Wrongfully Accused

Wrongfully Accused

As I blew past a small black cavalier in the right lane, going 45 in a 35, I cranked up Nelly on the radio. My friend Zach from work belted out the lyrics to “Must be the money” from the passenger seat as I drove him home. I looked in the rearview mirror to check my hair and noticed red and blue lights following close behind. I hesitated a second, assuming the lights would rush past, but realized the cop was after me. I hit the switch on the radio and started to panic. I could hear Zach telling me to “Calm down” and “Everything will be okay”. After pulling onto the shoulder I heard a fierce southern accent come over an intercom giving specific instructions: “Turn off your engine and place the keys on the roof.” At this point I thought “What is happening, is this routine?”.

I turned the engine off, cracked my car door open, and placed the keys on the roof. As the keys slipped from my fingers, a warm rough hand snatched my wrist and proceeded to rip me from the vehicle. The officer flung my body around to the outside of the car. The dew on the window from the approaching morning moistened my cheek. I winced as the cold steel handcuffs clicked tighter and tighter.

“Please what did I do wrong? I don’t understand.”

“Do you usually run from the police ma’am?”

“Run from you? I pulled over as soon as I realized you were chasing me!”

“Your actions convince me otherwise.”

I felt the blood rush to my head and my face grew hot. What an asshole! I wanted to spit in his face and scream at him to let me go. My eyes began to water and I was on the brink of tears, but I forced them back. I wasn’t giving this jerk the pleasure. He put me in the back of the cop car and told me he would be back. I watched him rifle through my purse and glove box, apparently he was searching for something. I noticed a look of disappointment on his face when nothing came of his search. He started walking back toward the car with my purse in hand. I didn’t know what was about to happen. I knew I would be in a heap of trouble though, considering both my parents were in Houston for the Super Bowl and had no idea I went out for the evening, eventhough it was only bowling and Dennys. The officer approached the car, stopped a minute, then got into the front seat. He then removed my license from my wallet, and started fiddling on his computer.

“I need to call someone to pick you up. Who can I call?”

I thought for a moment. “My sister Kasey,” I replied.

She didn’t answer and the only thing he could do was leave a message. I started breathing extremely fast, I knew I was in a pickle. I knew I had to call my parents. It was my only other option. What would the officer say, what would they say?

“Hey,” he barked, “I need another number of a guardian or you’re on your way to jail.”

“Jail? I still don’t know exactly what I did wrong.”

“I don’t need your attitude, only a name and number.”

“Okay you can call my step dad Michael.”

The conversation was brief. My hands, still cuffed behind my back, began sweating and my heart was racing. I rested my head on the window and stared out into the dark night. The only light for miles was the faint glow of the Chevron sign just up the road. My breath fogged the window and clouded my view. I could see a side profile of Zach sitting on the sidewalk with his hands resting on his knees. He looked worried and I was sorry he was included in all this, but he was the farthest thing from my mind. My mind was focused on one thought, my mother’s reaction. At that moment the cop car seemed more comforting than going home to deal with the consequences. Just then, a set of approaching headlights in the rearview mirror caught my eye. A dark figure walked toward the car and began talking with the officer. I closed my eyes hoping that this was a terrible dream. Just after closing my eyes I was startled by a tap on the window. The officer opened the door and asked me to step out of the vehicle. The dark figure was now clear. It was Les, the manager of my stepdad’s restaurant, here to pick me up. I could tell he dressed quickly and his hair stuck up slightly in the back from where he was sleeping. I was grateful he came to help me and to speed things along.

The officer finally removed the cuffs and the blood quickly rushed back to my hands. He explained to me that he pulled me over for racing the black cavalier and that he believed I was “fleeing” and “eluding” him. He then proceeded to inform me that he was issuing me two tickets and taking my license.

“The first ticket you are receiving is for breaking your legal curfew. The second is for reckless driving and because I’m charging you with reckless driving I have to suspend your license. Do you understand?”

No I don’t understand. I don’t know how the hell I got in this situation. “Yes,” I replied.

The ride home took an eternity. Les attempted to strike up a conversation a time or two, but soon realized I was not in the mood. Everything seemed unreal. I was in such a daze that I could barely walk up my own drive way. As I approached the front door, I noticed a hint of light shining thru the distorted glass. My hands trembled as I slipped the key into the lock and pushed the door open. I was surprised to see my sister sitting on the couch waiting for me. As soon as I walked through the door she rushed to me and gave me the biggest hug and told me she got the message, but didn’t understand or know what to do in response to the call; instead, she came to the house as soon as possible. The tears I held back earlier began streaming down my face as I explained everything. I dropped to the floor and laid there for what seemed like hours. The cold tile welcomed my heated cheeks and brought comfort to my exhausted body as I laid there contemplating what to tell my parents and what to expect when they came home the next day.

Disappointment was painted all over my mother’s face when she walked through the door. Her eyes cast a tired gaze in my direction as she set down her luggage. She asked me to come sit down so we could talk. When I sat down, she began crying hysterically and whispered softly to get away from her, that she couldn’t look at me. I rose slowly and headed toward the stairs leading to my room. She has never made a comment so awful toward me, it broke my heart. I wanted to turn around and run to her and throw my arms around her, and desperately beg for her forgiveness, but I knew her heart was broken too.

For the next two weeks no one spoke to me in my house. I was confined to my room all day everyday except for when I went to school. With each passing day the walls seemed to move in closer and closer. I mastered playing board games and cards by myself and my room never looked so clean. Eating dinner with the family was not an option; my dinner was brought to my door each night. I felt like a prisoner. The freedom I once took for granted had been ripped from me without warning and I prayed each night to have it back. Neither of my parents trusted me and I felt as if they didn’t want to love me for the time being. This outcast lifestyle went on for over a month before my mom could actually confront me about her feelings.

One evening I was at the stove cooking dinner when my mom walked in from work. The way she looked at me told me she had something on her mind. I didn’t know whether to be scared or happy if she did in fact want to talk. She walked toward me slowly then softly ran her fingers through my hair. After this small gesture we talked, well, cried mostly, but we were finally able to speak openly about the incident. She told me how sorry she was for making me feel like she didn’t care for all this time, but that she was hurting so much inside and she needed time to get over what happened. Disappointment still lingered in her tone but I could tell it had faded greatly. She told me that she “Just couldn’t believe I got into such a mess” and that I lied to them about being out that night. She still wasn’t sure what to believe about the incident, but she wanted to move on. She held my hands as she spoke and I could feel her soft fingertips grazing my palms. I told her how hurting her killed me more than what actually happened. Finally she forgave me and held me tight as if it was for the first time. At that moment I took a deep breath and felt an overwhelming relief invade my body.

About two months after the incident my court date came around. My stomach turned when I saw the courthouse. I felt extremely parched; a lump formed in the back of my throat. My name was called loud and clear and I approached the podium facing the judge. A middle aged balding man with soft blue eyes studied my appearance. We conversed about the night in question and I told him my account of the story. After listening to my story and reading the police report, he seemed to analyze me for some time. The judge sighed deeply and looked down at his paper work. He looked back up at me and informed me of an option to keep the charges off my record. The option entailed serving 25 community service hours; I gladly accepted. The judge dropped both tickets, cleared my record, and reinstated my license.

The freedom I lost only two months previous gradually worked its way back to me. During those two months I had to bum rides to school and quit my job because it was, according to my parents, “too much fun”. I never took notice of how important these simple liberties were until they were taken away then given back. After my license was reinstated and my service hours were completed, my parents loosened my chain a bit. After enduring two more weeks of punishment my parents ended it, and in a way reinstated my freedom completely. My normal routine bounced back in no time, but the relationship I once had with my parents was lost and had to be rebuilt from scratch.

Although this crazily unexpected event damaged my life greatly, I see it as a blessing in disguise. I learned the value of trust and honesty and that simple respect for the ones I love will carry me far in life. Sometimes starting from a new and fresh place makes a relationship stronger; I feel this applied to my situation with my mother. It took devastation to bring us closer together than we were to begin with. My heart smiled at the end of things, knowing better times were soon to come.