With the exception of Isaac Zamora, all the names in this story have been changed because they don’t deserve to have this page come up when they google themselves. I apologize if I offend anyone involved, especially if you don’t believe this incident actually occurred. Admittedly I was very young, but I feel I have an obligation to talk about what I remember that day, even if I must admit that my memory is no better than anyone elses.
My friend Isaac Zamora, his older brother David, and I were walking from my house down the long dirt road to thier place. As we came to a corner, walking near the middle of the road, an unfamiliar truck came speeding around the corner at two or three times the posted 15 mph speed limit. He had to swerve, kicking up dust in our faces and peeled out on down the road.
“Wow!” David exclaimed. “I can’t believe he did that! I just can’t believe it–we’ve gotta go tell Mom.”
“Why?” I said. “People always drive too fast.”
“No, not that. He flipped us off!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He flipped us off–he was probably mad that we weren’t walking right on the side of the road.”
“What do you mean, ‘flipped us off’?” I said. “What does ‘flipping someone off’ mean?”
“When you stick out your middle finger at someone,” David replied.
“Huh? I don’t get it.”
“When you hold up just your middle finger–your longest finger–but fold back all the other ones, then point it at someone.”
So I held out my middle finger. “Like this?”
“No!” David said. “You can’t do that!”
“It’s bad. It’s very, very bad.”
“My parents say it’s really bad and we shouldn’t do it.”
“My dad points his middle finger all the time,” I said.
“No, he can’t,” David replied.
“He does it all the time. If he points at things or pushes buttons, that’s the finger he uses.”
“He’s gonna burn in hell.”
“No, maybe not. There must be something I don’t understand. You can’t use your middle finger for stuff like that. It’s just, really really bad. It’s like swearing at someone, but a really bad kind of swear.”
“Oh, really? Well, maybe it doesn’t count if my dad doesn’t mean it as a swear and he’s just pushing a button.”
“Yeah, maybe. But that guy in the truck meant it as a swear.”
“I didn’t see it,” I said.
“I didn’t see it either,” Isaac added.
“He definitely flipped us off,” David said. “I saw it myself. I can’t believe that just happened.”
David seemed to have a little smirk on his face, as though he was proud and thought it was funny. As we continued on, David explained in more detail about the concept of flipping someone off and how it’s done. The whole concept of flipping someone off seemed so ridiculous, however, that I assumed he was playing a joke on me.
However, immediately upon arriving at David and Isaac’s house, David went to his mom, Gloria, at the kitchen table, and said, “Somebody flipped us off on the road today. Some guy in a big truck.”
Gloria looked up from her paperwork and turned from the table. “What?” she said. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah, he flipped us off.”
“Yeah, I saw it myself,” David said.
“Oh, my God,” Gloria replied, her mouth hanging open silently.
“I didn’t see it and neither did Isaac,” I said. “I’m not sure he even flipped us off. There was too much dust.”
“No, he flipped us off,” David repeated.
Gloria walked rapidly to the sliding glass door and screamed out into the field. “Benjamin! Get in here now! Hurry!”
“Do you know who he was?” Gloria asked, turning back to David. “Did he live around here? Did you get a license plate number?”
“No, he doesn’t live around here. We didn’t recognize him. We didn’t think about looking at a license plate.”
“Well why not?”
“Strange people drive really fast down this road all the time,” I said.
“But they don’t give the finger to my children!” Gloria snapped.
David and Isaac’s dad showed up at the door. “What’s going on?”
“David says that someone flipped them off when he was driving past them.”
“What?” Benjamin replied. “No…”
“No, I saw it,” David said, still carrying his amused grin. “He gave us the finger.”
Ben sat down at the dining room table, rubbed his chin and glared. “What is wrong with people these days? These kids never hurt anyone…”
Gloria began pacing angrily across the dining room. David stood near, watching expectantly, while Isaac stood off to the side, watching curiously, as though fascinated by the situation but not emotionally affected.
“What do we do?” Gloria asked.
“I don’t see that there’s anything we can do unless we know who the guy is… even then, I don’t know.”
“Should we call the police?” Gloria asked.
“For what? Speeding?”
“He flipped off our children!” Gloria shouted.
“There’s no law against that,” Ben replied. “They can’t do anything.” He scowled and took a deep breath.
“Then we need to do something.”
“I suppose we could ask around the neighborhood and see if we can find out who he is.”
“Can you start doing that, honey?”
“Well, yes! We can’t just let this go, Benjamin. The longer we wait the harder it’ll be to find him!”
“What are we gonna do when we find him?” Ben asked.
“We’re gonna break his legs.” Gloria said.
“Yeah, break his legs!” David shouted.
“Honey–” Ben started.
“We can’t let him get away with this!”
“Break his legs!” David shouted again.
Isaac cocked his head as he watched silently.
Finally I put in my own comment, “I don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s just a finger.”
Gloria spun toward me. “How dare you!” she shouted. “Someone gives my son the middle finger and you have the nerve to tell me it’s no big deal! Do you have any idea what this kind of thing does to people? When you flip someone off, The Lord sees it. God sees everything, Kalin, and it directly affects how He thinks of you, so when someone gives you the finger, they are making a prayer to God, asking him to hate you, asking him to make you burn in hell. I don’t appreciate people who ask God to send my children to hell and I have every right to be angry, so don’t you ever tell me that the state of my son’s eternal soul is ‘no big deal’.”
“Yeah!” David said slowly. “Let’s go find him. This guy’s gonna pay!”
“Your father is going to take care of that,” Gloria said. “You won’t be involved.”
“I don’t get to watch?” David said.
“Okay, okay,” Ben said, waving his hands. “We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. I’m not going to break anyone’s legs. I was thinking more of finding him and just talking to him.”
“Talking?” Gloria replied. “What’s that gonna do? We can’t just let him get away with this.”
“I don’t think we have much of a choice.”
“We can’t let him get away with this!” Gloria repeated.
“He won’t. The good Lord will take care of him, Honey. He’ll get what he deserves in the end.”
She sighed. “I guess that makes me feel better.”
As I watched Gloria drop her head into her hands, I tried to remember if she had asked how David or Isaac felt.
Isaac continued to stand, nearly silent and motionless, just watching.
Over two decades later, after I had been away from the neighborhood for fifteen years, Gloria still lived in the same house.
On September 2, 2008, Isaac Zamora and his mother got into a fight and Isaac retreated to the woods to pray. God told him that he needed to ‘cleanse evil’. By the end of the day, Isaac had murdered six people, including a sheriff’s deputy as well as one of the most community-oriented individuals I can remember from my childhood, leaving their bodies badly butchered. He shot a woman to death on the front lawn of the house where I grew up. Meanwhile her husband was hiding, suffering from four bullet wounds, in the bushes where I used to build forts as a kid, listening to her screams. Isaac led police on a high-speed chase and was finally apprehended in the next town. At his arraignment, all Isaac would say was, “I kill for God. I listen to God.”
On a memorial message board for one of the victims, I actually read the words, “Put your faith in God. Only God can heal.”
Here’s my blog post about this story.