Who I Am To You

Who I Am To You

A Story by R J Fuller

We never know the ramifications of what we do, do we?

I have nowhere to move to. The officer wants me to find somewhere else to sit, but I don't know where else to sit. I just want to go where I'll be out of the way and no one will see me. Where no one will even know I exist, since basically I don't exist anyway. I never have. I've done nothing all these years but slide further and further into dank obscurity. I am at a point where no one would miss me if I wasn't around anymore. 
The officer is gone, so I'm just going to sit here, out of view, in the dark of night. Where no one can see me. It's a bit cool and I don't want to risk falling asleep and the temperature dropping, but I need to just rest a bit. That's all I want to do. 
I didn't want any of this for my life. When I was younger, I was going to take on the world. I was ready. I was going to show everybody what's what, and I was fighting back. I came back at everyone and anyone who tried challenging me, saying I wasn't smart enough or because of race. Yea, that was the main one, it seemed. No one could leave it alone, so I knocked everyone down to size every chance I got.
That feeble-headed excuse for an education, I butted heads with everyone left and right there. Every teacher that came before me. The guys who were my so-called equals and were benefitting left and right at each and every opportunity that came along, because of their preferential treatment. I hated those guys. Hated Scott more than any of them. Just grew to despise his privileged guts with each passing day, more and more. Hated him and his friends. Hated them so much, one day I hit the parking lot and let the air out of their tires. They never did find out I did it. They had to hire security for the parking lot then. And funny thing there was the security guard was a brother. His name was Brekiante. He was a cool dude. Something gave me the impression he figured out I was the one who sabotaged the tires. Just seemed like he knew when he spoke to me. Don't know why. 
Was so glad to have school end and I got away from those clowns. So glad. When I heard later one fella in their little clan of friends got upset over a girl, he hung himself, I took it as a sign we weren't as inferior as believed. See how they feel to have a white guy put his own head through a noose. He was one of Scott's best friends. I just couldn't help but think, so there. How do you like that? Now they were all truly behind me. 
I entered the working class to earn some income. I worked hard and gave it my all. Then another year passed and I was another 'victim' of racism. I was considered too rambunctious for job promotions, when I wanted to be a fighter. I was too unpredictable when I wanted to be seen as a real go-getter. Liable to go off at any moment. So I tried dialing it back. I can play the game, too. And I miss out on another promotion. Goes to a white person instead. 
So I try taking my problems to God on Sunday, but there come no answers, so I start drinking to cope. I just wanted to diminish the focus on mistakes I had made in dealing with blatant discrimination against me. I didn't want to dwell on it so much. I wanted to continue on, as life was continuing on around me, I felt I was being left behind. But the shotfalls had dire consequences with another year gone, another raise never to be, or not as stellar if I had gotten that promotion. The tension became greater, so the drink had to accumulate as well. And it seemed finally the drink was getting the upper hand. Others were advancing and I was falling further behind. To have to stop and fight each of these battles would see me complacent yet again in that position. 
Then the drink began to take its toll on the body. Achievement in labor grew more and more sluggish. I was angry from the start with low expectations being unfairly pinned upon me, for no other reason than skin color. But now the resentment was lost in futility. I was too far down the ladder of life to try to reach any upper rungs on the social scale. I wasn't going to find status, I was just making it day to day. 
I decided it was time to enter a marriage, find someone I wanted to be with. Turns out that wasn't the best decision in the world. I wondered if it was her, or if it was me. At least in that regard, I knew it wasn't racism. At least she went to another black guy, so obviously then, that meant it was me personally. I wondered where I had gone wrong in that regard as far as making a woman happy and content with me? Was I still being too headstrong? Was I now being domineering? I wasn't providing for myself very well. It didn't seem too surprising that I wasn't able to take care of another person. And obviously I wasn't pleasing her as a man. I think that was one of the biggest hits to my ego. I wasn't able to give her what she wanted. She found satisfaction with someone else, both financially and sexually. 
Next was yet another disagreement at work that just escalated. I was actually told I would be fired. All the years I had invested at that place, being on time, giving it my all, and now I was just capable of being dismissed. I was so over-wrought, going home, I guess I didn't pay attention to how fast the traffic was moving and rear-ended the car in front of me. Pretty good too. 
Had I been drinking? Well, no, I wasn't drunk. Then I won't mind taking a breathalyzer. Well, maybe I would mind. 
Nothing was going well. I'd have to explain to them at work that I spent the night in jail and now the car was out of commission. Just try not to dwell on the bad situations so much, but there just seemed to be so many bad situations going on. 
I started oversleeping. It might be the drinking, but maybe not. I don't think it is. I'm coming in to work late. I try to do better at my work and not give any hassles anymore. Now I'm deemed unreliable. Where had I lost control of the struggle? I was being forced to contend with my own mortality, the limits of my own body. 
I tried dating again. Maybe I can find someone to be with, since I've taken some time off from my last marriage. We started out okay, then something just didn't go well. She was expecting too much from me where money was concerned. I had to provide for her just a bit too much. I was actually kind of glad when she hit the road. 
She came back this past Sunday morning. Woke me up from a sound sleep. She had what she called her new boyfriend with her. She said she wanted back what she had brought into the relationship. I had no earthly idea what that might have been, and I told her that. She wanted to stand in front of my house and yell out to all the neighbors what she thought of me. Her boyfriend threatened to beat me up if I didn't come across with what was hers. I told him to bring it on. He waited for her to bring out her cell phone to record the fight. 
He hit hard. I felt the hit, but all sensation suddenly left my body at the same time. Then he proceeded to pound into my face and head. I shielded myself and was trying to get hold of him but was having no luck. He grabbed me by my ear and hauled me up to yell something to me, but I couldn't hear anything he said. My ears were ringing. He dropped me back to the ground. 
Then they left. I don't know what she was wanting because other than the last vestiges of my dignity, they didn't take anything else. I was struggling to get up. I could hear voices talking in the distance. It was my neighbors, holding their cell phones. I wasn't sure how many different videos I might end up on. 
I was coming up very slowly. A young neighbor came bounding over to me. 
"Uh, hey, man," he said, somewhat amused. "You need some help?" 
He helped me into the house and left me on the couch. I thought about when I was that young and could chuckle at someone else's misgivings as he had done me. I knew how to not mistakes, I thought then, so of course I was entertained by someone else's failures. 
I fell asleep. I woke later. The house was dark and so was the outside. I must have slept all day. I was too sore for work. I managed to get the phone with me to call in. Another missed day of work. More money I wouldn't have. 
After two more days, I was beginning to feel a little better. I got a doctor's excuse needed for work and took it in. A month later, I was fired. Got a ticket for drunk driving, then I tried to get away from the officer and make a run for it. The job decided it had enough, and maybe I'd had enough of that job. It wasn't amounting to anything. And I had absolutely no idea what I thought I was going to do to earn my keep now. 
I moved out of my place. I had hoped I was getting along good with the neighbors, but after seeing all the videos posted of me getting beaten up, I decided if videos is what they want, they can find another poor sap to suit their needs. I packed up and hit the road with all my belongings. I was hitting the open road. 
I was actually feeling a bit better about myself. Felt some of the weights of responsibility had been removed, so I could see things a bit better. I searched for a job and actually thought I had found one. I was going to really start turning things around. I was turning things around, but somebody else didn't turn when they were supposed to. 
I woke in a hospital room. Suffice it to say, I was injured. A truck had hit me, but the case of beer I had purchased, while not open, was crushed during the accident, so the conclusion was I had been drinking and driving, no matter how much I protested. My belongings were flung all over the interstate. I was charged for contributing to the accident. 
I actually wanted to insist they wouldn't have charged me if I had been white, but now, I was done. I was destroyed. I gave up. The war had been real, but I was on the losing side. I came out of the hospital and into a half-way house, to help me recuperate. The bones mended as best as they would, but I was asked to leave if I was going to start drinking again. That night, I hit my first homeless shelter. I was now fighting an all new battle. Anyone try to touch me or what little possessions I still had, such as my shoes, they were in for quite the onslaught. 
I sat on the cot and pondered where my life had gone. I realized the issues I couldn't remember was clearly from the drink. I had failed myself. I tried to counter with the notion maybe I wouldn't have had to fight so much if I hadn't been so unfairly mistreated. 
I just let myself go. Wandering alone. Tho I didn't feel like, I suppose I was homeless. I had nothing but what I carried. I was truly down on my luck. I'd wander the roads during the day, then try to find a car or truck to sleep in at night. This was my routine. This was who I was. This was never what I wanted. 
"Move along, buddy. You can't stay here." 
So now I'm having to just move about and get somewhere the officer won't find me, wherever that may be. I guess I could curl up in some shrubbery or something. 
I come to an overpass and walk down the steps to the lower street. It's getting cool in this night air. Very cool. I head down to the corner and find a bench to sit upon, not too close to a lamppost. The officer was heading the other way, so he won't bother me. And I sit. I feel relieved. I haven't felt this relieved in quite some time. I lower my head and close my eyes in contentment. Just relax. 
So there I was, with my eyes closed. And that was all it took. I had my eyes closed. I heard a roar, but had no idea what it might be. I opened my eyes as quickly as possible to see glaring headlights. Nothing else I can see but the headlights. I'm about to be run over. This speeding vehicle is going to run me over. I don't have time to find the irony in my run-ins with the law for speeding and now here I am to be done in by one. 
I put my hand up as tho it will protect me. As I try to get out of the way, now I can see the headlights are not coming my way at all. The vehicle has actually come away from the road above, where I had just been and was now coming away from the overpass to the lower level, but away from me. I grit my teeth as the automobile hits the road hard and is still carried with the momentum, flipping in the process. The wreck seems to attempt one more roll-over, but determines it has done sufficient and topples back in a near upright position, but the front end and engine completely crushed, doors jarred loose, front tires flattened and twisted. Smoke is rising from the remnants of the engine. All windows are cracked and broken. There's a small flame gradually growing in size in the vicinity of the damage. 
I stagger to my feet and began moving toward the automobile. I'm actually having trouble running. The closer I draw to the car, the flames seem to increase, but they haven't engulfed the motorist. I reach the door and pull on it to open and in its warped state, it moves with a groaning, wrenching sound. 
The man is bloodied and moans in pain. I undo his seat-belt and prepare to get him to safety. Suddenly all my miseries and misfortunes don't compare to what this man is going through. He won't remember his auto accident the same way I don't remember mine. 
Carefully I drag him away from the wreck, as the flames are rising up to set the interior ablaze. Still he is incoherent in his speech. By chance, we are near a streetlight and I see his face as he turns with a wound on the side of his forehead. 
"You're gonna be allright, mister," I tell him. "Help is on the way." 
I have no way of knowing if anyone has even phoned it in. Maybe that officer from earlier heard it and has contacted someone. 
"You don't, . . . . " 
"Don't try to talk, mister," I told him. He coughed. 
"You don't understand," he said weakly. "I am a failed man. I have committed injustices at the expense of others all my life." 
I looked at the man, puzzling over what exactly he meant. 
"I have been cruel," he continued on, "to those I should have shown kindness. I have been so unfair in my treatment of others."
"Man, come on," I said to him. "None of that is important now."
"When I was young and in school, my car was vandalized and I blamed a friend for it." 
"Mister, you need to just calm . . . " and that was when I realized of what he spoke. I leaned forward, allowing light to better catch his face. 
"I blamed Eric," he said, tearing up a bit, "but I later learned from a security guard Eric didn't do it. Someone else did it."
Brekiante told him someone else did it, I thought to myself. I was looking at Scott. Privileged Scott. 
"But before I could make amends, Eric took his own life. He hung himself."
The pop of the flames behind me was suddenly all I could hear. Now I leaned back so Scott's face became darker. He was sobbing, but I felt no sympathy with him. 
"The guard told me, . . told me, . . . " Scott said, "That it was this other guy who had damaged my car. This other guy." 
"Why would that other guy have damaged your car?" I asked. I wondered if he would say my name. I wondered if he would recognize me. Recognize me, Scott. 
"He, . . I don't know," Scott cried, "but I've spent all my life trying to make amends where Eric was concerned, but it just became too much. A whole lifetime trying to prove something. I just now decided I couldn't do it and I would just end it all!"  
He began crying again. Sirens were flashing and wailing as they came nearer. 
I made my way to my feet and waved at the reds and blues. 
"He's right here," I said as they stopped and exited their vehicles. "He's right here."
They seemed to ignore me, not even asking if I had seen what happened. The officers at the scene began saying what happened. Fire engines pulled up and began putting out the engulfed car. 
Slowly I stepped back, further and further, until I was gone in the night. The talking voices grew fainter and fainter. I waited to hear "where'd that guy go?" but I never did, so I just kept backing away. I wanted to be away. Once I rounded a corner and was out of view, I started walking faster. 
Something in me should have felt horror over what happened to Eric, told me that I was indirectly responsible, but all I could think of was Scott singling his friend out and causing him to commit suicide. 
I walked a good deal more, then came to a bench looking over the grassy terrain. I sat down and rubbed my elbow. I brought my hands together and looked back in the direction of Scott's accident. Privileged Scott. He never even said my name. 
"You can't sit there," the officer said. Different officer. I stood up. 
"You're right," I said. "I can't sit here. I'm not allowed." 
And I walked even further away into the lost dark. 

© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on February 13, 2021
Last Updated on February 13, 2021
Tags: racism, justice, behavior, guilt, decisions, mistakes, addiction