“Help me!

Please, help me.”

“He’s got my kids … and …

Oh, God … He’s got a gun!

Hel …” BOOM!

 

Silence.

 

“All units. Hostage situation.

212 Shady Lane.

Weapons involved.

Shots fired.

Repeat, shots fired.”

 

Three cars.

High speed parade.

Blue lights.

Sirens.

Engines roaring.

 

Light poles,

Mailboxes,

Farms,

Barns,

All a blur.

 

Sun, dipping behind tree line.

Shadows, stretched across cracked pavement.

Sharp, hairpin curves.

Tires, squealing and squalling,

Gripping asphalt with all their might.

 

Then … there,

That’s the driveway.

Rusted tractor-shaped mailbox,

Atop dented and crooked metal pole.

Weeds, and a single, lonely daffodil.

 

Long path.

Two dirt ruts split a sea of gangly weeds and wildflowers.

Single file.

Lights off.

Sirens off.

 

Dust clouds bloom in our wake.

Insects take flight,

Spattering windshields.

A rabbit scurries off,

To the right.

 

House.

Tin roof.

Gangly three-legged dog

A rooster.

Dread and despair

 

Stop.

Engines off.

Weapons drawn.

Breezes, pushing and pulling dry, brittle grasses.

Me to the right.

 

Another to the left.

One in the middle.

Far away thunder.

Dark clouds, roiling and boiling.

Trees swaying, gently.

 

Leaves flutter, dance, and turn belly up.

Scattered raindrops,

Tip-tapping.

First one, then another and another.

Tap, tap, tap.

 

Crack!

Crash!

Glass shatters.

A scream.

“No!”

 

Front porch.

Door opens.

Three pistols aim.

Small boy.

Red hair, freckles.

 

Ragged shirt.

Dirty jeans.

No shoes.

Twelve-years-old?

Crying, running.

 

“My daddy’s got my sister … and my Mama!”

“And he’s got a gun.”

Shivering.

Tears.

Pitiful.

 

Call for backup?

SWAT?

Dogs?

BOOM!

Screaming.

 

Wood splintering.

Thuds and thumps.

Struggle. Fighting.

BOOM!

No time.

 

Prepare to enter.

“Please don’t shoot my Daddy …”

Door opens.

Man, wild-eyed.

No shirt.

 

Grungy, faded jeans.

Work boots.

Shotgun.

Three voices.

In unison.

 

“Put down the gun! Put it down, now!”

Shotgun waving.

Finger inside trigger guard.

Three pistols pointed.

Shotgun to chin.

 

Turns toward doorway.

It’s now or never.

I, sneaking to side.

“I’ll kill myself!”

Closer.

 

One pleading. Begging. “Put down the gun.”

“I’m not going to jail!”

Woman crying. “Please, no …”

Sobbing.

Children, crying.

 

“No, Daddy. Please, no.”

Closer.

“Nothing to live for.”

Still closer.

“I want to die.”

 

Muscles,

Taut.

Scarred knuckles.

Five white islands,

On sun-browned flesh.

 

Tendons push against skin,

Trying to erupt from hands.

Veins, like bloodworms,

Draped across sinewy arms.

A working man.

 

Lips quiver.

“Go away.”

At doorway,

Woman and young girl.

“I’m taking them with me.”

 

Now!

Tackle.

Fighting.

Struggle for weapon.

Super strong.

 

Alcohol.

Eyes, glassy.

Pupils, tiny.

Cursing.

Spitting.

 

Biting.

So powerful.

Shirt torn.

Elbow bleeding.

Got him!

 

Handcuffs click.

Growl—raspy, vicious, feral.

Thrashing.

Screaming.

Jail.

 

Methamphetamine.

Suicidal.

Mother, drug addiction.

Child Protective Services.

Children—foster homes.

 

Family … destroyed.

 

Meth …


Sadly, this is a true story, and one I will never forget.