In the morning police cars pulled up
to the ranch house door;
an officer spoke to Will and Sandy’s parents:
We need to ask your son, the oldest one,
Sandy? About what?
The officer replied: The assault on Blanca Cors;
he was seen near her home that day.
His mother cried out when Sandy was led
to the patrol car; as his father ran for his car,
she leaned down by the window
to look Sandy in the eye:
We’ll be right there.
In the interview, Sandy was asked:
What were you doing in the area?
and he reflected:
Just walking, hiking, looking at things
and . . . Sandy hesitated
He could not mention visiting Primitivo
and so he fell silent, protecting a friend
many would be too willing to sacrifice
The interrogator moved in:
You’re hiding something. What is it?
Sandy shook this off:
I was out walking; I didn’t hear
or see anything.
The man retorted: Nothing?
and then Sandy remembered:
There was a man; I think it was a man,
in a field; when I looked again
he was gone.
The officer’s voice turned sharp:
So you saw a man?
Or did you see her and want her?
Sandy bowed his head, folding his arms
across his chest, surprised at the rage
in his questioner’s voice
The man leaned in to bleat into Sandy’s ear:
She was beautiful, and you couldn’t help yourself.
What did you do to her?
Sandy’s silence was his answer,
as he began to understand his innocence,
all innocence is beyond proof by reason,
and cannot be revealed in words,
no matter how clear and eloquent
His brother and parents arrived at the station
and are informed of Sandy’s arrest for assault
on the wealthy widow, Blanca Cors
Sandy? His mother cried in disbelief:
Everyone who knows him knows
he is gentle and caring;
but the sergeant answered her:
We have reason to believe differently.
Sandy was brought into the hallway, handcuffed
and flanked by officers; his father spoke to him:
Sandy, we’ll fight this. Don’t give up.
At the arraignment, Morris Rubra argued for bail,
but the judge said:
Juveniles are the most dangerous.
The prosecutor pressed his case:
There is evidence of malice and depravity
and although he is 16, we ask he be tried
as an adult; Blanca Cors is fighting for her life,
so charges may be upgraded.
In his cell, Sandy told Morris Rubra:
I was leaving Mulberry Ranch
and saw Primitivo; it was neither of us.
The lawyer said he believed him, but:
We must respond to the accusations;
and Sandy mused:
Why do people assume the worst
about others and so quickly?
Morris Rubra’s reply echoed in the cell:
They don’t want to look too closely
into their own hearts.
After a moment the lawyer commented:
You give people the benefit of the doubt;
many, however, feel that others
have let them down, deceived them
or forsaken them for no good reason
But, he said, I’ve found the reason
for assuming the worst is often for power
and he asked Sandy:
Don‘t you feel the need to dominate?
I feel the need to escape from domination,
Sandy said, and he opened his hands:
Why can’t people see that I’m innocent?
Morris Rubra said, with a wry laugh:
It’s hard to know who’s innocent
by looking at them or watching them;
I’ve known people who smile and charm,
but by gumbo, were the most guilty.
So how can I defend myself, or be defended,
when any defense opens the door to guilt,
and any defense can be seen as a pretense?
The lawyer said:
That’s a good question,
and one I’ve tangled with a long time.
Sandy paced the cell:
In defending myself I’ll become self-righteous;
and he was surprised at Morris Rubra’s response:
You leave the self-righteousness to me;
I excel at it.
Sandy saw the irony:
Aren’t you sacrificing part of your better self
when you do that?
Morris Rubra raised his brows:
Yes; but I’ve chosen to make that sacrifice.
To read the Prologue, click here. You can read the following chapters from there.