reported to the police that he had continued to hit her
while crying and yelling over and over again,
patient. Possible head injury,” came the message from
dispatch, and it was far from where we were. It would be a long
twenty to twenty-five-minute lights and sirens response to reach a
community outside Reno known as Sun Valley. That is too long for any
serious head injury. And this one was. Serious, that is. Actually,
it was fatal.
were tough responses usually followed by tough cases. Because of the
time required to arrive, any chance of a favorable outcome was mostly
lost. This case, however, was over even before the family called
dispatch, but no one knew that until we arrived. This is what
four and a half months in the county juvenile facility for minor
offenders, Mom’s sixteen-year-old son was released, and she had
picked him up. He had been a guest of the county because he would
beat up kids around the neighborhood.
was his anger. For him, physical pain and injury at home and from
fighting everywhere were all about who and what he was. His life was
physical and emotional abuse and pain. His whole life. It never
ended and probably worsened as time passed. He was so filled with
anger and resentment they spilled out and affected everyone around
him. He was a broken youth.
stepfather and stepbrother abused him at home, and anywhere else they
wanted. The neighbors said the two would team up and beat him and
sexually shame him in public any time they wanted. And they did it a
lot. The police had been called many times, but by the time they
arrived, no one would go on record with an official statement. All
who knew them feared the stepfather and stepbrother, and no one
wanted to risk their rage.
response, the kid would pick a person, big or small, and start
fighting with him. He didn’t care who it was and didn’t
do it to win. It was just to fight until he had been beaten enough
to make him feel as he usually did at home. Mom might have been the
only friend he had left, and she was usually drunk, as she was today.
the way home, the son had talked Mom into stopping for some beer and
food so they could celebrate his homecoming. Later, at home, he told
the police she agreed and bought two six-packs and some snacks. He
had wanted more, but Mom had no more money with her. He said she
told him they could get more money later at home, so he had settled
for the two six-packs.
they arrived home, they began an afternoon of celebration without the
stepfather or stepbrother. They were away for a week of hunting. Mom
and son could enjoy being home with each other and some neighbors
without problems. Or so they thought.
questioned, the neighbors said it all started when the beer ran out.
The son wanted more, and Mom said she didn’t have any money
left for beer if they wanted food for the rest of the month. The
neighbors said the son went “ballistic.”
promised, you promised!” he kept yelling at Mom, “You
said his yelling became louder and louder and that he would not stop.
Suddenly, he had run out of the trailer, grabbed a horseshoe off the
front yard gate, and ran back into the trailer. It was then his
anger turned to rage.
promised. You said we could get more money at the house,” he
yelled again while threatening Mom with the horseshoe. He was
crying, they said, and angrier than they had ever seen him.
two people remained when he first struck her. Most people at the
party feared him so much they left immediately when the yelling
started. Later it was reported to the police he had continued to hit
her with the horseshoe while crying and yelling over and over again,
“You promised, you promised,” while blood and tissue
the time we arrived, Mom was dead. Long dead. Her forehead was
gashed open and missing. Brain matter was spilling out from the area
where the forehead used to be and over what was left of her face to
the chin. Everything above her nose was smashed into something
looking more like a bowl of spaghetti sauce than a human head. She
was lying on the floor with a large pool of brain fluid and blood
around her head.
sixteen-year-old son was handcuffed and sitting in the back of the
police cruiser. He was still crying and saying over and over to no
one in particular,
said we could have more beer. She said we could have more beer. She
said we could have more beer…”
was returning to the county facility, and Mom would never pick him up
again. Today, at sixteen, this boy’s life had ended, just like
was nothing more for us except to report what had happened and
request the coroner. We then gathered our equipment and returned it
to the ambulance. While there, I grabbed another white sheet and
returned to the trailer to cover Mom. We were far from our response
zone, so we needed to start back as soon as possible. Our return
drive would take a long time.
a shift. What’s happening today?” my partner asked as he
don’t know,” I replied. “But we’ve already
used too many sheets.”
our drive, we had time for a bathroom break and to buy some fast food
to eat as we drove. Before returning to our station, we had to stop
at the hospital to replenish our supply of sheets. As we left the
hospital, I grabbed the mic and called dispatch.
happening with the other ambulances? Are they as busy as we are?”
she responded. “You two are the lucky ones today.”
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
Henry's story list and biography
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