Patrick and his girlfriend went with me to the funeral. As soon as we walked in, we saw Mr. Michaels, but I’m not sure if he saw us, because there were a lot of other people there. Since he didn’t approach us, we decided not to approach him either. Even though there were many things we might have said to each other, those words remained unspoken.
At the cemetery, I placed a bouquet of five red roses on the casket, one for each for the four plus years we had been in love. Patrick was a tower of strength for me and stayed by my side through the entire heart-wrenching affair, along with his girlfriend. The only reason I had left to continue living though was to make certain that David’s murderer received the punishment he deserved.
When we returned to our apartment after the funeral, we discovered several messages from the police department. We immediately left again and went to the police station, where I finally filled out the affidavit about the night David had been brutally murdered. One of the officers informed me that the second suspect was also in custody and had been apprehended that same evening, not far from where the incident occurred. Some of our friends had already identified him in a line-up, so it wouldn’t be necessary for me to have to do that as well.
Pat and I then went home, feeling somewhat satisfied that the wheels of justice, and in my case retribution, had definitely been set in motion. Even though I hadn’t been near them today, I could still see the ugly, hateful looks on the attackers’ faces, because I’d been having nightmares about them every night. The local newspaper reported the name of the guy who had beaten David so badly as Richard Beilec and stated he’d been a long-standing member of a neo-Nazi organization. The other man’s name was Harvey Waters and the article reported he had been spending the majority of his time with Beilec for the past several months. I guess this means hatred is contagious after all.
My friends and I had been working closely with the District Attorney’s Office to make sure they had all of the information we knew about the case, because we wanted him to put those guys away for a very long time. The D.A. was going to attack this case as a hate crime, because of the reported comments that were spewed, and he would paint the attack as hatred against two young men who were born different from the attackers.
The stack of evidence against Beilec and Waters was enormous. The prosecutors had motive, hatred, and one defendant had been picked up at the scene with the bloody pipe still in his hand. The other defendant had also been positively identified by three of our friends, so we knew we had the right suspects. In addition to everything else, there was the medical testimony about David’s injuries, which matched up with having been caused by the pipe, and his cause of death was a direct result of the beating. There was also my moment-by-moment account of that evening, which shall be forever burned into my memory, so we all felt this case was a slam-dunk for the prosecution.
All of the preliminary court appearances had taken place and the initial motions had been heard and ruled on, so a trial date was set. Although the preparations for the trial made me relive that night over and over again, I was willing to do anything required to make sure these two beasts were punished. Of course, I was scheduled as a witness for the prosecution, but the District Attorney kept telling me that it might not come to that. He was still hoping to get Beilec and Waters to accept a plea agreement by offering Beilec life in prison, as opposed to a possible death penalty, and giving Waters fifteen to twenty-five years in prison, instead of twenty-five to life. I agreed those punishments would be satisfactory and hoped a deal could be made.
I didn’t mind that he was going to do this, because I’ve always felt the death penalty was the easy way out for violent criminals. If you kill the criminal, then wham, it’s done and over with. If you put him in prison for the rest of his life, then he has every day to think about why he was there, as well as time to consider what he was missing, due to his lost freedom. The only thing that would be better than a life sentence would be if the perpetrator had to keep reliving the crime over and over again, through the eyes of his victim.
I didn’t mind giving Waters a lesser sentence either, since he had only beaten me up. Sure, he was with Beilec at the time, but he hadn’t done anything to David and I’d hardly been hurt. The law, however, considered him an accomplice to murder; so I had no problem with that either. I certainly wasn’t going to shed any tears for him, and if he ever got out of prison, he might be more selective when choosing his friends in the future.
The trial started and the prosecution presented a flawless case. After I testified, I was allowed to join Patrick every day in the gallery and watched the rest of the proceedings with him. Mr. Michaels was also there, but once again no words passed between us. I could tell he was visibly upset when the details of the crime were presented, and I would even venture a guess that no one had informed him about these facts earlier, at least not that it would be aired in court. When the prosecution rested its case, the defense began its presentation.
We were all shocked when we discovered the defense’s strategy. They were claiming David and I had made repeated passes at the defendants and had pursued them even after they had rejected our advances. Seeing the four of us were the only ones who were present at the beginning of the attack and David wasn’t here to tell his side of the story, it was my word against theirs. The D.A. even called some of our other friends who were at that meeting to rebut this claim, by telling the jury that we hadn’t been gone long enough for all of that to happen, but I’m not sure how much good it did.
The defense continued to claim that after trying to fend off repeated propositions from us, they just snapped and didn’t remember what happened after that. They did remember picking the weapons up off of the street, which I doubted, and they also claimed the entire attack was just their spontaneous response to our aggressiveness. Get that, our aggressiveness. I thought the D.A. had done a good job casting doubt on their defense and was fairly confident as the case went to the jury.
The jury deliberated for three days, which turned out to be three days of second-guessing our strategies and trying to get into the minds of the jury members, to see if we could tell what they were thinking. It was during the nights waiting for the verdict that I slept the worst, not that I’ve slept very well since David had been murdered, but those were particularly bad nights.
We were seated in the courtroom when the jury came back with their verdict. From that minute on, the whole scene seemed to pass by in slow motion. As each count of the verdict was read, and there were several counts against each defendant, all I could remember was the jury foreperson repeatedly saying ‘not guilty.’ I was stunned beyond belief, but somewhere along the line I did hear a ‘guilty’ verdict for at least one of the charges.
The courtroom erupted in mayhem, as our friends and various other spectators showed their outrage at what they had just heard. The judge tried desperately to regain order, as he banged his gavel down on the bench repeatedly and demanded ‘order in the court.’ Finally, I came back to my senses and walked up to the D.A., so I could ask him what the guilty verdict had been for. He looked at me, exposing an expression of utter failure that was etched upon his face, and answered it was for the simple assault charge. I asked what they could get for that charge and he told me it could mean up to a year in jail.
A year! All they were going to get was a year, and then only in jail and not in prison! It just couldn’t be. I must have heard wrong, because this just wasn’t possible. Had the jury been filled with homophobes too? How else could this have happened? I ran to Patrick, clutched his arm and dragged him from the courtroom, with his girlfriend trailing behind. I couldn’t stand to look at the smug expressions on Beilec and Waters’ faces after they’d heard the verdict, since Beilec knew he’d gotten away with murder. I stood outside, trying to discuss what happened with Patrick and his girlfriend, as I continued to question how that verdict could have possibly come about, especially after all of the evidence that had been presented.
While I had been talking to Patrick, I happened to look up just in time to see Mr. Michaels leave the courthouse. Even from this distance, I could see the fire in his eyes, as he stood at the top of the outer stairway and scanned the area. A moment later, he spotted me and bolted down the steps in my direction. He came straight for me and it appeared that he wanted to rip my heart out, when another person suddenly stepped between us. He tried to push this person away, and I wasn’t even sure who it was, but when Mr. Michaels saw he couldn’t move him, he stood there and screamed at me.
“This is your fault, you little asshole,” he yelled, while looking like a fire-breathing dragon. “If it weren’t for you, David would still be alive. I knew you were no good for him from the very start and because you turned David into a queer, it cost him his life. I tried to protect and keep him away from you, but you just had to have him, even if it meant killing him in the process. You’re to blame for this and it’s all your fault.”
At first, I was stunned by the viciousness of his attack, but soon I was equally pissed. He wasn’t going to unload this whole thing on me, because I was going to tell him what I thought about his role in this mess, as well.
“It was your narrow-mindedness that caused this, not anything I did. I didn’t turn David gay, he was born that way,” I screamed back. “He was also the one who figured out I was gay and then came on to me. Why couldn’t you have just accepted us for who we were? David and I didn’t ask to be gay, so why couldn’t you understand that. Why was it so hard for you to accept us as we were and then realized we loved each other deeply? Why did you try so hard to split us up?
“If you hadn’t had me arrested and sent away, we wouldn’t have had to sneak around and meet like criminals. David wouldn’t have had to come looking for me, and yes, he was the one who first contacted me when I got out of juvenile hall. If you hadn’t been so intolerable, he wouldn’t have had to run away from your home and wouldn’t have been estranged from you. We wouldn’t have been coming out of that church on the night this happened either, because the only reason we were there was that David thought it might help him find a way to get you to accept us as a couple. That’s all he wanted. That’s all he asked for. He just wanted you to accept the fact that we were gay and a couple deeply in love. Yes, two boys can be deeply in love. Our friends could accept it, so why couldn’t you?
“True, maybe I was partially to blame for this, but so were you and you can’t put this entirely on my shoulders. You’re to blame as well, because all David wanted was your love and acceptance, but you wouldn’t give it to him. You wouldn’t give it to us.”
Mr. Michaels was stunned by the forcefulness of my verbal attack, but at least he heard me out. It’s possible that he was merely standing there in shock at first, but then my words began to strike home and he collapsed into a sobbing lump of man flesh. Instinctively, I went to his side, bent down and hugged him. I didn’t hate the man; it was just that I didn’t understand him. After all, he was David’s father and the only link I still had to my love. After many minutes of crying and holding onto him, he looked up at me with the saddest eyes I’d ever seen.
“I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?” he pleaded, sounding very meek this time. “I thought I was protecting David, but I guess I was only hurting him more. Please say you’ll forgive a stupid old man, so maybe I can feel as if David is forgiving me too.”
I had no problem telling him that I forgave him and then we both cried, sprawled out on the sidewalk, for a long, long time. I just wished David could have witnessed it and experienced this moment of healing. Mr. Michaels finally understood, but it was too late. It was too late for David, too late for him and too late for me.
I went numbly through the next several months and in a major stupor. Shortly after we had all moved in together, David and I had added Patrick’s name to our bank account, so we all had access to the money, in case of an emergency. Since I was too depressed to work and Patrick felt he had to stay close by and take care of me, we both quit our jobs and lived off of the money David had left us. Patrick’s girlfriend spent nearly every minute of her free time at the apartment with us, because she wanted to see Patrick, but they also feared what I might do if they weren’t around.
As the months wore on, I began to slowly fight off my deep depression, but I think this might have had more to do with something I’d planned in the back of my mind. Over time, I began to leave the apartment with Pat and then eventually started going out on my own. I even resumed seeing some of our other friends again, but I never forgot about David or about how the justice system had failed us for the second time.
I went back to see the D.A. and inquired about when Beilec and Waters would be getting out of jail. After making a couple of phone calls, he told me the date of their release and said they would be let out at midnight. He must have felt that I was worried they might come after me again, so he tried to assure me I had nothing to worry about, since they would be monitored for the next year as well.
As the day of their release approached, I just couldn’t stop thinking about them. When that evening finally arrived, I put on my overcoat, grabbed a couple of other items I thought I might need and walked over to the county jail to watch these two scum go free. I stood leaning against a pole across the street from the main entrance to the jail and waited in the shadows. A couple of minutes after midnight, I saw the two of them walk out the front door of the jail, down the stairs to the sidewalk and then into the street. They were laughing and having a good old time joking around with each other, which really pissed me off. At that moment, I started walking toward them and Beilec immediately spotted me.
“Look who’s here, Harv. It’s one of the fag boys,” he jeered. “I guess he’s come back for some more. It looks like he needs a real man to fill the void, now that his faggy lover is dead.”
I pushed the right side of my coat back and lifted the shotgun I had hidden underneath it. Beilec was stunned as I raised the weapon, pointed it at his chest and pulled the trigger. Waters started screaming and ran away as I pumped another round into the chamber. I then stood over Beilec’s prostrate form and fired a second round into his chest.
After hearing the gunshots and Waters’ screams, several sheriff deputies ran out of the door, weapons drawn and pointed at me. I immediately dropped the shotgun I had stolen from one of our friends and raised my hands. I was put under arrest and taken to the same jail that Beilec had just come out of.
I didn’t bother to fight the charges that were filed against me, since I had nothing left to live for. I didn’t even try to offer a reasonable defense, because even I felt that my actions were indefensible. At the time, I merely felt it was something that had to be done and Beilec couldn’t be allowed to get away with what he’d done to my lover. I convinced my court-appointed lawyer to turn the trial into a political statement, so we could correct the misconceptions from the first trial.
Harvey Waters even agreed to testify on my behalf and admit David and I had never made a pass at them that night long ago and we had done nothing to provoke the assault. He admitted that Beilec led him there for the sole purpose of beating up a few queers. He also admitted that Beilec had brought the pipe with him and it was not a weapon of convenience. Waters had nothing to lose by admitting this now, since double jeopardy had been attached and he’d never testified to the contrary, so he couldn’t be charged with perjury either. I think he also felt he owed me at least this much for not killing him too and for letting him walk away the evening I gunned Beilec down.
During the trial, we made David into a hate crimes martyr and let people know that gay bashing was not an acceptable pastime. We made a resounding statement that gays were not just a group of sissies and cowards that could be assaulted or pushed around at will. We let the rest of the country know we were willing to fight back and would exact revenge for crimes committed against us, even if the law couldn’t or wouldn’t do so. I didn’t pursue any appeals to my conviction either and even turned down numerous offers of assistance where that was concerned. I was sentenced to death for premeditated murder and accepted the inevitability stoically. I guess the justice system does work on occasion and that’s why I’m lying here on this cold metal table now.
I had only asked for one thing to happen after my death, because there was only one thing that would have any meaning or add any justification for my existence. I asked Patrick to make sure I was buried with the chain and all of the charms that David had given me, because I wanted David to be with me forever, even in death. As the poison began to enter my veins and started to do its job, my mind drifted to thoughts of David. I would leave this world thinking only of him, as I looked forward to being with my lover once more.
* * * * * *
“I wish to report that William Raymond Maynard was put to death by lethal injection for the crime he committed. The official time of death was 12:17 A.M., Eastern Standard Time,” the official making the announcement stated.
* * * * * *
Mohandas Gandhi once said, "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind." He had a point, because those who mete out their own forms of justice, along with those who seek revenge, usually discover that it seldom works out as they had planned, or hoped. In this case, those who decided to act on their own to solve what they perceived as societies failures ended up forfeiting their own lives as well.