Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No Joy in the Ride

Cecelia - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

I talked with Cecelia the following day by phone. I'd spoken to her probation officer, and could report the following:

Her probation officer had been notified while visiting the school that Cecelia had been suspended. The probation officer immediately notified the judge that Cecelia had violated her probation status. A bench warrant had been issued for her arrest, requiring her to appear before her juvenile court judge for violation of probation.

Cecelia sat in silence after I gave her the update, on the phone. I could hear her breathing, but not much else.

Finally, she said, slowly and meaningfully, "Daaaammmn. So, whuz gonna happen?"

I told her that if a police officer happened upon her (a not unlikely scenario), she would be arrested and taken to detention.

Or, she could take matters into her own hands, and turn herself in. By doing so, she could make the case to the judge that although she'd had difficulties at school, she was making a serious effort to own up to the consequences of her action and follow through.

She was unpersuaded by my logic. Voluntarily going to detention? Yeah, right.

"I dunno, Miss A. I don't think I want to go to DT. It sucks bad in there."

"One way or another, C, you're going to wind up in there, anyway."

"Yeah, but it could be months before I get caught."

"Months that you won't be in school, won't be getting an education, and will be sitting in your mom's house bored out of your mind, hiding from cops, worrying every time you go on the street, and living in constant paranoia, knowing that it's hanging out there, waiting for you, when you least expect it."

"Yeah. That's true."

"I'll go with you. I'll take you there. I'll call the judge, and I'll explain what happened."

"Really? You'd do that for me?" she asked me.

"You know I would," I told her.

"Would you do something else for me?" she asked.

"Maybe. What is it?"

"Would you help me get enrolled in another school before we go to DT, so I can tell the judge I did that, and I can start going to school as soon as I get out of DT?" she asked.

"Yeah. I'll do that," I told her.

"Would you do it tomorrow?" she asked.

"Okay, we'll do it tomorrow. I'll pick you up at 9:00, first thing in the morning. We'll go to your school, and then we'll go to DT and you can turn yourself in."


After I got off the phone, I went to the Lieutenant and cleared my plan. It sounded crazy to him, but if a gang member was going to peacefully respond to a warrant, well, that was okay with him.

"Just be careful," he told me.

The next morning, at 9 a.m. exactly, I pulled up in front of Cecelia's weathered green house. She was standing outside, waiting for me, but she wasn't alone. At her side was Flaca, dressed identically to Cecelia in a white t-shirt, oversized dickies, and g-nikes. Both girls had their hair slicked back into ponytails.

Cecelia climbed into the front of the car, and Flaca slid into the back seat.

"Flaca wants to go to Skyline, too, Miss A," Cecelia told me. "We both want to go to the same school."

"Doesn't Flaca already have a school she goes to?" I asked.

The girls informed me, in unison, that Flaca wasn't in school yet, and wasn't registered to attend anywhere.

"Well, okay. Is Flaca okay with going to DT, too?"

Flaca's eyes got very wide, and she sat up towards the front seat. "What? Why are we going to DT? I don't wanna go to DT!" she screeched.

I looked at Cecelia, who was suddenly slouching in her seat.

"C, didn't you tell her what the plan was?" I asked.

"No, MIss A. I didn't tell her that part."

"What part," Flaca said, belligerently. "What part didn't you tell me?"

"Cecelia has a warrrant for her arrest for probation violation, and she's going to DT after she registers for school."

"Sheeettt, Cee Cee, what are you thinking?" Flaca asked.

"I just have to get right with Judge V, and take care of my shit."

Flaca sat back, closed her eyes, and ignored us the rest of the way to Sunrise Alternative School. She was clearly pissed.

When I pulled into the school parking lot, Flaca refused to leave the car. She was so annoyed with Cecelia that she clearly didn't even want to register for school now. She sat, arms folded across her chest, and stated that she'd wait for us in the car.

I looked at my purse on the floor of the car. For a second, I thought, "Maybe I should take it inside." Then, I asked myself, "Will Flaca think that I don't trust her, or maybe that I think she'd steal from me?" I made a decision and left my purse lying there.

Cecelia and I went into the school, met the school secretary, and were ushered into the principal's office to discuss her enrollment at Sunrise. The principal's office was wide and bright, with a large plate glass window that faced the street, behind his back.

As the Principal explained the rules and policies at Sunrise to Cecelia, I listened, and looked out the window.

I watched as a light blue Chevy Lumina turned onto the street in front of the school. It looked familiar.

Cecelia recognized it right away. "Shit, Miss A...Flaca is stealing your car!"

Before I could even react, she jumped up, and ran out of the principal's office, and then the front doors of the school. I followed her, and as I exited the swinging exit doors, I watched as Cecelia jumped into my car with Flaca, and they drove away.

I'd left my keys in my purse.


Mongoliangirl said...

Holy crap! Sometimes you've just got to follow your guts, madame!
Strange - seeing your own car pulling out of the parking lot, eh?
I love this...and the one from yesterday. Your writing is amazing.

SciFi Dad said...

OK, just catching up, but I must admit that - trust issues or not - I would not have left my personal stuff (wallet, cell phone, whatever) in a car with a kid who seemed to have a history like that.

Trouble said...

I was stupidly naive in those days. About almost everything, I think.

Rassles said...

I wouldn't even leave my shit in my car with my sister.

Gwen said...

Ouch. I can see myself being sensitive like that and getting burned. I hope you continue to write about Cecelia. I'm getting really invested in the stories of these people. I'm with Mongolian Girl - your writing is amazing.

(M)ary said...


TaraDharma said...

no matter how much you want them to make the right choices, these girls are going to continue to go south until they hit the proverbial bottom. You've tried, you're doing good work. Question is: when do you move on and let them crash?

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