My face blew up at such a casual sight
this miracle is of ecstatic fright
they’ll rush above me to oblivion
outlining white sidewalks with halogen
oh have you ever felt so god damn strong
how come it takes some people some damn long
he tried to squeeze the lemon juice to rain
the citrus drawing out the seasons stains—Passion Pit
After learning that my little brother had been abused by the same guy that had been abusing me for almost two years, my stomach dropped, and immediately felt like I had to throw up. It made me pissed that I hadn’t known this all along. I should have seen the signs. I didn’t sleep that night. I beat myself up all night drowning in my tears. My pillow was nipped over multiple times throughout the night in hopes that the other side would dry by the time the other side was a pool of tears. Maybe if I said something earlier. then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. I have failed as an older brother at protecting him. Does he blame me? Can I face him in the morning? These are the things that were running through my head. Some of them I knew the answer to but was too scared to admit to myself it wasn’t my fault.
Weeks after my parents got word of the abuse Eric, and I went in and talked with detectives. We were pulled out of a lot of school to talk to our lawyers and explain our stories with them. When I talked with the first detective, I wasn’t very comfortable, but I got most of it out. I explained that he touched me, but nothing else. When the preliminary trial was coming up, I had to meet with my lawyer more than once and the whole truth had to come out. I told her everything. She explained to me that this wasn’t what I told the detective, and I told her I wasn’t comfortable with the detective, so I didn’t want to talk. She said it happens with every case like this. More and more information comes out every time. Mike was facing many charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) of all degrees. My lawyer told me he would be facing minimum up 18 years in prison no matter what. For some reason this didn’t seem like enough time for destroying my child hood, and definitely not enough time for destroying my younger brother’s child hood.
Mike was on the news a lot and every one of my friends knew him as my brother. At first everyone didn’t know what to say to me, but once the first question broke the ice everyone felt free to speak their mind. They asked me what happened and if I knew anything about it. I told them I wasn’t sure, or I wasn’t able to disclose that information. Some of the more popular “Jocks’ of the school who never talked to me would jump to conclusion and ask me if he had ever touched me. They tried to play it off as a joke to get everyone to laugh, and I tried to laugh along, but that only got me so far until the name calling came. Hey faggot! heard your brother was into giving you a handy here and there. So, was Mike a fag? You roomed with him, right? How was rooming with a faggot and getting raped as a surprise for Christmas?
I still felt like Mike was my brother for a while after, so I took offence to the
slander that was talked about him. I didn’t care about the names they called me. but I didn’t want Eric hearing them. For around two weeks out of that year I didn’t want to step foot into that high school. For a while I was so confused about my feelings for Mike. I was mad at him for doing what he did to Eric and I. I felt sorry for him for what was about to happen to him. I felt bad that his child hood wasn’t good, and that he couldn’t just live a normal life. But most of all I was relieved that I didn’t ever have to see or talk to him again. It was like the typical cliché used a weight lifted off my shoulders.
The trial was soon coming up and Eric and I were told that we may have to testify depending on Mike’s plea. At first, I was scared and embarrassed that I may have had to get up in front of everyone and tell my story because frankly I was not ready for that yet. No news from Mike’s attorney had come so we just accepted that there was going to be a trial. My parents, Eric, and I were scheduled to meet with our lawyer a week or so before the actual trial. She was going to run us through what may happen, and what we should say if we were called up to testify. We were on our way to Grand Haven, Michigan where the office we were meeting our lawyer was located. It was around a half an hour drive from Grand Rapids where we lived.
Once we arrived in Grand Haven, I opened up the door to the van to get out and the gust of air that kissed me on the cheek was so pure that it brought a smile to my face. All my feelings of anxiety and nervousness soon were eaten up by the beautiful sense of euphoria that so happened to glide through my body. We walked up to the doors to the office and I almost didn’t want to go in. It was so peaceful outside that it almost didn’t seem true. Our lawyer called us in and sat us in a room with a circular table. She normally had a manila folder in her hands, but this time she did not.
“I’m going to make this quick and painless,” she started to explain, “about 11 hours ago I had been given word that Mike had pleaded guilty.” There was a silence about the room after she had said this. We all kind of looked at each other to make sure that this was really happening. The woman smiled and explained that they will not be holding a trial now. They would be sentencing him and that is it. No testifying, no trial, no humiliation. She let us go and we walked through the security metal detectors with smiles on our faces. The guards there said, “Have a nice day folks.” But I didn’t have anything to say back. My smile explained everything I was feeling, or at least I thought that was what happiness felt like. I wasn’t sure because I have been so alienated from this feeling for over two years. It was the most overwhelming day of the year.
A month later or so we received a letter in the mail stating the date that Mike would be sentenced. I knew right then that I would be attending. I wanted closure to the event, but I think mostly I wanted to see the helpless face he wore that day that couldn’t do anything but sit and watch as his life was thrown in the trash before his eyes. I also wanted to see me. I wanted to show him that he no longer had control over the boy he used to. Before I knew it, I was back on the road to the courthouse. There was my mom, dad, Eric, Kelly, and I in the van. I knew that some people were meeting us down there for the sentencing because as traumatic it was for Eric and I it was just as bad for our family. They too were wrapped up in the drama that consumed us. Nobody said anything on the ride there. Once we pulled into the parking lot my grandparents’ vehicle was already there.
My grandparents are very close to our family. Sometimes my grandma is the only one I can tell certain things to because she always knows the right thing to say. My grandpa is always been on our side and has always told us boys that he would always be on our side no matter what. Walking into the courthouse was the family of the year. The bravery of Eric speaking out, the patience of my parents, and none better than the support of my grandparents and my girlfriend standing beside me the whole time. The strength of all these amazing people beside me could be felt surging through each of us. It was like all of us had the same heart beat and a linked consciousness. No words were spoken just gestures of strength and determination that this was in fact, the end of a nightmare we were all living in. Sitting down in the second to the front row of the courtroom we waited and waited.
The judge came out and sat down. Not ten seconds later a door in the opposite side of the room opened up and there came the in mates. Shackled, and handcuffed Mike came trotting to his seat. He had lost weight since I last seen him, and his hair had grown quite a bit. He kept his head down like if he never looked up again it would show how sorry he was or something. I knew he wasn’t sorry. He wasn’t sorry for what he put my family through, or for ending many kid’s childhoods. He was only sorry for getting caught, sorry for picking Eric to be his victim instead of a weaker kid that wouldn’t say anything, but ultimately, he was sorry for getting caught.
About six criminals got sentenced before Mike. The crimes they had committed were like, shop lifting, vandalism, and violating probation. They all had something to say to the judge afterword’s. Mike however was unique Mike’s name was called, and he came up to the podium. The judge read to him that he had pleaded guilty against all 7 charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct that were being held against him. Five first degree and two second degree. He had accepted that he was guilty and stepped to the side. After he stepped aside my mother had gotten up in front of the court room and read her final statement about Mike and the crimes he committed. I wasn’t worried about how well she would hold up during the reading, I was worried that somebody in the audience was going to yell out something like “YOU DESERVE EVERY YEAR YOU GET, YOU SICK BASTARD!”
The other criminals that had not been sentenced yet gave Mike the sickest glare anyone could give. I remember looking at one of the women there and she just stared at me and I saw the sparkle of a tear run down her face as the words of our story came out of my mother’s mouth. The last thing I found myself chuckling about was the thought of that I sure wouldn’t want to be put in jail with those guys giving Mike the stink eye.
The whole speech my mother read out loud I made sure I stared straight into Mike’s eyes I wanted him to feel the pain still withering inside of me. I wanted him to know how it felt to not be wanted. But most of all, I wanted him to know how it feels to wonder if it was better to live or to die. After my mom was done, she took her seat. After the next criminal was called up Mike was escorted out of the courthouse. We also left. The doors opened and the sun blinded me. It was like waking up in the morning and seeing light for the first time. I rubbed my eyes a little bit and opened them again finding out that it was cloudy and not sunny at all. What was the flash of fight I just saw? It didn’t even take me a second to know that the flash of light that blinded me ensured that I was starting a new chapter to my life. I just had to run across the pages and make the story happen.
Everyone that attended the sentencing went out for lunch with us right near the courthouse. It was like it never happened. Everyone was so happy at lunch, we laughed, we smiled, we were once again a family. Not to mention Kelly, Eric, and I were pretty stoked about missing a whole day of school for this!