Trial and Tribulations, Part Two

This is the conclusion of Joanne Cordova's story. For part one, see www. westword.com.

After Buffy jumped, Riggan said he could see her lying on the highway. "So I backed up, and...when I got there, there's a pool of blood and she was hurt. She got blood all over me. I picked her up. What I was going to do was turn around and go right to Denver. I couldn't find the turnoff...and then I pulled off in that camping area. I was going to clean her up."

But then, he said, "somebody in a black truck pulled on side, so I just left her. I figured they'd help her out."

There were variations on that part of the story, too. "I got my first-aid kit out and, uh, she was conscious. I told her I had to get her to the hospital. And...and she told me no. She said that she had warrants on her in New York...something serious."

A few minutes later he said, "I told her, 'Look, I don't know what to do. I got warrants on me, too.' And I said, 'We're at this campsite where Jo Jo and me spent time.' And I said, 'You've got to get to the fucking doctor.' She was breathing real raggedy."

In yet another version, he told Buffy he was going to put her back in the van and take her to the hospital. "She said, 'No, just clean me up. Help me get cleaned up.'" And that's why he was dragging her to the stream.

Riggan noted that he could have left Buffy on the highway after she jumped and just driven away. But no, his conscience made him go back and pick her up.

Riggan complained that he hadn't slept in two days. He knew he was in trouble, he said. "I'm looking at murder here, right?" he asked, then pointed out that the girl had been with him all day of her own free will.

"I didn't rape the girl. For $25, I could have had her right there that morning," he said. "All I had to do was give her the $25, and I should have done it. Just thank you--wham, bam, thank you ma'am...get the fuck out of this deal. I got a girl. She jumps out of my fucking van."

That evening, Boulder police officers Curtis Johnson and Ruth Christopher transported Riggan to the Gilpin County Jail. On the way, he began talking again--a rambling diatribe that Christopher recorded.

"You know what? I don't even want to talk to you," he said. "Could care less. I really don't care...Well, I do care, in fact it should have been me who jumped out of the truck. It shouldn't have been her.

"I'm feeling tired...I couldn't do right if I tried to, you know. Couldn't do right if I tried. One minute she's telling me I'm the best guy she'd ever met, the next minute she went stupid on me and jumped the fuck out of my vehicle. And leave me with what?"

Riggan kept babbling: "Spent all day boosting to give her clothes, 'cause she didn't have nothin'...I should have realized that this girl was getting tweaked and getting weird...She looked back and told me she was jumping...I should have yelled at her, 'Look, you know, you tell me I'm the best guy in the world--don't do this to me. Not me. Find six or seven of these other guys that you do. But please don't do this to me, 'cause I'm just a small, petty, ass-fucking criminal, and I don't need this.

"I feel fucking really rotten about not taking her to the hospital," he continued. "You know, if I have to pay for that, I got to pay for that. But I didn't touch the girl.

"She asked me earlier what I felt about guys that had been with her. I said, Look...I been through a relationship where I had a wife that was violent...really sadistically violent. Jealous. You couldn't even look at somebody, and she'd start throwing pots and pans."

He'd bought his van to get away from all his troubles. But now, Riggan said, "I think they oughta just lock me away and leave me be...I don't want no one around me...I don't want no responsibilities, and that goes for my two kids...'cause that's just bad news all the way around.

"Every time I get close to somebody, it's just bad news. Bad luck. Bad luck for me. Bad luck for them. The only way I can really survive is to be alone."

Robert Riggan Jr. was born March 22, 1960, in Iowa. His mother died when he was young, and his father remarried. Riggan claimed his stepmother used to beat him with a willow switch. But he wasn't the only target of her wrath: If his father so much as looked at another woman, she beat up her rival, calling her a whore.

His family described him as a "problem child." He ran away from home when he was thirteen and the next year was admitted to the Iowa Mental Health Institute, where counselors noted that he was "somewhat paralyzed at times by his overwhelming anxiety," as well as preoccupied with "failure, anxiety, insecurity and basic immaturity." He was diagnosed as suffering from an "overanxious reaction to adolescence." It would get worse.

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