I GOT ARRESTED one night when I was fourteen years old. But before that happened, I almost got run over and killed by a crazy guy in a battered old Ford sedan.
My friends and I were riding our ten speeds (dating myself?) in our neighborhood just off the railroad tracks. This was the third straight house mom moved us into that was close enough to the tracks that the cupboards would chit-chit-chatter with the passing trains. There were four of us. Out of somewhere, two men in an old green car pulled alongside us and started screaming and waving wildly. At us? At someone behind us? What was happening? We had no idea.
The car swerved in front of us with a sudden jerking bounce up and onto the sidewalk. HOLYFUCKWHATTHEFUCK was one of several related thoughts as I ditched my bike to avoid the wild-eyed passenger who came at me hard and fast. Smarter and faster than me, my friends stayed on their bikes and fled, leaving me on foot with two enraged Middle Eastern men, one still behind the wheel and reversing hard.
So, I ran. Fast as I could. And I yelled for help. A lot, I think. I ran across the street. I ran up onto front yards. The car followed me up onto those front yards, carving scars as it went. This was super disconcerting. I pounded on garage doors as I ran. It was dark and I was scared. I was fourteen. They were men. And one of them was trying to run over me with a car the size of my house.
After two blocks, of running and yelling, I got some distance and lost, I thought, the guy on foot. I ran up to a door and banged and yelled. Nothing. No answer. I sprinted back down the walkway and right into both men. One of them carried a two by four (what? where did that come from?) like a bat. Best part? The nails sticking from the end of the two by four. I kid you not. Tall hedges on my left, deadly weapon on right, I could only speed between and hope for the best. One of them grabbed a sleeve but only just, and I twisted free.
I’m so not having fun at this point.
Now they’re both after me on foot, but a neighbor finally comes out and ushers me inside. My pursuers disappear into the night and we call the cops immediately. I can hear my friends on the other line through the 9–11 “party line” and they’re happy to hear that I’m okay. They tell me later that when they turned and saw me running across grass with a car up my ass, they thought I was a goner. A cop car pulls up and to escort me home. Or so I think.
What really happened is this: The cops made me sit in the car for an hour while they gathered my attackers who drove past in another cop car, twice, and then IDENTIFIED ME. I am, along with my friends, promptly read my rights and arrested. The men are free to go home. Turns out the two adults who chased me down and tried to maim me were simply pursuing who they thought were vandals. Moments before they came upon us, other kids on bikes had thrown eggs at their house. Something about flirting with the guy’s daughter gone wrong. From the description, we knew it must have been the Keller twins, but we kept it zipped.
Should I have pressed charges? Sure. Absolutely. But I just wanted to go home. It wasn’t the last time I’d get busted by the police as a teenager for an adult’s trespasses. When I think about this incident, I’m reminded how often we treat teenagers like second class citizens. I hope I never become one of those dead-inside adults who rails against ‘teens these days’. Yes, I’ve been tempted. But then I remember myself.
[The “Life Moments” series consists of half-hour morning exercises. I sit, let a memory bubble up and type it out …. with the clock set for one half hour. Doesn’t leave much time for worrying about grammar or editing. Just get the stuff out the door.]