I was sitting in the library reading a newspaper, minding my business. No, for real, I was not doing anything wrong. No smoke bombs, no pranks, nothing illegal. And then, “she” walked through those doors. Teri came right up to me to let me know that someone wanted to see me in the office. It was kismet, though not how I had hoped!
My First Love
Teri worked in our high school office, and she was in my 10th grade class. I saw Teri the first time when I was in the fifth grade. She went to Marshville Elementary, and I went to Wingate Elementary. Our classes met at our school for an event that I do not remember. But I do remember when I saw her standing there. It was brief, from a distance, that beautiful blond hair. And then she was gone.
I never forgot her and couldn’t wait until middle school in two years, when we would be together, to begin my pursuit in earnest. We did date briefly in the 7th grade, but she broke up with me because I was too weird, I think. Undaunted, I maintained my crush throughout high school, so when she came to visit me in the library, all my dreams were rushing back.
The walk to the office with her was my moment for fate realized. But for some reason, she kept a few steps in front me.
Hard to get, I figured. I like coy.
My Worst Nightmare
When I arrived at the office, two or three sheriff deputies were waiting to take me downtown. It was one of those surreal moments in life where you feel like a Dali painting on the inside. I was humiliated from head to toe and full of fear. The rules of engagement vanished, as I forgot all about the love of my life.
They had found the stuff that we had stolen from the high school. The police were looking for something my older brothers had taken. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but in their search, they found what we ripped off from the school. We had hidden it at my grandmother’s property.
They soon arrested Gary and Dwayne as well. I think they let Dwayne go because he was underage. I don’t believe they kept Gary overnight, and I don’t remember what punishment he received. They searched me, took my belongings, including the leather strings to my knee-high moccasins. I was a cool kid, though my coolness was a thin layer that could not shield my stupidity.
Five Days That Changed Everything
I didn’t understand why they took my boot strings. Then, after five days in jail, it made sense: I wanted to kill myself. Suicidal thoughts mounted as the days dragged by like a disoriented sloth in a straitjacket. They put me in a 10’x10′ concrete walled room. I had a cot, sink, and a toilet. It was an open floor plan. There was a small window in the door and a narrow rectangular window that faced Charlotte.
Three times a day, a mysterious person shoved yellow grits and other foods through the small slot at the bottom of the door. Think: doggie door. Other than the mystery food-shover, I had no contact with anyone for five days. Of course, the worst part was that I had a ticket to the Bachman Turner Overdrive concert in Charlotte that weekend. My frustration was pretty high, knowing that my brothers got to go and not me.
It’s all about priorities.
I learned later that my dad decided to leave me in jail, thinking it would change my life. How ironic: the man that I hated with every breath in me made the right decision. The Lord used those five days to change my life forever. I’m grateful for dad’s decision.
I got a couple of years probation, but the impact on my life lasted much longer, even to this day. I determined that my experiences with crime, drugs, and bad people were over. It was time for a change.
As for Teri? Not sure what happened to her, but I knew whatever her plans were going to be, it would be without me.