Ochberg Fellows in NYC
Submission Deadline: 2015 Dart Awards
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Stacey Rabideau opens her eyes.
Must be the furnace, she thinks. She closes her eyes and tries to fall back to sleep. Nine months pregnant, she can't get comfortable.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
She realizes it's not the furnace. Somebody is banging on the bedroom wall of her mobile home in White Lake.
"Who is it?" she yells. "Go to the front door."
She unlocks the door and Doyle, an old friend, barges into the room. Dando is waiting in the truck.
"Where's Shane?" Doyle asks, walking toward the bedroom. "Did he get paid?"
"If he did, he gets paid at work and I don't get any money until tonight," Rabideau says. "I don't have any money."
She is lying. There is a $20 bill sticking out of her purse. She casually walks across the room and tries to hide the money.
She's tired of loaning money to Doyle.
"I need to get some money," he says. "My mom wrote me a letter and disowned me. You wanna buy my fishing pole?"
She has a hard time understanding him. He tells her he has been up for two days, drinking vodka and smoking crack. He says he got into a fight in a bar, broke his hand and needs money for surgery.
"I'm sorry," she says, getting mad. "I'm pregnant and I got my own kids and my own life and I barely got any money and you aren't going to take it all."
He says he is going to take off and go to Mexico. He wants to get a boat and start charter fishing.
She doesn't know what to believe. Typical Bryan, she thinks. Big dreams, big exaggerations. Such a talker.
"Do you remember that gun I showed you the other night?" he asks.
How can you forget when somebody comes over to borrow money and whips out a sawed-off shotgun? He kept waving it around like he was Rambo. Doyle described how he filed it down, showing her the fine grooves and workmanship, the care and grace.
In reality, the handle is loose and the metal is rusty. It is a Remington 870 Express, a 12-gauge shotgun, strong enough to kill a deer with one slug, the same type that some cops in Waterford carry in their front seats.
"I'm just gonna go out and start robbing people," he says now.
He starts rambling about his mother again, about going to Mexico, and then, suddenly, he asks her which party stores are open.
"Party stores? I know the Shell is open," she says. "They have a food market, but you won't be able to buy your booze."
"No, that's not why," he says. "That's not why at all. Does Shell have that bulletproof glass?"
She laughs at him.
She can't imagine him using a gun to rob anybody. To her, Doyle is artistic and sentimental. He writes poems and loves to talk on the phone, the kind of guy who remembers everything -- birthdays and anniversaries, the kind of guy who becomes a woman's best friend. She has known him for almost 20 years, since they were in the eighth grade. He was one of the first boys she ever kissed. He was a crappy kisser -- wild and all over the place -- and they broke up, but they've been friends ever since.
But something is wrong. He looks different, more desperate.
He looks strung out and tired. He has been talking about suicide for weeks. He has told her several times that he won't go back to jail. After four drunk driving convictions, he was sent to prison in 1994 for three years and was on parole until 1999. He doesn't have a driver's license, though he drives all the time. "They won't take me alive," he has told her.
"Go home," she says.
She figures he will just give up, go to bed and sleep it off.
Just like always.
He leaves and she goes back to sleep. A few hours later, somebody is banging on her door again.
It's the police.
"Did you have a visitor this morning?" they ask.
Your contributions help the Dart Center nurture informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy worldwide.
The Dart Center is a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.