How did one become reacquainted with his own life? I felt like asking myself, “Where did we leave things again?”
I looked around me. There should have been a guidebook of what the fuck to do with yourself when you’re let out of prison.
When you’re locked up, it seems like your life is on pause. You come out expecting and wanting everything to be exactly the same, but knowing damn well that it’s not.
All I fucking wanted right then was to go back to exactly where my life left off.
She was where my life left off.
What I wouldn’t have given to snap my fingers and have her pull up to the jail in the BMW with that stinking animal in the backseat. One could only dream.
My mind was heading into delusional and dangerous territory. I shook my head and pulled out my phone to look up the number for a car service then remembered I had no data plan. Miraculously, the internet seemed to work. My phone was part of a family plan with my sister, and she must have continued paying the bill. I decided I’d walk to the nearest train station instead of taking a cab. Before I started the trek, I happened to click on my photo library.
Big. Fucking. Mistake.
It opened up to the last picture taken. It was of Aubrey. There she was.
My heart felt like it came alive again after a two year hiatus.
Suddenly, the emotions I was hoping to suppress had appeared in all of their glory, completely overpowering the numbness I’d experienced just minutes earlier.
I’d almost forgotten how beautiful she was. Aubrey never knew I took that picture. I’d snapped it of her sleeping peacefully in the hotel room right before I left. I wanted to always remember that moment.
Our fucking wedding night. It was supposed to be fake, but it felt all too real. Nothing had ever felt more real in my entire life.
Now, I was cursing at myself for ever thinking that taking that photo was a good idea. I should have deleted every single last image of her so that I’d never have to look at what I lost—the heart that I damn well knew I’d shattered into a million pieces.
At the time, I truly felt my leaving her the way I did was for her own good. I knew what kind of person Aubrey was. She would have waited every single day of those two years for me. That wasn’t fair. After everything she’d been through, she deserved her fresh start. A new city, a new life…she was on the verge of finally starting to live the life she wanted. I couldn’t drag her down, couldn’t make her spend two more years lonely and sad. She deserved better.
Fucking her was definitely not part of the plan. Several times during the trip, I’d almost lost my control, but that night in Vegas was the last straw. I’d tried with all of my might to avoid giving in. But I wasn’t strong enough. I came apart when she stormed into my room. I’d never made love to anyone like that in my life, and to this day, I didn’t regret it. That night with her meant everything to me.
My finger lingered over the photo. I couldn’t get myself to slide back through to the others. But I also knew I’d never delete them for as long as I lived.
When I stuck my phone back into my pocket, my fingers touched a piece of metal. I took it out. Gleaming in the sunlight was the fake gold wedding band that I’d still been wearing the day I turned myself in. Twirling it between my thumb and index finger, anger started to build up inside of me.
I stood there, staring at the ring, trying to figure out why I was so fucking angry all of a sudden. It was because I was starting to doubt whether I’d made the right decision.
Eddie’s question from earlier—the one I never answered—replayed in my head. “Let me ask you this. What if you found out this chick was out there somewhere, still single. Don’t you think what you had is worth risking disappointment for a shot at a second chance?”
Placing the ring on my finger, I answered the question, “Fuck yes, it would be worth it.”
I took the phone out of my pocket. My heart was pounding out of my chest as I typed into Google: Aubrey Bloom Temecula.
2 years and 2 weeks ago
“Will the defendant please rise?”
I stood. My lawyer stood with me.
“Mr. Bateman, has your attorney explained the charges that you are pleading guilty to today?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Before I can accept your guilty plea, I must be confident that you understand the charges against you, the effect of your guilty plea, and that you are entitled to a trial. The procedure that we do here today is called allocution. I will ask you a series of questions and then you will be given an opportunity to make a statement on your own behalf before sentencing. Do you have any questions about this procedure?”
“No, Your Honor.”
“You have been charged with a violation of California penal code 242—Felony Battery With Serious Bodily Injury. Has your attorney explained the elements of this crime to you?”
“Yes, Your Honor. He has.”
“And do you understand that you are entitled to a trial by a jury of your peers and that a plea of guilty today will effectively waive that right?”
“I do. Yes, I understand.”
“And do you wish to waive that right today and plead guilty to the crime that you have been charged with?”
“In your own words, can you please state the elements of the crime that you are charged with?”
“I am charged with physically injuring another person and causing him serious bodily harm.”
“Okay, Mr. Bateman. This Court finds that you understand the nature of the crime with which you are charged and the implications for your plea today. The district attorney and your attorney have put forth a plea bargain for the Court to accept. One of the conditions of this plea bargain requires that you provide the explicit details of the crime you have committed and the reason the crime has been committed. This removes any doubt as to the nature of your guilt. Are you prepared to provide the Court with your statement at this time?”
I turned my head and looked back at the mostly empty Court. A bailiff was picking dirt from under his fingernails. A few men in gray suits had their heads down and were texting away on their phones. It was as if nothing earth shattering was happening; this was an every day mundane occurrence. There was only one face that looked shattered in the gallery. I’d done my best to get her not to come—but she insisted. There in the third row of the courtroom, sitting alone on one of the worn, wooden pew style benches, sat my sister Adele. Her nose was red and tears were streaming silently down her face. I hated that she was going to hear the details all over again.
Returning my attention to the waiting Judge, I nodded and spoke quietly. “Yes, Your Honor. I’m ready.”
“Alright. What say you, Mr. Bateman? Tell the Court what happened on the night of July 10th?”
I swallowed hard. “On the night of July 10th, I went to the home of a drug dealer and threatened him—”
The Judge interrupted me and spoke to my attorney. “This is an alleged drug dealer, correct? The victim has not been convicted of any crime?”
My attorney responded. “Yes, Your Honor. The victim has not been convicted of any crime.”
Ain’t that a kick in the ass. I’ll be a convicted felon before all of the real criminals.