"A Troubled Past"

A NIKITA HOWARD NOVEL

It was 2 a.m. in the morning when the doorbell rang. I was sleeping in my parents' room because I had not been feeling good the night before. My parents woke up and went downstairs; I was too weak to move, so I just sat at the top of the stairs. My father opened the door, while my mother walked into the dining room to see why there were so many lights flashing outside. After my father opened the door, there were two cops standing there with a folded piece of paper.

"What's going on?" he asked, scanning the field that had now become filled with red and blue lights, white and black cars, and more than a dozen men in navy blue uniforms with their guns trained on my father.

The first cop opened the folded paper he had in his hands, and shoved it into my fathers' face.

"You're under arrest for the murder of Ron Harris. He stepped forward and begun to attempt to arrest my father, reading him his Miranda Rights, "Derek Jones you are under arrest for the murder of Ron Harris. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attor-."

"MURDER!" my mother yells from the other room. She came flying into the room stating there must be some mistake because he's been in the house the whole time. My mother turns to my father, and he has an astonished look on his face. She turns back to the cops.

"No, there must be a mistake, I haven't murdered anyone."

I go further down the steps and that's when I see that there are five more cops standing outside, fully armed, and about ten or fifteen police cars. I'm scared. In a blink of an eye, one of the cops opens the screen door and throws my father to the ground. My mother is hitting and banging on him, but the second cop just comes and throws her to the ground as well. At this moment my whole body starts to tremble and I start to yell.

"MOM! MOTHER! DADDY! WHAT'S GOING ON?!" My father turns his head to me. I begin to have a panic attack because I can't believe what's happening before my eyes.

"Go back upstairs sweetie. Go back upstairs! Get out of here! Go back upstairs! You shouldn't be seeing this!"

At this time my older brother comes running from his room. He goes down the stairs and my father orders him to take me back upstairs.

"She shouldn't be seeing this" he says.

I don't want to go; I want to know what's going on. I'm so scared…I'm just so scared. I freeze and my brother has to carry me back upstairs. I don't know what happened. At that moment, I…don't know what happened.

At the time I wasn't aware of what had happened…of how my life was going to change forever. How the world was going to see me and my family before realizing the truth and the effect racism, prejudice, and assumptions has on people every single day. This is my life.

Chapter 1

That night I couldn't sleep at all. I stared out the window, while I stayed cuddled in my brother's arms as we listened to the sound of my father being hauled away by the police. My mother stood on the porch screaming and yelling; bound by the chains that were put on her because she tried to protect my father. I never want to feel like this again.

20 YEARS LATER

As I lie in bed with my eyes closed recalling the events of that night, I am awakened by the blaring sound of my alarm clock.

"Is it 6am already?" "This is going to be one long day."

I rolled over and hit the snooze button. I stared out the window for a few minutes, before getting ready for work.

Reluctantly, I dragged myself downstairs and made some coffee and toast. Today was not my day; the coffee tasted bland and the toast looked browner than usual.

"Good Morning Dexter," I said to my 11-month old Russell Terrier mix. He barked and rolled in happiness. "Are you ready for the day?"

I was about to leave, when the doorbell rang. I reached the intercom just as I was buttoning on my coat.

"Yes. Who is it?" I said checking my watch.

"This is David Reese. I'm an attorney for your mother: June Jones. I was wondering if I could have a few moments of your time to discuss your father's appeal."

I froze. I haven't spoken to my mother in eight years. My mind immediately reverted back to that night twenty years ago.

"David Reese? I didn't know that my mother could afford an attorney."

I quickly walked to the front door, and slowly unlocked and cracked the front door. The man standing in front of my door looked to be in his late 20s, about six feet, with hazel eyes, and in jeans and a t-shirt.

He smiled and lifted a thick folder.

"Are you the head of the house, Ms. Sarah Jones? As I said, I would like to talk to you about your father's appeal."

"I haven't been called Sarah in almost 8 years."

I stared at him and opened that door so I could get a full view of him.

"You don't look like any attorney I have ever seen before. What? You don't like suits and a briefcase?"

He smiled, "Your mother told me about your warm-welcoming to lawyers. And yes…I own many suits; I just wear them when I'm in court fighting for my clients."

His smile made me feel very safe and secure. He seemed very confident and welcoming. And his sarcasm was a little cute.

"Well…that's good for your clients, but I'm not one of them."

I leaned up against my door, and glared at him. That warm feeling and security were starting to fade.

"What do you mean 'you need to discuss my father's appeal'? Has something finally happened to him in prison?" I said sarcastically.

Smiling, he lifted the folder to his right check.

"If your Sarah Jones, and you let me in, maybe you'll find out."

What a smartass! As sarcastic as he can be, why do I still think he's cute? He took a step closer to me, and his expression changed to seriousness.

"May I please speak with you Ms. Jones about your father's appeal?"

This time, there was no smile, no smirk, no playful demeanor. A look of confidence, seriousness, and business replaced all these characteristics.

I rose from my current position, and looked him straight in the eye. Finally, I gave in and sighed.

"Yes…I'm Sarah."

Chapter 2

I opened the door and gestured for him to follow me inside. We walked over to the couch and sat down. He sat the folder on the coffee table, took out his glasses, and proceeded to open the folder.

"So…As I stated before, I would like to discuss your fathers' appeal.

He put on his glasses, and looked over at me.

"For the last 2 years, I have been working with your mother to exonerate your father. Last month, we finally got an approval from the judge to have a hearing for an appeal."

"Really? It only took you 2 years to get a hearing from the judge. You must really be an amazing lawyer."

I stretched forward and reached for the folder, but he grabbed my hand and closed the folder. I looked up and noticed that he was quite insulted by what I had just said.

"Ms. Jones," he said with a stern voice and closing the folder. He looked at me with the coldest glare.

"I understand that you and the rest of your family have had a falling out over the events that happened that night. I don't have the right to say I understand or believe that I can come into your life and try to magically fix everything."

He stood up and adjusted his glasses.

"However, don't ever insult my intelligence. From the moment that I took on this case, I have worked hard and finally your family is lucky your father is even getting a hearing!"

His voice was starting to get raised, and I could see the hurt behind his shiny blue eyes. Why was he getting so emotional about this case?

At that exact moment, I started to remember that horrible night and the aftermath.

CHAPTER 3

As I stared at him, the screams, flashing lights, and hurt came flooding back to my mind. As tears begun to fill my eyes, I started to remember the aftermath of that night…

REWIND SCENE

I didn't remember falling asleep, so I woke up the next morning, feeling as though I was in a daze. Reluctantly, I wanted to keep my mind in the state of doubt, but downstairs, my mother was sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing, with her head in her hands. That's when I realized that what happened yesterday was not a dream; it was life's first demonstration of reality and how society views and treats minorities of the world.

As I walked closer to my mother, with my brother at my heels, the house began to have a feel of emptiness.

"Where's father"?

My mother, through her sobs, lifted her head. She stared at the ceiling and you could see the tears running down her swollen face.

"Your father is gone."

At that moment, she looked as if she was staring into the heavens looking for some sort of explanation of what took place last night.

"What do you mean dad's gone? Where did those cops take him? What's going on?"

My brother stepped from behind me, and slowly approached mom.

"Your father is gone. They took him…those animals took him to jail."

She began to cry; when I saw my brother do something I'd never seen before.

SMACK! He hit the table and glared at mother.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY TOOK HIM TO JAIL?! AREN'T YOU GOING TO DO ANYTHING? YOU CAN'T JUST SIT THERE AND LET THIS HAPPEN!"

He seemed as if he was someone I had never known: strongly pushing my mother to act.

Mother must have been just as surprised as me, because she jumped a little in her seat.

This seems to have been the motivation that she needed, because she wiped the tears from her face and stood up. She walked over and hugged my brother and extended her arms to me.

"You're absolutely right. I'm so sorry you are going through this. A child should never be witnesses to such events. I'm going to do whatever I can to bring your father back to you. Okay?"

She looked down on us with the warmest smile she could produce, and finally I begun to feel a little relieved.

We knew it wasn't her fault and we consoled her. But, just as quickly as she embraced us, she pulls away.

As I look back up at her, I realize that her sadness and hurt had disappeared from her face. A new emotion had taken place: anger.

"Let's go get your father."

"How are we going to do that?"

"I don't know, but I'm not going to let them take my husband like this. This must be illegal!"

My brother and I exchanged looks of confusion and encouragement. It seems like that little pep talk my brother gave her really lit a fire inside of her.

"Michael! April! Go upstairs and get washed up. We're going to fight this!"

"How? What are you going to do?"

"I don't know, but just do as I say."

Michael and I rush upstairs, wash up as fast as we could, and return downstairs in less than 10 minutes. We arrived to our mother standing next to the door with scarves and the keys in her hands.

She bundled us up with the scarves, and we were out the door.

That night there had been a really bad snow storm, but that didn't stop our mom from putting the key in the ignition and taking off for the courthouse.

CHAPTER 4