This is what he told me. Our conversation wasn’t quite this zippy and witty. He was, after all, an idiot. The incidents and excuses are exact, even if the specific language isn’t quite.
“So where’d you get the gun?”
“Was fishing…over in Streator.”
“Yeah? What kind of bait you use for pistol-fishing?”
“Dude asked me for a cigarette.”
“In exchange for the gun?”
“No, man, don’t be like that. I was fishing. Dude came to me, asked for a cigarette. I gave him one.”
“Smoking’s bad for you health.”
“So’s getting arrested.”
“Fair enough. So you give him a cigarette.”
“Yeah. Then he asks to borrow $150.”
“I gave it. Said he’d pay me back later.”
“Wow, generous. What was his name?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you got a number so we can call him.”
“Then you must have given him your phone number.”
“Are you asking me or telling me?”
“Man, why you being a dick? I ain’t done nothing wrong.”
“You sliced up your girlfriend.”
“Aw, I didn’t do that. She musta done it herself.”
“How’d she do that?”
“Uh…we was fighting over the phone. She musta done it, accidental-like, with that pointy thing. Comes with the phone…for the screen.”
“Yeah, the stylin.'”
“So you gave this guy, who’s name and phone number you didn’t know, 150 bucks.”
“And a cigarette.”
“And a cigarette.”
“Yeah. So then he gave me the gun. Said I could hold it until he paid me back.”
“So you gave it to your friends.”
“That’s what you told me yesterday.”
The previous evening, before I arrested him for domestic battery on his girlfriend, I’d asked him about the gun, which he’d allegedly put to her head. He’d told me it wasn’t in the house because his friends might have picked it up.
“Have you ever been to Virginia?”
“Come on, you weren’t fishing. You stole that gun.”
“Didn’t steal it.”
“You stole it from a shop in Virginia.”
“Damn sure didn’t steal it from Virginia.”
“I was on the phone with the ATF just this morning.”
In fact, there had been a theft at a gun shop in Virginia two years earlier, and it was the abuser’s type of gun, but they were cheap Czechoslovakian things with no serial numbers so who knew for sure.
“Man, fuck you. I’m done.”
Arms across his chest and that was that.
I charged him with a pile of felonies and went home to dinner feeling fine. Justice for the victim, plus she got her stuff out of the house and moved in with her sister. Justice for the state with a serial abuser off the streets. Justice for everyone else in that a gang-banger’s gun – with who knows how many bodies attached – was also off the street.
Me and my two partners had a good day.
Now it’s a year-plus later and the trial is scheduled to start…fifteen minutes ago. I’m near the courtroom with the victim’s advocate, bag of evidence in my hand (gun, knife, various other things) and abuser is late.
Curiously, so is the victim.
I’m starting to fume. I’ve seen this before. I know the color of the sky.
Then abuser and abused arrive…together. In fact, she drove him because he’s revoked. But they did enter the building separately, just to preserve appearances.
My fuming got worse.
See, I’m not much of a poker player sometimes. On crap like that, it’s incredibly hard for me to be professional. I want to get in the victim’s face and demand an answer. He had beaten her senseless. He had kept her locked up in the house for hours on end. He had stolen her car keys so she couldn’t leave, even taking them to work with him.
He had put a loaded gun to her head.
He had sliced her across the belly (which becomes important later so remember it). He had sliced her thigh.
His brother had threatened to kill her.
So by all means, fucking move back in with him. ‘Cause nothing says love like massive, regular beatings.
I did not get in her face. Restrained both by disgust at myself and by the victim’s advocate, who knows me only too well.
So we’re going to trial, then we’re not going to trial. Then we are going, then we’re not going. Then we are, then we’re not.
Then the State’s Attorney asks me what I think of the deal he’s floating.
Again with that damned poker face.
It’s a bullshit deal. It dismisses all the felonies for two piss-ass misdemeanors. Domestic battery and possession of a firearm with a FOID card (an Illinois registration thing).
They agree to that deal and we’re going to do sentencing right then. Everybody wants to get it done.
But the victim is crying to the victim’s advocate that the abuser is the only one with a job. She can’t work because she’s pregnant and what is she going to do if he goes to jail?
So suddenly the sentencing is put off. Suddenly, it’s not a problem to wait a month.
Her baby – his baby – is due in two weeks.
Do you see it? Can you tell me what color the sky is? I promise you she will bring that brand new baby into court with her. I guarantee she will use it to keep him out of jail.
It’ll work and soon after, he’ll beat her again. We will go through all of this again. Or the cops next door will. Or the cops in Chicago or where ever else they end up.
Remember where he cut her? That’s right, across the belly.
Come on…that wasn’t a random cut in the middle of a fight. That was a message. Maybe she was pregnant at the time and miscarried before getting pregnant again. Maybe she was talking about wanting to be pregnant. Maybe he wanted her to get pregnant.
Whatever the case, it was not a random cut.
And it won’t be next time, either.