Sometime between elementary and my middle-school-age years we had a boarder.
The Colton's lived down the street. Mrs. Colton would sometimes watch me and my sister after school. She made the most fabulous fried chicken. I remember watching in awe as she made dinner.
The Colton's had one son at home who was near my age and an older son, Jay, I did not know. He was in prison for reasons unknown to me. The day came when Jay was due to be released and Mr. Colton would not allow him to live at home. Mrs. Colton, however, was desperate to help her son. She asked my mother to rent her eldest, convict son, a room. My mother, who was a single mother trying to raise two children alone, agreed.
Things were going okay for a while. I don't really remember a lot about that time. I know I felt uneasy and anxious about my mother's decision to have him come live with us. It didn't last long.
One evening Jay had a drug and alcohol induced break down. We could hear him in his room ranting and raving. He was hearing voices and talking to Jesus. Cursing and making no sense at all. It scared my sister and me to death.
My mother sent me to get help from the neighbor. The lady of the house didn't speak much English, but her sons did. Both were quite a bit older than I was. One had suffered brain damage as a teen and was lost in his own head. He would often spend his days standing on the corner dancing, waving at passer-byes and talking to himself. The result of a cruel joke when someone slipped acid into his can of soda.
The other son was what you might call a cholo. Rudy, a badass Mexican; the kind you would envision with tattoos, a bandana tied around his head, wearing khaki pants and a white tank cruising around in a lowrider.
His mother called him to the door and I told him about Jay’s break down. He ran with me back to my house. He could hear Jay's rantings as soon as he walked through the door. He instructed my sister and I to get behind the sofa. The voices got louder after he went into Jay's room. We could hear him trying to coax Jay out, but Jay wasn't having it. It ended with Rudy forcibly removing Jay from the house. As I peeked out from behind the sofa I could see Jay fighting to get free of the arms wrapped around his arms and chest from behind. The police were called and our badass, Mexican neighbor wrangled Jay across the street where a payphone stood. The police came and I never saw Jay again.
Examining the phone booth the next day, I found the receiver virtually broken in half. It would need to be replaced.
I forgot about this instance for a long time. I have always been uncomfortable around people who are drunk (particularly men) and afraid of people who are on drugs. I'm not much of a drinker myself.
Perhaps this explains why.