The police car was sitting dark, and parked at the curb right across the street where we stood. Light glinted off the eyeglasses of it driver who looked our way. Kevin started saying "oh shit, shit fuck shit fuck shit," under his breath and started trying to walk, a little too quickly, pantomiming like he hadn't a care in the world towards his house. My heart was jammed up into in my throat.
"What the Fuck?" I asked catching up with him. "Your dad is a fucking cop?"
"My dad is a police captain," answered Kevin. "He is going to absolutely kick my ass."
"Your ass???" I whispered harshly walking after him. "Fuck you! What about me?"
I decided at that moment that I needed to walk as quickly as I could to my car, abandoning Kevin immediately. Panic had set in. My heart pounded in my neck, and I tasted bitter bile in my mouth, and I felt I would vomit. I didn't turn to look to see if the police car was following me but I was sure that it was. Walking with blackened-tunnel vision, seeing even less of the street ahead of me than I had of the movie I had just watched; after what felt like an eternity I finally arrived at my car parked on a side street, unlocked the door, and prayed for it to start. It did.
Rolling down the window and realizing that I was shaking uncontrollably and bathed in a cold sweat, my leg was shaking so much I could barely depress the clutch pedal of the car. I released the brakes and pulled away from the curb. I did not know the narrow streets in Kevin's neighborhood, a zone bisected by both railroad tracks and the river, and I dared not turn onto side streets lest I find myself at a dead end. I needed to get out of there, so as quickly as I could I drove directly onto the well-lit main street by the donut shop and headed for the highway. Looking in my mirror I saw a police car pull out into traffic behind me, and then roar up behind me to get as close as it could. Without panicking I put my blinker on at the light and prayed for the light to turn green. In a miracle, it did as soon as I approached, and I pulled onto the highway entrance ramp. The police car sped past and did not follow me, but he had surely taken my license number.
On the state highway, my heart was still pounding inside my shirt, my arms shaking on the wheel. The realization that this was not a close call at all—that it was instead a direct hit, had my brain in a total state of shock. What the fuck was going to happen to me? I didn't care at any more all about Kevin- or David—or whatever his fucking name was, I suddenly had no thoughts of anyone else, and all I could focus on was my own situation of self-preservation. I had to pee something ferocious and I didn't think I was going to be able to hold it inside and I frankly didn't care. On the highway I compulsively looked in the mirrors every two seconds to see if I was being followed by the state police, and while I imagined that they were close behind, I got to my exit without seeing those red flashing lights behind me. Pulling into an empty space in the apartment lot, I went up the front steps two at a time and into the lobby. My senses were heightened as I fumbled for the keys to my first floor room... What if they were already there waiting for me? I opened the door with great fear, and found the rooms dark and silent, just as I had left them.
I fell on my bed, heart pounding. Fuck- people who did what I had done not only went to jail, but they were humiliated in the press first, held up victoriously as pariahs to society, the most heinous, sick type of criminal. In prison, they were beaten and raped, and often killed there, and when that happened good, normal people like my neighbors shrugged and said things like "he got what he deserved in there." No one would want to hear my side of the story, regardless of the facts, regardless of how true it was. For an adult to have made love with a minor was seemingly our society's greatest crime. In the eyes of the law it was called sexual molestation, plain and simple. Ignorance was not a defense. I knew I needed to go to see a lawyer, and fast.
I called in to work sick the next morning, and after some well-placed phone calls found the lawyer in my area who was often seen on television and who most frequently represented people in ugly sex crime cases such as mine might become. I waited in his outer room, feeling like the scummy-freak I was, and when he finally called me in, he told me that he needed a $25,000 retainer to even speak with me. The money was not refundable, and he would take a certified check only. When I sputtered that I didn't have money like that, he coldly looked at me and said without any trace of humor said, "if you want to stay out of jail you will find it somewhere. People like you always have somebody you can call when the choices for their future are laid out so simply."
People like you.
I was sick to my stomach, my head pounded even harder as I had not slept at all the night before. I vowed I would find the money, and wanted to talk to him anyway before I would leave his office, and he agreed to hear my story before I paid, but said that it was at my own risk, because he would not agree to represent me without payment in full. I was so desperate that I spilled my guts about Kevin but without mentioning the others; and glaring at me steely-eyed and without a smile he said, "you are in a shitload of trouble. Let me know if you want my help." He rose and opened the door so I could leave.
I left his office and went back home. Every sound made me jump, my neck burned, my stomach was raw. I was pissing every ten minutes, a panic reaction of my body for sure. I was completely uncomfortable inside my own skin, because everywhere I paused for even a moment I just wanted to move somewhere else; It wasn't discomfort with where I was, but with who I was, and no matter how much I changed my position I could not ever get away from that person inside. It was at this moment that I first really understood why any person might commit suicide to end his misery.
I knew that if I cashed in my retirement savings I could get the $25,000, and returning to my apartment I rooted in my filing drawer to look for the precious certificates. I did not want to have to go to my parents, or my wife, at any cost.
When I handed the lawyer his crisp certified check that afternoon he allowed a small smile, and told me to start at the top and cover all the details. Limiting my confession to Kevin alone, I did, and he sat like a statue. When I was through he simply shook his head over and over. I felt like a monkey in the zoo, lower than low, filthier than dirt. When I was done he told me to go home and that, to the best of his ability, he would try to arrange that when they were going to arrest me that he would try to have it done in a civilized manner, probably with him agreeing to turn me in to the District Attorney himself. There would probably be press and photographers there, he said. And when I nearly cried, he said with obvious annoyance, "Stiffen up. You want that. Come in proud and strong and it will help your image of someone with nothing to hide. You will need that in court if you are going to get through this."
I didn't want to get through this. I just wanted to be dead. That night as I tossed sleeplessly in bed, getting up to pee urgently every ten minutes or so, I was first startled, then terrified when suddenly I heard the echoed crackle of a police radio outside my apartment window. Peeking out the corner of the glass while trying to stay completely hidden, I saw there was a black and white police cruiser parked right at the curb, not fifty feet away, motor running, window open and the police radio on. They had come to arrest me, and I knew it. I paced in a violent circle, and went back to my bed, chest heaving only to jump up again in distress, my heart pounding and the urge to vomit raging in my gut. I went to the bathroom, urinated, vomited up the acid in my stomach, and then paced the floor in my bedroom again, stopping only occasionally to hyperventilate as I leaned against the street-lighted wall.
The car sat outside the window for over an hour, maybe two, radio crackling softly in the night. Finally it slowly drove away. I knew they were coming back with reinforcements and a search warrant, that I was a dead man walking. At 4 AM I fell into a brief and fitful sleep. I was awakened by the newspaper plopping on the driveway at 5:30 AM, and I feared my name would be on the front page. It was not, at least not yet.
When I called the lawyer in the morning at one second past 8 AM sharp, he regarded me with total annoyance. "The police are charged with protecting the public," he snapped. "So what they were outside your house? You should thank them for being there." He just didn't understand, and so I repeated my story again, assuming that he had missed something very important the first time through. He interrupted me with great annoyance before I half finished. He talked to me like I was a child, an evil depraved one whose presence he could not stand. "Look, they probably were sitting out there to spook you. And obviously it worked. Go see your doctor, tell him to prescribe something to calm you down."
And so I did. I had not missed a day of school in ten years, and had not even ever missed a day of work to illness. Yet here I was, suddenly a helpless invalid, and everything that had happened was my fault. The pills the doctor gave me he warned were addicting, and he told me he would not refill the prescription when it was gone. He told me to take a pill only when I really felt unable to cope.
I took three pills the next two days, trying to sleep but thrashing awake with vivid dreams and fever. Every siren I heard made me weak kneed, even though in my mind I was sure that they wouldn't come for me with sirens blaring, I could not get that thought out of my mind. The dreams were worse in that when I awoke I again immediately realized the depth of my situation. It was waking from a bad dream to find myself in a worse one. I wanted to sleep to escape and could not. That police car was back briefly both nights, and I knew now that it was no mistake. They were checking me out, waiting for me to come outside, waiting for the right time to knock on my door. Who knew what kind of additional evidence they were gathering on me- I had neither eaten nor slept in three days, and I was shocked today when I had peed out some blood that morning. I called my wife and curtly asked her to deal with the children and daycare because I was sick, but wouldn't give her any more details. She actually seemed concerned and worried for me, but I was not about to confide in her what was the matter.
Finally, on the fourth day, I decided I needed to go back to work. I stumbled to the train and waited, head bowed, making eye contact with no one. Work that day was a blur. I kept looking up obsessively to see if the police were coming though the door to get me at my desk. My stomach burned and my concentration was nil, everyone noticing my un-ease and friends asking me what was wrong.
To anyone who has not experienced the crushing guilt of doing something with terrible repercussions, and having the fear of losing your freedom blasted into your consciousness, while I am trying here it is really impossible to describe. I realized then how I had simply always taken my freedom for granted. The thought that someone could take it away from me and that it is all my fault was a crushing realization that for me did not hit home until it was served to me on a silver platter with my name engraved on it.
Walking home from the train station that evening, I was dully conscious of a dark car pulling up behind me, then sliding beside me. My neck burned, my heart leapt with fear, and as I turned my head to look, the driver's window rolled down about ten inches and a gray haired man with dark glasses stared at me. A service revolver in its holster sat beside him on the seat.
"Brad Healey," said the man in a flat voice. It was not a question but a statement.
I stopped and turned and opened my mouth to reply but no sound would come out.
He growled in a low loud, hissing voice. "You are a sick fucking pervert. You keep the fuck away from him. I'd like to fucking kill you myself, asshole. You are the scum of the earth. Do you fucking HEAR ME? " He spit his words towards me, his toner and volume increasing with anger as his tirade continued. "You don't know what you are in for, you faggot. This is just starting, but it's all over for you. From here on, we are watching everything you do. We know where you live and we will get you. " The window rolled up as the car slid past me, then it sped away. It was an unmarked Dodge sedan, obviously police issue. My fears were correct. I was a dead man.
Reaching my door I found myself unable to concentrate enough to even select the right key from among the three on my key ring to get in, as my hands shook uselessly. (in retrospect, watching police shows on TV, I want to know what kind of psychopathic people are depicted who can coolly lie to the police about crimes of murder and worse, and challenge them to `prove it or get out of here' as so often happened on these shows.) I dialed the lawyer after the fourth fumbling try unable to read the numbers on the phone, and when I learned he was not in and would call me back, I found myself ready to vomit again and I did. I took two of the remaining pills, and when he called back in a half hour he was glib. "Well, looks like they have your number after all," he said cheerfully pleased at having been right all along. "Let me check to see if there is a warrant out for your arrest. I doubt there is one, or he would have arrested you right there." I felt no relief at that comment, and when I didn't hear back from the lawyer by the next morning at daybreak I was on the verge of panic. Again, he treated me with cold disdain. "Look, unless you want me to call and ask them if they are going to arrest you there is nothing you can do. I'd certainly advise against that, anyway. Just go on about your life. That's all I can say."
Easy for him to fucking say. I had now gone five days without eating anything, and I still wasn't the slightest bit hungry; my stomach was obviously content with devouring its own lining.
The telephone beside my bed rang, sending me nearly off the ceiling.
"Hi Brad. It's Kevin"
One of the things the lawyer had told me most sternly was to have absolutely no contact with Kevin, none at all. But all I could do was sputter at him "You little asshole... do you realize what has happened?"
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry...," he repeated "My dad practically beat me. I wouldn't tell him your name, but he made me log into my email and he read all our messages. He knows what we did together. He said he was going to take care of you and I begged him not to. Please, I'm sorry."
"Kevin, I am not allowed to be talking to you," I said urgently, then "Please don't let him arrest me!" I suddenly sobbed. I had no idea what power the son could possibly have over the law, but I was desperate. "Please!"
"I don't know if I can do anything else—he won't talk to me either," confessed Kevin. "Please, Brad, when can I see you again?"
In desperation I hung up the phone. The kid had no idea.
Two weeks went by one torturous day at a time and still I waited for the other shoe to drop. I called the lawyer again and he said, "Just wait. They are in no hurry; they are still probably investigating to make their case stronger and are under no pressure to make an arrest. They know you aren't going anywhere. You don't have anything else to hide do you, anything they could find out about?" I felt an icy, burning knife turning in my gut. "Anyway, keep your fingers crossed. It will come back at any time. They may just be looking for more evidence on you to make it a good open-shut case." I hated him. He certainly seemed like he hoped this would escalate so he could take the spotlight in the press as he was known to do and bill me thousands more for the trial and the publicity for him that would follow. My entire life was in the gutter, my future obliterated. Without planning it, I had started actively thinking which way to commit suicide would be best, what equipment or props I would need for each kind and which might be the least painless. I didn't want to think about this, but at that moment it really seemed like the most sensible thing to consider.
I finally broke my shameful silence and confided in a friend whom I trusted who was also a lawyer (though a tax-attorney type of lawyer) and he suggested this scenario that helped calm me.
In the end he explained, the fact that Kevin/David was the son of a city police captain probably was working perversely in my advantage. You see, if a member of the general public had brought this complaint to the police, the police would have been forced to arrest me to start the process. The rules are very clear and painfully simple, he explained: A harmed citizen's makes a claim to the police. Victim statements are taken. If needed, additional people are interviewed who may have supporting evidence that would strengthen the case for an arrest. If a search warrant looks like it will turn up something incriminating based on a complainant's statements, then one too is issued. The accused's property can be searched and belongings seized. The press is usually informed ahead of time and reports this in the news.
Then, the accused is arrested, and either jailed waiting for a hearing or released by posting bail. An arrest is a matter of public record, which means that the accused's name, age and address are made public and in a case like this one are almost always published in the newspaper. If it story promises to be lurid enough, it makes radio and TV too. The accused must then get an attorney, who builds a case in his defense. The District Attorney builds the State's case against the accused, showing that a law has been broken. Both sides must share the evidence they have collected with each other in a process called "discovery" before the court date. There is a preliminary hearing, which again generates a public spectacle and a mention in the newspaper... all of this happening prior to a case going to trial. My friend explained that likely I could be charged with multiple crimes, many of them felonies, based on what had transpired between us, all based on the age of the "victim".
"Can't this be settled out of court?" I asked desperately. He shook his head no. He explained that while civil cases (cases where money damages are awarded) can be settled out of court, criminal cases as this one must be tried before a judge and jury. Immediately pleading guilty in a public courtroom to all charges was the shortest way out of the spectacle. But pleading guilty to these kinds of charges would mean prison time in our state, for sure, probably twenty years or more. Apparently, sex with a teenager was three times more serious than murder where I live.
I never before realized that this was the process of law, and never contemplated the trampling damage done by the police and the courts simply following the process. True, the tenet in the US may be "innocent until proven guilty", but simply being accused of such a crime in our society is enough to ruin careers, lives, even understandingly driving some suspects to commit suicide to escape.
But, as my friend explained, Kevin/David's father was almost definitely the man in street clothes who had accosted me from the unmarked police car on my way home. Being a police captain, he was certainly very well schooled in the reality of the street, and he knew all of the acts of this timeworn play far better than I did. For example, while the name and address of the victim is not released to the public when he/she is a minor, certainly tongues wag and everyone in town knows exactly who it is...and in absence of the truth, many elaborated and enhanced variations will be creatively shared on exactly what must had happened. Such tasty gossip does not rest quietly, spreading quickly instead like a deadly and wind-blown poison gas cloud engulfing a community. So, while this hard-boiled father surely cared not even a tiny whit about me, and certainly would have shot me in the head or pulled the electric chair switch on me all by himself if he had the chance, in his life, up close he had seen enough cases like this one to realize that his family would be indelibly splattered by the process too, all played out in public view, if this moved ahead to even the first legal step, which would be my arrest.
He knew the specific order of what would happen next. As the process rolled forward, his son would first be deposed by attorneys from both sides on what happened, then be cross- examined in court, and forced to admit the sex, which he surely had already explained to his father was consensual, though under the law he was not technically permitted to give consent because of his true age. Therefore, what happened would be classified as aggravated indecent assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and corruption of a minor: at least two felonies and a misdemeanor in our locale. Oh, and an additional count would be added for every time it had happened.
And even though the boy's name would not go on the official record, the exact testimony would be available for anyone to review, printed perhaps word-for-word in the newspaper, posted on the Internet, and within hours everyone the neighborhood, the Catholic school, his family and everyone they knew would learn for sure that Kevin/David was depraved, sick, and homosexual. Certainly, in their minds, his life would be ruined and so, in their minds, theirs would be too by their association with him.
So as much as his father certainly wanted me to pay dearly for what I had done, the family very likely had decided the trade-off was not worth the cost. With all of this playing in his mind, they had elected to never officially report the crime to the department.
My lawyer friend turned out to be right. So the fact that Kevin was the son of a police officer and not the son of an ordinary citizen had perversely saved my skin.
And before I leave you with the impression that I was a sad and innocent victim of circumstances here, let me offer an appraisal of myself that still hurts to write now, years later. That is, I deserved everything I got, and certainly more. I considered myself a savvy businessman, and was very successful in the professional side of my life. Yet in this affair of the heart I allowed myself to be tricked like an idiot. I say this because if I am truly honest, I could have and should have found out more about Kevin before ever forming a relationship with him. I said we talked often and deeply about all sorts of topics. We did, and I should have made it my priority to determine beyond doubt his true age, even if found a reason to ask to see his drivers' license, something which he obviously did not have. I repeatedly dropped the discussion about has college when he begged off on the topic, and I should not have done so. I realize in hindsight that I so wanted him to be 18, and just wasn't interested in cultivating a shred of evidence to the contrary. Surely in business, where I am skilled, know that ignorance of the law is not a defense. But in this affair of the heart I turned off my common sense because I wanted to.
Finally, regarding the issue of the law, and what is "reasonable and just", I realized (a bit late) it doesn't matter a whit what I think, or what anyone else thinks about the ability of a 15-year old to make decisions about his sexuality. The law where I live says that a 15-year old cannot make these judgments about his body, and so it is written. I recall a moment of epiphany, delivered like a pile driver blow to my chest during my confession to the lawyer, after I had whined, "But, he wanted to do this..." and the lawyer curtly answered "Don't you understand? Get off that right now. In this country there is one law we all follow. Not one law for Brad Healey and one for everyone else." I finally understood that arguing whether laws are fair is not the role of criminal courts, it is the role of the high courts, using evidence and case history from events like mine, long recorded in dusty books, to change them. All happening on the outside and excluding me, while I would be have been rotting for decades in jail.
And in a stroke of fate, just two weeks later, my wife called me while I was at work. She was hysterical and in a panic. An electrical fire had started behind the stove while she was at work, and the house had filled with acrid smoke, ruining the wallpaper and paint, and charring the kitchen floor and walls. Called by the neighbors, the firemen had made a terrible mess breaking down the back door to get in, and the water damage to the first floor was massive from the hoses they had dragged in through the smashed kitchen window. Begging me to come help her and the children, I packed some clothes and immediately went to deal with the disaster, glad only that no one had been harmed. I called the insurance company and began the repair work myself, sleeping tentatively next to my wife in our bed for the first time in over a year.
I stayed, and have never left there again. And before our story is done for good, I will explain why.
I did not tell my wife what happened that year I was alone. There is no point; nothing to be gained. If I needed to see proof of what could happen from my unchecked actions, I now had plenty of evidence. My best thinking had gotten me there and I had witnessed up close and personally how the law handles cases like mine, and having been this close to the flame I never wanted to go near it again.
In case you are wondering at all, the lawyer kept my $25,000 telling me that I had gotten a bargain in this whole deal. I just never wanted to ever see him again, and though I should have been grateful that he was there to defend me when I had needed him, upon leaving his office for the last time I spit a great, thick gob on the hood of his huge silver Mercedes as I walked by, purchased with the spoils of defending worthless trash like me.
There will still be another chapter to follow.