Child abuse destroys lives. This fictitious story deals with the insidious monster.
|The sun was beginning to rise over the Nashville skyline on the morning of September 1, 2015. It was Tuesday, typically my first day in the office for the week. I hate Mondays, and I love three day weekends because there is always so much to do in Music City. So, put two and two together, and, well, you get the picture.
My office is located on Demonbreun Street near the Ryman Auditorium, the world famous Tootsie's Orchid Lounge, and all the other extremely popular tourist destinations any of you who have ever visited our fair city, and are familiar with the area, can attest to. These attractions constantly draw many Country music lovers downtown on their pilgrimages to the Heart of Tennessee.
I had not planned to be in my office long that day, and, I had not even had my first glass of ice cold sweet tea. Something I drink all day long, although I am Type 2 diabetic and should not. But, hey, we all have our own little vices, do we not?
I had settled into my overstuffed, big blue leather, high back, comfortable chair. It is the kind all us writers know are vitally important when we are trying to write. And, writing is what drew me into my office that day. I had a story for one of the local news organizations to complete. Then, I needed so badly to respond to some of the comments I receive every day on my website.
It was at that point I received a completely unexpected bombshell from my secretary, Elizabeth Sorenson. She has been with me almost from the time I first opened my office, about ten years ago now. And, no, there is nothing romantically going on between us, in case you are wondering.
Unlike yours truly, Elizabeth tries to stay out of the lime light as much as she possibly can. She is very professional in her appearance and demeanor. She has seen many of my successes as a Country music lyricist and as a Freelance Writer. So, I know when something is troubling her. Elizabeth's actions that morning told the story loud and clear.
Without saying a word Elizabeth placed a manila envelop down on top of the papers I had neatly spread out on my desk before I started working and quietly left my office. I did not have to ask her who it was from. Her actions told me all I needed to know. It could only be in reference to a matter I have been involved with for the last five years.
For someone who makes his living as a Freelance Writer, I have written about many different topics, and a wide variety of subjects. I knew the envelop Elizabeth left behind was from a young man on the Tennessee State Death Row. I first started following his case, somehow it piqued my curiosity as a writer, when the details of the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse he suffered as a little boy became public knowledge during his trial.
I will not identify his inmate number, but, for the sake of this story, I will refer to him simply as Ricky. He was born the only child of a Country Preacher in Goodlettsville, not too far outside Nashville Proper. Do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to paint all preachers in this light. Most of them are outstanding pillars of their communities. Unfortunately, Ricky's father did not fit that mold.
He had some serious issues. Namely, little white pick-me-upper pills and booze. And, it always seemed Ricky bore the brunt of his father's many binges. A very familiar sounding tale for anyone who has ever been in that precarious position before.
Ricky's mother decided she could not handle the trauma constantly created by her husband, and split the scene when Ricky was about three years old. Needless to say, this forced him to endure all of his father's wrath, and on an almost daily basis. What else could the boy do?
The older Ricky grew to be the more violent his beatings and abuse became. Living on a twenty acre spread, out in the middle of the country, only tended to help camouflage what was happening behind closed doors. The fear of his father forced Ricky not to say anything to anybody at schools he attended, or other public outings he was on, either. Because, if he did, Ricky knew when he and his father were alone the abuse he would suffer would be even worse.
Ricky was always small in stature, and, this abuse continued until he was eighteen years old. It finally came to a head one night. Unable to tolerate any more, Ricky quietly waited outside their dilapidated farm house until his father was blind drunk, and passed out in the middle of the living room floor, in another stupor.
When his father got into that condition, Ricky knew it was his responsibility to undress him, and put him to bed, or suffer his father's angry torment the next morning for not doing what he had been ordered by his dictatorial father to do.
Only this time, Ricky saw what he thought was a long awaited light at the end of the tunnel for him. He grabbed the five gallon gas can he had left in the barn earlier that afternoon and twisted the cap off its spout. Slowly, he poured what he thought was a sufficient quantity of petroleum all around the base of their home. Whether the boy was thinking straight, or he was not, he lit a match and dropped it into the gasoline.
Combining the old, dried out, wooden planks of their house, with the gasoline, the inferno was almost immediate, and the flames burned bright. Ricky had gained his independence. Short lived though it was. Perhaps searching for a smidgeon of understanding at his trial, Ricky openly admitted what he had done, and, how much pent up hatred he had for his now dead father.
That thought pleased him to no end. How Ricky longed to celebrate his father's death, and, knowing it was at his hands after a life time of severe abuse, made him even happier.
Tried as an adult, instead of finding sympathy and understanding, all Ricky received from the judge was being told to go to Hell. The whole county knew what a fine, highly respected, leader of society his father had always been. Upon being convicted of First Degree, premeditated, murder, and the judge receiving the jury's recommendation, Ricky was sentenced to death.
This was so unbelievable to Ricky. How could the judge, the jury, and the whole community be so blinded by what his father had put him through his whole life? Could they not see what was right before their very own eyes? Flabbergasted by the whole ordeal, Ricky realized he was still going to pay for all the instances when he was abused. This time, with his life.
I fast forward from those events of five years ago, back to my office on September 1, 2015. I can empathize with Elizabeth's feelings about this situation. What little bit she has opened up to me about this case is that she feels Ricky is getting his just deserts as she can not rationalize a life of abuse, even extreme abuse, justifying murder.
So, I try not to discuss this matter in her presence. I seriously doubt I will divulge the contents of this letter she dropped on my desk this morning that is from him to me. This letter is a tough one. In it he invites me to be a witness when he receives his lethal injection. I debate how I feel about that issue. I am a very strong supporter of the Death Penalty overall, by nature, but a portion of me wonders if it is truly applicable in this case?
Ricky seems to be coming to terms with his fate, though.
As a writer I am intrigued by this case. I can not change Ricky's precarious circumstances, and I do not know if I would if I could.
All I can do is report.
I am telling this story now so that maybe somebody else out there does not have to go through what Ricky did, or end up where he is at now. If somebody is hurting you say something to somebody before it is too late. Let someone know what is going on. Child abuse must be stopped.