San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Tears in the Rain

Deputy Jasper Collins was waiting with the sheriff and other deputies outside a house.

“Who’re we waiting for,” he asked them.  A young African-American man emerged from a black Camry.

“Sheriff Cole, let me introduce myself. My name is John Barnes.  I’ll brief you and your deputies on the situation,” Barnes said, pulling out a sheet of paper.  “I represent the St. Louis Division of Children Services and Welfare, originally assigned to investigate a case of unfit parenting.  Reports indicated that the single mother Dominique de Sevigne has been unable to sufficiently provide for her two children.  With two incidences already reported, we felt it was time to intercede.  A court order was issued stating her children were to be taken into state custody.  We came last week, but she refused to let us in, and so we’ve returned with you to enforce the court order.” He finished by handing the writ to Cole.

A small crowd had stopped on the sidewalk, looking at the police cruisers and deputies.  Here, Barnes lowered his voice.  “Now the more important part.   Given the sensitive nature of what’s about to happen, my superiors and the mayor both agreed it would be best if this could be handled as quickly and quietly as possible.  Hopefully we can avoid any altercations,” he said as he nervously looked around.

Cole nodded and took the papers, instructing Farell to quietly call in backup, “Just in case.”  He handed Collins the paper and told him to deliver the news.  Collins, still trying to process what Barnes had requested, took it and began walking to the door.  He glanced down at his own skin, a dark shade of brown.  He had always been aware of the color of his skin, but never had it been used so offensively by others.  The few yards from the sidewalk to the door turned into a mile.  He could feel raindrops falling on his arms, thousands of pricks on him just as thousands of eyes watched him now.

He had reached the door.  He knocked and began, “Mrs. Sevigne, this is Deputy Collins of the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department. Will you please open the …”

He stopped as a door opened.  In the doorway stood a young, African-American woman, who appeared to be on the verge of tears.

“You here to take my children away?”

Collins was mute, the shame of it crippling him.

“It’s OK; I know it’s not your fault.  You’re just doing what they tell you.  I didn’t tell them yet.  Can I walk them to the car at least?” she pleaded.  She pulled two kids from behind her, a small boy and girl.  They all began walking back to Barnes’s open car door, with Collins bringing up the rear.  The rain was starting to pick up now.  The crowd began yelling at the deputies and Barnes.

“Hey man, what’s wrong with you?  How can you do this to her!”

What happened next happened in what seemed like an instant to Collins. Dominique, openly crying, had to lift her children into Barnes’s arms over a puddle of water.  The crowd began moving closer, becoming more hostile.  The rain was pouring now.  Then more police cruisers pulled up with their sirens blaring, and blocked off the street. Officers poured out, some in riot gear, distracting the crowd from the scene.

Barnes had already lifted the girl into his car. Then the young boy began screaming.

“No Mommy, don’t let them take me!”

In his haste, Barnes pulled him away from Dominique, causing her to fall into the puddle.  The crowd, hearing the screams and turning around to witness one of their own, humiliated and stripped of her children, exploded.  Cole, sensing the enormity of the situation, grabbed Barnes and threw him into his car commanding him to, “Drive!” Barnes pulled away.

Chaos exploded. The mob had now descended on the police, throwing bottles and grabbing 2-by-4s.  Collins knew he should get out, but he saw Dominique lying in the street, still sobbing.

“She’ll be trampled to death,” he thought.

He grabbed her hand and, looking in her eyes, saw what he would never forget again—a look of sorrow and guilt.  Dominique’s face was imprinted into his mind.  It was also the last thing he remembered before someone clubbed him from behind.

He awoke to Barnes shaking him in his hospital bed.  “Glad to see you’re awake now, buddy.”

Collins tried to sit up, before Barnes handed him a cup of water.

“Dominique … Where is she,” Collins coughed.

Barnes shook his head.

“Jasper you’ve been unconscious for two days.  Lot of people are hurt, lot are missing.  Some dead.  I tried going back and looking for her, but the city is in lockdown right now with the rioting.  Her place was ransacked and she’s not answering her phone.  I’m going to keep looking, but …” he trailed off.

Sitting up and feeling sore, Jasper asked, “What about you, John?”

“Well, let’s just say I won’t be getting any promotions anytime soon for this.  Thankfully I still have a job though.  There is one situation, however.  We need a temporary guardian for the children.  No father, but Dominique was a Haitian national.  The kids are in danger of being deported there with no one to look after them.  I need more time to try and find her sister, who could possibly take care of the children then, but I don’t have room.  I was wondering …”

Collins looked up.  He felt the throbbing of his skull, the taste of his own blood and his bruised body.

“Bones will heal and be forgotten,” he thought.  “But what I won’t allow to be forgotten is that look on her face, the last thing I remember.  It won’t be like tears in the rain.”

“I will,” he said.

Barnes smiled and the two men shook hands.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Tears in the Rain