Go To Part 2
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Fade to Black
I sat in front of the mirror brushing my long, dark-chocolate hair. It was my pride and joy; hanging to my waist in thick straight strands. I loved to brush it, curl it, and arrange it into outrageously cute story-book-princess-like styles. At 14, I know I am technically too old for such childish things, but they make me happy.
My face – on the other hand – is rather plain, and showed my mixed heritage. My mother is white, and my father is Mexican. My complexion favored my Mexican heritage, but strangely, my mother’s hair and eyes are even darker than my father’s, and therefore, so are mine.
“Are you ready to go to Grandma’s?” My mother asked. We were planning on going to her mother’s for a last visit before school started up again.
“Yep,” I smiled. Even though I hadn’t put my hair up yet, I was more than ready to get out of our house as soon as possible. My dad would be home from work soon, and he was usually a bit grumpy when he got home. On good days, he stayed grumpy. On bad days… he got worse…
Two minutes later, we were tossing our stuff in the car so that we could get going. I felt my heart sink as I saw my father drive up. I suppressed a groan, and subtly moved to stand behind my mom.
Dad got out of his car with a loud slam. “Do you have any idea what kind of day I’ve had?!”
My mom gave him a reassuring look as she silently listened to him rant. She knew that he didn’t really want an answer, and besides… he always felt better after she listened to his problems and hugged away his stress. I tried my best to ignore his thunderous yelling.
“And then that pissant who thinks he’s so much better than me sabotaged my line! I’m considered the fastest production worker in the assembly department, and he can’t stand that I can outdo him with one hand tied behind my back! I got a written warning because of him!”
Sigh! It sounds like he’s not going to run out of steam anytime soon. My mom must have felt my agitation, because she took pity on me. She wrapped her arms around him, and gave him her best I-love-you puppy dog eyes.
“I’m so sorry you had such a rotten day. I made dinner, and it’s still warm on the stove. I also made a few meals that you can reheat and eat whenever you get hungry. Other than that, you’ll have the house to yourself. There’re plenty of snacks, and an unopened case of beer in the fridge.”
My dad held her tight for a moment. I could see all his frustration melt away, and mentally sighed in relief. My parents were completely and utterly in love, and my mom was the only thing in the world that could keep my father from exploding and showing up at his work with a buttload of semi-automatic weapons. It would not surprise me at all if he showed up on the news one day for going on a shooting spree.
“I am kinda hungry,” my dad admitted. He kissed my mom on the cheek. “See you later; say hi to your mom for me.”
“I will, love you,” my mom replied.
“Love you too,” he told her, and then waved at me. “Have fun at grandma’s, Juanita.”
“Thanks dad,” I mumbled with a small smile. I hated when he called me that. My mom and dad couldn’t agree on a name when I was born. She wanted to name me Jacqueline, and dad wanted to call me Juanita. They compromised by naming me Jacquita, but then both refused to call me that. I really like my name, and seriously wonder why they bothered to compromise if they weren’t going to stick with it.
I worked on my hair in the car, but it was hard to do anything complicated while the car was moving. It ended up looking rather shabby chic when I was done. I’ve definitely done worse!
My grandma took one look at me, and tsked in her loving grandmotherly way. “Jacquita! Your hair’s a mess!”
I laughed as she ushered me into a seat and proceeded to fix my hair. When she was done, I had an elaborate crown of braids.
I hugged her in thanks. “I missed you, grandma.”
I came home from school in disgust, and threw my bag full of books and homework on my bed. “So much homework! It’ll take me all night!”
I looked at the clock; dad wouldn’t be home for at least another hour, but mom had already left for work. She worked from 3-11, plus however long she decided to take a break for. Some nights, she even had to stay late for mandatory overtime.
I checked to see if I had to make dinner, and found that mom had already done so before she left. She usually did, that way she’d have something to eat on her “lunch” break. I took a couple of bites, but then returned to my room to work on my homework.
Shutting the door behind me, I arranged everything around me so that I could concentrate on my homework with no distraction. It had only been a month since school started, and already I couldn’t wait for it to be over! If only I could graduate early and go to a college with a dorm. I’d miss my mom, but at least I wouldn’t have to be around my dad anymore.
My homework took forever despite being easy enough to understand. I swear that the teachers purposely try to give out so much homework that there’s no possible way we can get it all done. It’s like they want us all to get C’s in all our classes so that they can justify their complaints about lack of funding and blah, blah, blah!
Oh crap! Dad’s home. I firmly faced my homework as I listened to him bang around the kitchen. His temper sounded as riled as ever, and I prayed that he’d completely forget I existed!
A few minutes passed in which my heart started to beat faster and faster. A feeling of dread settled over me. He’s going to come yell at me, I just know it!
Sure enough; “Juanita! What the hell do you think this is! We eat as a family or you don’t eat at all! Vienes aqui mas rapido!”
“Si papa!” I called out so that he wouldn’t think I was trying to defy him. I trudged to the kitchen. It was the same thing nearly every day. Something had pissed him off, and he just had to yell at me about it.
He went on and on about his coworker that had been trying to get him fired for a while now. In his agitation, he repeatedly slammed cupboard doors and threw cutlery around the kitchen. I was used to this, and no longer flinched every time a fork or knife came flying in my direction.
Instead, I warmed the pan of dinner mom had made, and then dished up a plate for my dad. I set it on the table where he normally sat, and then dished myself a plate. I wasn’t hungry, and my stomach rolled in reaction to his verbal spewing.
We sat to eat, and I tried my best to ignore him.
“Are you even listening to me?! Look me in the eye when I’m speaking to you!” My father demanded, and I forced myself to obey. This here is exactly why I had trouble looking anyone in the eye. He shouted some more, but I did my best to turn off my hearing. It was bad enough I had to see him yelling; hearing him would just be torture!
“Do you even care?!”
I squeaked in surprise as my father demanded my full attention once more. “Y-y-yes,” I stammered.
“You ungrateful little –”
I’m not sure if my father was actually going to call me a bitch or what, but he chose to smack me instead. I held my hand to my cheek and stared at him in open mouthed shock. He had never hit me before.
“I am your father and yet you don’t care enough about me to listen to my troubles! I am the one who puts a roof over your head! I am the one who makes sure you have food in your mouth! The least you can do is pay attention when I speak to you!”
He smacked me again, and I actually fell over in my chair.
“Please papa! I’m sorry!” I cried, holding my hands out in an attempt to ward him off. He yanked me to my feet, and the next thing I knew his hands were around my throat.
“You have never respected your papa! I work so hard day in and day out so that you can have a good life, and you act like I am some kind of monster!”
I think I was turning blue. I felt weak, and blackness was slowly surrounding my vision. I pushed against his chest frantically. When I realized that I couldn’t escape his grasp, I reached around for anything that might help me. My hand found my still full plate, and I grabbed it. This was this first time in my life that I was ever thankful for the heavy stone-like plates my mother loved so much.
It took my last conscious effort, but I smashed the plate over my father’s head. He let go of me and staggered. I have no idea if he fell to the floor unconscious, or if he simply staggered to his chair to wait for me to apologize. I didn’t want to take a chance that he would shake it off and start choking me again, so I ran.
I didn’t grab anything. Not a change of clothes, not my bag or the maybe 10 dollars I had to my name; nothing. I simply raced out the door and down the street.
I couldn’t go to any of my friends’ houses, because that’s the first place my dad would come looking for me. I didn’t have any nearby relatives that I could go to for sanctuary. I had nothing.
Nearly sobbing, I reached into my pocket. It contained some change – maybe 2 dollars or so – but it felt like my salvation! With this, I could take a bus to the depot in the city and then transfer to a bus that would get me close to grandma’s.
The bus driver gave me a curious look as I asked for a transfer ticked and then dropped my coins into the machine one by one. He shrugged, then gestured for me to find a seat once my transfer ticket had printed up. He called a bit of information over his shoulder as I walked toward the back of the bus.
“Just so you know, we’re running behind, so you’ll probably miss the first transfer and have to take the second.”
“Okay,” I mumbled with a nod.
The driver turned out to be right, and I discovered that I had almost 45 minutes to kill. I paced the depot, and then decided to walk around outside the depot.
“You there, what’s your name?”
At first, I didn’t think that anyone would be talking to me, so I didn’t pay any attention to the speaker.
“I’m talking to you, girl!”
I looked around. There was a police officer glaring at me, one finger pointed right at me. Huh?
“M-m-me?” I stammered.
“Yes, you,” the officer confirmed. “What’s your name?”
“You look like you’ve been fighting. Are you in a gang?”
“No sir!” I blurted in astonishment.
“Then what’s your name? What are you doing here?”
“I’m waiting for a bus to go see my grandma,” I told him, holding out my ticket as proof.
“I asked you what your name is! I’m telling you now that failing to give your name to an officer when asked is grounds for me to haul you in.”
I can’t tell him my real name! He might look up my parents and call my dad. If he did that, my dad would come get me, and who knows what’ll happen then.
“Uh… Lupe… Lupe Vazquez.” Sorry Lupe! I promise I’ll bring you a present for using your name like this.
“Thank you, Miss Vazquez, for cooperating,” the officer praised me almost kindly. “Now, can you tell me who you were fighting with? What’s your grandma’s name, and where does she live?”
“I wasn’t fighting with anyone,” I protested.
“Then why do you have bruises on your face and neck?”
“I… I… I…” couldn’t think of a reasonable explanation that didn’t involve confessing that my dad was responsible. I really didn’t want him to think that he needed to drive me home!
The officer held a hand up to his ear. “Say that again.”
I cocked my head to the side in confusion.
“Are you sure?” He asked. “Alright then… Lupe Vazquez, you’re under arrest. There’s a warrant out for you, and I’m taking you to the station.
“What?!?! No! This is a mistake! I’m not really Lupe!”
“Save it!” The officer grabbed my arm and forced me to turn around so he could cuff me. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
OhGodOhGodOhGod! Ok… don’t panic. I’ll just call my grandma, and she’ll come straighten everything out. Silent tears would not stop falling as they drove me to the station. What I wouldn’t give to have my student ID on me now!
At the police station, I was patted down, fingerprinted, photographed, and finally thrown into a holding cell. They all shook their heads over my dismal lack of identification, making sure to note that in my file. Or should I say Lupe’s file?
“Wait,” I cried out desperately as the new officer in charge of me walked away. “When do I get my phone call?”
“I’ll ask!” He called out a promise, and I had nothing to do but wait. I paced the cell nervously, alternating between crying and wanting to scream.
The entire night passed, and still no one could tell me when I would get my call. Unless all the TV shows and movies – not to mention social studies in school – are lying, I’m entitled to 1 free phone call. So, why won’t they let me have it? At this point, I was so scared that I was numb. I couldn’t think, and I kept shaking from the cold.
They served me breakfast, but I couldn’t eat. Finally, just after they had served me lunch – which I think was some sort of goulash, I was too hungry to care at this point – my cell door opened, and an officer stared at me expectantly. I quickly stuffed a huge bite of food into my mouth, and then returned her stare. What does she expect me to do?
“Follow me,” she ordered. I got to my feet, careful not to tip my tray. “Leave that here.”
“But –” I protested.
“I’m sure you’ll have time to eat after you’re done.”
“Done with what?” I asked, setting my tray aside.
“Just come on already!” She practically growled, and then sighed. The way she sounded, I think she was frustrated about something else, and taking it out on me. At least she seemed to know this was wrong. I followed her silently as she escorted me to a room with two men in it.
“Como estas, Senorita?” One of the men asked me.
Was he serious? “Uh… No bueno,” I answered honestly.
“Lo siento,” the man shrugged. “Sabes porque eres aqui?”
I frowned. “No… Porque estamos hablando espanol?
He shrugged again. “I figured that you’d be more comfortable talking in your native language.”
“English is my native language,” I pointed out. I could speak Spanish because my father was Mexican, but I far preferred English.
“Sure it is. Lupe Vazquez, I’m from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. You are an illegal immigrant, and as such, you have no legal rights in this country. You will be deported as soon as arrangements can be made for your transportation.”
“WHAT???!!!” I roared in utter disbelief. “You can’t be serious! I’m not Lupe Vazquez! Lupe is my friend, and I gave the officer her name to avoid telling him my real name! I didn’t want him to call my dad, but now I’m begging you! Please call my dad! Call my mom! Call my Grandma! Call the real Lupe! They’ll all tell you –”
“That’s enough!” The stranger roared in return. “I have your warrant right here. Lupe Vazquez was born in Colombia, is 22 years old, has long dark brown hair and eyes, and did not return home when her work visa ran out.”
“You have the wrong person! I’m only 14! So is my friend Lupe! Isn’t it possible that there’s more than one Lupe Vazquez in the world?!”
The second man cleared his throat timidly. “What if she’s telling the truth, sir?”
“Remember the first thing you learned… These illegals will change their appearance. They’ll tell you sob stories so pitiful that even a mass murderer would cry in sympathy. It’s our job to stay firm and get them out of our country.”
He turned to face me again. “You think you are the first illegal immigrant to try claiming to be someone different to escape deportation? Nuh-uh! They all say that!”
I started sobbing. “My name is Jacquita Sanchez! I was born right here, and my mom is Elizabeth Sanchez – maiden name Turner! Please, just call her!”
“I’ve heard enough.” The men both stood, and left the room. I crossed my arms on the table, and buried my head in them to sob. A few minutes later, the woman officer from earlier poked her head in the room.
“Hey… I’m sorry, but you were in here long enough that I had to take away your lunch tray… looks like you’re ready to go back to the holding cell. We’re still waiting to hear if you’re going to stay in holding, or be processed and put in an actual jail cell while we wait for your deportation to be finalized.
I was a bit numb again. “I want to call my mom. Elizabeth Sanchez. I want her to bring my ID here so that between her testimony and the physical proof, you’ll all have to believe that I’m not Lupe. I’m Jacquita Sanchez!”
“Sorry honey… Illegals aren’t entitled to the same rights as citizens. I was ordered not to give you access to a phone.”
“Then can you do it? Please call my mom for me!”
She sighed. “Sorry… my hands are tied. The U.S. I.C.E. doesn’t want to risk that anyone will show up with any sort of fake ID to corroborate your story and cast doubt on the facts. Nothing will change the fact that you will be deported, but it could be delayed – costing the American taxpayers money.”
My shoulders slumped. I have to be dreaming! This has to be a nightmare! Surely the police are more concerned with finding the truth and solving a case than they are with saving a little bit of money…
Oh God! I’m really going to be deported! This caused more silent tears to fall, and I think I went a tiny bit insane because I started muttering to myself.
“My name is Jacquita Sanchez. I’m 14 and an American citizen. I lied about my name so that the officer who arrested me wouldn’t take me back to my dad who smacked me around and tried to choke me to death. My mom is Elizabeth Sanchez – maiden name Turner. My grandmother is Lori Turner. I just want to go home.”
The officer didn’t say a word as she locked the cell door behind me. I watched her walk away, but couldn’t stop muttering my information over and over again. My only hope was that someone would take pity on me and give my mom a call. I eventually sat in a corner rocking back and forth with my knees to my chest and my arms around my knees.
I hadn’t really paid much attention to them before, but the other women in my cell seemed freaked out over my crazy rambling. They slowly congregated on the other side of the cell, and tried their best not to stare at me. I wanted to stop scaring them, but I couldn’t.
After the sun went down – which made the cell a bit dark, but not too dark because there was a low-level light bulb trying in vain to light up the place – a new officer came for me. For one insane moment, I thought he was going to tell me that my parents had come looking for me, and were insisting that they let me go. I even managed to stop babbling and get to my feet.
“Good news, the U.S. I.C.E. has found you a flight to Colombia leaving at midnight. They’ve requested that we escort you to the airport. Come with me.”
I pressed myself against the wall farthest away from him. “My name is Jacquita Sanchez! I’m an American citizen! I’m only 14! You can’t just send me to a foreign country! Call my mom! PLEASE call my mom!”
“Don’t make me use force on you,” the officer warned. “You are not an American citizen, and you do not have the right to a phone call. Stop trying to convince me otherwise. My hands are tied; the U.S. I.C.E. sent us our orders, and you are going to Colombia if I have to drag you there kicking and screaming!”
I desperately tried to climb the wall to escape him, repeating my information yet again in the hopes that he would get fed up enough with me that he’d at least look into what I was saying. He didn’t. Instead, he grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me through the door.
“No!” I screamed. “No! You can’t do this! I am an American citizen!” I started struggling, and the next thing I knew, another male police officer had come to help the one I was trying to escape from. He used the police baton on me, striking me once on the back of the head. I nearly passed out from the pain, and went kind of limp.
“I warned you that we’d use force. Now, keep quiet or I’ll sedate you!” The man dragging me threatened.
I was utterly numb again. It felt like the whole world was surrounded by a gray haze… or was that my vision? It was hard to tell.
They cuffed me again, and then shoved me in the back of a squad car. I think I may have blacked out for a bit, because the next thing I knew, I was being handcuffed to the man that first informed me that I was being deported. I wanted to tell him the truth again, but I couldn’t focus. I mumbled, but nothing that came out made any sense.
No memories remain of the flight to Colombia, and I’m not sure I ever had any to begin with. The next thing I know, I was being handed over to more police. It was extremely bright and sunny here outside the plane, and I knew without having to ask that I was no longer in America.
“Aqui esta Lupe Vazquez,” my guard informed the new officer.
“No!” I protested. “No soy Lupe! Soy –”
The U.S. I.C.E. agent shook me. “That’s enough out of you. Aviso, ella es un punado.”
“Si, entiendo, gracias senor.”
The Colombian police officer looked even meaner than the U.S. I.C.E. agent, and I didn’t want to risk another lump on the back of my head, so… I kept my mouth shut. I was brought to another police station; only this one looked like my worst nightmare come true. The officer tossed me into a chair to wait while he processed me.
He typed on his keyboard, waited a moment, and then frowned. Using his hand, he motioned for another officer to come help him. The new officer took a look at the computer, and then frowned. They both looked at me, and then back at the computer.
“No es Lupe Vazquez,” one stated.
I raised my arms in triumph. “Gracias Dios! No… Soy Jacquita Sanchez. Soy un Americano… Enviarme a domicilio, por favor. Please! Please send me home!” My Spanish sucked, so I switched back to English.
“Lo siento Senorita… no puedemos.” They both shrugged, spread their hands wide apart, and shook their heads.
I gaped at them. What did they mean they can’t?! They slowly explained that they could issue me a work permit, but that they couldn’t do anything else for me. If I wanted to call my mom, I’d have to earn the money to make an international call from a payphone.
I pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. When will this nightmare end?! Unfortunately… I wasn’t dreaming.
A couple hours later, I was handed my permit, and pretty much tossed out onto the streets. They also gave me a business card for something I imagined was like a temp agency, and recommended that I get myself a job as soon as possible if I wanted to get a place to stay.
It was getting dark out already, and I had no idea what time it actually was. I was pretty sure – however – that this temp agency place was probably closed for the day. What the hell am I supposed to do now?
I decided to ask someone for directions to the place, just in case they were open and could maybe tell me where I can sleep tonight. I picked a direction and started walking. Nothing has gone right for me so far, so I had to deserve some good luck about now, right?
I spotted some people, and walked towards them. It turned out to be a bunch of guys. They looked like they were all between the ages of 18 and 21.
“Ey…Bonita! A donde vas?”
Good question, where am I going? “Um…” I held out the business card. “Aqui. Ayudame?”
Please oh please help me!
“No no no… Vienes con migo. Voy a ser muy lindo,” he informed me with a grin.
He’ll be very nice if I go with him… Nice how? Go where? I bit my lip in indecision. He looked like he might be old enough to have his own place. Was he offering me a place to stay?
“Um…” I did need a place to stay. “A tu casa?”
His grin got bigger somehow. “Si Bonita!”
I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and my whole body tingled with goose bumps. “I’d better not,” I said as I stuffed the card back in my pocket, held my hands up, and backed away.
“A donde vas?!” The guys all chorused. I don’t know where I’m going, but every fiber of my being was telling me not to go with him. Any of them.
“No tan rapido!” One of the guys got behind me, preventing me from escaping.
“No! Por favor!” I begged. “Let me go!”
They all laughed as they dragged me to some sort of basement. From what I could tell, they were arguing over who got me first. It was rather suddenly decided that the first one to talk to me got to have me first, and my blood ran cold as I realized what they were planning to do.
I tried to fight as they stripped me, but there were 6 of them and only 1 of me. Two of then held me down while the “lucky” guy exposed himself. I stopped screaming for a moment so I could try reasoning with him.
“Este es lindo?! If you stop hurting me, I’ll stop fighting you,” I bargained.
“No hablo Ingles,” my rapist informed me and then covered my mouth. In addition to the two guys holding me down, a third was holding one of my legs apart from my other, and practically sat on it to prevent me from kicking him.
I felt something hard enter me, and the pain was hot and searing. I tried to scream again, but the hand covering my mouth wouldn’t let me. Why oh why didn’t I just let my dad choke me to death?!
Struggling proved absolutely useless, so I eventually stopped moving altogether. I shut my eyes and let the silent tears fall. They responded to my helpless cooperation by letting go. Now, I was only pinned down by the guy raping me, but I knew that that would change in a second if I so much as moved.
I think they started placing bets on how much stamina my rapist had. Their cheers got louder. I retreated into my mind. They all took a turn, and then I think a couple of them took another turn. I don’t know and I don’t want to know.
I eventually blacked out. When I woke up, it was apparently morning. My first rapist smiled at me almost kindly. Everyone else was lying on the floor, either asleep or passed out.
“Buenas dias,” I mumbled in return. “Tienes comida?” My stomach growled to prove I was hungry.
He tossed my clothes at me, and I was relieved to see that they were mostly intact. “No.”
I got dressed, cringing as blood and other fluids oozed out of my sore and burning opening. I felt sick, and wished I had something to clean myself with. Thankfully, my permit and the business card were still in my pocket.
Once dressed, I forced myself to look at him. “Necessito un trabajo. Puedes ayudarme buscar este lugar?” I held out the business card once more. I felt he owed it to me to help me find the temp agency.
“Adios. Vas. Ahora!”
Why did he sound mad at me? I didn’t do anything wrong! So, why was he ordering me to go right now?
“Pero…” I protested. “Ayudame.” Help me, damnit!
He punched me, and then dragged me outside by my hair. He threw me to the ground in a way that caused me to hit my head. I felt blackness grow closer again.
I groaned as I fought to stay conscious. I think I heard some people yelling, but it wasn’t bad yelling. I think they were concerned about me. A woman rolled me over to look at my face just as my eyes rolled backwards and I was out.
Go To Part 2
Go To Part 2