1. Mon Dernier Matin [My Last Morning]
I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life, that’s all I kept thinking for weeks and weeks. At 40 years old; my life had started to implode from within, and it was like I was watching myself die a slow and torturing death, with no role to play in changing my fate.
‘I Leighton Manningley, being of sound mind and body at the time of writing this My last will and testament have decided to bequeath my possessions to the following individuals:
- To my daughter Lillian Manningley; I leave part of the sum of (£35,000.00 GBP)my life insurance, being £25,000.00 GBP minus all costs to see my body repatriated to the Jamaica West Indies, churched at the Montego Bay Cathedral & then laid to rest beside my late Mother Ms. Evelyn Manningley.
- A Headstone should also be put in place and should read as my epitaph ‘We are finally reunited Mom, I will never leave You now’.
- To my daughter’s Mom Diana Hamilton; I leave the sum of £10,000.00 GBP and ask you & Lillian travel to Jamaica to see me buried and ensure my instructions are followed to the letter. I want no sad hymns sung on the day of my burial and I want no tales of sorrow or regret either. I did try to be happy in this life, but this life chose to be what it was to Me.
- As for the rest of my possessions, I would like my clothes to be given to a charity for re-use, my furniture and every other personal item except for my laptop which is to be buried with me, to be sold and the amount made given to my siblings Dominque Jacobs, Lloyd Manningley, Michelle Mannningley, Bethany Jacobs, Niko & Dana Manningley equally.
I am leaving this world as I came, and taking my spirit from this tortured frame, and beg you all to forgive Me’.
I wrote the words and took comfort in the fact that I had been brave enough to at least leave this part of me in order before the chaos that was to follow.
It was a cool and calm morning in little community of Lenwitworth, a beach side Scottish paradise as it was known with scented flowers everywhere, and retired couples living out their last days in sheer bliss without having to worry about robbers, pollution and lengthy feuds with a bad neighbour.
Lenwitworth offered all those here, young and old alike, that opportunity to integrate and celebrate life in its most simplistic and communal form. So it was strange to think that it was this place that destroyed the last of my sanity and led to me leaving this earth the way I did.
In 2 and half years it had managed to see me violently raped by another villager and the police ignore the matter, racially abused and tortured with still nothing done even though I reported it so many, many times.
My attacker, a local man Connor McTain, who was raised in the village and believed by most to be an upstanding citizen, had left my house in the dead of morning after brutally raping me a 3rd and final time, and as I sat on the chair in my living room writing my last words, I couldn’t help but hope this time, just this one time the Police would do their job and leave my skin colour out of it.
Pay attention to my swollen eyes where Connor’s fists had managed to create 2 massive blood lumps from him using my body as his gratification. Pay attention to my busted lips and 3 broken ribs he’d given me while I tried to fight him off. Notice my torn shirt and underwear and the scratches and bruises all over my chest and neck where Connor bit Me, strangled me while leaving traces of himself inside me, as he felt nothing would come of breaking into my home and hurting me. Who would hold him to account for raping the village faggot, he’s black anyway and of no worth.
What other choice was I left with? I had lost any sense of self, of hope of recovery. Who could now look at Me and see a person worthy of love?
All the Bungalows on McBeth Street had been fitted with Panic Alarm systems, as most of my neighbours were in their 60s & 70s and required this facility. I’d only lived here a year and was very, very lucky to have been granted it due to my status as a ‘vulnerable adult’. Many times, it had saved Me after a crippling battle with my Depression and Anxiety. It facilitated the Therapists/ambulance visiting in record time to stop me dying from an overdose. Today was different, as today was that day where no one would get here in time, no one would be able to save me from freedom and everything and anything that was a burden would be laid to rest for always.
I pushed the big red emergency button on the Panic Alarm Unit, and it beeped, 3 very loud times until a very friendly voice came through saying ‘hello there Leighton; is everything ok’; so pleasant, so comforting as if they could make all the pain go away.
‘I’m sorry, I’m so very sorry’, I said my voice trembling. As far as last words go; I guess I couldn’t think of any others to say, in fact I was only thinking that I won’t be around to know what anyone thought of my last words, hence I pressed the button, the big red emergency button I had pressed so many times and still even trying to get help, the help I needed, pleaded and begged for never came, so after a night of endless torture, I would be free now.
The thunderous bang of the 22 millimetre Glock pistol shattered the secure silence of McBeth Street, like the Concord airplane breaking the supersonic sound barrier on its virgin journey. The power of the bullet ripped through my chest-plate and heart so swiftly I didn’t have time to scream at the waves of life-ending pain that followed.
The blood splattered everywhere and anywhere and as I my body fell to the floor below the panic alarm button and right in front of my bedroom, I felt it go into shock and a river of blood started to run into my beautiful dark cream carpet making a mess I was glad I would not be the one cleaning up.
I began to die as I was losing my vision and tried to cough, and a great spew of blood came up from my throat and ran down my neck. I could faintly hear shouting and the door being checked by those trying to get in to see what had happened.
My beautiful and caring neighbour Mary was the One to find Me, and she screamed such a scream it scared my near life-less body into my last convulsion ‘Oh dear God he’s shot himself….Jesus Christ Leighton has shot himself’ she shouted, ‘call an ambulance now….please…. Oh, blessed Virgin Leighton, what have you done lad?’ she cried, as if for all that had been done to me to bring my dying body here, she could fix it, make it better and stop me from dying.
I took my last breath 5 minutes later, as the paramedics tried their best to revive Me, but to no avail. I was gone and free and heading home.
The next couple of hours saw the arrival of the Police to McBeth Street, and a few Reporters seeking the truth to my death. Where were they when I was being abused and tormented week in, week out trying to find work but not being able to get any because the community had shut me out for trying to tell them Connor McTain is a racist-homophobic psychopath that had been abusing me for a year and half non-stop. Nobody listened, cared or bothered then, so why is the truth so important now?
2. Je Suis a’ La Maison, Je Suis Libre [I Am Home, I am Free]
It was three weeks after my death that they arrested Connor McTain on 3 counts of aggravated sexual assault, 1 aggravated rape and 1 count Burglary. He was looking at a maximum sentence of 12 years with no parole due to the violent nature of the act/acts he committed against me and one other victim who bravely came forward after I was gone. In the end he was sentenced to 10 years and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
As per my wishes; my family flew my body back to Jamaica. I was placed in a beautiful mahogany casket with royal purple velvet trim on the inside and sterling silver handles on either side. After my body was released by the Wentwitworth Coroner’s Office and prepared for a small service and drive passed my little bungalow on Macbeth Street, it was driven to Inverness Airport and flown securely to Montego Bay Airport, then transported to small funeral home in my Mother’s home village of Glenarches.
My daughter Lillian had dressed me in my exquisitely tailored morning grey suit by Alexander McQueen and double-checked they had not put too much make-up on my face and that the hole where my heart used to be had been covered. She’d loving placed the first teddy bear I had ever given her and my laptop in the casket while giving me a kiss. ‘I wish you would have said all you were going through Dad, I wish you were here to know how much I will miss you’ she cried softly into my ear.
I want to hold her and let her know, this was not her fault, nor mine and after all that had happened and seeing the hurt left behind; I wanted to take that day back. But I couldn’t, I had to deal with this is new reality too, and though death had freed Me, it had robbed me of seeing her wedding day or holding my first grandchild.
My funeral service inside the Montego Bay Cathedral was better than I thought it would be, even Mary and a few neighbours from Wentwitworth had joined my Family to bring me Home to rest by my mother’s side. Lillian ensured that throughout a few of my favourite songs were played and the general vibe was one of a celebration of my life, not a mourning of what most had still perceived a ‘horrible tragedy’.
As Whitney Houston’s version of ‘Don’t Cry for Me’ played out around the graveside, The minister officiating the ceremony began my last rites which set those around my casket crying uncontrollably. ‘As we return Leighton into the Arms of the Lord our God; we implore Him to allow Him entry into the gates Heaven. May his soul find the peace and comfort he could not during his life, and may He rest with the Angels of the Lord for all Eternity’.
‘Earth to earth, Ashes to ashes and Dust to dust’ said the Minister; and with that Lillian placed a single white rose on my Casket and down into the earth it went. As the crying increased and people started walking away from the plot, I felt a rushed and wonderful wind swoop over my Headstone, in its calm stood my Mother, looking resplendent in a brilliant bright beam of heavenly Light alongside my older brother Malcolm who had passed some 4 years before.
My spirit glowed a new refreshing and reflective beam began to glow around Me and all the blood stains and even the hole where my heart use to be disappeared. I was dressed in my beautiful suit now, free and home for good.
[Footnote: This piece is dedicated to all the Survivors of Assault & or Domestic Abuse all over the world. Taking your life is never the answer as You are loved, needed and important. Live another day, make a better way.]
About the Creator
Carlton A. Armistad is the pseudonym for Andrew R. Little. I prefer writing under this as it allows me to look at any body of work I complete separate to my personal day-to-existence, and safeguards my relationships and family.