Crime Comes Home
This past weekend, my wife was returning from her sister’s house and noticed an unusual amount of activity one block from our home. An unusual amount of police activity.
Basically, there were cops everywhere.
As she crept by in her Subaru, one of the officers flagged her down and checked her license and registration. She asked what the problem was and without being too informative—Heaven forbid—he told her there had been a shooting.
Moments later, she told me about it.
After locking the doors and turning out a number of lights—precautionary measures in case some maniac was still on the loose in our neighborhood—we moved like cat burglars from one window to another, keeping an eye out and looking for suspicious activity despite all the blue lights reflected on the surrounding houses. I was confident no criminal would be stupid enough to hide near the scene of his crime, but you can never be sure.
After all, crime seemed like a good idea and you see how well that worked out.
The next morning, I received a text message from my brother asking if we were alright. He didn’t have any details, but the grapevine in our small town ensured that he heard about the shooting. I told him everything was fine and that it was probably some jackass who accidentally discharged a weapon in his home. We live in a good neighborhood and the surrounding area is rural-suburban—to coin a phrase—so I was sure it couldn’t be serious.
I was wrong.
A buddy of mine has friends who live in my neighborhood and one of them was close to the action that night. In fact, he arrived on the scene just before the police and recounted the story to my friend shortly thereafter. To protect his anonymity, I’ll call him Sam.
Several houses down from Sam lived Jim, a relatively young man who just went through a nasty divorce. His ex-wife (Linda) and her daughter (Tina) had moved out long ago and without wasting any time, Jim had started dating again. Not only that, but he quickly found a girlfriend who looked exactly like Linda and welcomed her into his home instead.
For a while, Jim was happy and life seemed to be back to normal. Then came this past weekend and it all turned to shit.
Saturday evening, Jim received a call from his former stepdaughter, Tina. She was coming over to pick up the last of her mother’s things and wanted to make sure he was home, which he was. Jim and his girlfriend Mary were spending a quiet night at home and honestly, she wanted Linda’s stuff gone as much as Jim did, maybe even more.
Jim told Tina it would be fine and a half hour later, she arrived. While Jim and Mary sat in the living room and watched television, Tina collected her mother’s knick-knacks. Then for some unknown reason, an argument broke out.
Jim and Tina got into it—probably because she was planning to take something that really belonged to him, or that he and Linda had purchased together (at least that’s my theory)—and eventually, Jim wandered off towards his bedroom.
When Jim reappeared, he was holding his pistol and aiming it at Tina’s head.
Two shots and Tina dropped to the floor dead.
She was followed a moment later by Jim, who put the gun to his own head and exercised his constitutional second amendment right for the last time (as many spontaneous gunmen are apt to do).
That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: a murder-suicide one street over from my own home.
What in the hell is this country coming to?
I suppose it could be worse. Poor Sam was walking home from a friend’s that night, passed Jim’s house and saw a woman vomiting in the bushes. As he approached her—actually Jim’s girlfriend, Mary—he glanced through the still-open front door and saw blood everywhere: on the walls, on the ceiling… everywhere. Then Sam realized who the woman was.
“Is everything okay, Mary?” he asked her with genuine concern in his voice. She struggled to respond through all the convulsing and dry heaving, but managed to speak.
“He killed her,” she told Sam. “He killed her.”
Sam immediately feared the crime may still be in progress and quickly asked for clarification.
“Who killed her, Mary? Was it Jim?”
Mary lowered her head, nodded and vomited again at the very thought of what she witnessed. Sam, on the other hand, was getting worried.
“Where is Jim now?” he asked the barfing woman, his eyes never leaving the door. “Does he still have the gun?”
Mary shook her head. “He’s dead, too. Jim shot himself.”
Around that time, the first responding officers arrived and quickly shuffled Sam away from the scene. He answered some questions, went home and called to tell my buddy. And today my buddy told me.
Although I am never surprised by violence—and have probably been desensitized to it in many ways—I must say it is shocking to have something so tragic and gruesome happen within 100 yards of my home, the same home where I live with my wife and child. These kinds of things are supposed to happen in bad neighborhoods, not good ones. At least that’s what we would all like to think, but it’s not the truth.
The truth is that crime and violence can happen anywhere. Even worse, it can be perpetrated by anyone, even people you know and trust. One minute you’re having a cookout with that nice older man from next door; the next minute, you’re calling the fire department because that same neighbor tried to burn your house down. And if you’re like most victims, you probably never saw it coming.
Jim, the murder-suicide guy, was like that. Sam could always sense that something wasn’t quite right with him—or so he said after the fact, which is easy to do since as they say, “retrospect is 20/20”—but the fact is that even Sam had no idea what Jim was capable of. He came and went each day, interacted with people from the block, did yard work on the weekends (weather permitting, of course) and basically seemed normal.
Now that I think about it, maybe that was the tip-off: he seemed normal. And in today’s society, normalcy just isn’t an option. These days it’s all about survival.
Be good to each other, dear readers. And for goodness sake, watch your backs. You never know where the next “Jim” will strike, so please don’t take any chances.
Posted on February 5, 2013, in Perspectives, Writing and tagged commentary, creative, crime, guns, murder, personal, perspectives, shooting, Suicide, Violence, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.