by Zane Castillo
Damien never knew his parents. He grew up in and out of the foster system; never staying too long at one place due to his bad behavior. For a few months at a time he would live with a foster family until he started to act out and they would send him right back to the foster home.
This continued until he hit the age of 18 and he left the foster system and moved in with a friend in met at the foster home. He quickly followed his friend into stealing cars and hubcaps for a few gangsters around the neighborhood.
He accumulated a substantial amount of money in no time and garnered a reputation for being the go-to-man especially for chop shops. His fearlessness made him someone to reckon with. Any make and model he could break into the car and have it started in under a minute.
He had been stealing cars for a while when he met Miela. She had been working as a waitress at a restaurant that he frequented. She seemed to be different than the girls he usually went for and finally asked her out one night. He was surprised when she said yes.
He drove a stolen car on his first date with Miela. He picked her up feeling exhilarated by the look on her face when she got into the Mercedes Benz.
"Is this yours?" she asked him in awe.
"Yeah," he said with a smile on his face.
"What do you do again?" she asked him.
"I'm a mechanic," he replied.
"Must be making good money to afford this," she stated as she looked around the car. He shrugged. "I do ok."
They went to a movie and had dinner afterwards. He dropped her off at her apartment and leaned in to kiss her. She gave him a kiss but stopped him when his hand cupped her breast. "That's all you are getting. Have a goodnight," she said as she stepped out of the car. Damien watched her in shock as she entered the apartment building. It was then that Damien fell in love with Miela.
He saw her whenever he could and on the fifth date he finally got more than a kiss and it proved to be worth the wait. He was still boosting cars and got rid of the Benz as soon as possible. He bought a new car with his money and explained to Miela that the Benz was having issues with the transmission when she asked about the new car.
When Miela told him that she loved him he was thrown off-guard. They had been walking down a street after dinner and he was holding her hand when she leaned into him and said "I love you." He stopped and looked at her for a moment if making sure that she was serious. She stared at him with a small smile on her face.
"I love you too," he replied and knew that he meant it. He had never said the words before not even to any of his foster parents.
She asked him if he wanted to live together after a few months and he excitedly agreed. He still hadn't told her what he really did and wasn't sure how she would react to it. He knew he couldn't get a regular job; boosting cars was a thrill that he couldn't live without.
They found a moderate one-bedroom apartment and moved in. Miela decorated and Damien felt like he finally had a place he could call home.
One night he was boosting a car when the alarm wouldn't stop blaring and when he got into the car, a police car with flashing lights came and blocked him in. He was arrested and booked. He called Miela from jail and finally told her the truth. She was angry at him and hung the phone up as he tried to apologize. He waited in the jail cell not sure if she was going to leave him.
She was able to put up the bail and picked him from the jail. He looked at her apprehensively as she drove home. She was quiet and closed off. When they entered the apartment he felt as if he needed to say something.
"Are you going to say something?" he asked her.
"What is there to say Damien? You have been lying to me since we met," she stated.
He didn't reply. He didn't know what to say.
"You steal cars for a living. What, you thought you weren't going to ever get caught?" she asked him angrily.
He stood there in silence.
"Are you facing jail time?" she asked him.
"The cop told me I could be looking at 16 months in jail," he replied matter-of-factly.
"Are you even scared about going to jail?" she asked him.
"I more scared about losing you. I know there is no reason for you to stay after this but I want you to know I love you and I promise that I will never steal another car again," he pleaded.
She looked at him for a second before walking away into the next room and closing the door. He fell asleep on the couch that night and every other night until his court hearing. She hardly spoke to him and kept him at a distance. He stopped stealing cars to the dismay of the chops shops that he got the cars for.
The day of the hearing Miela went with him to the court and watched nervously as the judge went over his case. Damien was nervous but tried not to show it. He answered all of the judge's questions as respectfully as he could. The judge sentenced him to a year in jail. Damien displayed no emotion but looked over at Miela as he exited the court. She was crying with her head in her hands.
He quickly became adjusted to the routine of jail and it helped that he knew a few people. Miela visited him and they worked on planning for when he got out. He was humbled that she forgave him and wanted to have a life with him. He read and worked out to make the time pass. He was released early after eight months in jail. Miela picked him up and immediately started talking about the jobs that he could start applying for in an effort to keep his head on the right track. His friends called to congratulate him on the release and to get back to boosting cars but he turned down firmly.
He found work doing construction where he was able to still use his hands. He worked long days and drove home in exhaustion. He forced himself to stay on the straight path for Miela and for himself but some days he would pass by a car that would catch his eye and that ole thrill would come back as he wondered how quickly he could boost it.