We were eating dinner when our front door was kicked in by the S.W.A.T team. I must have had a calm look on my face when you looked at me because you instantly started breaking down. I stood up from the table as they screamed at me to get on the floor. I got down on both knees with my feet crossed and put my hands behind my back. You were still screaming at the officers while they violently put the handcuffs on me. Slamming my head into the floor, pinning me down with a knee on my neck. Once they got me on my feet they pulled me out faster than they came in, leaving you alone, an officer stopped you from coming outside. The entire neighborhood was up and outside. I could hear everyone outside talking and making assumptions about what had happened and why I was being taken out in handcuffs by a S.W.A.T. Team. I saw one of my neighbors who I held cookouts with on holidays disappear behind the crowd with his phone up to his ear before I got shoved into the back seat of a detectives cruiser. They shut the door and instantly drove off with haste and didn’t wait for an escort. Just before we turned off the street I saw the same neighbor shaking his head yes. The detective driving me was quiet almost the entire ride until we arrived at the jail downtown half an hour later. “Dispatch we have major activity outside of the intake doors.”
The intake door for cruisers was being crowded by dozens of people. Shortly after getting on the radio the intake door opened and every officer in the station was pushing people out of the way so the detective’s cruiser could pull in. Many of the officers stayed outside while the door closed so no one could get in. I was pulled out of the vehicle with brute force as the rest of the officers walked in from a side door. In the chaos of everyone outside, the officers trying to keep the peace, one person got in. He pulled a pistol from his pants and shot twice, both bullets hitting me in the back, one in each shoulder. The detective saw him and before he could stop it, the guy shot, returning fire, killing the guy. One of the officers called for an ambulance and another kept the pressure on the wounds. I was getting cold and my vision began to blur, before passing out I could hear the detective screaming at the other officers for allowing this to happen. I went in an out of consciousness for what seemed like a lifetime as was laying on the ground, then in an ambulance and finally cuffed to a bed inside a hospital during the day. When I finally woke up I could barely breathe and I was in major pain. I noticed an officer outside the room arguing with my wife and finally leaving in tears. The television was on the local news station, it was early in the morning the next day.
I started to stir in the bed but couldn’t move much because of the pain and handcuffs. My heart rate started to rise and the door opened with a nurse and officer walking in. She checked my vitals, patted the officer on the shoulder and walked away. ”He’s awake and fine, just in pain.” The officer gave me a dirty look and scoffed as he walked back out of the room, closing the door with force. The volume was off but the subtitles were streaming across the bottom of the television. The reporter was talking about an arrest had been made in a multiple homicide case that could finally give the community some rest after the past few weeks since the murders. The news ended shortly after a press statement had been made from the police chief about the arrest. I fell back asleep as a cooking show turned on after. When I woke up the room was filled with officers, attorneys and my wife sitting in the corner on a chair quietly. The detective that drove me to the jail asked the first and only question just before the attorneys began firing questions and statements back and forth. “EVERYONE OUT!” The detective seemed like he wasn’t going to have any of their madness. As they filed out the door he stopped one. “You stay.” He stopped an older lady that was dressed far better than the rest of them. My wife still sitting on the chair quietly was allowed to stay in the room. “This is your attorney.” The detective left the room, closing the door and leaving the three of us in the room.
My wife didn’t even approach me, she just sat there, staring at the floor still in shock. The attorney spoke with ease and reassurance. “They have zero evidence against you relating to the multiple murders. They only have search history from your phone from a year ago, that’s what they are going off on.” I saw my wife’s face unclench and relief was cast over her. “Now as long as you don’t say anything and let me do all the talking, you will be free and we will begin pressing charges against the police department for excessive force during your arrest.” I shook my head in understanding of what she was saying. “Before we go any further, is there anything you need to get out into the open that could possibly ruin this case if they ever found out?” She waited with a notepad and pen ready to write anything I said down. “No, but I do want to know who sent you.” She put her notepad and pen back into her bag and took her glasses off, rubbing the bridge of her nose. “I’m repaying a favor to a very high prison official in Cook County. This official kept my nephew out of prison for a crime he was framed for, so I’m going to keep you out of prison because your innocent.” As she finished saying that my wife’s head picked up and looked dead into my eyes. She was scared and confused about what to believe. She followed the lawyer out of the room and another officer that was outside came in, taking the handcuffs off me. “Innocent till proven guilty right?” I rubbing my wrists “Thank you, sir.” He patted my leg while walking out, “Don’t let those other guys get to you, this goes higher than you would believe.”
I laid in the bed for the rest of the day thinking about what he said, putting things together. A few more days went by and my wife didn’t come back until she walked in with a change of clothes, setting them on the chair and walked out, officer and attorney watching. I knew this meant that I was being sent before a judge for trial. I got dressed and before leaving the room a tall man in a black suit walked into the room. “Listen to your attorney.” He shook my hand and walked out, not before I noticed the ID badge he had clipped onto his shirt under his suit jacket that said “FBI” on it. This made more sense now, with what the other officer said to me about this being higher than I realized, I realized it now. I walked out of the hospital room and was put back into handcuffs and escorted by multiple officers to the parking garage and put into an unmarked government SUV. My wife disappeared in the parking garage and I was left with an officer and my attorney in the SUV. “You’re going before a judge today, with a jury larger than normal for the number of charges that are being pressed against you.” I shook my head in understanding yet again, sitting quietly during the short ride uptown to the courthouse. For the amount of press that has covered this case during the investigation, there was none when we arrived. The officer spoke before the SUV stopped. “This is an unannounced trial, done without anyone knowing, that’s why there are no cameras like usual trials.” The door opened and I stepped into the warm sun, trying to take it in for a short moment.
The courtroom filled fast and the families of those murdered sat on one side of the courtroom with all their attorneys lined up on the front table. “All Rise” The judge that walked in wasn’t any usual judge, it was the same judge used for all major trials, he had a reputation of being stern yet fair. “Be seated, the court is now in session.” The judge sat and so did everyone else. I looked around and saw my wife sitting just behind me with her head down. “Ma’am, could you please step forward.” The judge pointed at her and she got up and walked to the front of the room. “Ma’am I understand that you recently got into an incident with the victims of the murdered? This incident caused you to be hospitalized for a few days.” She shook her head yes. “For the record please.” She lifted her head, looking back at the families of the ones who had been murdered. “Yes your honor, they attacked me while I was leaving work at night.” The judge motioned for her to return to her seat. “With this knowledge in mind, does anyone feel sorry for those that have been murdered?” I thought one of the family members of the murderer was going to have a heart attack after what the judge said. One of the attorneys spoke, “Your honor what does this have to do with the prosecution for these murders?” The judge pointed the gavel in their direction. “A group of people attacks your wife when she’s alone at night leaving work that leaves her traumatized and hospitalized, what are you going to?” The attorney sat down, knowing that no matter what they said, the judge would throw the case out immediately.
The trial went on for hours, my attorney disproving any points that the prosecutors made until the judge finally put an end to the back and forth between sides. “So the sprinter van couldn’t be found? The DMV has no record of the plates on the van existing? The person in the video that got out of the van couldn’t be recognized because of the bandana? The weapon used to mutilate and kill the victims was never found?” The prosecuting team hung their heads in shame until the detective was brought forward to present his “Evidence”. He had boards brought in and propped up with text messages and search history. “As the room can see, the accused, one year ago was searching for one specific person who was in the group of men that were murdered. The text messages show him telling his at the time Fiancé that “He will never get back in your life and if he does I will make sure he never does again.” The judge looked extremely irritated at the detectives half attempt to make something stick that happened a year ago. “Do we have proof that he was the one sending the messages at the time and that he was the one who searched the name?” The detective tried to muster up something else to get his evidence to stick. After a short moment, the Judge spoke again. “Detective, if you have nothing that can prove he was the one sending the messages or searching for the name, please be seated.” The detective motioned for the evidence to be taken away and took his seat. “The court will take a one hour recess. Jury, in this time you must come to a conclusion.”
During this recess, I was taken out to the courtyard with my lawyer. “You are doing really well, I know you’re in pain from the gunshots but I need you to hold on for me. When we go back in, they will try and put you on the stand to try and get a confession. Do not confess to anything, plead not guilty and say nothing else.” My lawyer went over various other details with me until it was time to go back inside. “Accused can you please take the stand.” My lawyer was right, they are going to try for one last time to get me to confess. “With what has happened, you being shot just shortly after your arrest, this only solidifies the charges. Do you want the carnage to continue?” I looked over the families of those that had been murdered and a few of them where actually smiling. The judge leaned down to me, “Son, the record needs an answer.” I looked over to my lawyer and she shook her head yes. “Me being shot was carnage and it shows the police departments lack of security.” The few officers in the room came in closer to the stand and the detective got even closer. My lawyer stood up and spoke. “Your honor my client has the freedom of speech with by the way these officers are moving shows that they are prepared to do something to my client. I implore you to remove them from the room.” The judge took notice of the officers moving closer, the detective had his hand rested on his pistol. “All law enforcement officials, leave the room immediately.” They didn’t listen to the judge and I wanted to provoke them into proving that I was innocent by their action. “I would listen to the judge if I were you.” The detective moved with haste towards me, the other officers grabbing him and pulling him from the room. My lawyer looked over to the prosecutors and then to the judge. “Your honor, it is clear that this case needs to be investigated by someone other than the detective and his team. He seems emotionally connected to this, so much that he was willing to hurt my client inside of your courtroom if he had gotten close enough.” The judge visibly annoyed by this turn of events stood up and walked out of the courtroom from behind the bench.
During the judge’s absence, two dozen men in full tactical gear with “FBI” Patches on the front of their plate carriers walked into the room, moving to all corners and walls, surrounding the courtroom. Once they stopped one man walked in the room wearing a black suit. It was the same man who walked into the hospital room. The judge flew through the door behind the bench in a rage. “WHAT IN GODS NAME IS-” He was instantly silenced when he saw the man in the suit standing in front of his bench. “Sir I didn’t know that the FBI was involved in this case, my apologies.” By all accounts, I could tell that the judge had run into this man before, as well as his team. “The man accused is to be released effective immediately. All charges are to be dropped and the record of this court case is to be thrown out.” One of the men in tactical gear walked over to the recorder and pulled the paper recording as well as the audio recorder. The judge knew what was going on and gave his verdict after the two had a separate quiet conversation. “You are free to go, son.” I was escorted out of the courtroom with my wife and lawyer by the tactical team. They directed us to a separate room where the three of us sat with two of the armed men inside guarding the door. After a few minutes of just us being in the room, the FBI agent walked back in, relieving the two armed guards. He walked over and shook the hand of my lawyer, insisting that she stay for the “debriefing”. My wife looked up at him and then me with anger in her eyes. The Agent saw her look and took the moment to talk to her. “Ma’am, I truly am sorry for what happened to you. It isn’t much but we saw to take care of your medical bills, mortgage and the rest of your families bills.” He kneeled down while he was talking to her and put his hand on her belly. “Wait, you’re pregnant!? Why didn’t you tell me??” She began crying worse than before, eventually getting out what she had to say. “I was waiting to tell you when we got back from vacation next month. I found out the morning before I got attacked. That’s why I have been so upset, I was about to lose the father of our child because of something that you never did.” I held my head in my hands, my entire world could have been changed if I had gotten caught, our child would have grown up without a father.
The FBI agent sat down at the table we were at and began to speak. “Do you know what the Mandela Effect is?” I knew what it was, it was a reoccurring theme in my life before I got married. “The events of today never happened. No record will show that it ever happened. As we speak the news stations that covered this case and the murders have been scrubbed down and all media has been removed.” The lawyer caught on to what was happening but my wife was still confused. “Anything you know about your husband that he may have told you about his, past is very real. You do not need to worry about any of it. He will never end up in prison, he will never hurt you and he will never abandon you or the child. He may get frustrated, he may raise his voice and even storm out, but I promise he will never harm you intentionally.” She looked at me with more tears in her eyes and reached for my hand. The FBI agent directed his attention to me. “Now you, on the other hand, you got out of this life. Do you mind telling me what happened? Thomas left over a year ago and no one knew where he went, then this happened.” I chuckled a little bit even though the stitches in my back hurt. “Well, you see, a raven told me to come back home, that everything had died down. Which in part was true, so we settled down permanently.” He didn’t like that I was using his own agents against him. “You know you aren’t supposed to be doing this sort of thing, you almost got caught over some text messages and search history.” The lawyer had her hand on her jaw in shock at this conversation, my wife was frozen from what she was hearing. “Look, someone attacked my wife, someone who was trying to work their way back into her life. I wasn’t going to stand for it and so I reverted back to who I used to be. I pulled the security camera footage of the attack, realized who it was and then went to work.” The FBI agent was beside himself, “Yes but you should have reached out instead of creating chaos and panic.” He fixed his tie and sat up more. “I handled things, I knew who they were, I knew where they were. I did what YOU trained me to do. Six years of causing chaos, destabilizing environments, scaring the life out of people.” He put up his hand to stop me. “You don’t need to continue, I know what you’ve done.” He stood up and adjusted his well fitted suit. “So that’s it? You just wanted to talk to me and find out what my thoughts were on it, no punishment, no repercussions?” He smiled and pulled his phone from his pocket. “You can’t punish what isn’t real, Wraith.”
The FBI agent left the room and started talking to someone on his phone. I knew that if I kept my head low and my nose out of trouble then I wouldn’t have to see him again. My lawyer took her leave with a short goodbye. “I don’t know who you are or what you used to do, but you sure do have some friends in seriously high places. I wish you nothing but the best on the rest of your recovering. Congratulations on the child and please don’t make me come back down here. It is way too hot for me, even in winter time.” She shook my hand and gave my wife a hug then quickly made her way out of the room. My wife and I now alone for the first time since this started, I didn’t know what to say. She stood up and walked over me, putting my head on her stomach. “Let’s go home, we are expecting company in a few months.” I stood up and held her hand all the way out to her car. “Keys please.” She pulled them from her purse and handed them to me while I opened her door. “I’m sorry you had to drive, I know you don’t like to.” She gave me a smile as I closed the door, I knew she was scared. Not for the baby but for me, everything I had told her about my past was finally put into reality by this. I climbed in the driver’s seat and began adjusting the mirrors before backing out. “So are you ever going to tell me what happened?” Her curiosity always got the better of her, especially when it came to me. “Maybe one day my love, maybe one day.” We pulled out of the parking lot and got to the stop light, a large black van pulled up behind us. I looked in the rear view mirror and then back at the light smiling. “Is that the van!?” I put one hand on her leg and gave it a gentle squeeze. “No darling, just a coincidence.” The light turned green and we proceeded straight, the van flashed its lights at us and turned off heading another direction.
© Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus, 2014-20–. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Trenton Stalnaker and Around the block and on the bus with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.