A few days after being arrested and placed in juvenile hall I was asleep in my cell and in the middle of the night a guy that worked there opened my door and asked me why I had killed Tariq. I only vaguely remembered this happening later and thought I had dreamt it. Almost a year later while talking to a staff member that had only worked my unit a handful of times he, the staffer, asked me if I remembered him. I didn’t. He told me that he knew Tariq and had went to school with him.
“When I heard you were in this unit” he told me “I asked to get overtime here.” I didn’t know where this conversation was heading.
“I opened the door to your cell and asked you why did you kill him? Do you remember what you told me?” he asked.
I started to recall the dream-like encounter but I shook my head no.
“You woke up out of your sleep and told me that you didn’t mean too and I believed that.”
I think that what I told that staffer in the middle of the night, after being awaken and asked that question, is the truest thing said about that tragic night. I didn’t go out with the intention to hurt Tariq let alone kill him. It’s difficult to understand from the outside looking-in; it wasn’t easy to make sense of for myself. I was confused in that moment, my decision making felt like and slow-moving while the world around me sped up I was present and removed at the same time. When the command to pull the trigger came it was heard but in away that I was unfamiliar with and the response happen before I could process it. The sound of the shot is what woke my mind to my reality but it didn’t bring with it clarity only the acknowledgement of what I’d done; I’d killed a man.
I don’t like to say that “I didn’t mean/want to pull the trigger” because I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to absolve myself of the responsibility of what I’d done or paint it as an accident when I alone supplied the pressure to the trigger that fired the gun. It wasn’t something that I thought through in the moment, my intentions at that time would not be weighed against my actions because the loss was to great.