Rodney and I lay face down under the bushes so quietly they would’ve never heard us. I remember holding my breath the majority of the time, hearing the cops swarm the area, their patent leather shoes smashing tiny rocks close to my head. I waited a solid 5 minutes before I felt like they were in the distance before I peered up, flashing lights still everywhere in my periphery.
“Rodney,” I whispered so quietly I wasn’t sure he could hear me. He looked up for the first time since we had laid down. “Let’s roll.”
Bill immediately ran from the scene and we didn’t see him for months after that. Two hours later, I was laying asleep on the couch at Melissa’s house, a friend of Rodney’s. We crashed pretty hard after we shared half of our story.
In my dream state, it felt like someone was pushing my arm as I was running. I was running as fast as my dream feet could carry me but I had no idea what I was running from. More importantly, I didn’t know where I was running to, but suddenly I jolted wide awake. There was a cop standing over me.
“Bryan Morrison? You’re under arrest.” He continued his protocol as he handcuffed me and dread sank deep into my chest.
Looks like Max snitched on us.
All I could think about was how my parents were going to kick me out. They didn’t, but it wasn’t a pleasant environment for a long while when they picked me up from juvi.
Home Sweet Home
I didn’t feel the least bit remorseful and it wasn’t long before my life spiraled out of control. I had gotten pretty good at only living for the here and now. I just liked to steal.
It was who I thought I was at the time.
They had charged me with a misdemeanor and sentencing of a year at Morganton Prison. Lucky for me, NC had a Fair Sentencing Act, where my sentence was automatically cut in half. In addition to that, I could work to get days cut from my time.
Turns out it didn’t matter because I ended up doing 23 days total and went home on a 3 year probation. I was a minor and a first time offender so I was released quicker than expected. They needed the bed space for offenders with higher sentences and longer time of service.
When I got out, I was on house arrest for 90 days, which I managed pretty well at first. I was about 81 days into my sentence when I saw Rodney again. We caught up like old times, since I hadn’t seen him in awhile.
It was a Tuesday afternoon when he called me up and told me about the 1969 Mustang he found.
“Bryan, listen. I am coming by your house, you gotta see this Mustang I am driving. I can’t stay but a second though.” Rodney sounded so excited he was nearly gasping between words.
Twenty minutes later, he rolls up at my house with this beauty of a ride, light blue, sleek as the baby oil I used when I was out in the sun.
I couldn’t resist. “Where did you get this sweet gem? You didn’t buy it, there’s no way! Who owns it?” I felt the same excitement transferring through the glass from Rodney to me.
“Remember ole lady Howard up by Danstreet? She’s trying to sell it and I been talkin to her for days now, showing her a lot of interest in it, so she said I could take this baby for a spin.” His dark eyes were twinkling and he reached over to pop open the passenger door.
“A spin right out of this town. Hop in.”
What an offer. I didn’t even think twice. I ran inside, cut the probation bracelet right off my ankle, and all of 5 seconds later, I was rolling down my street in Rodney’s stolen Mustang. We carried on for quite awhile as we floored it down the highway towards Boone.
All I needed in my life was adventure and the high hills of western NC. I loved the risk and the high of living on the edge, wondering if we could really get to Boone without anyone stopping us.
Since Rodney drove the speed limit on 220, we didn’t have a problem. We made it to Appalachian State where he had a few friends at college there. A few hours from my fateful drive out of town, we were sitting at the Come Back Shack with Rodney’s friend Travis. I stayed quiet while they talked about old times and Travis got the details of how we came to arrive in the city.
Travis was a stout guy who seemed intelligent to say the least. He leans over to us and whispers while his eyes darted around the restaurant, “Dude, listen. This isn’t a smart idea. They will come after you. I mean, you’re still in the state for heaven’s sake. Get that Mustang out of here! They’ll be looking for both of you in no time.”
We drove it to Tennessee and parked it on the side of the road. Walked to the nearest gas station and called the cops. I turned myself in once again.
I was charged with 5 breaking and entering charges before I was 18. When I was released out of a state prison for the first time, my parents decided to split. I remember my dad arguing at the kitchen table while my mom spun around and yelled, “Bryan’s staying with you. He isn’t going with me.” I was listening in from the living room, Walkman on, pretending not to hear. Eliza was upstairs in her room, being the typical isolated teenager she was. My older sister Brittany was out of the house already.
My dad shook his head. “Nope. He needs to go with you.”
Turns out, Mama took off with Eliza anyway and I stayed with my dad in the house I’d grown up in. We’d been alone for about 6 months when Mama returned. She had been the first to leave and now it was her turn to take the house back. They mutually agreed we’d be the ones to move out. She didn’t want me to stay there with her this time either.
So we left. I remember vividly the moment that came after. My dad drove the two of us over to Sheffield Apartments on Ridgewood in his red Ford F150. We got out and he handed me a key.
“I paid your security deposit and your first month’s rent. You’re on your own now son.” He placed the key in my hand, he turned around, got back in the driver’s seat and drove off.
And that’s how adult life began for little ‘ole Bryan.
On a Wednesday in May, 3 years later, I was smoking pot with some friends in the apartment I shared with my girlfriend at the time, Mary Ann. She knew the right people who had the good stuff and there was about 5 of us blazing that afternoon.
I’d met Mary Ann through my friend Jason who dated her sister. I’d been out of prison for about 5 months when I met her. That term had been 30 months for breaking and entering and I’d been on work- release for 18 of those months. By the time I was out, I’d saved up $6500 and decided to buy my dad’s truck for $3500. Somehow, though, I blew through the rest that cash in the months prior to meeting Mary Ann. I hardly had a dime to my name these days, but at least I could drive us around in that ‘ole red Ford.
So there we were, high on a Wednesday afternoon. I was hungry. Bored. Out of money.
Then a pretty rash thought hit me. I knew how I could get some money. I was already good at breaking and entering, but what if I tried my hand at robbery?
I didn’t think I had enough wits about myself to drive over to Dominos and I didn’t want to get caught on camera holding up more than one worker in the store, so a new idea began to form.
I didn’t tell anyone but waited until the others left and Mary Ann went to the store with Jason and Daphne. They would be back soon, but I probably had enough time to put my plan in action before they arrived. I picked up the phone and dialed the number.
“Dominos on Fayetteville, may I help you?”
This was my moment. Plan went into action. I gave the order for 2 large pizzas and an address of the apartment around the corner that belonged to Harris Parker. He worked for Direct TV and was never home during the day.
I hung up after they told me it would take 15 minutes to deliver. I ran to the bedroom and grabbed a white t-shirt. In the kitchen, it was a solid 5 minutes before I found the scissors, but then I proceeded to cut eye holes out of my shirt. I grabbed it and ran outside.
The apartments were relatively quiet, though I knew some people were home for various reasons, so I remained sneaky. I hid around the corner behind the bushes, flanked by Harris Parker’s apartment and another bush.
The Domino’s driver arrived later than the expected 15 minutes. No surprise there. He looked about 25, dark hair, eyes glazed with boredom, his walk staggeringly slow. I listened to him knock on the door at 3 different intervals waiting for Harris Parker to arrive.
“He isn’t home” I nearly giggled as I whispered to myself. My heart was pumping with anticipation if I would be able to pull this off. As he started back to his car likely aggravated that the pizzas were wasted, I jumped out behind him, the t-shirt over my head.
I held Mary Ann’s large kitchen butcher knife like the ones seen in horror films. I had a fleeting thought of “what am I doing?” but I let it go quickly. This plan seemed too good in my foggy state of mind.
The plan was to rob him, never to hurt him, but I had to be serious about it since I was taking action here. I held the knife out where he had full view and told him to put the pizzas on the hood of his car.
“Give me your wallet.” I changed my voice and felt invincible in the moment. I noticed cash in the console of the car, so I made him reach in for that too. I was sweating under the heat of the shirt, delayed from my high, and anxious about what I was doing.
I grabbed all the cash and pizzas, tossed his wallet in the yard, and told him to drive away. He never uttered a word, but jumped in without a second glance my way.
In a flash he was gone. I laughed at the fact my robbery had gone so easily as I trotted back upstairs with my earnings in tow. I couldn’t be identified because of the shirt, and I felt 100% positive that no one saw me.
When Mary Ann arrived back at the apartment with Daphne, I hinted that I had done something big but I didn’t tell her right away. I had tossed the t-shirt into the dump on the way around the corner and already replaced the butcher knife back to it’s cabinet.
She laughed so hard when I told her. “This pizza?” Mary Ann flipped her hair around while she chomped down on a pepperoni and cheese.
I felt pretty content with a full belly, still stoned, having successfully committed a quick and painless robbery, now with a little cash in my pocket. Being stoned was always my time of intense thinking. We proceeded to discuss how pepperonis were a circle within the larger circle of the pizza until we passed out on the couch a couple of hours later.
I just wanted to be known for what I did, you know? Isn’t that the core of humanity, really? To just be known. How I had wanted that my entire life. In this circumstance, I liked the pride of my accomplishment.
But I should’ve thought out my admission to Mary Ann a little better.
Two days later she called Crime Stoppers and turned me in for her $1000 cash reward.