"How much for the white van," he asked the eager, young salesman. The salesman's crisp black suit, surely a new purchase from Cooley's Department Store, gave him away as a new employee of Love's Used Treasures, a staple of South Side Chattanooga.
With a quick check of the notebook tucked into his waist belt, the salesman promptly responded, "That'll be six thousand."
"Six thousand for this? It reeks of sweat and piss. I wouldn't let my mom ride in this."
"Well you're not buying this van for your mom, are you?"
"Fine, but fifty five hundred is as high as I can go."
"Fair enough," and with that, the man removed a wad of cash from his pocket and followed the salesman into his office. With a quick signature, the white van was his. He began driving. Having no place he needed to be and all of the time in the world to get there, he slowly idled down every side street and ally way he came upon. At this time of the afternoon, the city was almost silent. The children were all in their classrooms learning, the attorneys all in their offices suing each other, and the men like him were left to driving the streets.
Every day since the incident had been pure hell for him. He couldn't come within two thousand feet of any school, no one would hire him, not even the sleaziest construction crews, and he was left living in his mother's basement, barely scraping by.
"Maybe you shouldn't have raped that girl," his mother continually would say to him as she would scold him and critique his life. Perhaps he never actually raped the girl, for as far as he tried, he couldn't remember that night.
As the clock in his new van struck three-thirty, he spotted a lone girl walking down the road with a book bag in her hand. Her downcast eyes and slumped shoulders made her stand out against the fresh, spring shrubs.
"Hello," he called out as he slowed down the new van beside the side walk. "You look very sad today."
"Go away," she quickly responded and began walking away from the van. Step by step, she began to increase her pace until she was nearly sprinting. Her worn down sneakers slipped in the gravel covered sidewalk, and she tumbled head first into a telephone pole.
As she lay there with stars flashing in her head, she felt a tingling in her hands and feet that began to fade into numbness. The numbness crept further and further up her body until it seemed that she could no longer breathe.
The man quickly hopped out of his car and ran to the now unconscious girl. Was this an opportunity to change his life? He moved the now unconscious girl into the back of his white van, and she crumpled into a ball still like a rag doll as he drove away.