The punch was perfect.
I noticed his charge just in time, my peripheral vision catching just a flicker of movement, and all the torque my 19 year old body could muster drove my left fist into his right cheek, to devastating consequence.
Had it taken place in a professional prizefighting ring, the announcers would have gushed over my technique and power. Under those circumstances, the victim of my blow would have landed on a relatively soft mat, medical attention would have been immediate, and a full recovery would be expected.
Our confrontation, however, took place on an unforgiving concrete slab, a public park’s basketball court. The odd angle of his descent meant that his skull hit the pavement first, making a sound that produced nausea in all present.
The next sound I can recall with such unerring clarity is the voice of the jury foreman, a middle-aged Korean man: “We, the jury, find the defendant guilty of the charge of involuntary manslaughter.”
My attorney hoped I’d be acquitted on grounds of self-defense. After all, I had been attacked, hadn’t I? Harsh words and shoves had been exchanged following a hard foul, tempers were rising to match the triple digit temperatures, and I swung only because I felt I was in danger.
The D.A. didn’t get the manslaughter charge she was seeking, but she was convincing enough that I’d do time in prison. Involuntary manslaughter, even for a defendant like me with no prior criminal record, meant I’d be a guest of the state of
for the next 36-96 months. Nevada
I was forewarned to expect a smell unlike any I’d experienced before, something like a combination of a high school football team’s locker room after August two-a-days and the elephant house at the zoo. The putrid aroma hadn’t been exaggerated.
Fortunately, the human body has ways of adapting to extreme conditions, and my sense of smell went into hibernation after a few days. A vase filled with fresh flowers would smell the same to me as a ripe durian for the duration of my stay. What I hadn’t expected was that the rest of my senses would follow suit. All the food began to taste bland, despite all attempts to season it, my ears no longer registered the howls of the mad, and the color of my world became a rainbow of grays.
The sky never seems blue these days, just a drab amalgam of the most gloomy, cloudy, rainy days I can recall.
The faces of people from your past, no matter how close or familiar, absent photographs, begin to fade over time. The odd thing is, if you bump into an old friend or classmate, recognition can be instant, as if seeing them unlocks access to memories long forgotten. I’m hoping the same holds true for colors. When first I see a male cardinal, the red will be as bold as it ever was, the ocean as deep a blue as the days I spent splashing in it as a child, and when next I’m fortunate enough to stroll through a forest, I pray the leaves of the trees will fairly burst with green.
Cons with parole on the horizon all talk about what they’ll have for their first meal upon release, which food they crave above all others. While I certainly look forward to all of my senses reawakening, it isn’t food, music, a scent (the smell of an old, dusty book, unopened for years, is a personal favorite), or even the soft skin of a woman. It’s my eyes I miss most of all. Vivid colors have abandoned me, and I want them back!