Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fugitive Fear

We were awakened by shushing voices murmuring in hasty clips last night. There were distinct voices coming from the garage. Though we were, ahem, otherwise occupied, we were distracted by the voices that were right outside our bedroom window. Then the sirens started. Then the lights flashing. More sirens. More lights. Neighbors' dog barking. "We should get dressed," Mac Daddy and I said in a rather delayed, startled manner.

We checked the boys and worked our way downstairs to ensure everything was securely locked, silently acknowledging the recently added chain locks and motion detectors. The police cars kept coming. Sirens still blaring. Dogs still howling. Then out of the pitch black a spotlight shines up our front walk. Mac Daddy and I froze, he more brave than I, since I was literally hiding behind him, thankful for his 6'2 frame. Ding Dong. Ding Dong. We stood there, unsure what to do. Movie montages flickered through my mind. WWJLCD? That's "What would Jamie Lee Curtis do?" for you Halloween neophytes. Then the spotlight pointed straight through the (glass!) front door. I saw a face peering in, hands framing the eyes so he could see in. Eyes frantically flickering about. Right. Left. Right. Left. I didn't move a muscle, and had I not just peed, there would have been a puddle at my feet. Mac Daddy approached the door gingerly. As he got closer, the face was peering at us more and more intently. Not moving. Not talking. Just staring. Glaring. At us. Our little boys, asleep upstairs. Our sweet, innocent children curled up in their new Superman jammies, each clutching his teddy.

More montages played out in my mind. Damn, I wish I didn't have a slasher movie phase back in high school.

Mac Daddy flicked on the porch light in a hurry, and we jumped back a step, or four, or five. It was our neighbor, John, neighborhood watch dude extraordinaire, at the door. He had come to explain the sirens and ensure we were OK. That's the kind of guy John is. He's uber equipped for any emergency and would drain his own blood into a flask if it would save you from distress. John certainly had cause for alarm last night.

Fugitive on the loose! IN OUR PRISTINE NORMAN ROCKWELL NEIGHBORHOOD! I can honestly say that the word "fugitive" has never entered my vernacular, unless you count 1993 when my friend Pat made me see the movie.

Aw CRAP. This stuff doesn't happen in our parts. We chose a sleepy neighborhood in an inconsequential city for a reason. It was a nice change of pace from the paranoia of Chicago post-9/11. And while we are neither scared nor paranoid, we like it here, sleepy and inconsequential as it is.

Mac Daddy and I hunkered down and went upstairs to be with the boys, who were thankfully obliviously dreaming in a blissful slumber. They sure would have dug the police action though. When we heard a police officer shout, "Hands behind your head!" and "Cuff 'em!" we knew it was safe to peer out. That's the crap I expect to hear in a movie theater action thriller that my stepdad watches, not in my own backyard. Clint Eastwood and Denzel (who needs no last name) say stuff like "Cuff 'em!" A cuff to me is lovely arm candy, the perfect minimalist accessory to a simple tank dress in summer. I suppose that tells you that kinkiness is not my thing. Nonetheless, I don't think anyone has been handcuffed in my hood before, except for those who are into that sort of thing by choice. Oh, and I have my suspicions who those folks are!

It turns out there was a mega drunk driver pulled over up the road. He blew a .23, thrice the legal limit. Said drunk and menace on the road also had a revoked license. Imagine that. The idiot thought it would be better to slip away and run for it than face the music. Granted, he was not thinking rationally. He was apparently a fast bugger, running on adrenaline alone. Or maybe he had a case of Red Bull and vodka (GAG). After a 15 minute chase, weaving in and out of our yards, a cop tackled the guy. And off he went. Handcuffed. Sobering up pretty quickly.

Our neighbors don't need a reason to converge outside on a warm night, and we certainly don't need more conversational fodder. However, the fugitive of 5/31 still had us whopping it up today. That kind of excitement generally passes us by. And we like it just fine that way.

But you know what kept me up all night? The moms and dads who live in constant fear everyday. The nameless souls paying the price for irrational wars waged or policies and a social caste system stacked against them. The ones who can't afford to sleep with even one eye shut. What about the working folks in the rough neighborhoods of Detroit, St. Louis, and Flint, the cities bearing the title of most dangerous cities in the United States? What about war ravaged regions in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Kashmir, and Afghanistan? Those children, who learn fear from a tender young age, go to sleep in a state of fright every single night. Safety is a luxury. I felt a heavy, heavy heart last night thinking what it must be to fall asleep worried for your children's well-being every night. During the most vulnerable hours of the day. Night time. When the world should be at rest. At peace. When dreams should wrest power from nightmares.

Last night I said a prayer for all the moms, dads, and children asleep in homes less comfortable, less secure, less stable than mine. I will continue to add those nameless families to my prayers. I experienced but a moment of fright last night. A life lesson no less.
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