rail

There are many angels among us. The underground railroad still exits. It’s primary use is salvaging women from the men who hurt them, beat them, kill them and exploit them. Jane is on the run, scared and only knows to go to her pimp. After all, it’s what she was raised to do.

Only 3 people knew where the shelter was and Robert was not one of them. He would call his mother and set up a time and place for the woman to arrive. She would be whisked away and no one knew where. Getting the woman was only a small part of the process. Once she was put in a car, she would be driven to several points in which, each time, she was moved to another car for a minimum of 5 stops. Not one of the drivers knew anything other than where to pick the woman up and where to drop her off. Disposable cell phones were used and the route changed frequently. Before getting into the first car, the woman handed over her cell phone. The battery was taken out and the phone disposed of. She wasn’t just running from an abusive man; she was running from and leaving behind her life.

Now he had to call her and tell her Jane had run. She would be upset and somewhat angry at him even though it wasn’t his fault.

He sighed and dialed her number.

“Robert, where is she?” she asked. She didn’t even bother with “Hello.”

“Mom, I’m sorry, but she ran,” he said. He was a grown man but now felt like a petulant child that his mom was scolding. “I made sure she had cab fare and the sergeant had the address to give the cab driver, but she wouldn’t listen.”

“What do you mean the sergeant had the address? Why didn’t you make sure she got in the cab? I had someone waiting for her all afternoon. Not until the sun began to set did I have her leave the coffee shop. What was so important that you couldn’t talk to her yourself?”

Robert couldn’t help but chuckle. After all these years, his mother still believed that there wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. She had instilled in him that failure wasn’t an option or a choice. She also didn’t understand that a judge cannot be talking with defendant’s or becoming too familiar with them.

“Well, Mom, it’s a bit of a long story…”

“Robert, it always is. You know damn well how skittish and scared these women are. Promise me the next time, you get her to me.”

“Yes, ma’am, I will,” he said because chances were, Jane would be back in a courtroom again. They always came back unless they died. From what he had seen of her, she would surely be dead soon. He prayed that she offended again and he could get her to safety before her pimp or the streets murdered her. It was a waiting game of which would happen first.

The rest of the chapter continues on my Patreon site. I do hope you’ll join in. It’s $2.00 a month. An amazing deal! https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis

 

 

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Chapter 5 – Going home.

Posted: September 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

#MyNameIsChantelle

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The rest of the chapter continues on my Patreon site. I do hope you’ll join in. It’s $2.00 a month. An amazing deal! Susan Lewis on Patreon

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As I continue to write my book and publish it online (check it out and follow along at: https://www.patreon.com/SusanLewis), I am struck by how natural and easy it is for me to talk to people and conversely, how difficult it is for so many other people.

Why is this?

Short of someone actually physically assaulting you, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

They insult you? So what. You’ve insulted plenty in your life.

They make fun of you? Yeah…again…so what? You’ve done that too.

They scare you? Walk away then.

They disagree with you? OH MY GOD! HOW HORRIBLE! Lock them up and throw away the key.

I remember when I was doing extensive work in the criminal justice system. One thing I needed was help and 99% of the time I’d hear “Yes, I’ll help you but don’t make me go with you in there. I’ll help with mailings or phone calls or even a few bucks, but…no…not…them.”

I’d sort of pause for a moment and look at them.

“Why? What are you afraid of? Another human being? You’re perfectly safe. In fact, you’re safer in there than out here, so what’s the problem? Looking at a student scares you?”

No one could ever really answer my question, so I began to realize it wasn’t the environment (though it is different). It was the fact that they would have to look at another person and take responsibility for them.

Holy hell, what was I thinking?

Well, I’ll tell you what I was thinking and it’s this – that it would be fun, different and I could learn and see “the other side” of things and maybe…just maybe…make a difference.

That I would get out of my comfortable and boring life and stretch my wings and abilities and DO something.
DO something. Not talk about it. I couldn’t handle another conversation about the latest TV show or how difficult someone’s life was because they couldn’t afford to take another vacation or buy the latest phone or car or whatever crap they were worried about.

So I went and now I’m writing about it. I’m remembering as much as I can and I see that on some level, I miss these women. I’m finally at the part of the book where I’m introducing some of them to my readers. I’m struggling with how to describe them so the reader feels they know them and are standing in my shoes.

What did these broken and horrible people do for me?

Well, that’s pretty much what the book is about, but in a nutshell, I can tell you that I learned as much from they as they did from me.

Last I heard, my program was pretty damn successful. 5 years after completing my stint, I heard back that not one of the them was a repeat offender. All of them got out, went back into society and behaved themselves.

The secret?

First of all, I had some great data and help to give them. You can’t get anything done without the correct tools.

Secondly, and I think the most important, is I listened to them. I did not try to change them. I sat down and heard every word they said. I did not coddle them. I did not allow them to be victims. I pointed them in a better direction and let them make their own decisions.

Thirdly, I pulled no punches. I ran a very tight ship, made the rules clear and never let anyone abuse those barriers. I even brought in a whistle to use if they stopped listening to me.

Sitting with the broken is tricky. You cannot allow yourself to get pulled into their crap, which they created, and sympathize and go along with their justifications. We are the ones who build our own traps and we’re the only ones that can unbuild them. Kind of cool and kind of sucks.

You’re the only one that can fix you but it’s almost impossible to do it alone. I tried and it almost killed me emotionally.

We all want everyone to listen and understand us, but how often do you do that for another? Huh? When was the last time you took the time to just sit and listen to someone and not judge them or tell them what they did wrong?
If you want to fix you, first go help fix someone else. Trust me, you’ll find that you’re really not that broken.

You just think you are.

The next installment of my book:

Sam saw the scissors in my hand and froze. I don’t know why I grabbed them. I looked down at them and was surprised to see them in my hand. Everything was spinning around in my head. I had a thought and then it was replaced with 10 more, maybe 20. Everything meant everything and nothing at once. Somehow this was my fault and my first reaction was that he was right. It was my fault. All of it. Somehow I knew he was right and then I knew he was wrong. I felt like I had been raped and was blaming myself for it. I grappled with that thought that it was something I had said or done that made him sleep with someone else. Someone else in my bed. My bed. Not her bed. Mine.

Then I remembered why I grabbed the scissors. I held them tightly as I raised up my hand and looked at him. His eyes darted from the scissors, to my face, and back.

He was scared.

So was I.

“How is this my fault?” I asked. I waved the scissors for effect. Seeing the fear in his eyes made me feel powerful for a moment. I waved them again, wanting to see him scared some more.

It worked. He gulped and took a step back. I heard Maverick crying at the patio door.

“What are you going to do with those?” he asked and nodded towards my hand holding the scissors. I had no idea.

“Are you worried that I’ll stab you? Do you think I’d be capable of something like that? Is that why you’re afraid? Huh? Is that why? Are you afraid I’m going to turn into Lorena Bobbitt and cut your dick off?” I asked and stepped forward. I had no intention of hurting him. The thought hadn’t entered my mind. As angry and hurt as I was, I was too busy fighting my own battle in my head of blaming myself and then blaming him. Back and forth it went, rapidly and with no control.

“Please put the scissors down. You’re making me nervous,” he said.

I looked down at them. I nodded, turned around, and marched down the hall and into our bedroom. I closed the door behind me and locked it. I opened up his closet and looked at all his clothes hanging there. All the clothes I had purchased for him, washed and ironed, arranged by the type of clothing and color, and all on wooden hangers. No wire hangers! I had probably spent $10,000.00 on him for his clothes over the last few years.

How many had he worn for her? What was her favorite? Did she go through my drawers and touch my things? Did she use my shampoo and hair conditioner? What about my razor and favorite soap in the shower or did she draw a bath and pour my favorite bubble bath while he rubbed her back and washed her?

I felt my heart explode with anger and jealousy.

I grabbed the expensive suit I bought him last year for us to attend a formal wedding. The wedding was for a colleague at the insurance office I worked at. I had been surprised to receive the invitation but gladly accepted. I took Sam to buy a suit and of course, we had to go to Nordstrom’s. Nothing less would do. Sam didn’t like anything on sale and I wanted him to look good, so I plunked down a few thousand and bought the suit, shirt, tie, shoes, and socks. He had no need for any suits but had to have the best. I agreed and had to admit he looked so handsome in it, I didn’t want him to take it off.

I held the suit out in front of me and took the scissors and cut the jacket from the bottom up, all the way to the shoulders. It cut smoothly and easily. I did that to his slacks. I looked for the shirt that went with his suit and cut the arms off of it. I watched as the fabric fell to the floor of the closet.

I started to feel better, so I cut up each piece of clothing, one by one, and watched the pieces fall to the floor.

I heard Sam try the door and then knock on it. “Suz, you OK? What are you doing? Open the door. Let me in,” he said and kept tapping at the door. I walked over and opened it. I still had the scissors in my hand.

“I’m fine, just busy,” I said and turned around and walked back to the closet. I heard him follow me. I took his favorite Hawaiian shirt and cut the sleeves off of it and watched the fabric fall.

He walked over and looked at the pile of his ruined clothes on the floor of the closet. “What in the hell are you doing?” he asked and tried to grab the scissors from my hand. I stepped back and put them behind me.

“No, you can’t have these. Get away from me!” I shouted. I knew how this looked. I was acting crazy and wouldn’t have argued with anyone who said so, but I didn’t feel crazy. I felt clear headed and aware. I felt as if I was taking steps to claim my life back. Somehow destroying his clothes was a way to do that. I knew if I didn’t do something, we’d end-up in another horrible fight, one that I might actually stab him. It was the type of crazy that made sense, if only to me. It was better that I cut his clothes rather than him. This was perfect logic to me in my  state of mind.

The rest of the chapter continues on my Patreon site. I do hope you’ll join in. It’s $2.00 a month. An amazing deal!

My Name Is Chantelle

 

 

Here’s Chapter 3 of the book. I hope you are enjoying what you’ve read and will come over and read the rest of the story. I’m up to Chapter 15 and it’s going quite well.

Judge Robert Ulysses James leaned back in his chair behind his desk. His middle name was in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, whom his mother and grandmother considered a saint. This was carved in stone on his mother’s side of the family. Robert had been told the story of his family being former slaves at least a thousand times during his childhood. They would have named his brother Abraham if he had had one. He was the only child and felt that their heritage now rested on his shoulders. He often wished he had a sibling to help share the burden, but he accepted his fate gladly.

He was in his chambers and relaxing after a short lunch and getting ready to go back into his courtroom. His courtroom. Even after all these years on the bench, the thought of having his own courtroom still seemed a tad unreal, as if it was all a joke and soon someone would walk in and tell him so. That was nonsense. He knew that. But he always had that stray thought in the back of his mind. It never left him and never would. It kept him honest and on his toes. Every day was another day that he worked to fulfill his promise to himself to make things right, to better the condition of his fellow African-Americans and everyone else, and to never forget where he came from.

His was not the usual and often used cliche of a poor black child growing up in poverty without a father. That stereotype bothered him more than the “Amos and Andy” or “Super Fly” droll that passed as fact amongst most people, black and white alike, as the usual life of a black man in America.

He was familiar with the “Shuck ‘n Jive” routine of his ancestors and friends growing up in Oakland. To downplay it whilst being hassled by a white police officer was the best way to go. Not necessarily being stupid, but acting it. Keep your mouth shut, nod your head, offer no resistance, and he could usually walk away unscathed. Well, unscathed physically but not emotionally. It did no good to get upset. It was best to agree, be courteous, and offer no information unless asked. The few times he was stopped for being in the wrong part of Oakland, he would politely hand over his ID, mention his father’s name and wait. Always with a smile and always with patience while the officers checked and then double-checked his ID, asking questions and trying to trip him up. He learned to give quick and concise answers and to not elaborate. That lesson served him well as an attorney and later as a judge. “Rule your life with intelligence and not emotion” was his motto.

The officers were always surprised to learn who his father was. Robert did not fit the stereotype “Negro” of most bigots. He came from a good family, his father was a well known and respected attorney in San Francisco for a prestigious law firm, made good money and lived in Piedmont, the nicest area in Oakland. They owned their home, drove nice cars, kept the yard clean and tidy, and ate food other than fried chicken and watermelon.  He spoke proper English and his mother was constantly correcting his grammar. Any type of street or ghetto talk was not allowed. He was taught to speak properly, enunciate his words, and to hold his head up high.

Robert learned of racism not from his family but from simply walking down the streets of Oakland as a young child. He was aware of the different colors of people, but he was born in 1945 when Oakland was a place for hard working people who were harmonious with each other. Racial tension was rare.

Founded in 1852, Oakland quickly expanded due to the railroads. In 1906, the number of refugees and homeless people doubled as they made their way from San Francisco after the devastating earthquake. General Motor’s opened a plant in 1916, followed by Chrysler in 1929. Oakland soon became home of many manufacturing plants, canneries, metal factories, bakeries, manufacturer of the internal combustion engine, cars, and ship building. It was known as the “Detroit of the West.” It was prosperous and expanding. After WWII started, thousands of poor and rural African-Americans migrated from the Deep South to work in the shipyards.

After WWII, the black population began to expand as the shipping and automotive industries disappeared. Harmonious and prosperous before the war, by the 1950’s, the population was becoming poorer and poorer. Between 1950 and 1960, 100,000 property owners left to live further north. It was known as the “White Flight.”

The Oakland police began to heavily recruit white officers from the Deep South in order to respond to the increasing population of the African-Americans. The stage was set for racial tensions and was escalated by the brutality that the blacks were dealt with. False arrests, planted evidence, excessive force, and falsified police documents became the norm rather than the unusual.

In 1966, there were 16 black officers and 661 white officers. “The Black Panther Party for Self-defense” was formed. They followed white officers on their rounds, documenting their actions and openly carrying guns. By 1970, gang controlled dealing of heroin and cocaine caused the murder rate of Oakland to be at least twice that of New York city or San Francisco.

On one spring morning as Robert played basketball with Jerome, they stopped as the cop car parked and two white officers approached them. They asked them the usual questions of who they were and what they were doing.

“Why are you asking us that?” Jerome asked. He was a foot taller than the two officers and was as lean and strong as Robert. At 16, they were immortal, young, and healthy.

One of the officers sneered at him. “It’s not your place to ask us any questions, boy,” he said. Robert felt Jerome’s hackles rise. He gently put his hand on Jerome’s arm to calm him down. Jerome pushed his hand away and stepped closer to the officer. Robert’s stomach tightened.

For the rest of the story, go here:

My Name Is Chantelle

 

Yep, sort of an odd thing to say. Mind you, it’s not that I ever talk to them about me. I don’t. They don’t know who I am or where I live. They only know me as a woman named “Susan” who grades their lessons and keeps them going.

Some correspond back with a letter attached to their lessons. Some just send the lessons back. It doesn’t matter as long as they are moving along.

Today, one sent me this and as I read it, I felt the universe settle down again and make a bit more sense.

On change – I’ve never met a person I didn’t care about or not care about what condition he/she was in. I could always see their possibilities. I don’t care how many may consider himself a failure. I believe in him for he can change what is wrong with his life. anytime you are ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he/she develops the desire, they can take away from their life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within. Criminon has transformed my lief in every way. It’s barriers of study will help you understand who we are as individuals. Without these courses and the awesome instructor helping you change in the right way, it would be harder. So just go ahead and take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step. I did and it’s great! Thank you Criminon!” R.H. “Learning Skills for Life”

For you see, there’s only one thing I know when I work with an inmate – they are in jail.

The rest? It doesn’t matter because I know once someone is in the system, it’s designed to keep them there. Repeat customers are the cheapest way to keep the money flowing. It’s good business and make no mistake – the criminal justice system IS a business.

I have my own problems and the only way I know to deal with them and come out the other side is to help another.

I’ve got lots of these wonderful letters. If you want me to post them once in a while, let me know.

He tried to open the door and was met with the chain locking him out. Hearing him try again and call out somehow made me feel angrier, even though I was the one who locked him out. Standing just off to the side of the front door and behind the wall where he couldn’t see me, I leaned against the wall and looked up at the ceiling. I couldn’t decide what to do.

On one hand, I wanted him to struggle and try to get in. If I didn’t let him in, at some point he would try the garage door, which I had also locked, and then the patio door, also locked, along with all the windows. It was hot but I shut them all and double checked.

On the other hand, I wanted to let him in and let him know I knew what he had been up to. I wanted him to know he wasn’t going to get away with it. I wanted him to hurt as badly as I did.

I had put Maverick outside in the backyard, but could hear him fussing and crying because he heard his dad at the door. He wanted in. He wanted to run to the door and do his happy dance. Scout sat on the fireplace mantle piece, casually licking his paws and grooming his face as if this was an everyday occurrence. I had always admired his aloofness and lack of care or concern about anyone but himself.

“Hey! Are you there? Let me in. You put the chain on the door and it won’t open. Susan? Honey? Are you there? Where are you?” he shouted and kept pushing at the door. This was typical of Sam. Something doesn’t work, but keep doing it anyway. Door won’t open so keep pushing it. I wondered how long he would keep trying that.

I heard my cell phone ring. It was on the table near me in the living room. He could hear it too. I turned my head and watched it bounce slightly from the vibration.  It stopped after 3 rings. I waited and listened to him leave me a voice mail. I felt like I was in 2 different dimensions. The one that was where I was standing and the other wherever it was that contained my voice on the voice mail. I closed my eyes and rubbed them. The mascara was long gone from my crying. I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see if I had raccoon eyes or if I had shed enough tears to have washed it all away.

“Susan, if you’re there, pick up…” I heard him say. Once again, he couldn’t quite get the difference between leaving a voice mail and talking into an answering machine. I sighed and came around the corner.

For the rest of the story, please come over to my Patreon site and follow along. I’d love to see you over there!

“My Name is Chantelle”