After The Trigger-The Journal

*Day 17

For thirty seven years I was somebody.

Somebody that lived within the boundaries of society.

Somebody that was by,  what we are trying to avoid using any more to be politially correct, normal.

I grew up in a little town.  With both parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins as my first friends, and school mates as my life long friends.  My social circle included my family, my friends, my work.

I wasn’t admired for anything special, but I wasn’t ignored, shunned or hated.  Of that I am certain.

For thirty seven years I was who I was, who I thought I would always be.  And I was pretty much okay with that.

I wouldn’t mind being that person again.

Inside I feel like that person.  But I know I am not that person to the world.

In a matter of seconds I literally and figuritively pulled the trigger on that life.

*Day 18

Now, I’m someone who pulled the trigger on another person.  Ending his life.  Forever altering the life of everyone who loved him, or worked with him, or lived close enough to him that they felt the reverberations of what happened.  Just by being in close proximity and thinking, or actually saying, we never thought it would happen here.

Now, I’m someone who up until that very second, was no different than the other peoples walking about this planet trying to make life work.  Paying bills.  Struggling in relationships.  Wondering why things had to be hard when they were hard.  Reveling in the moments that were fun, easy and exciting.

Now I’m what they think I am.

I’m not sure of what I am.

And I can’t go back to what I was.

*Day 19

Sure there’s a story that leads up to what happened.

And of course I think it exonerates me.

But it’s yet to be decided if it does or not.

In some regards it doesn’t matter.

I did pull a trigger.   A man is dead.  Lives are changed.

I’ll never work in my field again.

Anyone who knows me, even if they still support and/or love me, can’t possibly have that image of me they always had-go untainted.

My image of me can’t go untainted.

I sit here.

Every minute.  Every hour.  Passing the time thinking about it.

Of course I replay it.

Of course I do the ‘what if’s’.

Of course I compare me to before the trigger.   And me, after the trigger.

How can I not.

*I Don’t Want To Count The Days

You’d think my thoughts might change.

That I would be able to get past this stage of where ever I am.

I know there are stages of grief.

And maybe that’s what I have.

But it doesn’t feel like grief.

It feels like guilt.

Is there a story?  Again, yes, there is.

But it doesn’t change the facts now does it?

I pulled a trigger.

A man is dead.

My lawyer keeps telling me I need to participate in my defense.  I don’t know what that means.  I’ve told, told again, then retold, then repeated all of this, too many times to know.  It’s the only defense I know.  Tell what happened.  The truth.  But telling the truth isn’t participating.  But I don’t know what else to do.

He, the lawyer, keeps filing for continuances.

And, I have to be tested.   To see if I’m crazy.  Or was temporarily so.

I’m not crazy.

But I’m not right.

Not any more.

*One Day Is Like The Next.  But None Are Like Before.

I have no desire to think about anything else.

I need to stay stuck right where I am.  My life from before, is gone.  My parents and my sister are having to deal with everything on my behalf.  They are selling my house.  They are taking care of the legal works.  They are taking care of finances that I no longer can deal with.

It’s not fair to them.

And there’s nothing I can do about it.

Mom said I need to participate in my defense.  I can’t get her to understand I don’t know what that means. I can’t fight what actually happened.   And I can’t look past that minute.  I can’t change it.  And I wish she wouldn’t use the lawyer’s words.  I don’t know why it bothers me, but it does.

I feel myself settling into this.  This nothingness.   The nothingness that was born of that moment.  And where I find myself.

There’s nothing here for me.  Nothing out there for me.   Divorced and dating.  I didn’t have a relationship to speak of.  And pretty sure I wouldn’t have one after this.

And really, I don’t care.

*

I don’t know how I’ve been alone, in here, for so long.

So many others have had cell mates.

I’ve been alone.

Until today.

He doesn’t seem to want to talk.

I don’t either.

We both seem fine with that.

When we aren’t in here I think we both just do what we have to do, even if it’s sit among others watching a movie that we don’t see or hear, until we can come back here.  And be alone.  And go to where ever it is we each choose to be.

His name is Jed.

*

You would think in jail there wouldn’t be so much busy work.

You’d be wrong.

Between doctors, counselors, attorneys and jail life-I find myself feeling like I have almost a full time job.

The counselors said everyone is concerned because I’m not participating in my defense.  Again with this participation.  Again I tried to explain I don’t understand that.  I have told and told ad nauseum what happened.  How it came to be and how it came to pass.  I don’t know what else I can do to participate.

My lawyer brought his partner with him.  She started talking about what they’ve found out about…him.  And how they can use it in my case.  I was taken off guard by that.  Tilted.

What about him could change what I did?

I didn’t even know that stuff.

And it had nothing to do with what happened.

I fell mute when they were telling me this.  I didn’t know what to say.  Before the trigger I would have been able to process this in someone else’s story.  I would have understood the need for the defense to do what they do.  After the trigger you would think I could process it with an even clearer understanding.

But here I sit, after the trigger, wondering why we’re talking about this.

I’m thinking my lawyer brought his partner because she is better at playing hardball.  She even yelled at me for not helping them.  And for not caring.  And that I better “snap out of it”.   It was all a very bad movie scene, poorly written and poorly acted.

I probably glared at her, which is the most emotion I’ve been able to garner.

I told her that I don’t know how to do this.  I don’t know how to help excuse me for pulling a trigger and killing a man.  I don’t know how to exist as the person I have to be, after pulling that trigger.  I told her that I care, I care very much, but I have lost the ability to know what to do.  Because I don’t know how to be me any more.

*

I had to see a psychiatrist.

Somehow the attorneys took what I said as being suicidal.

If it didn’t take so much energy I may have laughed when they took me to the appointment.  I was handcuffed, ankle cuffed with a chain running from between my feet and hooked to my waist.  Along with the orange jumpsuit, it made for an outfit I never would have chosen.

I watched the guards cuffing me, transporting me, the people we passed on the streets by car, and when I had to walk into the building where I would meet with the psychiatrist.

They were….me.   Before the trigger.

Some people outright stared at me, I could see their curiosity.  Some purposefully did not look at me.  Either they didn’t want to make eye contact, or they were showing me a courtesy and not trying to embarrass me by looking.  Or some other reason I couldn’t come up with.  There were those who looked at me, made eye contact and said hello in passing.  As if I was normal, still.

The meeting with the psychiatrist was brief.  Brief in my opinion.  If you are trying to determine if another human being was trying to kill himself, or thinking about it, you’d think they’d put a little more time into the interaction to determine that.

When I got back to my cell I sat on my bunk and thought about the irony.  They want to make sure I don’t kill myself.   And whatever time they put into it, was more time than I put in, before pulling that trigger.

That was something else to add to my I don’t know how to do this list.

I wasn’t going to kill myself.

But truthfully, if this ended by me not waking up, I’d be okay with that.

*

Another hearing.

Another facing of people.

I didn’t know how to appear.  How do I appear conciliatory, remorseful, ashamed, shocked and horrified.  I wouldn’t be speaking.  But I would be looked at.  Watched.  And judged.  How do I show these things.

How do I tell the world this isn’t who I am.

I couldn’t resolve myself to accepting this is who I am.  Though the world has already seen and accepted, this is indeed, who I am.

My mom and dad and sister.  God bless them.  There they are again.  Still.  It’s not like this is a top news story.  I don’t know how many people outside of this room care.   But his side of the court room, they care, of that I am certain.

My family cares.

I could see all of them when I came in.  It was a quick visual.  But one that as my eyes passed over those seats, the mural of them all was imprinted on that back wall of my brain.  I would never sleep another night in this lifetime where I wouldn’t close my eyes to that mural.

Followed quickly by the always on loop replay of his face after the trigger, and my slow motion pan down to my hand.  Holding the gun.  And my mantra “no, no, don’t do it” playing seconds too late.

*

My house sold.

Mom and dad paid off the mortgage.   Put what was left in my defense fund.  Which of course was then quickly absorbed by my defense.

Mom and dad visited again.

Then dad sent a letter.

He simply asked in the letter, what I thought was going to happen, and didn’t I care.

I held that letter for hours after reading that.  I didn’t see the letter.

I tried to see what I thought was going to happen.

I couldn’t see past this cell.

And realized, I didn’t ever want to see past this cell.

Nothing out there was as safe for me as what I was in here.

I was surprised to realize they thought I didn’t care.

When in truth I cared very much.

I cared more than I could explain.

I cared that I killed a man. I cared that for thirty seven years I was someone.  And after a second of action I was no longer that person.  I killed a man.  And I effectively killed another.  They didn’t have to worry about suicide.

There were two deaths that day.

And I cared very much about that.

*

Jed looked over at me today.

We’ve become comfortable in our existence here.

Our glances at one another with what small talk we have shared seems to speak more than we could explain to others.

We don’t really know too much about one another.

He’s been to jail before.

This time, he anticipates prison, for a long time.

He doesn’t seem to care one way or another.

Or maybe I’m assuming that because he doesn’t talk about how he feels about it.

I suppose that might be what mom and dad think.  Even in their letters they ask questions trying to ‘get more’ out of me.  But I don’t know what more there is to get.  There is no more.  What happened is there.  It just is.  What can be added to it to change it?

I didn’t wake up that day thinking my life would change like this.

I wasn’t planning on killing someone.

I wasn’t planning on my thirty seven year existence suddenly being annulled.

I told that to my sister.  That my life had been annulled.  She told me not to be stupid.  I think I smiled.  Not because what she said was accurate.  I wasn’t being stupid.  I knew my life was never, ever, going back to what it was.  But I think I smiled because her calling me stupid, made me nostalgic, for what it had been.

I don’t think she got it.

Though I think she was relieved to see me smile.

*

When I think about what my life was it occurs to me…

Nothing I did to the point before I pulled the trigger,

Has any value.

Or matters any more.

Once I pulled the trigger

That one action

Is going to define me to many.

Redefine me to many.

And change the value of my existence.

Thirty seven years in the making.

One second and a new me was created.

*

Jed left.

I don’t even know where he went.

They took me to see a doctor because I’ve lost so much weight.

When I got back Jed was gone.  So were any of the things in the cell that were his.  Not that there were many.  But it was noticeable.

I didn’t ask where he was and no one offered.

I sat on my bunk and looked at my hands.

The doctor said I’ve lost 24 pounds.  I hadn’t noticed.  She wanted to know if I was eating.  I told her yes.  She asked if I was eating everything they gave me.  I told her for the most part.  She asked if I had complaints about the food.  I told her no.  For the most part it was okay.  She asked why I was losing weight.  I told her I probably wasn’t eating as much as I was before I came here.  She just looked at me.  I reminded her that before I came here I had the freedom to get what I wanted when I wanted it.  And truth be told, I probably got up and got more than I needed.  Now, I get what I need and I’m losing weight.

I asked if it was an unhealthy weight.  She said no.  I said okay.

She checked the basics, ears, eyes, pulse, blood pressure.  They did a blood draw.  She told me she would run a panel to check on my cholesterols and such.  I said okay.

She asked if she could do anything for me.

I looked at her dumbly.

No one had asked me that since I was arrested.

It struck me as a common thing to say.  A kind thing to say.  And not something offered to people like me, anymore.

She repeated herself.  I said no, but thanks.

Now I’m looking at my hands.  My skinnier hands.

*

I sat in the day room and watched everyone.

I wasn’t exactly curious about anyone.  More so, I was curious about me being like them.  I was no different.  No matter what mom kept telling me.  She got mad at me when I referred to myself as a criminal.

She got red-in-the-face-yell-at-me mad.  She told me I was not a criminal.  I was not like them.

But she wasn’t sitting here looking at them and noticing the difference.

Not the difference between me and them.

But the difference between me and the guards.

Those men and women, they were different from me.

Those men and women would never consider me an equal.   Someone like them.  I had friends in law enforcement.  I hadn’t been contacted by them.  But I had friends not in law enforcement, and I hadn’t been contacted by them either.

I wasn’t like them any more.

*

I don’t want to write in this journal any more.

It’s a story I don’t want to write.

Even if it already exists.

*



Fiction. 

A little different than what I usually write.  I enjoy straying into different modes of creativity, for the experience if nothing else.



 

28 thoughts on “After The Trigger-The Journal

  1. Yep… That was different !!, but an enthralling read, and the story had a great feeling of the mans desperately lonely acceptance of his deed and his situation. Well done Colleen.

    Like

  2. what a moving report from a person who wants to cope with his guilt, Colleen! A debt that is so great that it does not have a way out. The idea that a small moment in life changes everything so decisively that nothing is as it was.
    This man has probably the hardest fate that one can have and for all this misfortune, he is also hated by the Meschheit!

    We all have such moments in life, though not so bad. I believe this story relativizes our own concerns about guilt for moments that should have been different. Compared to this story, our guilt is not great. And in comparison to other fellow human beings, our guilt is also smaller, because we make our guilt even greater than it is by rethinking our minds again and again. Our lives are not distroyed. We can continue to work in our profession. The guilt that affects us is not public at all and we share this knowledge with people who will keep this secret for themselves. We will no longer live in the past but in the present. We will ask forgiveness and accept it. We will do our utmost to make these mistakes of the past no longer, and try to become a better man and so we will be able to be happy.

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  3. You had me on the edge of my seat and I had to keep reading to see where this was going. Though it’s not your norm, you have a great ability to communicate ideas and characters. I’d even go as far as suggest that you continue to write more.

    I have to admit that part of my being compelled to hear more is because the story describes an event that happened to my sister. She pulled a trigger and shot a man. It was in self defense and her act saved several others. She didn’t go to jail and was in fact called a hero…in her small town. But pulling the trigger changed her forever. She tried not to show it but once confided in me that she had constant nightmares and feared for her life because one of the robbers who did get caught threatened to come after her when he got out of jail. I don’t think she ever got over it and only found peace when she passed away. Your story gave me an insight on what she must have felt all these years…it brought home the fact that there are some things in life that change you forever.

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    • yes it is a magnificent comment. There are things that change a life forever. One is afraid, because one does not know what makes this change. But life is always a change, you just do not always notice it. And even if something very sad and bad in our eyes has happened, you can grow and give your life even more power and beauty. Of course you can also break it, like your sister. that’s sad!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs. P, I am so sorry for what you and your sister. My heart hurts for her. I will be honest to say I don’t even know why this story resonated in me. I do work in a field where I often have to ponder the actions of others. And have often carried those thoughts past the work element and wondered “how, why, what happened?” to that person before, during, or after. I’m so sorry for her pain.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was very engrossed and fascinated in the way this journal was going. I automatically thought, “Colleen, you are an amazing storyteller!”
    Later, I wondered if someone had set this story in motion. . .
    I have met two men who have been in jail. I have learned lessons from their words of wisdom.
    Never wear fancy shoes to jail, you will end up in slippers given to you by the guard.
    Always read as much as you can, to take your mind out of your lonely existence. . . Two gems, out of so many interesting ones given to me by Mark and C.

    Like

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