Belief by Troubleshooter Copyright 2000
all rights reserved.
Its another Monday morning. I suppose lots of people hate Monday mornings,
what with it being the start of their work week and all. I did shift work and
weekend work most of my life, so Monday mornings never meant anything to me.
I guess Ive gotten pretty far off the story Im supposed to be telling.
Jules and I talked about writing a little bit this weekend. We decided to go into
the city Saturday morning and stay at the apartment she has for us in the Quarter.
We had a good time.
We walked around and looked at all of the shops. Jules loves to shop. Im
the pack mule, which is fine by me. Besides the view is great. I get to trail
along behind her. Jules has a really nice ass. Her mother and father are coming
in tonight. She and her mother can go shopping until they drop.
Im not much for shopping. Seems like a giant waste of time mostly. And some
of the stuff they have in those shops in the Quarter.... Ive come into contact
with a whole lot of people being a cop. I dont think Ive ever met
anyone that would buy some of that stuff, unless you wanted to piss off a relative
We went to this place called Snug Harbor for dinner. Theyve got great steaks
and great jazz. Then Jules wanted to go dancing. I like slow dancing better than
the fast stuff, probably because its another Jules contact opportunity.
We went to this little place called The Treasury. Its a mixed bar and it
turned out that they were having a drag show. It was actually pretty good.
A lot of lesbians Ive met dont like drag shows. Im not sure
why. There was this one that was really good that used to be held at this bar
on the corner of Decatur and Esplanade. The two guys that put the show on were
phenomenal performers. They didnt do the standard drag thing - put on a
gown, makeup and a wig and mouth a song. Their little skits required you to think.
It was more like performance art. Plus, youve got to love the names those
guys come up with as their stage names.
My favorite one was the live Patsy Cline/dead Patsy Cline skit. I remember the
first time I saw it, I was amazed. One of them would come out on stage dressed
as Patsy Cline and do a fairly decent rendition of Walking After Midnight. Then,
when it was over, the lights would go out, and there would be this combination
of music and noise that would come over the speakers. It wouldnt register
at first what it was, but if you paid attention, you could figure out that it
was the noise of a plane going down and crashing. Then this, I dont know,
I guess an angry disco version of Walking After Midnight would start and a spotlight
would light up on stage, focused on the other guy. He was dressed in a black pantsuit
that was torn and ripped and had makeup bruises and fake blood on him, like he
had been in a plane crash.
I couldnt believe that a lot of people didnt get it. I thought I was
reading too much into it. It seemed to me that the portrayals were about life
versus death. The sweet, almost innocent, version of the first song, then the
anger of the second. I got a chance to talk with them one night, so I asked. I
wasnt reading too much into it. They meant to do that.
I couldnt sleep, and so after Jules drifted off, I got out of bed and sat
on the balcony. Theres always something going on in the Quarter. Its
like no one ever sleeps here. And if theres a weirdo out there, theyll
find their way to the Quarter.
I spent a lot of time on patrol in the Quarter. Its my favorite district.
Everythings so old here. Some tourists find it dirty. I guess it is, but
if everything was shiny and sparkling clean, I think it would lose something.
I like the sense of history I feel. It makes me feel like I belong. The cracks
in the buildings...its like you can see the defects, see the stress the
buildings been under, but its still holding up. I think the cracks are beautiful.
Its probably a good thing I wasnt an architect. Id starve.
My favorite picture of Diego and Jules was taken a couple of blocks away from
here. It was taken on February 24, 1998, which was Mardi Gras Day. For a cop,
Mardi Gras isnt that much fun. Mardi Gras here in New Orleans isnt
just a one day celebration. It runs for two weeks before the actual Mardi Gras
day. Every officer is pulled and theres massive reassignments during those
two weeks. You work between twelve to fifteen hours a day and by the end of the
two weeks, youre a walking zombie.
I had the fortune of getting an assignment to the Mounted Division, actually the
DDD, which was the Downtown Development District, in the late eighties, which
meant that I got to patrol the downtown area on horseback. I did that for four
years. I was one of the Departments experienced riders, so every year I
pull Mounted duty for Mardi Gras. In my opinion, its the best duty you can
get. Usually, youre assigned a parade to ride in front of, then youre
assigned to a corner on Bourbon Street. Theres between six and eight officers
assigned to each block of the parade route, as well as each block on Bourbon.
Jules and Diego came to visit me on Mardi Gras day. During that time, thats
about the only way I got to see them. We kept the horses behind barricades on
the side streets off of Bourbon. Youd be amazed at what drunks will try
and do to your horse. I had put Diego up on top of Sabu, the horse that I usually
rode. He was a gorgeous gelding. Part Arabian, part monster. He topped out at
sixteen and three-quarter hands. He was almost copper in color, with a flaxen
mane and tail, and a white blaze down his face. And could he move a crowd.
One of the newspaper photographers that Jules knew was wandering around in the
crowd and stopped to talk to Jules. He had his camera with him and talked Jules
into getting up on Sabu with Diego in front of her. He took a picture of the three
of us, me standing on the ground next to them. The looks on their faces were pure
joy. Great smiles. I think I look goofy in the picture. Jules tells me I look
I am, you know...proud. Proud of them both. That I would have ever been given
two treasures in my life like that...it was beyond anything that I could ever
imagine. I need to remember that. I get so caught up in my own shit sometimes.
I dont want to lose Jules.
We ended up talking late Thursday night. I told her some of it. I didnt
tell her a whole lot. Just that I had seen Diego die. I dont think I can
tell her all of it. She doesnt need to know. It will just hurt her more.
Hasnt she been hurt enough?
At that moment, I never felt so powerless in my life...so hopeless. Its
my nightmare every night. I will never forget that. They could remove my brain
and Id still remember. Its a memory of my heart and soul.
Jules asked me last night what more I could have done. I didnt have an answer.
There should have been something. I go through what happened and I find my mistakes.
My mistakes...theyre uncorrectable. I had one shot.
That mother fucker laughed when she pulled the trigger. Our boy was crying and
calling for his mami. Calling for Jules. I told him how much we both loved him.
How can I tell Jules that? How can I tell her that those soft brown eyes were
staring at me and filled with terror? Pleading with me to do something? And I
couldnt. I couldnt get away from the two men holding me. I had lost
too much blood from the gunshot wounds. My left shoulder was dislocated, the arm
broken. My eyes almost swollen shut from the beating I had endured. My body failed
me and I failed him.
When she turned the gun on me, I wanted to die. I prayed that she would kill me.
Praying never works. I think she meant to kill me, but she didnt. As she
fired, my last thoughts were of our boy going to Heaven. Jules would see him one
day, when she died. I wouldnt. I would be joining Catalina de Quintanilla
in Hell. I couldnt wait for her to join me.
Its the eye for an eye story, as old as time. I killed her son, Vicente.
She killed mine. Revenge, pure and simple. It didnt make a difference to
her that Vicente was the scum of the earth and trying to evade capture and kill
police officers while doing it and that Diego was an innocent child. I thought
it would make a difference that she was a mother. I pleaded and begged with her
to let him go. It made no difference to her. She said that all she wanted was
to see my face, my pain when she killed him. To know that I knew what it felt
like to lose a child before she sent me to be judged by my maker. I tried to deny
her that satisfaction, but I dont think I did.
How can I tell Jules any of this?
I went out and bought Damian a camera this morning. One of those really nice ones
with interchangeable lenses, zoom, auto-focus, practically anything you could
want on a camera.
I got the idea when we were in the Quarter this weekend. I bought one of those
disposable cameras to take some pictures. She hates having her picture taken.
I took one of her in front of the Joan of Arc statue at the Place de France where
Decatur, St. Phillip and North Peters streets meet. It was like talking to a child.
Damian, stand up straight. Stop fidgeting. Smile...please. She finally
gave me the most adorable little smile. I hope the pictures come out.
We have a nice camera and one of those camcorder things, but nothing like this.
Shes always taken good pictures, often from very interesting perspectives.
Mom and I were talking in D.C. last week and she suggested that I get Damian interested
in something. I figured photography would work. At least she could build a darkroom.
If I dont get her interested in something besides building things, were
gonna need to start clearing more land. How much deck do we really need? Its
gonna be bigger than the house soon. And my dads coming in tonight. More
trees will give their life so we can have a Guiness Book of Records size deck.
When I gave the camera to her, her eyes lit up. I could give her a bag of dog
poo and shed be excited. Im not sure if its because of the prospect
of taking pictures or if its because its a new toy she has to figure
out. I hope she doesnt break it before she gets a chance to use it. She
never reads directions. I always tease her and tell her that her father must have
been an engineer.
The first time I did that, it did not go over well at all. She was putting together
a barbecue pit we had bought. I was about to go crazy watching her. We were having
people over in an hour for a little get together and the main attraction was in
about a hundred pieces on the patio in the back yard. I tried to interject a little
humor into the situation, mostly to make myself feel better and to see if she
would take a hint about reading the directions.
It didnt work. The hint flew over her head, I definitely didnt feel
better and she got angry. We were a little late.
Shes gotten much better about that. The teasing, that is. Not the directions
thing. So if the camera survives her initial inspection, I imagine Ill have
some beautiful pictures to see.
Damian was unusually quiet this weekend. I think what happened on Thursday night
really took its toll on her emotionally. Emotional things just exhaust her, and
shes had enough of that in the last several months to keep her tired for
the next five lifetimes.
I was kind of glad that she was quiet. What she told me really shocked me. I...Im
not sure if she had said more that I would have been able to respond. I did make
some decisions this weekend, though, thinking about it.
I would think that it would be less painful for me if I didnt know what
happened. But I want to know, if only because I think that if she tells me, that
at least some of her pain would lessen. We arent married in the eyes of
the church or even the law, but my commitment to her, for better or for worse,
wont allow me to do any less.
I also realized how far weve come along in putting our lives back together.
Damians been there for me so much while keeping everything inside. In the
long run, its probably best that it happened that way. Shes so much
stronger than I am. If she had told me about seeing Diego even a month ago...I
dont know what I would have done. I wouldnt have been able to handle
Its her turn now. I feel stronger, and even though the pain hasnt
lessened, it doesnt come quite as often. I feel like I can handle things
a little better now. I need to, for her sake. Shes been bearing the burden
alone long enough. I need to thank her for that.
Theres so much that I need to thank her for. I want to spend the rest of
my life doing that. Im really trying to make a conscious effort to find
the good that will come out of what happened. It isnt always easy. I think
Mom and Dad coming will help. I know that Moms little heart to heart with
me helped tremendously.
I also thought a lot about what Mom had to say. Shes so good at pointing
things out that I cant see. Its the forest for the trees concept.
Youre so deeply involved in something that you miss other things. Ive
been pretty concerned about whats going to happen with Damians career.
Being a police officer is so much a part of who she is.
We havent talked about what she wants to do. Shes on disability leave
right now. I dont know if she can go back to it, both physically and mentally.
And frankly, I dont want her to. The thought of it terrifies me. If its
something she wants to do, though, Ill find a way to deal with it. They
could offer her a desk job, but thats not Damian. Shed be miserable.
We dont have to worry about money, which is another gift from my father,
although its a worry we both could have lived with, because it would mean
that Diego is alive. I dont know if Ive mentioned it before, but my
fathers in insurance. If youre the child of a man whos sold
insurance your whole life, youve got more policies than you can imagine.
I think we even have insurance on Maya and Arabella.
He advised us to buy life insurance on all of us, whole life I think they call
it, for investment purposes. When Diego died, the life insurance paid off, as
well as the disability policy on Damian and some policies she had through the
Damian hates the money. She wont even do anything with it. I understand
how she feels. I hate it, too. My parents sat us both down and had a little chat
with us about it. I felt so guilty doing anything with it. So did she. They urged
us to at least use what we needed to take some time off and put our lives back
together, then we could give it to charity or whatever we wanted.
We talked about it. She lets me handle the money. We both still hate it, but at
least its giving us this time to heal without additional worries. We havent
gone crazy or anything with it. We were on a pretty tight budget to begin with
and we really dont require a whole lot. Weve kind of maintained that
budget. We decided to invest the money and use the proceeds to donate to various
non-profits that deal with children. I think Diego would be proud of it. I think
that he would be proud of us.
What I wouldnt give to see his smile one more time...to hear him say, I
love you, Mami.
I need to leave. Weve got to go get my parents from the airport.
So how many did you take down?
I stared at Jules father, trying to burn holes into him with my eyes. He
kept pounding that damn nail into the board. Eleven, I could feel
the anger ignite. Not good enough.
Not good enough. I barked back.
What would have been good enough?
I could feel myself start to shake as the flames of my anger licked at my heart.
What would have been good enough? Bringing Diego home, alive. Having my little
boy...our little boy, safely cradled in Jules arms...my arms around both of them.
Absolutely nothing else would have been good enough. Little boys shouldnt
die when they were ten.
Have you talked to Juliana about this?
She knows what happened.
No, she really doesnt. She hasnt heard it from you.
I kept staring at him. I couldnt hit him to shut him up. He is Jules
father. I just had to stand there and take it.
He finally finished pounding that damn nail in and looked up at me. My stare didnt
seem to bother him a bit. He stood slowly, and lifted his shirt up to display
a large scar on the side of his chest. Nam. 1962. He snorted
at the look on my face. You believe everything you read in the papers? We
were over there then.
I didnt know what to answer, or even if I was supposed to.
I wont bore you with the details.
I watched as a look of sadness came over his eyes. He dropped his shirt back down.
Absolutely nothing helped but speaking to Marilyn about it when I got home.
Not the shrinks, not my buddies. Nothing.
He stared at me for so long I wanted to squirm.
You love a Hayden woman. God knows, she loves you. Theyre a tough
breed. Marilyn still kicks my ass every single day.
He dropped back down and picked up another nail, then he looked back up at me.
Love tolerates many things, Damian, but not secrets. Neither do Hayden women.
Shell get it out of you eventually. Make it easy on yourself. He chuckled
at his last words, as if remembering something.
I went back to pounding nails into the boards. I was so angry, it was only taking
one swing of the hammer to drive a nail in. I know he's right. I just don't want
him to be right.
We compared scars later. I often wonder if I had had parents, if they would have
been like Julianas. I know my mother wasnt. I doubt my father would
have been. Shes really lucky. Im lucky by default. She came with them.
Her Dads pretty cool. Her mother scares the hell out of me.
They are so weird. Damian and my father. I looked out the back window and they
were both practically naked and pointing to the various scars on their bodies.
I called for my mother, who joined me in looking at the display.
What is wrong with them?
I dont know. Badges of honor or something. There are just some things
that Ill never understand about your father, no matter how many years Ive
been with him.
I muttered back. I know what you mean.
She laughed. My mother has a delightful laugh. I cant wait until they
start fighting over whos going to flip the steaks on the barbecue pit tonight.
Want to make a bet on which ones gonna win?
I chuckled. As long as theres no bloodshed, I dont care who
does it. Maybe I should go buy another pit.
No...if it bothers them enough, theyll build another one. How many
truckloads of bricks did it take to build the one thats out there now?
My eyes moved over to the brick pit Damian had built. I have no idea.
It looks like a miniature house.
You could put a whole cow in there.
I shook my head. I know. When she planned it, she said it was just going
to be a small little thing. I should have known better when she dug the hole for
the foundation. I thought she was putting in another pool. Who knew a barbecue
pit should have a foundation?
It felt so good to laugh and talk with my mother. To commiserate and grouse about
Dad and Damian. It felt so normal.
I turned and looked at my mother. I hope I look like she does when I get older.
Im almost an exact copy of her now. Thank you, I offered softly.
Youre welcome, sweetheart. She turned and looked at me. Damian
looks a lot better.
Weve talked a little more. Shes starting to open up a little.
My guess is that shes as stubborn as your father.
More, I think.
I received a groan of sympathy.
Come on, lets go outside and get them before your father has heat
stroke. Damian may be used to this heat, but hes not.
I happily followed my mother outside as my thoughts wandered to that skin she
I really dont know what came over me. The closer I got to Damian, the more
I wanted her. My mother caught me staring at her. She gave me a knowing look.
I turned beet red. Damian and my father looked confused.
My mother dragged my father into the house, scolding him about staying in the
heat too long and telling him that he needed a shower before dinner. She kind
of looked over her shoulder at me and nodded slightly. Oh my God! My mother was
telling me that she was going to keep my father occupied for a little while. I
turned red again.
Damian was looking at me, puzzled. Jules, are you okay?
I waited until the door closed and then practically flung myself at her. I never
was one to waste an opportunity.
My lips were busy keeping hers occupied. It made it a little difficult for her
My hands went to her breasts and I heard a guttural moan. I love when she does
that. I love that I do that to her.
She broke away from me. Juliana Lee Hayden! I love when she gets indignant.
I put on my best little pout and batted my eyelashes at her.
Your parents are gonna come out and catch us.
No, they wont.
How can you be so sure? What has gotten into you? Her eyes looked
over nervously at the back door.
Moms going to keep Dad occupied for a little while. I didnt
know how, and I didnt care.
My eyes searched around the backyard for a place where we could make love. Seclusion
would be good. Behind the barbecue pit? It certainly was big enough to hide both
of us behind it. Hell, we could probably both get inside the damn thing. No. Not
good. The pool. Excellent choice! Ill explain it to you later. We
dont have a lot of time. Get in the pool and get naked.
You have lost your mind.
I leered at her. Yeah, aint it grand? Now get in that damn pool before
I throw you down right here and sit on your face. I was certainly in a mood.
Those blue eyes went wide, but she started backing up to the pool. I think she
was scared that I would have really done that. I dont think I would have.
It was fast and furious and wonderful and then I couldnt get her out of
the pool. She didnt want to stop. Neither did I, really. But how long could
my mother keep my father occupied? I finally had to resort to a little white lie.
Is that the door? I whispered as she plunged her fingers inside me.
Didnt hear a door.
I bit her shoulder to keep from crying out when her thumb brushed over my clit.
I think that was the door.
Just a little bit more time, baby. Youre so close again.
She gets so focused. Someone could have drained all the water out the pool right
then and she wouldnt have noticed. And she was right. I was very close.
I stopped with the door comments for a few more minutes.
When we went back inside, my mother smirked at me. My father asked me why my hair
was wet. I told him we jumped in the pool to cool off. He asked me if I did. Damian
said no as I said yes. I turned red again. I hope my mother didnt tell him
what we were doing out there.
This is the first day. Theyre going to be here until next Monday morning.
Were gonna look like prunes before they leave.
Ed and Marilyn went to meet some friends for lunch in Mandeville, so we have a
little time to sit down and write. Jules is sitting in front of her computer.
She keeps looking over here at me. I dont know whats gotten into her.
Not that I mind it. Its been fun. A lot of fun. Kind of like were
being bad kids and sneaking around doing something we shouldnt. I think
my shoulders going to need some ice on it for the bruising. Every time she
comes, she bites down on it. Ive got to tell her to switch shoulders. Equal
We havent been this relaxed in a long time. Its just the thought of
her parents being in the house that kind of freaks me out. I dont really
know why. Its..its...theyre her parents. I dont think
I really need to say more.
Ive gone back and looked at some of what Ive written so I could figure
out where it was that I left off in our story. Its a good thing Im
a cop and Jules is the writer. Ive jumped around all over the place. So
lets see if I can get back on track.
I think the last thing I really talked about that didnt jump all over was
Diegos surgery. That scared me. A lot. Jules was so good about all of that.
Shes so very patient with me and shes got this way of treating people...of
asking questions. They talk to her. You cant help but like her. Shes
got a really beautiful smile. Understanding, kind eyes. Her face is so expressive.
Honest. Sincere. Shes not a good liar. You can tell in an instant when she
She talked to every person she could get her hands on about the surgery and ASD.
Then she explained it all to me. Its not that Im stupid or anything.
I get really impatient. I want answers now, and I guess I can be a little abrupt
when Im asking questions. Jules says I intimidate people. I have to acknowledge
that I tend to do that on occasion. I also hate when they dont answer me
directly. The doctors either talk to you like you dont know how to tie your
shoelaces or youre Albert Einstein.
Diego looked so small in that big hospital bed, hooked up to all that machinery.
I think Jules and I actually suffered more than Diego did after his surgery. That
little sucker bounced back so fast. Kids are amazing.
I dont know whos worse at qualifying their answers...doctors or lawyers.
We were dealing with lawyers, too, after the surgery, trying to start the adoption
process. We finally found this lawyer who was a childrens rights advocate.
Harry Becnel. What a trip this guy was. He said to us, Im not like
most lawyers. Ill take your money. Probably a lot of it. But I get results.
I liked him immediately. He was a no bull shit kind of guy. We found out later
that what he made from paying clients he used to finance the cases for clients
who couldnt pay. He drove an old, beat-up Ford pickup. He came to Diegos
memorial service, still driving that truck.
There are special people you meet in your life, the ones that make an impression.
Its usually the ones that dont try to make an impression. They just
are who they are. Harry Becnel was like that. He died a month ago. The world will
be a little poorer without him. We went to his funeral. The place was packed.
He mustve helped a lot of people. How come you dont hear about people
like him in the news?
Jules is like Harry. You cant come away from an encounter with her without
feeling like your lifes been touched for the better in some inexplicable
way. Diego was like that, too. He was such a happy boy, in spite of everything
that had happened to him. I used to tease he and Jules about that. Like
mother, like son.
I mean, I know that they werent blood related. There was just so much of
Jules in Diego. He was bright and energetic. He had a certain patience that you
wouldnt expect of a little boy. And he loved life. Both of them...the things
that we got to do with him...it was incredible. Theres this picture we got
someone to take of the three of us in Disney. The fireworks were exploding and
it was kind of a semi-profile shot. The expression on our faces...we all looked
Joy...pure, unadulterated joy...thats what Diego made me feel. Thats
what Jules makes me feel. Theyre the only two who ever did.
Those initial months...it was so wild. I was in love for the first time in my
life. The only time. Diego eventually got out of the hospital, and with Harry
doing a little bit of legal wrangling, and me pulling a few strings with some
contacts I had in Social Services, we got Diego placed in a foster home with some
people I knew. Jules and I werent really living together at the time. We
ended up being together as much as we could, though.
I think I drove her crazy sometimes. I always took my responsibility as her baby
sitter, as she called me, very seriously. No one Id ever worked with
had gotten hurt, and with Jules and our developing relationship, it became triply
important. We had gotten some breaks in the case. There was this family that had
an operation set up. They smuggled drugs, guns and people. The Quintanilla family.
Theyre all dead now. As it should be.
We went on another raid the first night after we made love. There was this container
ship that was coming into port. It was supposed to have a little bit of everything
on it - guns, drugs and people. I would still get pretty aggravated that I couldnt
participate fully in the raid, what with Jules tagging along. We secured the ship.
Generally, you dont get a fight from the crew. Most of them dont even
know whats on the ship.
We started checking the containers. They were using dogs. One of the dogs found
something, so everybody started moving in that direction. We stopped, Jules and
I, kind of off to the side of the container. As they were opening the doors, this
idiot dropped a bolt-cutter. I had no idea at the time what it was. All I heard
was a loud bang. I dove on top of Jules and she kind of hit the deck. Hard. With
me on top of her.
We found some guns and drugs. Well, they did. I ended up having to take Jules
to the hospital to be checked out for a concussion. She was a little out of it
there for a while. I told you it was amazing we didnt kill each other the
first few months.
Sitting in the emergency room, waiting for them to finish examining Jules...I
think that was the first time I really thought of what I did for a living. I had
been on the force for fourteen years. I had seen a lot of things. Experienced
a lot of things. I hadnt shot anybody, but I had been in a lot of confrontations.
Been in some dangerous situations. Almost got killed once when I was in Vice.
You put the badge on, and it comes with the territory.
But I never had anybody to worry about before. Never had anything to live for
before. I remember sitting there thinking, Boy, this is going to take some
getting used to. Feeling like I had a responsibility towards someone else
was...strange. But I liked it. A lot. And I had two someones to take care of.
My jobs never been an issue with Jules. Weve talked about it. Im
pretty sure that she doesnt like the idea of the risks that the job entails,
but she accepts it. Its what I do. Part of who I am. I dont know anything
else. I did get a chance to go to college. One of the schools here has a criminal
justice program. Cops get a break on the tuition. I went part-time and ended up
with a Master of Criminal Justice. Eds brought up private security work.
I dont know if Im cut out for that.
Ive been thinking about going back to the Department. Joe Duncans
told me hed take me with him, get me a job as a fibbie if I want to do that.
I dont know what I want to do. I miss it in some ways. In others, I dont.
I...you get a chance to do some good out there. Help some people out. Or at least
try. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesnt.
I think the best assignment I ever had was foot patrol in the Quarter. I loved
walking a beat, being able to be in contact with people. Jules would laugh hysterically
if she read that line. Its not that Im a people person. I was always
pretty much happiest when I was alone, until Jules came along. I cant imagine
my life without her.
Its the being on the street...on the ground...not riding in a car. You got
to know people. See them for more than just the first impression you get if you
jump out a patrol car answering a call. You figure out that they have problems
and you help where you can. Sometimes, all they needed was someone to listen.
Tell em they were worth something. It really pisses me off that nobody in
government can get their act together so we can get more cops on the street.
Take the City for example. Everybody bitches about there not being enough money.
About two years ago, the Mayor got on TV and threatened that the city was going
to be paralyzed because the tax money from gambling that they were relying on
wasnt coming in. Over half of the employees at City Hall were gonna be laid
off and they wouldnt be able to hire any new policemen or firemen.
The politicians answer? Raise taxes. There was a big campaign and a vote.
The people ended up rejecting the taxes. Guess how many people lost their jobs.
If you guessed nobody, youd be right. What a bunch of crap. Jules wrote
a great article about it. Shes not the Mayors favorite reporter.
Somebody should take a walk through City Hall. For every one person thats
actually doing work, there are two people watching. Its sad. Most people
dont care. They dont have to deal with City Hall. As long as their
lives arent affected, its a non-issue. But as soon as their lives
are affected, the worlds supposed to stop and everybodys supposed
to make it right. There was this woman one day, on the steps of City Hall, with
cameras and reporters from the TV stations surrounding her. She was bitching about
some tragedy that occurred to her when she was trying to get something done at
City Hall. She made a statement about being appalled.
Im always appalled. Things have gotten less appalling over the years. That
bothers me. Its like you become desensitized to it. Begin to accept it as
the norm. I dont think thats right.
Most of what bothers me is really common sense stuff. Take the drug smuggling
for example. We spend billions of dollars a year to fight it. Whats the
results? Loss of life, both from the use of the drugs and the battle over them.
Addiction. Crime from feeding the addiction. How much do we spend on keeping the
drug smugglers behind bars? This doesnt even begin to touch on the ramifications.
Whats the ramifications of legalizing it? Make it cheap. Even free to those
who cant afford it. Didnt we learn anything from Prohibition? Will
you still have addicted people? Hell, yes. Youve got em now. Will
you have any more? Probably not. Addictions a disease and right now, we
dont even know whos afflicted. Will more kids try it? Probably not.
If you think kids as young as ten or twelve arent taking drugs or drinking
alcohol, youve been living under a rock. If they want it, they get it. No
law stops them.
Hell, living with a bunch of nuns didnt stop it. There was this girl at
the home, Chrissa. She was twelve. I was fourteen. She got moved into our room.
She used to keep Bourbon stashed in a Holy Water bottle in her dresser drawer
next to a little bag of marijuana. Poor planning and poor imagination on her part.
If you were gonna hide alcohol in a Holy Water bottle, at least use something
like vodka or gin. At least those were clear, like Holy Water. She got caught.
Big surprise. The nuns werent always that up on everything, but even they
didnt buy that the Holy Water had gone bad. They also didnt buy the
potpourri story either.
I never understood it. I didnt do drugs. I tried marijuana once and threw
up. That was enough for me. Its supposed to have anti-nausea effects. They
forgot to tell me. Jules has done some drugs. Experimented with marijuana and
cocaine. I dont get it, but then, thats just me. She doesnt
do them any more. Not since college.
I did smoke in high school. Quit when I was twenty-five. Started smoking again
after everything happened. Jules hates it. I don't know why I started again. I
need to quit.
Will there be other problems if we legalized drugs? Probably. But the real question
is, what set of problems can we deal with better? Illegal versus legal? Knowing
what I know, Id have to say legal.
Dont get me wrong. Humans are so inventive. Most likely, someone would come
up with something else that was illegal, and wed be battling about something
else. This drug thing is just a battle thats impossible to win. When they
tell you that were winning the war against drugs, theyre lying to
you. For every kilo of coke that gets confiscated, a thousand make it through.
Sorry about that. I didnt mean to get on my soapbox. It makes me angry that
there are thousands of people who put their lives on the line every day when they
dont have to. Maybe, if drugs had been legalized, the Quintanillas wouldnt
have been doing what they were doing, I wouldnt have killed Vicente and
Diego would be alive today.
Good morning. Late morning actually.
Im having so much trouble staying focused today. I think part of my problem
focusing is because I feel so relaxed. I havent felt like his in a long
time. Im almost giddy.
I want to grab Damian and play with her. Just do silly things. I keep looking
over at her, and shes so focused on her writing. She does this cute little
thing with her tongue when shes thinking. The tip of it kind of sticks out.
And her face...she gets all these different expressions on it.
Its another one of those little things I learned about her. Her facial expressions,
her voice, her posture...if shes uncomfortable in a situation, she has no
expression. People talk about masks. If theres such a thing as a full-body
mask, then she puts one of those on.
I cant tell you how happy I am that shes writing. Its really
a miracle to me that shes actually doing this. I wasnt kidding when
I told my mother she was stubborn. Ive learned never to say Damian,
you shouldnt... or Damian, shouldnt you... because
shell do the exact opposite, just because. Like when she has a headache.
I can tell because of this little pained look she gets and the way her brows knit.
A Honey, why dont you take some aspirin? will get me a Dont
need any. But if I get them for her and hand them to her without a word,
shell take them.
In some ways, dealing with Damian is like dealing with a child. I dont mean
that in a bad way. Its one of the things that I love about her. How she
grew up, where she grew up...I dont think she had an opportunity to be a
kid when she needed to be a kid. If I can give her back a little bit of that childhood,
Im not going to complain.
We were talking about things from our past one evening. Well, I was. Its
when I found out that she grew up in an orphanage. We were out on a date. Damian
still blushes when I refer to them as dates. She says thats so old-fashioned.
But she is old-fashioned about some things, in a very good kind of way. She opens
doors for me. Says please and thank you. Believes strongly in fidelity. In commitment.
I got into a story about a couple of my friends from childhood, talking about
things we did, slumber parties, tea parties, riding the bus to school. Everything
that I thought was a part of everyones childhood. You know how you can be
talking to someone and theyre agreeing with you or saying Yeah, I
remember that or I know what you mean. And you know they have
no earthly idea what it is youre talking about. Theres always this
politely interested yet clueless expression on their faces.
She was wearing that expression. I couldnt figure out why. I asked her,
Didnt you ever go to a slumber party? Put someones underwear
in the freezer?
You put someones underwear in the freezer? A note of disbelief
colored her voice.
Yeah...thats what youre supposed to do at slumber parties. Freeze
underwear, talk about the boys, put makeup on each other...all that stuff. What
did you do at your slumber parties? I still didnt know her well enough
to immediately note the signs that this was making her uncomfortable.
Um...I...well, I didnt go to any.
Sisters wouldnt let us go, she mumbled.
I was confused. I didnt think she had any siblings. And she said sisters.
Plural. Being the journalist that I am, I inquired further, Why on earth
wouldnt your sisters let you go? Visions of Cinderella came into my
mind. I was starting to not like her family and I hadnt even met them. Her
sisters...they were probably like the mean step-sisters in Cinderella. Good thing
Im dating the beautiful, kind one.
Not my sisters...nuns.
Nuns? I was really confused then. Was this some weird offshoot of
the Catholic religion where nuns directed your activities? I didnt know
that much about Catholics. Ive never cared very much what religion a person
was. I knew Damian was Catholic. I found out one day when we were driving down
Canal Street in Mid-City and we passed a cemetery and she made the sign of the
cross. Thats a dead giveaway that youre Catholic. That, and the small
gold crucifix on a chain around her neck. Why would nuns tell you what to
do? Other than if youre in school, I mean, that is, if you went to a Catholic
school. I tend to think aloud sometimes. It can be good and it can be bad.
Her eyes dropped to the table and she played with the silverware. I...uh...I
lived with them.
You lived with nuns or your sisters? I wondered if I had drank too
much wine with dinner.
Nuns...I dont have any sisters. Her eyes flickered up to mine,
then dropped back down. She sighed. I...I grew up in an orphanage.
I was glad it wasnt the wine. I wanted to be fully alert for this. It was
one of the first glimpses into her past that she had allowed me and I wanted to
know more. I wasnt really sure what to say. Here in New Orleans?
Yeah, off of St. Charles Avenue. A place called St. Vincents. It was
run by the Daughters of Charity. She raised her eyes to look at me. It was
almost as if she expected me to reject her.
I returned her gaze and hoped mine reflected warmth and affection and acceptance.
Did you live there all of your life?
From eighteen months until I was eighteen.
Pieces of the puzzle started to click into place. She clearly wasnt very
comfortable discussing this. I wondered what had happened during the first eighteen
months of her life, but didnt want to press. She can shutdown so quickly.
I was fascinated by her. I still am. If we live to be a hundred, Ill still
be fascinated by her. What did you do when you were eighteen?
Joined the department. She seemed a little relieved that I had moved
I remember going home that night and climbing into bed, my body still tingling
from that hormonal surge I had experienced as we kissed goodnight. I laid there
for quite a while, trying to read, but my thoughts kept wandering to her. Thinking
about her and the things that I had learned about her...shes probably the
richest story Ive ever read.
I have a friend, Ellen, from Virginia. We met when I was in fifth grade and she
transferred in. We still talk and see each other. Shes living in New York
now. Married this really great guy, Vincent. He can cook a mean lasagna. Shes
one of those earth people...at least I call them earth people. She has this certain
wisdom about her. Always has. She just knows things and has a way of explaining
them thats simple...matter of fact. No pronouncements of great pearls of
wisdom or truth, but she is always so very right.
It was 1990 and I had just come back from South Africa where Nelson Mandela had
been released. We were having dinner...the first time I had Vincents lasagna.
I was relating an incident I had observed. Which one...I cant remember right
now. It evolved into a discussion about life and its trials and tribulations.
Ellen told me that she viewed life as a sine wave. I cringed. Mathematics had
not been my favorite subject. I can balance a checkbook, perform the necessary
mathematical functions in daily life, those kinds of things, but the esoteric
concepts of mathematics always eluded me. She laughed at the look on my face.
You know what I mean, Juliana.
It was my turn to laugh. You seem to be forgetting the mathematical prowess
I demonstrated in school.
Oh, yeah. I wont bother with the theories then. I could see
by the look on her face that she remembered. Well, you know the amplitude...how
the wave goes above and below baseline?
I seem to vaguely recall something like that.
I like to look at life like this. She made a motion with her finger,
drawing a sine wave in the air. Since the wave is.... She searched
for words my un-mathematical brain could comprehend. Well, it goes equally
low and equally high. If it goes to, say, a minus five, then the part above the
baseline goes to positive five.
I nodded. Im with you so far.
In essence, as low as you go in life is as high as you can go. I think as
much pain as you experience is as much joy as you are capable of experiencing.
People who dont experience a whole lot of pain...who dont take risks...they...dont
ever get to go that high.
Ive always tried to remember what she told me that night. Its served
me well. I thought of that the night Damian told me about growing up in an orphanage.
I could easily lose my heart and soul to her, I remember thinking as I lay in
bed. I had never risked that before. Was I capable of taking that risk? Did I
want to take that risk?
She hid her depth so well behind that full body mask. I had heard comments others
had made about her. Some not so kind. She was a loner, people said. Hard to get
to know. Quiet. A little too intense. The shadows...darkness...it made people
uncomfortable. Yet I had seen her in the light. The softness...the gentleness...the
tenderness...the kindness that so few I had met possessed in such quantities.
And the pain...the depth of pain in her eyes I had seen in those rare, unguarded
Oh, yes, my mind decided. I could certainly...would willingly...give her my heart
and soul if she wanted them. I sensed that the womans life had been a sine
wave of a much bigger amplitude than I could fathom, and if I was that lucky...if
there were any deities smiling upon me...she would want my heart and soul and
I would get to ride that sine wave with her.
The best decision of my life.
Feedback can be directed to troubleshooter
Return to Main