Every year around mid-November and through til around April 13th I have issue getting my mind off a certain topic. I'll get to what and who (there is always a who) but not quite yet. This year I haven't been thinking as much about this, thanks to my wonderful man (who I called my fiance yesterday for some weird reason). But to what and who I think of.
When I graduated high school, I went straight from my graduation to basic training for the US Army. I won't tell that tell now, but trust me I don't regret anything but how I got out. Anyways, I did get hurt and after being in the rehab program for a few months went home for good. I was home three days and it was a beautiful November Saturday night and I was going to watch Red Dwarf for the first time in 6 months and no one was going to stop me, til my best friend since the 6th grade shows up with her new boyfriend and his brother. I go out to the car and she asks me if I want to go hang out with them. I say "Nah, I'm going to hang out here and watch Red Dwarf and my other brit coms." The brother in the back seat rolls down the window and says "You like Red Dwarf?" I tell him yes and we start discussing the show in such a passion that my best friend and her boyfriend roll their eyes and tell me to just get in the car. I tell them to hold on, go ask if it's ok (I lived with my mum and was only 18) if I stay the night with my friend and she agrees. I grab my CD player and a few CDs and head out the door.
The first place we head to is Rusty's, a 24 hour billiards place that is 18 and up. My friend and her boyfriend tell us to get a table and they will be in in a minute. So this guy and I go inside and get a table. He asks if I play pool and I told him the truth, if I was on death row and the only way I could be pardoned was to win without it being by default, I'd fry. He laughs and tells me his name, Gary.... Oh Gary, blue-eyed, tattooed, stoner, electrician. I digress. We start talking while he shoots pool and we start talking about music and I inform him I'm a Manson fan, and I think I was wearing my Manson shirt even. He tells me "That is so cool, you never meet chicks over 18 who like him." I informed I had been following Manson since the Spookie Kid days. We talked and talked and before you know it two to three hours had passed and his brother and my friend had not showed back up. Mind you, this is 1999 so none of us had cells, but I had a beeper. We start joking about what they had to be doing when they walked in. We leave, stop by my old coffee shop, Koogins (which closed mid 2000), and he has a beer and I a Chai Latte. We talk and bore our companions. Soon it's late and we all head to my friends house where my friend and Gary's brother fall asleep in the front seat of the car as we talk in the back and listen to Portrait of an American Family by Marilyn Manson. Oh that was a magical night. We were an item then and there.
Fast forward to the week prior to April 13, 2000. Gary had been working for LaborReady or something like that temp agency and was sick of it. He was a journeyman electrician and wanted to marry me and didn't want me to work, if I didn't want to. He had a couple of warrants in the area and a few days before the following conversation, his wallet was stolen in a stupid incident insisted by his own brother. He was offered a job with one of the leading electrician companies in the area, $15+ an hour, benefits, and they were going to pay for him to renew his licences. He just had to get his drivers licences back and to do that meant going to jail for a few days. Before he did anything he asked me what he should do. I told him to do what he needed to do because he was miserable where he was. So, the next day he went down to the DMV and of course was arrested once his licenses was renewed. He calls us though and says that he suddenly has a warrant in an area that he didn't before, in his home town. We knew something bad was about to happen. He sits in jail for 7 days, the limit the other counties have to come pick him up for his warrants. Dallas County said let him sit it out, it's no big deal, as did Collin County (the only known warrants). Then a guy from Amarillo went on a crime spree leading him to Ft Worth and into Tarrant County jail where Gary was. Gary's home county, Hutchison, calls Tarrant and tells them to send them Gary with the guy being expedited to Amarillo. Once the Amarillo guy is dropped off, he's not allowed a phone or food until he finally threatens them with a lawsuit and he calls home and says that he's in big trouble and tells me he loves me. I pray all night and call my buddy Brendan and at about 3:45 I have the strangest feeling that Gary is in the room with me. I couldn't sleep but around 5 I drift off. At 7 I hear my best friends heavy frame coming up my stairs (we lived in the same apartment complex) and I jump up. I open the door and she tells me to sit down. "Gary's dead." "No he's not" I say as Gary's brother comes up the stairs and tells me what happened. At about 2 am Gary got into an altercation with the guards, none of us will ever know what really happened. The Hutchison County jailers insist he tried to commit suicide. They "cut him down" and "rush" him to the hospital and before reaching there he looks at the guard in the ambulance and tells him "tell Joy I love her" and he passes away, that was approximately at 3:45 a.m.
My best friend, my "brother-in-law," and I get things quickly together to make an emergency drive to the Panhandle of Texas. On the drive there, after the sun set, I looked out the window out into the endless plains and look at the moon. It was full and "the man in the moon" was upside down. I make my best friend pull over so she can look at it and she saw it too. It was bizarre and seemed an omen. We arrived in Dumas, Gary's hometown around 7 a.m. I met his grandmother, Grandma Vi (I've since lost contact with). We then drove the 45 minutes to Stinnet, the seat of Hutchison County. We get to the jail and only Gary's brother went in to get the few possessions Gary had with him. Then we had to identify his body. What is about to follow is may be hard for some to read, just a warning.
We went to where his body was, so far he had gone unidentified. Gary's brother went in to that part. He came back and looked as if he'd seen a ghost. Gary's chest was covered in fist shaped bruises and not where you would find them postmortem if CPR was performed. He had a bruise around his neck, thin, that crossed at the back of his neck; it left the impression of a cable not his jail pants or sheets or pillow case that the jail told us and changed their story repeatedly. His jaw was broke and both elbows were dislocated. The funeral director and his staff dressed Gary's body and presented it to us. I walked in and even with the makeup they caked on him you could see his broken jaw (prominent jaw to no jaw), the bruises on his face, the line around his neck. He had defense wounds on his knuckles, and you definitely could tell that his arms were both broke.
This is where this will conclude. Nothing ever happened to the cops who did this. I know that Gary did not commit suicide because the day before he died he sent me a letter from Tarrant County jail. He knew he was fixing to come home. His murder took place in less than 24 hours from leaving Tarrant County Jail.
I haven't thought about Gary in awhile. I've got an awesome boyfriend who I love dearly. There seems to be certain times that when I look at my boyfriend in the darkness, I see Gary's face there. I have to stop myself and remind myself that it's just my imagination. They do look somewhat similar. I then feel bad for thinking I see Gary in my boyfriend's face but usually the thought leaves my mind. But lately I've been thinking a little bit more about it. Somewhat because I was driving down the street the other day and made the observation that put the thought in my head. I'll be fine. The incident escalated my fear of cops that started when I was six. It also makes me want to seek justice for those who are trampled by our system that is supposed to protect us. I am hoping though that eventually I will only think about him once every year or so, not two or three times a year. I'm just thankful I no longer dwell as I used to. There are several reasons for that which I won't go into now, but needless to say I've come along way over the last 8 years.
Now for a note: Don't feel pity for me. Feel pity for the officers who did this. Sure I feel guilt for encouraging him to go to the DMV but I know that if he didn't go, he wouldn't get the job.