Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.

A Verdict

Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Crystal Lake, Illinois

Yesterday Thomas Eldridge accepted direct responsibility for the premature and unnatural death of Amanda Skolnick, sparing everyone two agonizing weeks of photographs, eyewitness accounts, expert testimony, crime scene reconstruction, speculation, and accusation. The new title he accepts will remind him of the pain he created where none was before. My parents and I carry the memory of the beautiful girl who seemed to love life more than any of us, and the continued weight of her absence.

As the knots beneath my skin begin to ease, I realize how little I’ve thought of Amanda. Since marijuana became a pivotal issue in this long and thorough investigation, my sister’s death became a case study, an abstract example. Spring now forces through winter’s last fits, and old emotions seem eager to return. My anger subsides. And though I can’t say what Amanda would want, I remember her spirit. For her I should live and I should fight.

With that, I have some relevant judgments to share.

First, whether you drink, smoke, inject, or deprive yourself sleep, impairment is impairment. Fuck with your ability to make rational decisions and you fuck with the lives of others. You’re not worth it so don’t be a dickhead.

Second, when choosing a vehicle, consider not only those who will follow you in time but also those who will precede you in space. An acquaintance justified his SUV by its safety. In a collision he and his passengers would be well-protected. But what about others, outside the vehicle? Any automobile can be a weapon — even at 12 to 14 miles an hour. When the dealer tries to get you behind the wheel, first step around front and take a long, thoughtful look at the grille.