Joaquin Holcomb, Writer

When I was 12 years old my dad killed my mom. They were both drunk and high playing with a loaded gun. One accidental discharge later and my mom was gone. CPS found out and took me away, and my dad was arrested. I was in a group home for about 4 years until I was finally adopted by some privileged family who saw me and thought “hey we can make this kids life better and help him get over his trauma.” That’s what they tell the public at least. Really it’s just to make sure dear old dad wins the next mayoral election. Trauma. I don’t have trauma and I sure as hell don’t need some white-collar family to help me get over my “trauma.” They also have this really annoying daughter that bothers me constantly with questions about the group home and where my scars came from. “Were you depressed in the group home?” she asked. “What? No.” I answered. “Then what’s with all those scars on your arm and on your chest and back.”

“I was in a group home in the Narrows, there were a lot of kids from gangs who wanted to try to assert their dominance.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I got into a lot of fights, and they didn’t exactly fight fair.”

“What does that mean?”

“Jesus,” I said under my breath, “They pulled knives on me and used rusty chains and tried to gang up on me. One of ‘em even pulled a gun on me; bullet grazed my rib cage.”

“Sounds scary.”

“It was.” There was a quick pause, and then I realized that this 9-year-old kid was the first person I ever talked to about what happened to me in that group home. “Why exactly do you care so much about what happened to me?” I asked. “I dunno.” she answered. “I’m just curious.” She walked out of the living room to the kitchen. A few minutes later her dad walked in, “Hey kiddo, was’ up.” He said as he was sitting down in the chair adjacent to me.

“Hey kiddo? Jesus, you sound like a 50-year-old father of one.” I answered.

“Father of two.”

“You’re NOT my father.” I said shooting him a nasty look. “I know adopting me was just a political strategy so that you can get more votes in the election.”

“I told you I don’t appreciate you talking to me like that.”

“Well, you’re more than welcome to throw me back out on the street or just put me back in that group home. But that wouldn’t be good for your campaign, would it?” He looked at me for a moment, shook his head and walked out of the room.

I can be a real a-hole sometimes and I know that. It’s just a side effect of growing up in the Narrows, I guess.

The rest of the day, I couldn’t stop thinking about the kid and why I told her about the home. I mean all my life I have been a violent, mean, sarcastic person. I have always been distant to anyone who has ever tried to help. But that little girl. I dunno, maybe in a city where there are more murders per capita than any other city in the world I need someone to talk to. Maybe it’s because she didn’t really understand or maybe it’s because she was the first person who didn’t want to try to help. She didn’t treat me like I was a sob story or someone they look down on. She treated me like I was normal, like she actually was curious about my past and just wanted to get to know me.

As I was walking to my room that night with a glass of water, I heard a shrill little “hey” come from the kid’s room. I walk in and ask “Was up?”

“Can you tell me more stories?” she asked

“Um, I don’t really think my stories are really kid friendly.”

“I don’t care, I think they’re cool.”
“All right fine, um, ok so a few years ago…”

That night I told her stories for about 2 hours until she fell asleep. When I left her room last night I felt good, for maybe the first time in my life. I felt good because I had made my very first friend.