Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Freis Dilemma

I don't know where to start. I want to tell a story about a fellow I grew up with named Tony Freis.
Tony and I met originally in juvenile detention, we would continue to know each other, from that time, until his death.
That death is what this post is about.
Tony and I were not exactly friends. He was one of those guys that nobody liked. He was a thief, he was a liar, he was loud, obnoxious, and generally a real jerk, all the time.
I guess I always sort of drew those types in. Every type of asshole. The unpopular, the strays.  We were all flawed, we were as yet, unfinished and immature.
Tony was a tough case though, even for me. My wife hated him, she wouldn’t come out of her room if he was around. She was right, there was no good reason for him to be around. Trouble of one kind or another would always follow. I had actually fought him on several occasions. That was part of the problem, I guess. He was hard for me to beat up, and I was twice his size. I guessed at the time that was why he always came around me. I was not afraid of him, so I’d open the door. There was no way I would have ever shown weakness to the dude. I was a hoodlum I guess too and we were real macho like that.
The incident that caused his death happened at the home of a guy that was getting married the following day.
I won’t say a bachelor party because there were females in attendance. My lovely wife was there with me. We had all planned to get really high, listen to music, get really higher, etc. It could not have been more ‘seventies’ you know, real cool. No excitement, no drama.
Of course Freis showed up. He walked in without knocking, aggressive, obnoxious. I figured it was gonna be alright. I thought since I was there, he and I were cool, no problem.I couldn't have been more wrong.
Soon enough, Tony had started a quarrel with some of the people there and it looked like it was gonna continue into the night.
Most people left as soon as he arrived, more after the fighting broke out. Teresa and I were still there, as well as the guest of honor and a couple of others. There was also a black kid that I had never seen before. We later learned that he had came with a mutual friend. I had thought, at first, he was a buddy of Tony’s. Turns out the two of them had just started speaking to each other when Tony started pushing the kid around, bullying him. That is what Tony came for that night, to push.
Suddenly, one of the guys there pulled out a kitchen knife and stabbed Tony.  He stabbed him one time, right in the center of his gut.  Tony hit the ground like a sack of rocks. Blood ran from somewhere near his sternum, as well as his mouth and nose.
He was dead, unbelievably, frighteningly, dead. The bullying, the pushing, the whole thing just went too far.
Tony Freis, whom I had now known for most of my life, was lying on the floor with his life soaking into the cheesy linoleum, dead.  His eyes were still opened, a look of horrible surprise stuck on his face, forever.
Needless to say, everyone that was there, ran.  The kid who lived there stayed.  He was there when the police showed up. He is why I know the rest of the story.
Apparently, somebody contacted the police pretty quick. By the time they arrived, everybody that had actually witnessed the stabbing, had gone.
The police went around the neighborhood and picked up a couple of people that had been at the party. One of the people they picked up was the black kid.  Unfortunately for him, someone had seen him right next to Tony's body . I spoke to my friend there that said that indeed, the kid had gone through Tony's pockets. More had done the same, taking all the money and dope, and whatever else, before running away.
My friend and I had seen the entire thing. Several people remember looking over toward the upheaval, remembering very little but knowing that the black kid was involved because he was standing the closest.
I happen to know that kid did not do the stabbing, I saw who did.
I never spoke to the police. I ran, and I very well should have. That is how any one is trained to respond in the dirty world that we were a part of.. It was not of evil intention, I had no agenda with the kid, I  was not just running to avoid being a "rat."   I too, was a juvenile delinquent. I had a young lady with me.
Oh yeah, I also believed that whomever was responsible would be held to pay and my input was unnecessary. Hell, I had been arrested many times, I was always guilty, I was always found to be so, and I was left with the impression that law enforcement, worked. 
The thing is, that black kid was arrested.  Then, he was convicted of that stabbing, of murder.
The last I heard, (maybe a year or two after the incident) he was still filing appeals.
Within a few months of that nightmare, I had created my own hell and was way to caught up to ever really think about it.  I had successfully managed to avoid ever being questioned.
The other night, I began to think about it again, I find myself kind of on the fence about my role in the ruining of this guys life. At first, I was troubled, but not anymore. The whole thing had nothing to do with me. That's what I'll tell myself.
I don’t know whether I could have changed it in any way. I am also not sure that I would react the same if it happened today.
 I may just reveal a little too much here but the fact is, I still live by that same code of ethics that led me to avoid the police that day.  I am my brothers keeper, to a point but to the extent that my own life become in danger or my ability to raise my children or grandchildren in a neighborhood, well, I think not.
I hope that gentleman got his freedom back, i will never know, I don't even know how to find out. I never knew his name.


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