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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