December 2, 2007

Red & White and Christmas Lights

Dear Readers,
I wrestled with whether or not I should post this on my blog. Briefly, at around 1:30 a.m. on December 2, 2007, I published this piece with a few more details than what is present now, and I received a very supportive and very insightful comment from an excellent blogger and new reader to Mr. Grudge. My reluctance to share this story overpowered me and I removed the post and graciously contacted the author of the comment and explained the removal. After further contemplation, I edited out identifying details and I decided to post this story again because I want to make a statement regarding the need for all of us to cherish what we have and to not take our lives or our families for granted. Thank you. -Mr. Grudge

December 2, 2007, 12:57 a.m.: It is late and I am writing this piece because I cannot sleep. I’m sitting across from our Christmas tree and the colorful lights are reflecting off the screen of my laptop, as well as blinking lights from outside our window. In order to try to fall asleep, I thought I would write about my day.

December 1, 2007, 10:30a.m.:
When my father heard me coming in is door of his home this morning with my children, he greeted us with the same giant hug he always did even when my mother was alive. Our plan was to help my father move some furniture and then eat lunch together while unbeknownst to the kiddies, my wife sneaked off to the store to buy the final, “big” present that Santa Claus will be bringing them this year.

My wife and I had a somewhat delicately timed plan to get the thing into our house. After leaving my Dad’s place, I was to take my daughter home first and then drop my son of at his friend’s house for a play date, and my wife was going to bring our daughter for her violin lesson, and I was to then go to the store alone and pick up present, and then high-tail it back to our house to hide the box in our garage. Then, I was to go back and retrieve our son, and we were all going to meet back home and then go out for dinner. Sounds like a plan, right?

At around 2:00 p.m., we said our good byes to my dad and my wife called on my cell phone to confirm, as only a wife would, that I understood everything I had to do, and that I had the receipt, and I wouldn’t be dopey enough to blurt out that I was going to pick up their gift which is supposed to be from Santa Claus to our kids.

I ended the call with her and decided to call her back and tell her that I would drop our son off at his friend’s house first and then take our daughter home so I wouldn’t have to crisscross the neighborhood and I could do everything in one shot. As my wife listened, she stopped me and said “Let me hang up, there’s something going on outside. I’ll call you right back.”

Moments later, my cell phone rang. She told me that it looked like there was some sort of accident in front of our neighbor’s home a few doors down from us. This particular family has children the same age as ours and our eight year old son is friends with their son. The same thought went through both of our minds as we feared that the boy may have been hit by a car. I asked a lot of questions, forgetting who my audience was in the back seat, and my son started to worry aloud. “Is that my friend, daddy? Is Jared alright?” I assured him that Jared wasn’t hurt, although I wasn’t actually sure, and my daughter chimed in with her own questions. I held my hand up to my daughter to quiet her down so I could hear my wife. Ordinarily, she’s pretty calm under pressure, but she sounded anxious.

“Hold on, I can’t hear you,” she said “there’s a helicopter, its right over the house. I have to go. I’ll call you right back."
It’s about thirty minutes to my father’s house from ours. The ride back is the same, of course; but after this series of cell phone calls, it was turning into a ten minute drive and I was cutting people off to get home. All sorts of images were popping into my head about someone’s poor child laying in the street and his or her parents in anguish. I tuned the radio to my kid’s favorite station and pretended everything as just fine.

About five minutes later, my cell phone rang again. I could tell that my wife was on her cell phone and not the cordless one in our kitchen. The sirens in the background were a dead giveaway that she was outside.

“Try not to react,” she said in the same serious tone one uses to deliver bad news. “Some one was killed...murdered...across the street.”

The details were sketchy, but about eight houses down the block, a person, (I am not going to reveal names or my relationship to this family, and I am deliberately keeping out certain details) was dead, murdered apparently by an intruder. I was even queasier than when I believed one of the neighbor’s kid’s was hit by a car.

“Don’t come up our block,” she said “The whole street is blocked off. They’re still looking for whoever did it.”

In record time, I made it home, even after having to take a lengthier route though the crowded mall. In a bizarre scene in our quiet town, police were everywhere, swarming our yards, stringing up crime scene tape within just a few feet from our home, and several officers had police dogs which were sniffing the immediate area around the residence where the murder took place. All of my years of police experience meant nothing. This is my block, and they were folks I knew. Nothing can harden me to the fear of a killer stalking around my house evading the police.

December 2, 2007 1:31 a.m. update:
Around eight o’clock at night I called my father and told him what happened and he was shocked and frightened for us. I told him not to worry because there were an army of cops on the street and it was unlikely that anything would happen to us. My father said he’d pray for the victim; but, what surprised me was that he said he would even pray for the killer as he somehow has this evil within him, and that it is only right to help him with our faith. I am getting ready to turn off the Christmas tree lights now; but the red and white lights of the police car at the end of my driveway will flash all night outside.

Author's note: I am not in the habit of writing journal style posts like this of my every day life. Writing, as I've discussed often in this space offers a sense of closure, or therapy if you will, at times when one is in grief or turmoil. I did my best to leave out the pertinent details such as names and the particulars of the crime. There will be no further updates to this story. Thank you all for reading.

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Anonymous said...

Wow. I could feel the apprehension and fear Mike. I held my breath through out. I am relieved that you and your family are safe. And ... I do understand the need for no further updates and the need to write to ease and sort through it all.

Elaine said...

How frightening this must have been! We just don't expect something so horrific to happen a few doors down from our own house. I am very glad you and your family are safe!

Teige Benson said...

It is never a good thing when it takes a tragic event to remind us of how precious our family members and friends are to us.

I also understand the need to write for cathartic purposes. Do what you need to and keep the rest private.

Here's to a safe, happy and peaceful holiday season.

josey said...

mike, i dont know what to say. i'm sure in the back of your mind thoughts are racing and you fear for you and your family's safety. like your father, i am praying for all parties involved, including you.

i appreciate you sharing this, as like you said, its out of your normal style of writing. writing isnt just something we read, but emotions and life transferred into something closer to tangible...and when we release that from the traps of our minds and allow others to identify, it brings comfort, clarity and when we're lucky, closure.

im praying for your peace. please know you will be in my thoughts through the holidays, and i'm grateful for the reminder of cherishing my family thought it breaks my heart it was in the midst of someone else's tragedy.

Kathy Frederick said...

Mike -- I almost didn't make it through that. Very tense. I'm terribly sorry to hear of this. I'll be pulling my loved ones a little closer today and forever. I wish you and your family peace.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi JD,
I appreciate your comments. I became scared when I realized my wife was home alone while some killer hacked my neighbor to death about one hundred yards away and then calmly down the block and to God Knows where. Did he pass our house? Does he live nearby? Why did he, or she for that matter, do it? As I write this, the crime scene is still up and my street is still closed to traffic. Writing about it has helped, a little. But, support from bloggers such as yourself has helped more. Thank you. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Elaine, This whole incident has completely rocked my neighborhood. I was going to put Christmas lights up outside my home yesterday. I don't feel like it anymore. Thank you for stopping by and for yoyr support. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Teige,
I appreciate your support. Thank you. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Josey,
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kathy, I am still too stunned to write. Thank you for your support. -Mike

Spirit said...

I think it's wonderful that you're taking the people involved into account and doing your best not to mention them. Not a whole lot of people would have done so even if the thought would have crossed their minds and the new telling of the tale takes nothing away from it. You did well. ;)

Kristyn said...

I can understand the fear one feels at these circumstances. We like to believe we're safe in our own neighborhoods and it's perhaps difficult to realize it's not always the case. Before my husband and I moved, we lived in an apartment complex where the man across the courtyard from us was found dead in his apartment after gun shots. We never did find out if he was murdered or perhaps it was a suicide, it's incredibly frightening.

Best to you and yours, Mike, and my condolences to your neighbor.


footiam said...

We are all human beings. I see the people over this side of the world are fearful of losing the people they love too. Who doesn't? We are all very attached to the things we love. If we lose someone through natural causes, it would bring us grief too, what else when we lose it in this manner. Your father is very kind to pray for the criminal. Hope it doesn't go to his head, the criminal's I mean. Some people thought God or the world for that matter, is so kind and forgiving that they could do whatever wrong and get away with it. It's a shame sometimes that people never learn to be responsible for their actions. Don't you think there is something wrong somewhere?

Spirit said...

Wanted to add a side note to my other comment now that I'm slightly more concious- I know how you feel about the whole wanting to protect people's privacy thing and I greatly respect that. I often write about a foster home I was in only 2 years back and I try to be very careful and walk that line. I don't mention names at all but all the same I can't mention certain things either. It can be hard not to write about stuff but those that take the time for consideration of others are truly good.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Spirit,
I really appreciate the fact that you visit here. I visit the Written whispers blog you have and I am catching up on your posts. I agree with you when you wish to write about your experiences, but need to protect someone's identity. You can fictionalize varoius portions of your story to the public if that works for you. It is a fine line for sure, and that is why I removed the original version of the story, whci is all true, unfortunately. Several of my neighbors and friends read this blog and I did not want to seem insensitive to the victim's family and broadcast their business across the blogging world. This story was close to home, too close to home, and I needed to write about it. You are a writer, and I do not need to explain why it was important to put my feelings on paper. If you need to write about your personal experinces, though, just rememeber that you are allowed to and that some things don't need to be protected or deserve to do so. It is part of the process of writing that each individual author learns to do that for themsleves, and I support your right ot put your feelings on paper. Thank you for sharing, spirit. On a side note, I am too shaken up to write any other posts for a while and I am going to post some items I have stored away for the rest of the week. Thank you for stopping by -Mike

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Kristyn,
That must have been chilling to discover that one of your neighbors died of gunshot wounds. Thank goodness you moved. I'll get over this, and I used to be a cop in NYC so I have nerves of steel, right? Wrong. I keep thinking that my wife was home alone the whole time two of my neighbors were betting butchered less than one hundred yards away from her. As of this writing, the crime scene in still being protected by the police round the clock. This will go way, but I just do not feel like putting Christmas lights up outside my home this year. Thanks for sharing, Kristyn. -Mike.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Footiam, You're right when you say that certain people can never learn to take responibility for their actions. It seems like it's too easy to commit an act like this and expect that God can forgive you for it. Is there something wrong somewhere? There always has been, as far as I am concerend. Thanks for stopping by, footiam. I have some reading to do over at Beautiful World. -Mike.