Altercation

18 Aug
It’s a little after midnight and I’m full of antihistamines. They make me sleepy, so I start getting ready for bed. Cell lights up–it’s an old friend who’s been sending texts to my landline for the last 6 weeks and only just realized why I haven’t answered. He’s fine after rolling his truck, but his passenger took a beating. Broken ribs, punctured lung. They let him out of the hospital after a few days, but the trauma is going to stick with my friend for a long time. They’re like brothers, and he has a tendency to beat himself up when he falls out of the protector role, intentionally or otherwise. At least they caught the motorcyclist who caused the wreck and fled the scene, small comfort though it is.

Dozing between texts as we go back and forth, I’m losing the battle with sleep. I start awake with the ping of a new message, then slip back into La-La Land until I hear a sound through the north wall where the head of my bed is just a few yards from the neighbors’ house. Actually it’s a lot of sounds. Maybe a raccoon knocking over trash cans? Except we don’t have raccoons, and our trash cans are plastic. Maybe someone’s taking a baseball bat to a car. Maybe it’s a gun. Whatever it is, I’m suddenly wide awake.

Hold on, I text my friend, and wake up my husband who fell asleep on the couch while watching Star Trek. I tell him there’s a ruckus outside. Maybe I’ll go out and check. It’s quiet now, I have a flashlight, and I’m not afraid of noises in the dark, right? Except I know I’m not going out there unless I feel a whole lot safer than I do right now; self-preservation ranks pretty high where my thought processes are concerned. I flip on the floodlights outside, front and back, so I can peek through the blinds. I slip on some sandals. Then there are gunshots, and I realize not all of the floodlight on the front lawn is mine.

In roughly half the time it takes the police to fire off a six rounds in our front yard, my husband goes from “Yeah, a girl is scared of noises, I’m going back to sleep” to “Hey maybe it’s a good idea to stay low to the ground for a while.” Bathed in flashing lights I watch one side of the standoff through a corner of the front window. There are shouts, then a khaki blur shoots past the back doors as they pursue someone into the woods behind my house. In a minute I’ll think about how I hope nobody was hurt, but right this second the only thing going through my head is how it’s a good thing my husband cut the grass recently–it might’ve been harder to reach top speed on an overgrown lawn.

Things quiet down fast after that, but the lights stay bright all night. A baby cries, police take statements. An ambulance pulls away without turning on the sirens. There’s no need for them–we live on a quiet cul-de-sac, and it’s late. Adrenaline keeps me up another hour so I reach out to my friends. It’s nice to remember they are there, to say hi and give them virtual hugs.

In the morning we check on the neighbors. It’s odd sometimes, the things that let you know something isn’t right; today there are more than twice as many vehicles parked outside their house as on a normal morning. They tell us it was a home invasion, that the first sounds I heard came from someone pounding and kicking at their door. The second were shots fired through, then the subsequent forcing of said door. Third were shots exchanged with the owner of the house. We talk to his wife, but can’t talk to him–he’s in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the face. He’ll be okay, but goddam. They tell the story by rote, because god knows they’ve told it many, many times in the last ten hours or so.

When we offer a hand, they ask for help barring the front door while they run out on an errand, because their locks are busted. Hubby disappears into their home with a 2×4 and a handful of nails and I, needing some quiet chore to do while absorbing all this information, pick over our basil plants to make sure they don’t go to seed early…

And inadvertently stand on an anthill. Ow. But hey, it’s no bullet to the face.

Living here sure has been exciting, but it’s definitely time to go. Anyone want to come over and help me pack faster?

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4 Responses to “Altercation”

  1. Tami August 19, 2011 at 8:31 am #

    That is … terrifying. yes. Egads. How long till you move?

    • Bika August 19, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      We should be out of here within two weeks. I’m taking a short break from packing right now–I’m getting hubby’s kit together for his overseas job as well as getting everything else boxed up–and it feels like I’m moving in slow motion!

  2. Fallah August 19, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    Terrifying. Was it someone they knew or was it totally random? We got the German Shepherd for protection because I hate guns and don’t want one in the house, but the dog is only going to ward off the non-professionals.

    I’m glad you’re ok and that you guys are getting out of there.

    • Bika August 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

      I’m glad too. I’m pretty sure it was someone they knew, so at least I shouldn’t have to worry about random acts of violence here at my place.

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