I try to operate a sober house, but it depends on the cooperation of the young men who live here. I am no jailer. Kids do what they themselves decide to do. If a guy buys liquor with his own money, that’s his thing. But Derek doesn’t respect my desire to run a sober house. And when Derek drinks, his behavior becomes irrational and sometimes violent.
It all began on Sunday when my son Henry called, and Derek immediately began interrupting with loud talk that seemed designed to interfere with the conversation. Henry and I cut off our phone call after only 10 minutes, and Derek immediately moved on to threatening me with a handgun we keep on hand for snakes, a cane, a hatchet, and a ceremonial sword. He became so physically aggressive, I made good on a threat I’d made a week before (when he was also drinking), and called 911 for assistance.
Derek called his wife, and immediately calmed down. “I can’t kill him?” he asked her, and she obviously didn’t take him seriously. “Don’t bother me with this shit,” I heard her say.
I tried calling 911 again to cancel the earlier call for assistance, but was told the sheriff’s deputy was already on his way; anyway, I was told, 911 calls cannot be cancelled. When the deputy arrived, Derek was on his best behavior. After a long time while the deputy talked on the radio with his superiors, the deputy said that because we were not related, this did not qualify as “domestic violence” and that he was taking neither of us in—and not to call again except “when one of us kills the other, then call us and we’ll clean up the mess.”
After the deputy’s visit, I drove the handgun down to my neighbors’ for safekeeping. It was then that I learned from Aliana and Bill that the whole neighborhood had been alerted to the goings-on at Estrella Vista. Karen, my housekeeper, had seen the deputy’s vehicle driving up our road and had called out of concern. Unbeknownst to me, an ambulance had been dispatched and was waiting at the entrance to our road. Another neighbor had called to say she was praying for me. So much for maintaining a low profile. Before leaving their house, Aliana and Bill had asked me to call them for assistance if it were needed.
By the time I returned home, Derek was asleep on the floor. I hoped he would just sleep it off.
However, when he awoke I was sorely disappointed. I took the deputy’s comment as a warning against further escalation of the incident; but Derek took it as a challenge—permission, even—to take things further. He laughed maniacally. He said this was “proof” that nobody liked me, that no one would miss me if I were to die. Derek said my calling 911 was a great betrayal because his name is now in the system in Texas. He said that he had sent Alex out here to prove that that nobody could be as good as I claimed to be. He was listening to violent rap music on his earphones. The drinking continued as did the verbal and physical abuse. There was broken furniture that my mother had given me. Derek severed a cord and disabled the phone. I sustained several minor injuries, and drove down to the neighbors a second time, where we disabled the truck and I spent the night.
The next day, Monday, Derek walked down to my neighbors’ house where Aliana was treating and documenting my injuries. I told Derek I would have the truck back by 7:30 am so he could drive himself to work.
After Derek left for work, I gathered together all his possessions, packed them into two pieces of luggage and three plastic bags, and I rode down to Terlingua with Bill. We went to the auto repair shop where Derek was working. Here’s how it went: “There are two hundred dollars in this box. These are all your clothes. I’m here to get your key (to the truck). I don’t want you to live at my house anymore.”
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