A Crisp and Clear Santa Barbara Morning...

Tiny - Posted on 17 December 2013

Needa Bee/PNN Poverty Scholar

I was rushing out the door into a crisp and clear Santa Barbara autumn morning late for work the moment my father killed my mother. All my frantic efforts to get out the apartment came to a sudden stand still as a cold fear stopped my heart and feet dead in their tracks. One solitary thought repeated itself in my mind: mama's dead. And even though she was 200 miles away in Los Angeles, and although I had spoken to her on the phone just last night – every part of my 18 year old body knew and screamed that truth in silence.

Instead of heading out the door and going to work, I made my way to the living room couch and tried to call my mom. No answer. For hours. So out of the ordinary for my mama not to pick up her phone. So unlike her to not return not one but dozens of messages. I called my cousin Marietta who lived with my family. She was also trippin. When I moved out a year prior to escape the madness of my homelife, Marietta stepped up into the place I held as my mama's right hand helper. She didnt know where my mama was either, and also had a dreadful feeling in her gut. I called my Tita Linda who had plans to meet my mom at 10am. Mama never showed up. Not ordinary behavior for my super organized, word is bond, virgo mother. I sat on that couch trying to track my mother from 8am til the sun went down. And when the sun finally set I got into my car and drove down to l.a. to find her. By then the voice in my head was my mothers. She was saying “I'm dead. Your father killed me.”

The first time he had tried to kill her was four months before in may 1990. I was finishing up my freshman year at UCSB when I got a call from my mother. It was past midnight and I was already asleep. The phone rang and rang and both me and my roommate ignored it. I realized it must be some kind of emergency so half asleep I made my way to the phone, groping around in the dark, cussing the whole way. I could not recognize my mothers voice. She was calling from the hospital. Crying, drugged up, and out of it. All I could get out of her that was understandable was that she was in the bad car accident and my dad was responsible.

Now wide awake I got off the phone with my mama and called my family's home. My little sister answered the phone.

“Peanut what happened to mama?,” I asked. She was really quiet and in a scared whisper said “I dont know, I dont know where mama is. Mama hasnt been home in a week.” “What??!!!!!” I screamed. “Peanut shes in the hospital. She just called me. She was in a car accident. What the fuck is going on?” “I don't know.” “What is dad doing?” “Hes acting like everything is normal.” “Get him on the phone. Right now.”

When my dad got on the phone I asked him where my mother was. He said he didnt know. Maybe shes in Las Vegas.

“She just called me. She in the hospital cuz she was in a car accident. Why haven't you looked for her?”

At that point he started yelling at me. “How do you know she's in the hospital? All you need to be worried about is keeping your grades up in school and paying your rent.” And with that he hung up.

The next day my mom called me back. This time a little less out of it. She was in l.a. General. After talking to me, my dad showed up at the hospital and cussed her out and told her to stop bothering me with her problems. Since she wasn't as drugged up I could get more of the story out of her.

“I was downtown and out of no where a car came and rammed into me over and over and over. I was thrown out of the car. My tongue was lacerated and they had to sew it back on. Before I passed out at the accident your father appeared out of no where and took my purse and left. They said i've been in this hospital for a week. Last night was the first time I was conscious and I called you.”

Because my father had taken my mothers purse and she was unconscious, the hospital had no idea who she was. Due to my mothers illegitimate businesses her car was registered to her sister in london, england. For a week she was an unconscious jane doe in the hospital.

Later that day when i knew my dad was at work and my siblings would be home alone, I called my sister back and told her everything I knew. I said I would get one of our titas to take her and my brother to the hospital to see her. The hospital kept her for another week. During that time my siblings and titas visted my mother unknown to my father.

From what I understood when she got home, the incident was never spoken of. Except once when after a fight my father told my mother “you should have died in that accident.”

I was twelve years old where I first told my mother to leave my dad. My mother married my father in 1969 after knowing him for three months. She was undocumented and needed a permanent visa. In 1969 the first wave of philippinos immigrated to los angeles with temporary student visas. There were “boarding houses” throughout los angeles for single philippinas to live. The boarding houses were advertised to american men looking for philippina sweet hearts. My mom stayed in one in inglewood, california. That's where my parents met. They lived very separate lives from the beginning. My mother went to church twice a week. My father made fun of god. My mother had parties at the house every weekend. My father locked himself up in the garage during the parties. My father had a steady line of mistresses (one that I was named after). And was racist against philippinos who he called “fishheads” and “wetbacks” regularly. He was verbally, emotionally, mentally and physically abusive to everyone. But for years she would not leave him because it was a sin. In her mind the illegal activity she did to make her wealth was not a sin. But to divorce a marriage of convenience was. That's the catholic church of the philippines and centuries of patriarchal colonialism for you.

Then where she finally got over the sin, she wouldn't leave him cuz he would get half of her money. In california when a couple gets divorced all property is split in half. My mom was a baller.. She made her money working for the philippine mafia and swindling rich people. Everything we had came from her. My psychotic dad couldn't hold down a job cuz he would get fired for fights with his co workers. He was really crazy and super anti social. That's why he had to find a wife in a philippina boarding house and marry a desperate philippina cuz that was the only way his crazy ass was gonna find a wife. And when it became clear holding down a regular job wasn't working, he tried several times to start his own businesses but they all flopped. The thought of my dad getting half of everything my mother accumulated thru her illigitimate capitalism drove her crazy. Crazy enuf to stay in the marriage and put up with his abuse and psychotic ways. A month before her final disappearance that crisp autumn morning my mother found a life insurance policy he had taken out on her that she didn't know about. The beneficiaries were my siblings and myself. It shook her up. I told her yet again to leave him. But she hadn't reached clarity yet.

The day before she was murdered she had an epiphany and called me.

“I'm going to divorce him. He can have half of it. I don't care anymore. I'm not happy. I'm going crazy. I'll be better off without him. I can always make more money. And I swear hes trying to kill me. I'm going to serve him the divorce papers tomorrow.”

I don't think my dad was happy when she served him those papers. The last time anyone ever saw my mom she was on her way to give him the papers. The gas attendant at the 76 gas station next to my dads office space that he rented testified that he waved to my mom when she pulled up. He saw her go in. but he never saw her leave. He saw my dad leave his office, jump in my mothers car and drive off. Soon later the gas attendant said he saw my dad walking back up the street. A week later the police found her car up the street.

The jurors found my father not guilty. Although all evidence led to him, it was my mom's illegal activity that created a “shadow of a doubt” in the jurors minds. Yeah the evidence led to my father....the testimony of the gas attendant, my father changing his story numerous times, his lies being brought to light, his tire and shoe tracks matching the tracks where her body was dumped, his destroying evidence that was later uncovered, the gasoline and rope used was found in our garage. It all led to him. But her business endeavours made it possible for my dad's lawyer to present the idea that other people wanted my mother dead. My mother went on trial for her own murder. And she lost. All my mothers assets and property were released to my dad. And the insurance money from the policy my mother found (which was never found for evidence in the trial) was cashed in. My dad got my siblings portions of the policy since they were minors. He called me and said he needed for me to give him my third of the insurance policy or else he would put my siblings up for adoption. I told him I knew that he took that policy out on my mom and that that money was his with my mother's blood all over it. I never wanted it. It never touched my hands. During the trial while he was in prison I had left college and took care of my brother and sister. I protected them from child welfare services who tried to take them away and put them in the system cuz I was not old enuf to be a guardian. I got two jobs to pay the mortgage, pge, telephone, groceries. And when I didn't have money for groceries I dumpster dived at the local safeway for food that was still intact. After my father was acquitted he got full custody of my siblings. After that phone call about the insurance policy I never spoke to or saw him again. A week later he had left my brother and sisters alone to fly to the philippines to marry his second wife: a 17 year old philippina mail order bride that he secured when he was in prison awaiting the trial. And when he came back to the u.s he started his own mail order bride business trafficking philippinas. Fortunately that was yet another of his business ventures that failed.

For several years after the murder and trial my little sister and I processed the murder and the injustice as much as we could given the circumstances she found herself in. My brother and I never spoke of it. But my sister told me once at 3am my brother called her and met her at the art garden at ucla and broke down the only time either of us know of and he admitted he knew my father killed my mother. Over the years my mother's murder became something neither of them talked about. Or wanted to talk about. From what I gather now, the official story my siblings stand by is that my mothers murder was unsolved. And that I am crazy.

I still hear my mama. I still talk to her. She's happy that this story finally is going to be told. And she said this only the beginning. I have to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


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