This is my 15 year old self with my dad. I wish I had a clearer photo but I don't. What is clear.... crystal clear is my memories of being 15 and living with my Dad. I came here today to write about an incident, a person a 1/365 who have made me what and who I am today.....and it was not my Dad I had in mind.
I lived outside of New Orleans, a Parrish (like a county), called "Jefferson" and I loved my life. I or "she" was a 15 year old that thought she was grown and she finally found people that I would treat her that way.... her father, his cohorts (partners in crime AKA "organized crime") , and the residents of our "adult living" community of apartments. I am writing about "her" as if there was a third person, I do realize this, but it was a different time and different place and a "different" person. I was so young, I lacked so much knowledge. I had experienced "so much." ...and I knew everything.
It was a scheduled poker night. All the regulars would be there, the dealers, the body guards , the players and me. My Dad had to work out of town and had gone to Baton Rouge for a couple of days. He knew he could trust me to "run things." I made a lot of money making drinks, serving food, standing beside a random player to "bring them luck." or to make everyone at home. I was the hostess. My dad would still make his house cut and he didn't even have to be there.
He called several times to make sure I was okay. Why wouldn't I be? I had everything a girl needed: weed, cigarettes, booze, sodas, food, car and a roof over my head. There was even a bar that was open all night long on the weekends beside the pool that had a few sundries a person could buy if needed. I was allowed "in," everyone knew me, I could get anything I wanted and then some just for the asking. The sky was the limit.
The night was going as planned. Everyone was there and it was getting late, almost midnight. I was asked to go buy a couple packs of cigarettes in the bar for one of the players. I could do that quickly and a hand or a deal would not skip a beat and of course there was a nice tip involved. I don't remember how much cigarettes cost back then but I think maybe $1. I knew I had to buy 2 packs and they gave me a $10 bill.... this tip was going to be good... especially if I returned with all $1 bills... I knew how to play the game, and I could count on my dealer to make sure the smoker would be in a good , generous mood when I returned.
I didn't return as expected.
I not only wouldn't be timely but I would ruin the entire night for the entire poker table.
I returned from the busy bar passing the breeeze-way with my cigarettes that I bought. I noted the pool area ....it was summer time, and the pool had people sitting around it and a couple in it... in the dark...talking, making out, smoking cigarettes, drinking cocktails and enjoying their adult lives. There was a guy on the pay phone, he yelled out to me and hung up the phone.
I didn't know him, but I thought for an instant , that he may be looking for the poker game and of course I could direct him to the right place. He didn't ask me for directions to the game. He had a game of his own. He told me, he didn't have but a minute but he was a producer. A musical producer looking for people to model and pose for promotional reasons and he would like to get my number to get in touch with me to arrange this at a later time. I was "just what he was looking for" and he was sure that I had a lot of friends that could do it too. ....What? Really? Me? of course I will give you my number ... She was so smart..... she went to the truck , the white truck with him and he wrote her number....my number ...on a book of matches and threw them in the console.
Two of my Dads friends passed by and I shouted out a hello to them and asked if they were on the way to the apartment. I don't remember if they ever did get to the apartment or not. All of the sudden I was on the ground and my double zippered jeans were being yanked on. My shirt was a plaid guaze and the buttons easily came open with one grab and slight of the hand. I struggled, he struggled, he...got an erection and he released his junk from his own zipper... standing there after I wrestled myself up and gathered the cigarettes that I had dropped during the scuffle. I don't think any words were said by him during this brief but very long exchange. I think I asked "what the hell are you doing? but maybe? I just thought that? I am not sure....
but what I am sure of is ...
he had on a baseball cap, his exposed white erection shone brightly under the lamp post, that I would not be accepting any "payment" that he offered me out loud as I ran away. His face was ingrained in my memory bank and I was too upset to go be "adulting" at the poker game.
I went back to the bar -to Eva and Vince - I told them what happened.... and before I knew it I was talking to police, doctors / nurses and my father was on the road ..on the way home. I caused the poker game to crumble quickly and I wasn't liking my present situation.
I went through the gammut of the investigational things you see on TV, there was no internet, no cell phones, no DNA, but there was mug shot BOOKS and they were huge, there were people that drew composite sketches from what I described, good guy detectives that bought me good things to eat when they visited and the mean ones that just asked point blank questions and didn't care if my favorite jeans would never come back to my closet. There were no "time frames" that they would visit and I know they could smell the remains of the marijuana that was smoked only minutes before they arrived. I smoked cigarettes and drank "salty dogs" with them and got to know them on a first name bases.
My Dad wasn't angry at me as I thought he would be for everything that went wrong that night. He was angry when I told him about the phone call that was made from the prison to my house from a payphone.... threatening me and my Dad if I pressed charges. We did press charges. We identified him. My dad's friends told the story that they had seen me at the truck but they could not identify "HIM." A stewardess was approached earlier that evening in the parking lot by a guy that she could not indentify that asked her to do a "Chinese sit up." He explained to her what that was in some sexual way and she basically told him to F off and left to go to work, never reporting it , until after everyone knew what happened to me.
We eventually went to court. A parade of witnesses that was related to Mr . Van West testified that he never , in fact, ever...owned a baseball cap. My lawyer forgot to mention that I had identified his truck.... which was pointed out by his lawyer .... that there was no testimony that I had done so.... and on top of that his previous record of "indecent exposure " and other misdemeoner acts that were relevant could not be included. There was no scientific evidence of what he did. The Jury stated that although there was no doubt that a crime was committed there was reasonable doubt that this NON BASEBALL CAP WEARING MAN.... could possibly be the "wrong guy."
I was devastated. I thought in my grown up mind that what I said , "went." and that it shouldn't have mattered if I was 15 years old or the 16 years old that my dad told his friends my age was. I did in fact identify that truck and I didn't understand why after the closing arguments that my lawyer couldn't say , "wait, she did and here is the proof!" ... he walked out a free man...as if what he did to me never happened.
I came here today to write about it and HIM and the 1/365 ways he affected me. Before doing so I did some internet research. It turns out that ... his name isn't a very popular name in the United States, there are actually NONE on Facebook that I found, anyway. I did a google search and put the name in quotes "Larry Van West" I got two very interesting "hits"
FIND A CASE >>>HERE<<<<<< you can read the "other" case that happened AFTER ME and the ATROCIOUS outcome without paying a fee.... OMG I am livid... just LIVID
FIND A GRAVE >>>>>HERE<<<<<<<
I read with intensity , quickly scanning these pages and a few things stood out to me.... he really "was a producer" and his name was a mixture of his father and his mothers.... ????? haven't seen it quite like that before, so I wonder if there was ever "another" name ? and ..... he died young.... they say only the good die young... life is sooo confusing... sometimes... The college girl.... I wish I would have known and possibly helped some.... and were there others? probably so.. these injustices and no perfect system. that "reasonable doubt thing" is an oxymoron....