My father’s name was Luis James Diaz. He was born in the late seventies at the tender age of eighteen. He came to the United States to live off his rich parents’ money and find a wife. My grandparents owned many vineyards in their country of Spain and left a hefty trust fund to my father for when he turned twenty one. When he came to America he got married. Not to my mother, but to a young American girl, which helped him obtain his citizenship. I forget exactly what her name was. My grandparents immediately disapproved of her saying that she was uneducated and poor and lacked proper etiquette. Though he feared that he would lose out on future inheritance, he remained married to her to keep his American Citizenship. With the help of my grandparents he opened up a couple of wine stores in Manhattan featuring Spanish wine from my grandparents Vineyards, now his stores are just liquor stores that college students go to buy their little two-dollar shots before a big frat party. My father would go through multiple mistresses and for most of the years that he was married. He never had any children with his first wife and told her that if they had children my grandparents would not leave him in their will.
Despite their obvious disapproval at my father’s marriage, my grandparents were happy at how well he was taking care of his businesses. In 1990 however, I was born to him and his mistress. My mother. Her name was Lorena Guzman, she was a young Puerto Rican girl living in the Bronx, New York. and fifteen years younger then him. Which obviously was not legal. For the first five years of my life I was secret to all but my mother and my grandparents. Then, and this is what I was told, Mrs. Diaz came to my grandparents home and demanded a DNA test for me. One DNA test and a hefty divorce settlement later my father divorced his first wife and married my mother with great pressure from his parents.
Needless to say, I was the brunt of many of my father’s tantrums and beatings. It was because of me he lost money, his dignity and the respect from his parents. My mom would cry in a corner while he went on his drunken rants about how his bitch of an ex wife hated me and blames me for everything. Thankfully, about three months into the abuse, my mother’s parents contacted the authorities. My mother initially tried to deny what was going on, which broke my heart. But bruises and scars do not lie. I even lost a back tooth from a time my father took a heavy swing at me for spilling his coffee as I tried to give it to him one morning. I was taken in by my mother’s parents and the rest is history.
I never expected to be a fully functioning adult. I cried a lot. I screamed at my fellow classmates. I remember even throwing a chair at someone in junior high school. My grandparents never gave up on me, they enrolled me into karate and dance. Though I excelled more in karate. It seemed that life was going well. My grandparents forbid me to speak with my mother and father and often times I would listen to messages left on my grandparents’ voicemail. They were from my mother. She called them every name in the book, she cursed them for being horrible parents to her and accused them of coercing me to lie about the abuse. Those statements cut my scars deeper.
One day the calls stopped. I was eighteen years old. I had just graduated high school. I received a card from my mother. It read…
TO MY TINA, I PRAY FOR THE BEST FOR YOU. I ALWAYS LOVED YOU EVEN IF YOU NEVER BELIEVED IT. I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN AT YOUR GRADUATION BUT I WAS NOT INVITED. I PROMISE THAT AFTER THIS I WILL NEVER BOTHER YOU AGAIN.
I AM SORRY FOR HOW THIS SITUATION TURNED OUT. PLEASE BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THAT I DID NOT MEAN FOR ANY OF THIS TO HAPPEN. YOU WILL NOT HEAR FROM ME AGAIN.
One week after I received the letter, my father’s sister Alma called my grandparents. It was to tell us that my mother had overdosed on sleeping pills. My father was in Spain, presumably with another mistress when the police found her in their condo the lower east side. I spoke with the police that found her, they stated that she had some bruising all over back and neck but that they appeared a couple of days old. It appear that my father had used her as his punching bag. He was free from the horror of my mother’s death. While in Spain and nobody could reach him, not even his own sister, my grandparents had to coordinate the funeral.
My father was never charged with anything when he came back into the United States. This was due to the fact that he was in Spain at the estimated time of death. I believed he did not physically kill her, but mentally my mother was assassinated by him.
I never fully recovered from that trauma. Currently my mother’s last letter is sitting in the desk of my office. I read it sometimes to remind me that once she did love me.
“Do you have a minute Tina” Dr. Clifton asked, he was standing at my office door. It was early on a Monday morning and I didn’t even get a chance to get my coffee.
“Yes absolutely” I said.
“Good, I will see you in my office in five minutes” Dr. Clifton walked out and closed my door behind him. I took a deep breath. He did not seem too happy, but he didn’t seem upset either. I got up to smooth the wrinkles in my dress and rushed out my office.
When I walked in, Dr. Clifton motioned for me to close my door behind me.
“You can take a seat” He says, he was staring at a document for a while. My presumption was that he was reading something. His eyes diverted to me after he placed the document down.
“How are you doing today” Dr. Clifton.
“I am doing fine”
“Good. I wanted to know how you are having a handle on things here” Dr. Clifton looked at the document on his desk. I was curious to know what it was, but I can tell it wasn’t anything pleasing as he didn’t look thrilled to read it.
“I wanted to talk about an incident that happened last Friday night. From what I understand there was a scuffle between two boys”
“Yes, there was. Two boys named Gary and Stone, they had an argument and security had to be called.”
Dr. Clifton nodded.
“Well his real name isn’t Stone, its Leo, he prefers Stone however and we try to make our patients comfortable here. That is also part of your job, to make sure they are comfortable and to avoid situations such as what happened on Friday that may make other uncomfortable”
I couldn’t believe I was being blamed for this.
“I understand but I had to prevent the situation, I did not know that Stone- uh Leo had issues with Gary. I didn’t –
“But you were supposed to monitor the event. You should have notices something was off before the situation escalated” Dr. Clifton interrupted.
“I understand sir”
“I received a report from someone that it appeared you were socializing with the janitor and not paying attention. Is that true” Dr. Clifton looked at me accusingly. I know who that someone was. But what could I do.
“Joseph helped me look for a speaker that I could use, then we might have been speaking for a while, but I thought I had a good grip on things. I apologize that things escalated”
“Well just be more careful next time. I already had a talk with Leo and Gary’s parents. We do not tolerate violence here but since both boys did not actually assault each other we allowed them to stay in the program. Next event just please try to keep them separated”
“You got it” I got up to his office.
“Wait, can you put back the speaker in the basement before the end of the day, maybe do it now and get it out of the way” Dr. Clifton requested before I opened the door to exit.
“No problem” I headed out the door and into the recreational room, the whole time walking there my eyes were on the lookout for Dennis. The last thing I wanted to see was his smug face.
I grabbed the stereo out of the room and walk out where I see Dennis and Don standing together. Don looked so sloppy in his security guard uniform, his shirt untucked and stained. They both looked at me and I just felt suspicious with the way they were standing there. I briefly smiled and too the elevator down to the basement. I did not want to go alone but Joseph wasn’t around, and I didn’t trust the two security guards to escort me.
When the elevator doors opened I did my best to try and run over to the storage room where the stereo was found. I will admit I was still scared and may have made a few squeals while running down the cold dark hallway. As soon as I reached the door of the storage room I turned on the light and placed the stereo on the first empty spot I could. I did not even notice the door had closed behind me.
When I turned the knob, the door did not even budge.
“Oh you have got to be fucking kidding me” My heart paced faster and I pounded against the door several times hoping to at least get it a crack open. My cell phone I realized was in my purse upstairs in my office.
I pounded on the door so many times an eventually started yelling.
“Hello, I’m stuck, Hello” I shouted but somehow I knew nobody would hear me.
Then, the room started to heat up. Sweat started to drip down my forehead. It was getting difficult to breathe.
“What the hell” I looked around the room to see if there was a thermometer. The air was literally getting thick and I couldn’t understand why. There was no thermometer so how it was getting so hot. There was not even a window that I could try to open and escape. My ears started to burn, my eyes were tearing up.
“Help please” My screams fell on deaf ears. The rising heat mixed in with the musty smell that came from the basement walls created such toxic air. My eyes started to see spots of black. I knew what was coming next. Before I passed out however I saw something in the corner of my eye. The shadowy figure of a girl wearing dark pajamas in the girl. Her hair in a ponytail and ashes streaked across her face, I couldn’t make out much of her features at first but then the girl appeared right in front of my face with her bloodshot eyes and blackened teeth. I had no time to scream as my body fainted.
“Tina wake up”
“Tina are you okay”
“Did you call an ambulance”
“How long has she been down here”
The voice was familiar, my eyes slowly opened to see Larry the old janitor and Joseph standing over him.
The musty smell was gone but I could still sense the lingering smell of smoke for some reason. Slowly I brought myself help, Larry and Joseph each grabbed one of my arms to assist me. I rubbed my irritated eyes and looked around the room. All I wanted to do was leave this basement.
“I don’t know what the fuck happened I got locked in the room and nobody heard me. Then it got really hot, I don’t remember much after that”
I noticed Joseph was holding something in his hand, it was an asthma inhaler, my asthma inhaler.
“Where did you find that” I grabbed it from him.
“Larry found it in your office on top of your desk, your door was open when we were looking for you and he grabbed it not thinking it was yours, he figured someone lost it and you found it so he was going to give it to the nurses, thankfully he didn’t because it saved your life”
This confused me. Yes I had asthma but I never carried my inhaler with me because I rarely ever had attacks. So I knew for a fact I did not take my asthma inhaler out of my purse and place it on my desk.
“Thank you, how did you guys realize I was down here”
“We smelled smoke while cleaning the floors” Larry said.
“It was coming from the morgue, someone left a radio plugged into one of the walls, I’m guessing the night crew and the radio started smoking” Larry then turned to Joseph
“Better take her upstairs for the ambulance” Larry and Joseph looked as if they forgot they called 911. We all walked out of the room and into the elevator. As soon as the doors opened floor I already saw EMT there. Everyone was staring at us.
“I feel fine now, I don’t need an ambulance” I shouted to the EMT crew.
Evelyn got up from her desk and walked to me.
“Are you okay” she asks examining my face.
“I am fine, I had a minor asthma attack down in the basement. It just got hot in the room all the sudden and it was too much for me.
Evelyn shook her head.
“I am sorry sometimes the rooms in the basement can get warm, there is a control panel in the basement to set the temperature in the rooms, but the security guards are the only ones who have the keys” Evelyn said.
“Really” I couldn’t say much as a paramedic came up to me.
“You were the one who passed out in the basement” He asked.
“Yes but I’m okay” I replied, I didn’t want to cause further troubles but the paramedic insisted I take a seat and at least let them examine me. I reluctantly agreed and sat down in a wheelchair that was brought in.
While speaking to me I caught the attention of Dennis, he had no look of concern on his face. I couldn’t focus on him too much, as my mind wandered back to the image of the horrific girl I saw.