“Why are you here in the deepest of places,” they asked.
“Love,” I said.
“Yeah. I’m here because I loved someone.”
“Please tell us.”
“Well, I loved this woman. Sharon. I met her at school my freshman year of college. She was amazing. Lightish brown hair, blond highlights, pale blue eyes that twinkled when she smiled. But it wasn’t the surface I loved about her. It was her personality, her spirit, her morality. You know, what makes up the soul. That’s what attracted me to her, and later love her. Her beauty inside and out was incredible.
“Well, anyway, when I was going out with her, she had problems at home. You know, normal stuff like parents, money problems, that sort of thing. The only one that wasn’t normal was a trial had to be at soon.”
“Let him go on with his tale.”
“Thanks. It was one of her ex-boyfriends. He was up on trial for raping a woman.”
“Oh, how horrible!”
“Please be quiet! Let him go on!”
“She happened to se it. ‘It was a summer night,’ she said. ‘I was walking home from a friend’s house and passed by Jamie’s. I heard someone yelling, “No, stop please!” and crying. I looked up. Jamie never was in a habit for closing curtains. He was in the den, naked, pushing someone down on the couch. I couldn’t see her, because of the back of the couch being in the way. I heard a crack as he slapped her in the face, and “Shutup, bitch, you know you want it!”, and then her sobbing and whimpering, “Please, no.” I couldn’t do anything but watch him rape her. I couldn’t move, I was paralyzed. I couldn’t yell, I lost my voice. I felt helpless.’
“’Why,’ I asked her. ‘Because he had been a little rough with me when I was going out with him. I always felt intimidated by him slightly.’ ‘Why did you stay with him then?’ ‘Same reason. Until he got tired of me and moved on to someone else. I was hurt by his rejecting me, but relieved, kinda.’
“He didn’t know that she had seen it. When the victim’s parents finally got the story of how she got her bruises out of her, they called the district attorney’s office. His arrest hit the papers big time, because the girl was about fourteen and he was twenty. Statutory rape, that’s pretty big. When the news finally hit out school, Sharon said, ‘I have to go talk to them.’ ‘Are you up to it,’ I asked. ‘I don’t know, but I have to tell them what I saw. It’s the least I can do for her.’ She called her parents, told them. She called the DA’s office. Told what little was needed to tell them for them to pay for a round trip train ticket. She left a few days later. When she came back, she told me they wanted her when the trial started. They’d call her soon with a trial date.
“It was a month or so later when she got the phone call. She came to my dorm room and told me it was in two weeks. She looked pale, as if she saw a ghost. ‘Are you okay,’ I asked. ‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘I don’t know what he’ll do to me when he finds out who saw him. He has lost a couple of screws over the years. I’m scared.’ She didn’t say anymore than that. She just rested her head on my shoulder and I held her close.
“The days slipped by. She finally had to go. I drove her to the train station so I could send her off. ‘You’re sure you don’t want me to come,’ I asked for the millionth time. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘You have midterms to deal with, and studying that you can get done while I’m not here. Besides, I’m a big girl now, I can take care of myself. I’ll be fine.’ ‘You’re sure now?’ ‘I’m positive,’ she said. I kissed her nice and long and deeply. ‘I love you,’ I said. ‘I love you, too,’ she said. ‘Now and always.’ She got on the train. She found a window seat so she could see me. She blew me a kiss. I caught it, sent her one in return. She smiled. It was the last time I’d see that smile.
“She told me the trial was big enough that there would probably be press coverage like crazy, so maybe watch and see if she got on TV. Well, the day she would be testifying came. I didn’t have classes around noontime, and even if I did, I probably would have missed them to watch that day’s news. So, I turned on the TV. They went through some world news. New UN policies, whatnot. Then came the trial segment. The anchor gave a small rundown of the subject behind the trial.
“ ‘We now go live to Robert Cantos who’s at the courthouse right now. Rob?’
“ ‘Well, Marsha, it looks like the judge has called a recess until two this afternoon. We’re currently waiting for the witness that testified today, a Miss Sharon Wilson, who apparently saw the alleged rape take place at Mr. Cartalino’s home. From what I understand, Miss Wilson is an ex-girlfriend of Mr. Cartalino. Uh, she’s coming out now, with the district attorney, and, it looks like, yes, it’s Mr. Cartalino and his attorney coming out behind them. Uh, Miss Wilson, Miss Wilson….’
“The DA was trying to clear a path for Sharon through the reporters that crowded around to ask questions, making the ‘No comment,’ line again and again.
“ ‘Miss Wilson, could you describe what you saw….’
“Then the gunshot went off.
“It came out of what seemed to be nowhere. Now, playing it through my mind, it runs like a slow-moving picture. Her face, her face had an expression I had never seen before. It was ugly, painful to look at. She fell forward into the reporters and down the stairs, taking one of them with her. ‘My God, she’s been shot!’ I heard from the reporter. ‘Miss Wilson’s been shot! Someone get an ambulance! Quick!’ The camera left her for a moment and went to the right, to a crowd of men grabbing Jamie, holding a still-smoking gun in his hand.
“I went numb. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t take my eyes off of what had happened. Sharon’s blood was running down the stairs when the camera went back towards her. ‘She’s been shot in the back!’ someone cried. Sirens were screeching. Men with a stretcher were rushing over, putting her carefully on it.
“I turned the TV off. Grabbed my suitcase. Started pulling things out of drawers. Grabbed my wallet and keys. Grabbed my jacket. Out the door within two minutes. Got in my car. Drove to the train station. Got a ticket. Used Dad’s card. He’d understand. Took the next train out.
“I got down there in two hours. Two restless hours. I kept playing the news report in my head over and over again. With happy moments I shared with her slipping in from time to time. Hearing her voice say, ‘I love you, now and always,’ playing through my head. Got to the station down there. Called her parents. They weren’t home, obviously. Had her grandmother’s number. Called it. Her grandmother, upset and sobbing, finally told me where they had taken Sharon. I asked her what the condition was. She was in a coma. Critical. I hung up. Went to her.
“I got to the hospital. Asked the desk where I could find her. They told me. Ran upstairs. Found the room. Her parents were there. Mrs. Wilson sitting on her bed, holding her hand. Mr. Wilson standing against the far wall looking on. There were machines all over her. Breathing pumps, heart machines, IV tubes. They saw me come in, said hello. Asked if there were any changes, they said no. Asked if I could be alone with her for just a minute. They slowly left.
“I walked over to her bedside. She was so still. I sat down where her mother had, and took her hand. ‘Sharon. Sharon, it’s me sweetheart. Can you hear me?’ Then something I didn’t expect happened. Her hand twitched. She slowly started to make signals. They were so slow, at first I didn’t know what they were. Then I remembered, sign language. We both knew a little. Basically, the alphabet. She spelled Y-E-S. A tear ran down my cheek and a smile came on my face, because I knew this was the first time she tried to say anything. She then spelled S-O-R-R-Y. I was puzzled by it. I said, ‘There’s nothing to be sorry about, Sharon. Nothing.’ I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U. ‘I love you too, now and always, Sharon.’
“She was gone.
“Jamie never lived to see his trial for Sharon’s murder.
“I never lived to see mine."