A Christmas Tale


You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before questioning. You have the right to have your attorney present with you at all times during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you at no expense to you. You may choose to exercise these rights at any time.  Do you understand your rights?


I do.


You are being charged with aggravated assault of one Robertino WeatherthorpeÉ


            That is when my mind started wandering and I stopped listening.  I have heard the Miranda Rights on television before but I never imagined in a million years that they would be recited to ME!  The policeman mumbled some more but the words didnÕt make any sense to me anymore.  As he spoke, he wrapped my hands around my back and placed them in a pair of cold metallic handcuffs.  I could feel my wrist bones crushed against the hard alloy!  The officer then proceeded to shove and push me toward the police car.  I stared at the ground while stumbling over to the car; I only raised my eyes occasionally and in a half daze.  God!  I couldnÕt think or see clearly.  The journey felt like it lasted for hours.  I could barely keep my balance.  The officer held the handcuffs so high and out that my arms felt as though they were being pulled out of their sockets.  A thousand and one images flashed in front of my eyes.  I saw myself in a tiny stinky jail cell with a small stained toilet and a thin white pad for a mattress.  I could envision Dad sitting on the sidewalk with his elbows rested against his knees and his hands holding his head.  Mom, well, she was cooking brunch in the kitchen, a meal we had last Saturday around two oÕclock in the afternoon.


Come on!  Duck and get into the car.  DonÕt resist!


            I wasnÕt really trying to offer any resistance.  It is just that I felt disoriented and could not really walk straight.  The stocky officer pushed me inside the back cabin of the car and shut the door behind me.  The seats were black and made of vinyl.  The cabin was spotless with a freakish new car smell.  A couple of ambulances were still on the crime scene and so were five other police cars.  A curious crowd gazed motionless from a distance; all of them were lined up outside the police tape and around the parking lot.  There was a bright light, next to a big bushy tree and in front of the ambulance, just outside of the police barricade.  In front of it, a lady in a light blue blouse and a short black skirt spoke into a microphone.  I must have made the news!

            Anyway, another officer got into the car and cranked the engine.  I could tell that the red and blue lights stopped flashing.  That is when the car suddenly jolted and we started moving.


Oh God, what have I done?




            It all started by the cheese stand in the supermarket.  People were all over the place.  Everyone was in a hurry like they usually are every major holiday.  The aisles were crammed and the deli line was long.  All the carts were taken and most of the hand baskets were gone.  It was like rush hour in New York City, except cars had taken the shape of carts.  It was a typical December 24, I guess.  People always get ready for a big holiday by buying lots of food!  Like it happens so many times in the big cities, unfortunately, the spirit of the season seems to be washed away by the stress of last minute shopping.  Most of the joy was sucked out of peopleÕs faces!  The lines leading into the cash registers were so long that people could not even cross from aisle to aisle and could barely get to some select food items.  Mom and I went around the crowd, by the side, and started walking our way through the dairy aisle.

            At the end of the aisle, when we were crossing over to the next aisle, a fat balding man decided to insult Mom.  I didnÕt expect it at all.  I was across the cheese stand from the man when I heard his remarks.  Keeping my cool and the spirit of the season in mind, I rushed around to confront the man and, without screaming or swinging any punches, I simply demanded respect.




I stood so close to him that our noses were within an inch of each other.  My fists were clenched out of rage.  My eyes were fixated on his.  I could not really see what his hands were doing.  The traffic around us ceased moving, of course.  That is when I felt three fingers on my face, around my right eye.  He scratched while pushing me back.  It totally caught me by surprise.  Hell broke loose then!  I starting swinging and punched him in the stomach.  Mom yelled and walked toward the fight in an attempt to stop it.  All of a sudden, while winding for another punch, I heard a loud screech and Mom fell to the floor.  I stood still for a second, turned around, and quickly kneeled by her when I realized what happened.




            Her face was turning tomato red.  Her ears were burning up and her eyes were glassy and half-closed.  Dad and I have seen these symptoms before; they were usually the result of hypertensive attacks.  The doctor warned us that anymore episodes like these could be fatal or quite damaging.  They could trigger a stroke, which may leave Mom dead or paralyzed.  I PANICKED!  I was not ready to lose Mom like this.  She was crying all the while when, all of a sudden, she stopped and closed her eyes.  Her face leaned over to the side with her mouth still open and her arms dropped like dumbbells.


OH MY GOD!!!  GOD!!!


I stopped thinking.  I stopped feeling.  I stopped living.  I got off my knees and ran wildly toward the stupid balding man.  I could only see one thing:  a big fat moronic idiot.  My fists were launched and punches were thrown left and right.  I could not feel any of my limbs.  It was like in a bad dream.  I dished out numerous punches and I think only half of them actually connected.  The other half went into thin air and a few of them even landed on the stands were groceries once stood.  A good number of the blows, though, landed square on his belly.  He, too, started swinging and fighting back.

            Not too long after my initial attack, we were both on the ground.  I was sitting on his belly and swinging at his face from side to side, one cheek at a time.  Blood not only gushed out of his upper lip and underneath his right eyebrow but also from my face and fiery fists.  My knuckles were bleeding and impressions of his teeth were permanently imprinted on them.  I couldnÕt feel any pain, though.  I couldnÕt hear anything.  I couldnÕt even see anything around me.  The world shrunk into a single spot and time wrapped itself in a loop around one instant.  The rage was so intense that no one dared get in between the punches.  With every punch, I expelled a loud grunt.

            He eventually gained enough energy to roll over and push me over to the side.  As he started getting up, I wound up from the floor and shot my fist right to his face with all my might.  My hand came up and down until it landed on his right cheek.  His head whipped back and bounced on the ground a couple of times as he fell back to the floor.  ŌTHUMP.  THUMP.Ķ  I jumped on top of him again and started darting a few more punches.  It was a couple of blows into it when I realized that he was unconscious.  I stopped swinging and sat frozen.

            There was blood all over the floor, his and mine.  My T-shirt was ripped and also drenched in blood, not to mention sweat.  My hands were numb and my knees ached.  A couple of seconds passed and someone pulled me off.  As he tried to raise me, though, I flung my arms free, got up, and ran through the aisle towards Mom.  She was lying flat on the floor.  The store manager and two attendants were sitting beside her.  They were flapping a couple of magazines back and forth to give her some air.  Then, I heard police sirens.




TheyÕre already on their way! – Someone, from within the crowd, answered.


People didnÕt hesitate to let me through.  Mom laid there motionless.  Even though she was unconscious, her expression was rigid and harsh.  Stress and pain was impressed on her eyes, temples, and forehead.  I didnÕt know what to think.  My chest was about to explode.  My heart was pounding fast and loud.  My eyes stung and started to water uncontrollably.  The image of her head leaning on a bag of rice and her arms resting lifeless on her delicate stomach were too much for me.  I wrapped my arms around her, placed my head on her stomach, and wept.

            A good half-hour must have passed before I felt four hands pull me up.  They grabbed me hard and yanked me with commanding force.  It was the police.  Immediately after, the paramedics came and put Mom on a stretcher.  They wheeled her out of the supermarket.  Another stretcher also rolled out behind hers.


Did you fight that gentleman on the stretcher? – The cop asked.


Yes, I fought that son of a bitch!


Well, you are going to jail for that so-called SON OF A BITCH!  Come on!




How is Mom?


Son, your Mom is in ICU right now.  She is in a comma.


God!  The day had started out so well and nowÉ  I canÕt believe she is in a freaking comma.  I canÕt believe IÕm in jail!  And who knows for how long!  DAMN IT!  DAMN IT!  My world is crumbling.  My world is dead.


Gabrielito, tell me.  What happened?  Why the fight?  Why?


Well, Dad, it was because of a stupid cart.  We had a small basket and needed a cart to carry all the groceries we expected to buy.  All the carts were taken, unfortunately.  Then, we saw an unattended cart by the milk section with one item on it.  Mom traded it for her basket.  The owner turned out to be this retarded Robertino character.  He appeared about a minute later and was quite belligerent!  In a harsh and patronizing tone, he demanded his cart back.  Who would actually comply with a bully like that!  Mom and I refused to give in and pressed on with our shopping. We walked one more aisle when we met up again with the guy and that is when he started with the name-calling.  He insulted Mom, not me.  I guess he felt more comfortable picking on a woman.  I confronted him, of course, which ultimately led to our fight and my eventual demise.


You mean to tell me this is all because of a stupid cart?  Your Mom may die and you may have sacrificed YOUR life, your career, for a cart?  For an unstable idiot who didnÕt have anything better to do than to fight a mother and her son?