I’m sitting on my couch yesterday, feeling sort of happy that I skipped the gym because Simon is actually behaving and we are having a nice morning when I see three cop cars pull up. That’s becoming sort of a regular occurrence, but I still can’t seem to pull myself away from the window every time it happens. I notice a few plainclothes officers and some regular cop-types walking up and down the street, canvassing, talking to neighbors.
I guess I should back up here and explain that a pizza delivery guy was robbed at gunpoint basically right outside our house earlier in the week. Two thugs got $70 worth of pizza. And one of them dropped his cell phone while they were running away. My neighbor found it and the cops answered when it rang. It was the guy’s mother. She told them whose phone it was, and I guess they eventually arrested him.
Back to yesterday, finally it is my turn. They knock. I answer. A detective in a leather jacket with a push-broom mustache asks if I saw anything during the robbery. I wasn’t home, I say. Did anyone else see anything, he asks. No, I say. Just the aftermath. Then I tell him our thug neighbors seem like good suspects and that there are people in and out all the time, and it seems like they attract a lot of law-enforcement attention. He says, yes, that seems to be the consensus. If I see anything, I should call them, he says. I say I will.
So an hour or so later, I’m cleaning up after lunch and I see a skinny guy whose greasy, curly red hair is slicked into a ponytail and a disheveled brunette woman, both of them young, maybe 20, fly out the back door of the house next door. They are both in jeans and T-shirts even though it’s 20 degrees outside. They’re looking around, all suspicious-like, and they run behind the garage. They’re gone for maybe 10 seconds when they go running back in the house. The guy has what appears to be a big ol’ pistol in his hands, which he’s holding behind his back. Which I can see perfectly.
Shaking, I dial the cops. They tell me they’ll call me back. I pace. Pace the living room. Pace the dining room. Pace the kitchen. Keeping an eye out the window. Then I see them, the two from the back yard, and a third woman get into their beater car and drive away. All I can think is that they are on their way to hold up the SuperAmerica or something. My imagination goes wild. More pacing.
They return after about 10 minutes. They get out of the car with Walgreen’s bags and go back in the house. More pacing.
The phone rings. It’s finally the cops. A female detective. What did you see, she asks. So I tell her. She says she wants to talk to me more but she has to get over there. To the house next door.
I say thanks and hang up.
Minutes later, a cop car rounds the corner and sits a few houses away for a while. Then it inches closer. Out of nowhere, there are four more cars, two marked and two unmarked, right in front of my house.
Six cops get out of cars and head toward Thugsville.
I watch as three cops head into the back yard and kick at the debris on their lawn. Peer into their overflowing garbage bins.
Three more walk up the front steps and knock. Soon two of them are inside. Then I see a guy with bushy long hair, cappuccino-colored skin and three days worth of facial hair come out and put his hands in the air. He’s getting frisked.
There’s a knock on my door. Mustache guy. So what did you see, he asks. I repeat my story. Thanks, he says. We’ll be in touch.
Another car pulls up with some new characters — obviously thug friends. Cops talk to them.
I go put Simon down for his nap.
As I’m heading back down the stairs, the phone is ringing. It’s the female detective that called before. Hello, I say. Hello, she says. Did you see that guy? Was that the guy? Assuming she means bushy-haired man, I say no. The guy had red hair. And he was white. Oh, she says. You must have missed it. Because we brought out a guy who looked like that. Wait a minute. I’ll bring him back out. Can you get a good look at the front porch without being seen? Yes, I say. I’ll call you back, she says. Phone goes dead.
A cop hauls out the gun-toting thug. I see the detective dialing. Phone rings. That him? Yes, I say.
At this point, I’m thinking it’s got to be pretty obvious what’s going on. They know. They must know it was me who called. I don’t care, I think. You can’t hide guns where my kids play.
Cops go back inside. By this time, Myles is innocently running down the street from the corner where the bus drops him. He’s outside, oblivious to the cops and the commotion, talking to his friend from down the street.
I open the front door. Myles, get in here! Now!
He sprints up the path. What? Why? He wants to know. Because there are scary people outside, I say. Just get in here.
He grabs a snack and sits at the kitchen table. That’s when I notice there are two cops in gloves searching the thugmobile. Myles and Clare climb up on the table for a better view. What are they looking for, mommy? I’m not sure, I say. I see one of the cops grab something out of the trunk, bring it to his nose and pinch his face into a scowl. He holds it at arms length and throws it to the ground.
The nanny comes. I give her a quick rundown and get in the shower. I’m going to be late for work because I don’t feel comfortable leaving Clare alone while I shower. In my own house.
I’m mid-lather when Myles throws the door open. The cops are here! I’m in the shower I say. Tell them to come back. And shut the door! There is a clear vantage point from the bathroom to the front door. Shut the door! Myles, would you shut the door?! The door stays open until I finish my business and grab a towel.
I’m just barely dressed when there’s another knock. Cops again, mom!
Hair wet, I answer. New detective. Young, freckled. Slicked-back brown hair. Looks like every Irish cop I’ve seen on TV. Is the leather jacket a uniform for these guys?
Hi, he says. Can you tell me what you saw? I repeat my story. How well could you see? Quite well, I say. Want to see where I was when it happened? Yes, he says. I lead him to the kitchen. He looks out. You were standing right here, he says. Yes, I say. Well, these guys are really giving us a hard time. Yeah? Yeah. What do they say they were doing back there? Well, the kid, Josh is his name, says he was going behind the garage to get a pop can. A pop can? I’m incredulous. A big, black pop can that he had to hold behind his back so no one would see? Yes, he says. That’s a good one. I laugh. Laughing feels good.
He leaves. I go to work. I hear later from the nanny that someone, but not the kid with the gun, was arrested later.
Work is hell. I walk into a shitstorm and am behind all night. Then I forget to tell someone something that results in an entire edition’s worth of updates never getting on the press.
I go home and dip my head in a few bottles of beer. Still sleep for shit.
But today is a better day. I spend a few hours making phone calls, trying to have the thugs removed from my neighborhood. That feels good, like I am doing something.
They will not win.