I walked in the nightmares of others.
I wake in the night eyes wide open. The echoes of a scream bounce around the dark room. The scream fades to nothingness. My heart thumps the inside of my ribcage like a panic crazed rabbit trapped in wire. I gasp in a full breath, which seems like my first. Every muscle has fired. What just happened? I feel beaten, I remember…
I was training another rookie. This was a crack infested gang neighborhood and I was on the prowl for my favorite prey, gang bangers with guns. It was early enough that the zombies of the night hadn’t risen yet, hadn’t had their first red pop. The sun was just setting.
The radio barked our call sign and sent us into my continuing nightmare. A neighbor was reporting the sounds of a child crying, possible child abuse.
I rolled a couple of traffic stops on the way, hoping to snag a warrant arrest. I had responded to this type of call many times in the past. Most often some kid got his rear end smacked for some good reason and was still trying out the high notes on his vocal cords.
We stopped a couple of houses short and walked towards the flat ranch. We assumed the customary positions on either side of the door. I rapped the aluminum screen door hard with my streamlite.
I always wanted people to know that it was the Police or your worst nightmare (or sometimes both) knocking. No time for confusion.
No one answered. I was sure I had the right address and thought I heard the muffled sound of a child from a front bedroom. Suddenly the inside lights went dark. Strike One, something isn’t right. I bang harder and shout “Sheriff’s Office, open the door”. No answer, I hear the kids again. I step off the porch and hoist myself up to one of those high sideways windows. The bedroom is dark, I can just see a couple of small children huddled in the corner. I shout into the bedroom and tell the kids it’s the Police and to come open the door. A dark figure shot from the room into the hallway. I expected the door to open….
I looked in the window again and a whispered voice said, “Momma won’t let me”. Strike Two. The hairs on my neck rose like a wild dog. Adrenaline began its familiar course, slam the heart and spike the brain. I am alive and ready for anything.
Time for a plan. I quickly explain to the rookie that I was going to give the door a couple of kicks, hoping to convince whoever was inside to let us in. If not I had already decided I had enough to take the door down.
Again I called out “Sheriff” as I placed my 11 ½ squarely into the lock. The first kick loosened everything up nicely, I went to shoulder it the rest of the way when suddenly the door flew opened and I spilled into the darkness.
The rookie was right with me. A quick scan revealed only the mother present in the front of the house. I told the rookie to stay put while I checked on the kids…
I have witness horror many times in my life. Most often its one idiot against another. Violence inflicted upon the innocent is absolute horror.
I walked down the hall into the confining darkness, what was that smell? I opened the door and met my victims, all three of them. The oldest was a child of 7, standing guard over her two younger brothers, the youngest still in diapers.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness while my hand searched for the light switch. There was nothing in the room but a mattress and the kids. Why do they look wet?
Pop goes the light. A new nightmare begins to chisel itself into my gray pudding. Is this Elm Street? The bitch had beaten these children, all three of them. Streaks of blood run from the walls. Railroad tracks of misery are etched into their naked bodies. Their skin glistened with dark blood. They were shaking like dogs. I screamed out some obscenity.
My eyes fell upon the she bitches tool of terror, a 2 inch leather strap with a big silver buckle. I made one full wrap around my fist, leaving the buckle dangling, and headed back down the hall. The bitch saw the rage in my eyes as I neared her. She knew what I had witnessed, she knew what she had done. The rookie was dumbfounded as I charged with murderous intent. He blocked my way and screamed my name. He saw the blood on my hands and uniform. “What did she do”, he begged over and over.
I swung the belt once and didn’t make contact. As I drew back for another try I saw the stomach of the she bitch, stretched to its outer limits with her next intended victim, like some over ripe pumpkin.
Suddenly my zeal for the task at hand waned. Some gears in the back of my mind stripped themselves. Somehow beating the dog shit out of this pregnant she bitch didn’t seem like it solved much.
I told the rookie to call it in and I went back to the bedroom.
I sat on the floor next to my huddled victims. The oldest daughter hugged my neck and whispered, “It will be alright”. I cried and hoped she was right. As I sat with this child, awaiting her ambulance, it was she that comforted me. She was the bravest person in that house of horrors. I was humbled by her courage.
It was she that lived this nightmare. This was her life, I was just passing through. She had become the Mother and protector of her small brothers, living their days in confusion and pain.
I realized that in her short life she had experienced more agony and torment than I had in a career of Law Enforcement.
Ambulances, Detectives, Sergeants find us important. The wheels start to turn.
I go to the hospital and I thank my rookie on the way. Once in the ER I interviewed my victims. I asked, what did you eat for breakfast and they said “Hotdogs and eggs”. I asked what they had for dinner and they said, “Hotdogs and eggs”. I asked, “what else do you ever eat” and their immediate reply was “what else is there”?
That is what I smelled, burnt hotdogs and eggs. I hate that smell to this day.
The she bitch was slightly crazy and had isolated the kids for years. There had been no outside contact with anyone and no school for the oldest. They had lived their lives locked in that flat gray ranch house.
There would be no justice tonight. The children were placed in Foster Care. This is where most Cops lose the story. The end, or what happens next, is rarely discovered. This nightmare would have another ending.
A better ending.
Some months later, during the summer, I was on the hunt. I heard a gunshot from a distance. I raced towards an intersection where I thought the shot came from. I pulled to the curb and turned off the scanner. I thumbed the radio to main freq only and lowered the window. I listened and waited. I pulled on my leather gloves.
Out the window I see three kids coming my way. A girl wearing a bright pink dress, which perfectly matched her pink bicycle. Two young boys followed, one pulling the other in a red wagon. They stopped on the sidewalk next to my car. I didn’t recognize them, still focused on the next moment. They began to talk. The middle brother said to the sister, “That’s him, that’s Deputy Mike”. The girl stared into the car. I knew her in that instant. We talked, we hugged. They excitedly told me of living with “Auntie” and how Momma was getting better. I hoped so.
Gunfire erupted two blocks over. I told them to get in the house and raced around the corner.
I never saw them again, or only in my dreams…
© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.