Trigger Warning * Violence * Language
Standing over the stove, slowly stirring noodles into the boiling water, I noticed a police cruiser drive by very slowly, looking at our trailer.
“Close the damn shades now!” Nate demanded, jumping up from the couch and running to the back door to peek out.
I yanked on the cords, lowered each one as fast as I could, and then ushered the boys to their room. “Keep your brother in here and don’t come out,” I said, looking Scott in the eye. He nodded, and then shut the door quietly.
“They’re back. They’re out front,” Nate said, grabbing me and dragging me down the hallway. “You answer the door and tell them I’m not here, you understand? You tell them I’m in here and I’ll kill you. I mean it.”
I believed he meant it. He always meant it. He’d already said more than once he’d never go back to prison, not without taking someone down with him.
I answered the door and acted surprised to see them.
“We saw someone peek out the back door,” the older officer said. “Who was that?”
I shrugged at first, giving myself a moment to think.
“My brother. It’s my brother. He doesn’t like cops. He had some bad times as a teenager.”
“Well, that’s fine,” said the younger of the two. “We’re not concerned with your brother. We’re looking for Nate Warner.”
“He’s not here. He left me a long time ago,” I said, shifting my eyes to the hallway, begging them to understand me. I wanted more than anything for them to just push past me and get him, take him out of my life once and for all. Surely he’d be in for a long while this time.
“Look, ma’am, put your dog up and then let us in, ok? We just want to look around. If your husband isn’t here, we’ll go.”
I nodded. I could feel Nate staring at me from the hallway, watching my every move. I shifted my eyes again to the hall. Please understand me!
Shutting the door, I ran over to Nate and told him what they said.
“Ok, fine, just do that. I’ll run out the back door as you let them in the front. And baby? Don’t you dare tell them it was me.”
I put the dog in the bathroom and then returned to the front door. As I opened it, only one cop was standing there. The back door slammed against the trailer as Nate took off running. The older officer chased for a moment, both he and Nate passing around front.
Then the officer just stopped, rested his hands on his expanded hips, and yelled, “Way to go! Now your wife is going to jail.”
Just another tactic, just another way to get Nate to stop. But he didn’t.
“That’s a fine husband you have there,” the officer said, and then read me my Miranda Rights.
I just stared at him. “You’re not really arresting me.”
“Oh yes I am,” he said, and the younger officer looked at him with wide eyes, one eyebrow cocked with a silent question
“For what?” I cried. “You came here for him!”
“Obstruction of justice. And what that means is, you got in our way.”
“I…but my kids….”
“You got someone to watch them? Because if not, I have to call social services,” the younger officer said. Maybe he was trying to be helpful, but I hated them both right then.
They allowed me to find a friend, sure that I wouldn’t run and leave my kids behind, although their father didn’t think twice about doing so, and then they led me to the back of the car. “At least we’re not putting you in handcuffs in front of your kids,” the elder officer said, as if I should thank him.
All the way to jail, I bit back words and tears, refusing to give them the satisfaction of breaking me. I also held onto the hope they were still just trying to scare me to get me to talk. There was no way they were really arresting me. And as the older cop pressed on and on, trying to get me to tell them about Nate and where he might be going, I stared out the window in silence.
My wall remained in place until we arrived at the jail and they handed me over for booking. The booking officer took one look at me and said, “Honey, what could you have possibly done?” I shook my head but I couldn’t speak. My sobbing became a second language as she fingerprinted and photographed me. As she finished, she looked over the paperwork and then up at me. “Was that your husband? Did he run? Did you lie?”
I looked her in the eye, shook my head, and lied again. No to all the questions. As far as I was concerned, they didn’t have Nate, and so I wasn’t going to be the one to tell on him. He was out, running loose, and here I was, getting locked up, away from my kids. Just as I predicted would happen one day, and yet I still made all the wrong choices.
Another officer escorted me to a holding cell, and as I stepped through the barred door, something deep inside of me snapped. This was real. It was really happening. And worse, I agreed with the arresting cop: What kind of husband just runs and lets his wife go to jail in his place?
The cell was cold, sterile, but also thankfully empty. A row of benches lined the cinderblock walls, and I took a seat as far from the door and the toilet as possible. I wrapped my arms around me as the reality of it all set in. A man hollered down the row of cells, “Laurie, Laurie, talk to me, baby!” and I ignored him. I tried not to breathe through my nose, to touch anything, to be tainted by a long history of bad decisions. But the truth is, as I sat there, I knew in so many ways, this was my fault, my own bad decision. I should have never come back to him. I should have taken my chances in Florida. I should have taken a chance on me.
“Laurie, I know you’re down there. I heard them bring you in. Talk to me!”
I wondered about Laurie and her bad decisions. I wondered about the nameless man. His voice slurred as he called out for her. What did he do? What did she do with him?
“Come on, Laurie. Don’t ignore me.”
“I’m not Laurie,” I said, needing him to just shut up so I could deal with my own troubles.
“I. Am. Not. Laurie.” Anger was taking over. Good. Maybe it was time I finally got angry enough. The longer I sat there, the more the smells hit me, the coldness, the end of the road resolve. As soon as I got out, I was going to confess it had really been Nate who ran out the backdoor and where he might be. I’d just deal with the consequences later. Hopefully much later, if he got as much time in prison as he should.
About Angela Giles Klocke – I’m a Colorado-based speaker, writer, advocate, and princess! I am also a survivor of child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and more. I would love to speak to your group, school, or organization. Catch my TEDx Colorado Springs Talk on abuse, violence, and talking about uncomfortable topics, coming soon. Contact me!