Expressionless faces surrounding me, swimming in murmured conversations, something familiar snapped inside me. “Can I have a minute outside, to… umm, make a phone call?” I asked my attorney in a whisper with one hand partially covering my lips. He lifted his head to meet my gaze where he held a curious almost worried stare for an extended moment before gently nodding his head. “Sure, if you need to speak to your family before making this plea that’s fine. But you’re gonna have to hurry back, this deal isn’t gonna last and I think the judge is getting frustrated with these continuations. It’s now or never Mr. Hilliard.”
When he finished his pep talk he stood and moved smugly out of striking distance adjusting his cheap tie. I wanted to punch a hole in his head, but that would have to wait. For now, I sprang to my feet like a jack in the box and made my way between two fat pasty bailiffs towards the double doors. My heart was racing but my mind was made up. Fuck this judge, Fuck this courtroom, and super fuck a 15-year deal!. These bastards will have to catch me.
These thoughts left my eyes glazed, trancelike and determined as I forced the heavy door open and made my way to the staircase. Of course, they weren’t hunting me yet but I couldn’t escape the feeling some SWAT team was about to repel from the ceiling and grab me. I was running, hard and fast as I always did, and with 24 failures to appear in 6 counties across 3 states, I was shocked every time they even gave me bail. “He got rabbit in him”, that’s what the old heads would say about anyone who had the particular propensity for ducking court dates. I just reasoned, I’d rather run with warrants than bunk with strangers and to me, at that moment it made sense.
Down the steps through the glass doors and into the sunlight now I breathed a little easier with every inch I put between me and this man-made hell on earth called the justice system, and here I was running again harder and faster. No stranger to fleeing and leaving a mess in my wake, my mother said they named me after a hurricane, sometimes I wonder if that had anything to do with this tremendous flaw in my character. Running is easy, my go-to move. It’s a human instinct bred into us for survival purposes, well that’s the juvenile justification I’d given myself for being too weak to handle my own shit. But all my life I’d been running. Long before this all-to-real game of cops and robbers gripped and consumed my reality like wildfire, I was dodging things that were difficult or uncomfortable and fleeing any situation that scared me. Hell, I’ve run from everything from fist fights to sex with beautiful women, I’ve run to get a pregnancy test then ran when I got the results. I’ve run from my mother, teacher, preachers, doctors, utility bills, dogs, cats, you name it. I’ve run from guys I owed money and I’ve even run from guys who owed me money and now, back at this familiar crossroads, running again hard and fast.
Do you remember the running man? A popular dance from the early 90’s, where the dancer to the rhythm of a hip-hop beat, would simulate running while remaining stationary. Basically running in place while music plays. Pretty comical right? Yeah well, that’s the story of my life. A dancer running hard and getting nowhere. I’ve blamed human evolution, I’ve blamed my mother, my father. I’ve blamed the cops and the crooked system. I’ve even blamed the white man “It’s whitey’s fault that I do the things I do and then run.” You know the saying “Do unto others and run like hell before they do unto you”, I think it’s in the Bible… Yeah, that’s where I read it… I lived by that but I’m starting to see that no matter who I blame or what philosophical wisdom I find, peace still eludes my life. How is it that this clear cowardice reaction became such an intrinsic part of my life?
This was the question posed to me by a counselor of sorts. The question sparks a long chain of self-realization. The first of which was the fact that this recurring phenomenon has negatively shaped my life. There were other epiphanies but the one that left me spiraling in my thoughts was the fact that all of these things I fled from throughout my life, whether a court, legal cases, romantic relationships, etc. they were all mirrors of myself. It is me I’ve been running from all along and no matter where I go I am right there, creating these dilemmas that I will, in turn, flee from. The root truth of my running dance, my perennial flight to nowhere, is my reluctance to see myself for who I am and my endless denial of reality and until I embrace life on life’s terms I will run on and on afraid to see my creation. Like doctor Frankenstein fleeing the monster that will eventually destroy him I too will continue to be haunted until the day I develop the fortitude to face my greatest enemy and ally, myself.