The Suburban Buffoon’s Complete Guide … Pt 2
The Suburban Buffoon’s Complete Guide to Fucking Up an Obvious Assault I Conviction Pt. 2
By Mark Driver
The trial. What a fucked up case. Let’s just say that if:
I haven’t already killed off all my sperm
I one day reproduce
The infant somehow lives to a semi-responsible age
I somehow live to see this infant’s semi-responsible age
I have to leave our studio apartment for any period of time
I leave the kid in charge
The kid can read
That kid will be forced to read this column.
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. Suburban home. A fifteen-year-old girl—high school freshman—is left alone in the house for the weekend. Being that she is young, stupid, and not yet completely wearied by the company of others, she decides to have a party. She invites some people from her 9th grade class and a few friends from the 8th grade. It’s 8:30 at night and there are ten people at her house. They have a few wine coolers. Hit some GameCube. Watch some DVDs. Play with hula hoops, drink chocolate milk, have pillowfights, giggle about boys—shit. I don’t know what 8th graders do at parties. At that age, I was getting drunk and high and spending my waking hours smoothtalking handjobs out of any girl with hands, but then again I grew up in the Bible Belt. I don’t know if kids act as badly if they’re not surrounded by holy phonies and total moral hypocrites.
Regardless of what the kids were doing, by the time ten o’clock rolled around, police estimates held the party population to be over 150 people. Word had gotten out. Cell phones relayed directions, cars kept parking, and strangers kept walking through the door. High school kids. College students. Drunks from the bar up the street—shit was totally out of control. The girl and her friends did their best to keep people out of her mom’s bedroom and make sure no one stole the plasma TV. Because they were young and stupid, they didn’t want to call the police on themselves. They didn’t want to get in trouble. So they just decided to weather the storm.
And then real trouble shows up. Ten gangbangers in their mid-20s. Big dudes in their officially sanctioned gang costumes: mustaches, bald heads, tattoos, knee socks, bags of coke in the Dickies breast pocket, the whole deal. Many of them with little kids of their own at home. These ten grown men crash a party of 8th graders, perhaps in search of women on a same plane of mental acuity.
One of the guys, who turns out to be 23, grabs a 14 year-old girl and tries to make out with her. The girl’s boyfriend, also 14, tells the guy to get off her. He gets clocked from behind.
“Hello! I’m twice as big as you AND I’m going to hit you when your back is turned. Rock on, Holmes!”
So, these guys generally terrorize a bunch of little kids until one brave/stupid sophomore comes into the scene and starts yelling for the gang guys to split or he’s gonna call the cops. He doesn’t want to get his friend in trouble, but shit, when you’ve got ten vatos dumping laundry soap on your couch and figuring out a way to get your refrigerator out the front door, it’s time to call the cops.
So this kid, while he’s standing up to these ten guys, gets a bottle broken over the head—from behind, of course. And, as those of us who have suffered multitudes of headwounds can tell you, oceans of blood pour from a torn scalp. I saw the afterparty photos; they looked like the cover of an Unsane album. Hot Lizzie Borden Action. The classroom scare film sure to be based on the assault will be called When Mom is Away, Blood Runs Red on Linoleum.
Bloody and stumbling, the kid is dragged out the front door and thrown down a flight of cement stairs. He gets up to fight and is immediately swarmed, knocked down on the sidewalk, and kicked over 100 times by five GROWN FUCKING MEN. Finally, after he’s unconscious and completely covered in his own blood, they let up—mostly because cop sirens were tearing up the street. And then, as they take off, one of the gang guys inexplicably runs back to the unconscious kid and stomps his head ten more times before someone at the party finally comes swinging at him with a baseball bat.
The ambulance shows up and the beaten kid spends the next two days in a coma. It takes him two months to learn how to walk again. He’s plagued by migraines. There is significant damage to his short-term memory. He loses his friendships with nearly everyone he knew at the party because they sat around and watched while he got killed. In the course of six months, he went from being a B student to failing nearly all of his classes.
He was supposed to work the day after his assault but, since he was in a coma, he was unable to restock Clamato and KY Jelly on the shelves of Aisle 9. Logically, he was then fired for missing his shift and, despite happy neighborhood slogans to the contrary, he worked at another faceless corporate grocery store with a strict no-tolerance policy when it came to blowing off work. His absence had already been noted by computers at command central in Fargo, ND—and it’s really hard to change what’s already in the computer—so the kid is not eligible for rehire, or even a positive job recommendation. And his boss is too much of a creep to go through the bother of fixing the problem for some dumb part-time kid, which is a financial blow to a single mom trying to raise a family with her lousy data-entry position, and since only 15% of his treatment is covered by insurance, they’ve been forced into bankruptcy as they try to win money from the assailant…
The tattooed fuckalope I saw on that first day of jury duty was the same guy who ran back to get those last ten blows in on the unconscious kid. The defendant was a little guy. Baby Napoleon. An acne-scarred show-off. As witnesses took the stand and related the story, he murdered them with his eyes. He sat and smirked while the victim was on the stand, making an obvious attempt to hold in forced laughs. Even on trial, he was playing tough guy. His lawyer, staring straight ahead, kept goosing him with a subtle elbow. The defendant would gradually slouch in the bench with his feet straight out, bring his eyebrows together, stick his chin out, and look at the jury like we just walked into HIS courtroom. His lawyer would whisper something into he ear and he’d sit up straight again, fold his hands, and set his facial expression back to “innocent lamb.” (Note to people accused of assault: Trying to intimidate the jury is not the best way to prove your innocence.)
Despite my lack of sleep, each day of the trial soared along. We were walked through housing schematics, saw gory pictures of the bloody kitchen, the bloody sidewalk, the victim on a neckboard with a red, spilt-up face, the gang logos spraypainted on the interior walls of the house. A well-rehearsed gang “expert” told us all about the evil innerworkings of a street gang with a practiced “aw shucks, it’s really horrible, isn’t it?” mannerism that seemed more suited to elementary school students than us adults. In my favorite part of the trial, we were shown a stock picture of a hilarious gang member straight from Central Casting, and then a picture of the defendant right alongside. Lines were drawn between the matching features of the two. Yay, Officer Friendly! Can we have a milk break now?
I’m my learned legal opinion, the prosecution spent far too much time proving that the defendant was in a gang. I have plenty of friends who spent time in gangs when they were younger. Big deal. You grow up on a certain street and you join a gang because it beats getting the shit kicked out of you on a daily basis. You pretend to be tough, avoid doing anything too nasty, and then, after high school, you move away, never show your face in the neighborhood again, and hope no one hunts you down and kills you. All the people who remember you eventually die off, and then you can start going home for Christmas. Easy breezy.
But the dots were connected for us: Gang=scary=bad people=defendant.
In a slight miscalculation, the prosecution put one cop up on the stand who started bragging about being so tough on gangs, he arrest someone if they even looked like a gang member. Idiot. The prosecution put the kibosh on that one real quick, and the defense attorney, too busy piling through his notes to listen to the cop, missed his one opportunity to raise questions about the reports filed by the overzealous officer. I wanted to say, “Hey, Matlock! You gotta grill this cop! Someone who is willing to arrest people for being black or Latino or wearing baggy pants is also capable of cooking a police report to nail them, right?” But, as a member of the jury, it seemed out of place to step down and take over for the defense. Besides, my borrowed suit was at home.
The prosecutor was methodical and uninspiring. It was another day at the office for this guy. The defense attorney, however, was a wreck. Every time he opened his mouth, he made you nervous. Sort of like listening to Bush “talk” while visiting a foreign country. The increasingly annoyed stenographer had to tell him to speak up after every sentence; the judge took off his glasses, closed his eyes, and rubbed his nose in frustration every five minutes or so. It was like watching a stage play fall apart because an actress didn’t know her lines. And, if things weren’t awkward enough, the defense had some painfully obvious tricks in his bag.
When interviewing one of the prosecutor’s witnesses, he asked the kid, “so, is that when you went to your car and got the gun?”
“The gun you threatened my client with.”
“I didn’t have a gun!”
“I have no further questions your honor,” he said, walking away from the podium.
Come on. No one’s stupid enough to believe that one. (revision: yes, yes they are.)
Or the tactic that backfired while he was interviewing the actual victim. “Would you say you were drunk?” he asked.
“Not drunk,” said the victim. “I had finished half of a 40 oz.”
“That’s a lot of beer. And you weren’t drunk? That’s quite a tolerance. Do you drink often? Is it fair to say you have a drinking problem?”
“I think I’ve gotten drunk like three times in my life.”
“You seem to have some lapses in your story. Is it fair to say that your drinking may have clouded your memory?”
“Well, sir. I was also beaten into a coma.”
“So you would agree that because of your injury that your testimony is suspect.”
“I remember everything up until that guy started kicking me in the head,” said the victim, pointing to the defendant.
“Um … err … no further questions your honor.”
Thirty witnesses all saw the same thing. The gang members who attended the party had taken plea bargains and corroborated the testimony of the witnesses. In closing arguments, the defense attorney even admitted that his client was in on the beating, that it was a horrible crime, but that we should find it in our hearts to knock the charge down to the less serious Assault II.
So here we have a cut-and-dry story, one not contradicted by any testimony. Every single witness saw the same exact thing. The defense attorney basically told us the guy was guilty; it was only a matter of deciding the degree. I’d be out of there by lunchtime, right? 30 minutes of deliberation and then falafel, right?
Try 32 hours. 4 days. 12 idiots. No sleep. Kill me. Kill me. Kill me.
Pt 3 up 10/8. Swear
Finally. Vampire bats have brought me my manuscript with billions of red marks all over it. Wrongly assuming it was the blood of my enemies, I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was ink from a red pen. A very busy red pen. Edits. Mmmm. Delivered from Count Chop’s spooky mountain mansion. So, it’s probably a few weeks of tweaking the mastercopy and then, FINALLY, off to the printers. As of now, the pre-ordering shall begin on Halloween. Boo! (as in ghost, not chant of derision.)
Umm, anything else? Just that I hope Ahnold gets to be Governor of California. You fuckers deserve that moron. “Ah djust vant tue gif Cal-ee-FORN-yah bock to zee pee-pel!” Hellooooo soundbites! Here’s an MP3 approximation of the radio ads I heard when I was driving down to LA.