay here for the night.”
“All right. One more night won’t kill me,” I grinned.
“Get some rest now, Samantha. I’ll be in the next room. You call if you need anything.”
“Thanks,” I replied and waved to Martha as she left the room.
As soon as I leaned my head back I slept. There were no dreams that night. When I woke up the next morning I had forgotten about Martha’s news until she brought in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
“Mr. Evans brought these for you last night. Are you excited to go home?” she handed me the clothes.
“Yes, of course,” I answered suddenly remembering my looming freedom.
“How’s the shoulder?” she asked.
“A little sore, but I’ll live, especially since I get to go home today.”
“Good,” she smiled. “Well I need to check on another patient, but I’ll be back to walk you out.”
I changed as quickly as possible and sat on the bed waiting for Martha’s return. When she returned she held my left hand as we walked toward the exit. At the door she gave my hand a gentle squeeze and whispered goodbye and good luck. An officer lead me to a desk where I signed the paperwork. He pointed me in the direction of my ride and I felt my pulse racing. Deirdre Alexander stood alone in the waiting area. I walked past her without a word. Outside I stopped, closed my eyes, and breathed in the fresh spring air. Deirdre stepped beside me and brushed a hand against my arm.
“Ready to go home?” she asked in a chipper voice.
I opened my eyes and stared at her. She stood there in her Calvin Klein jeans, a silk blouse, suede Gucci boots, holding a Liz Claiborne purse in her left hand and her car keys in her right, not a single blond hair out of place.
“Why are you here? Did you suddenly grow a conscience?”
She exhaled and grinned before saying, “Yes, Sam. I had a baby two months ago. I realized you saved my life. You are the reason I am here today. I guess you could say motherhood changed me.”
“All right, I’ll give you that, but why did you lie to my lawyers about being in that bathroom?” I asked as we started toward her Isuzu Rodeo.
She unlocked the passenger door and opened it for me. I got in and noticed the baby in the car seat behind me. Then Deirdre got in the car and started the engine.
“Sam, I am very sorry for lying. To be honest, I don’t know why.”
“Well, at least you were honest about it,” I commented and then stared out at the trees that lined the freeway. I dozed off until Deirdre woke me when we arrived at the Evans’ house. She smiled at me. I got out of the car and headed up to the house not expecting Deirdre to follow. She brought the baby up to the front porch.
“Sam, I want you to meet my baby,” she said.
I turned to face them. She held the baby out for me to take. I cradled the two month old being that had given me my freedom back. The blue eyes stared up at me quizzically.
“Her name is Samantha,” Deirdre said.
I glanced from the baby to Deirdre and back to the girl in my arms. I kissed the little nose and she giggled. I smiled at her. Then I leaned down and whispered to baby Samantha.