I was either 6 or 7. I don’t really know. I remember we lived in San Pedro on 23rd street. The only places to play were the cemetery or a construction area across the street. We decided to go to the construction site. Earlier we had watched the workers throwing hunks of broken concrete into a dumpster. After they left for the day we thought we’d help out and throw the rest away for them. We started throwing the pieces away, neither one of us paying any attention to whose chunk went where. Glass shattered, we stopped. My friend ran away. I started to, but someone grabbed me by my shirt collar.
This hysterical woman was yelling at me, calling me murderer and shaking the hell out of me. She dragged me to her house, and into a bedroom. In the room was a crib. A baby of a couple months was in the crib with a giant chunk of concrete on top of it. The baby wasn’t moving. Blood was splattered around the baby. “You killed him you fucker!” She kept shaking me. She took me to the living room and shoved me on a couch. I was crying, asking for my parents. “You’re not going anywhere but jail.”
The police, fire department and an ambulance showed up. The police asked me who I was with. I told them my friend’s name. The officer asked if I knew my phone number. I gave it to him. He picked me up and took me to his car. He told me my mom and dad will meet me at the police station, and to stop crying, it will all be ok.
My friend was at the police station when I got there. We went into different rooms and talked to different officers. They wanted to know how this happened. I told them. The police decided that there was no way of knowing whose piece of concrete went through the window. It was decided that we were too young to prosecute, and that it was just a terrible accident. The baby’s parents showed up. We both said we were sorry. The father seemed to accept the apology, but I have never before or after seen such intense hatred in someone’s eyes. The mom kneeled down in front of us, put one arm around each of us and said “Both of you will pay for this.”
My parents showed up. My dad said “Come on, it’s over lets go home.” My mom didn’t say a word. That night she came into my room. She sat on my bed and told me that I am going to hell for being a murderer. She said that she can’t love me anymore because I am a murderer. I wasn’t allowed to be anywhere my baby sister. No one in the neighborhood would play with me. Nobody would talk to my parents anymore. At school, the kids would whisper and point at me.
After two months of this we moved. We didn’t have any money so we moved into a travel trailer that was parked near the harbor in a dirt lot. At night a group of Mexican guys would drink in the lot. We were scared. Mom said this is my fault, and that she will be forever punished by god for giving birth to a murderer.
I think about that baby a lot, covered in broken glass, blood and concrete lying there still in that crib. I think of the mothers eyes burning through me. I think of the hatred in her eyes. I think of my mother’s hatred. I think of my father’s indifference. I think of the faces of those Mexican men peering into the trailer. I think that at that exact moment, I realized things will never be the same.