"Why do I keep picking you up Nina? I see you here every other weekend. You're beautiful, and smart. Your bakery is a pillar of this community and those oatmeal cookies are heavenly. Why are you letting this shit ruin your life?"
Officer Perry and his pep talks usually got me back on track, but not today.
Not to motha fucking day.
This morning on the news they announced that they're demolishing the Emily Ridge apartment complex over on West Broodmare. Yea the same ones. To add insult to injury, they plan to do it on April fifth, twelve years to the day. That's right, exactly twelve years to the day. So yes I had a few drinks. A few strong drinks. And after said drinks I called a friend to bring me something stronger. Those memories came flooding back and I needed to get em off of me. Since I'm being honest, I'll tell you the whole truth. My plan was to shake those memories for good. That is until officer Perry and his Merry Brigade of officers came around that corner and stopped me.
"The boogie man haunts me. I want to kill him, but I can't because he's already dead," I explained to officer Perry. He always thinks it's the drugs talking, but it's really me. "These drugs, they can't control me. They can't even get the dead boogie man out of my head how could they ever control me?" I asked him genuinely.
Officer Perry saw how bad off I was this time and he wouldn't let up. He wanted to know what happened to me. He wanted to know why I won't stay clean and just bake. He wanted to know about the man I call the boogie man. He wanted my story... until he got it.
April fifth 2007. I was visiting my best friends Dana, Damien, and Drew for their annual birthday sleepover. They were turning thirteen so Mr. and Mrs. Jagger let us stay home alone while they went out for dinner. We were pretty responsible kids: no wild parties, no drinking, no drugs or sex. Just me in the kitchen baking oatmeal cookies, trap music, and laughs that had their downstairs neighbors banging on the ceiling. I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember how they all had the same face, the same dimple on their left cheek when they smiled, and the same bald fade hair cut, even Dana.
They had shaved their dreads in support of their cousin Jenny who was battling leukemia. I remember how badly I wanted to shave my head too, but my mom wasn't having it. She explained how she was all for supporting friends, but she had worked way too hard to grow my hair. She couldn't bear seeing me bald after all that work. "You better come home with every inch of hair that I sent you with," she warned as she dropped me off for the sleepover that night. I remember her words and their smiles.
We were eating popcorn and watching Snakes on A Plane when we heard loud arguing outside. We turned the TV down to see what it was about, like most other humans would.
"I'm not going to keep putting up with this Troy. You had this bitch in my house! On my couch! Do you know how disrespected I feel? Do you? I'm done! Move your car before I drive through that motha fucker! I'm done!" a woman outside yelled at the tip top of her lung capacity.
And then there was the man's voice, he said in a deep baritone with anger and conviction, "You not gone drive through shit! I'll kill you if you ever touch my car." Out of all the things she said, all he heard was she was going to drive through his car. I was convinced that he loved that car more than he loved her, and that he was serious about taking her out if she did anything to it, but I don't think she was convinced.
The next thing we heard was an engine revving, screeching tires and colliding metal. It sounded heavy. We heard gears shifting, tires screeching and the same bang again two more times, and then there was silence. We all got up at the same time and ran over to the window to see the damage. I thought the woman had run Troy over while backing into his car, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Troy was walking with purpose across the grass towards the building to the left of us. The woman had indeed backed her F-150 into his Camaro several times and was now struggling to get out of her truck, which was totaled. I was afraid for her. I heard Troy say that he would kill her if she touched his car with my own two ears. I saw him walking towards what I assume was his apartment and I knew what was coming next for her.
I told the triplets that we should call the police, but they wanted to go out on the patio to get a closer look instead. They joked, "You stay inside Nina, and if we get caught in the crossfire avenge our deaths!" It was just something we said for fun. If I went outside to get something from my mom's car when they were staying over at my house I would say, "If the boogie man takes me avenge my death!" Stupid kid stuff you know. Until it wasn't.
They were out on the patio laughing and pointing while I sat on the couch trying to decide if I should call my mom to pick me up. I have this sixth sense when it comes to danger. My mom called it intuition. I knew something bad was about to happen, and I just wanted to get out of there. I could feel death running down on us. I yelled for my friends to come inside as the pressure of knowing began to overtake me. It was just too quiet. Where had Troy gone? What was he doing? What was he about to do?
Dana, Damien and Drew ignored me and continued to laugh and point as the woman made no progress freeing herself from the vehicle. This all seemed to go on forever, but when I checked the time, only three minutes had passed. And then, "I warned you Shae! I told you not to touch my shi..." Troy was back. My back stiffened and my eyes glazed over with tears as I heard two loud gunshots. He had promised to kill her and he made good on that promise.
The triplets screamed bloody murder and ran inside, right past me. I followed. They were yelling, "He shot her," and "He saw us," all in unison as they huddled together in their parents closet. I ran back to the living room, closed and locked the patio door, the blinds too. I was trying to save us! I was hoping Troy would just run away. He killed her. She was the one who hurt him. She was the one who backed into his car. She was the one he was mad at not us. But I could hear him running up the stairs in front of my friend's apartment. I heard him as he began kicking the door. I ran into Mr. and Mrs. Jagger's bedroom and told my friends we had to get out of there. He was kicking the door, and hiding in the closet wouldn't save us. They were so afraid that they couldn't move. They couldn't do anything but hold each other and cry.
I remember their cries as I opened their parents bedroom window and pushed out the screen. I remember begging them to come with me. I remember hearing the front door burst open. I remember jumping from the second story window down into the bushes below. I remember getting up and running until my bare feet were bloody, feeling nothing, no pain at all, until I heard those three shots. My knees buckled beneath me as the sirens came into the apartment complex. They were too late to save us, but maybe... and then there was one more shot. "Nooooooo!" I screamed as I realized that I would never be able to make good on my promise to avenge their deaths. The boogie man came that night in the form of a man named Troy.
I wake up every day knowing that I left my friends to die. I lived and they died. I wake up every day knowing that I can't keep my promise.
The boogie man haunts me Officer Perry.
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