I was awaken the other night around 1:00am when I thought I heard someone in our living room. The only thing I could find that would inflict any damage on a perpetrator was one of my wife’s high heels. Armed with my crimson Oscar de la Renta, I slowly made my way into the living room and felt a knot form in my stomach as I peered around the corner and caught a glimpse of something or someone moving under a knitted throw on the couch. I froze for a moment and then gathered the courage to protect my family.
I ran up, grabbed a corner of the blanket and yanked it back. I gasped as a little black girl squirmed back into the corner of the couch pulling her legs in tight to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. Her head bowed into her knees in fear. I could see the shame in her eyes, but I was outraged that she had broken into our house…my home! Wait, I knew this girl. She lived right across the street from me. I said hi to her parents all the time. Oh, but the nerve of this little girl to come and steal from me.
My thoughts must have verbalized as she exclaimed, “I wasn’t going to steal a thing, I promise!” I yelled at her to leave and expressed my dissatisfaction in her knowledge of breaking in. To my surprise, she hit the floor on her knees, grabbed my ankles and begged me to let her stay. I was horrified as she described how her father and brother were brutally raping her. The pain, torture…she couldn’t take it any longer. “Please help me,” she pleaded with tears streaming down.
I looked her in the face, saw her pain — in some way, felt her pain. Before I could show sympathy, my eye caught glimpse of a small tear in my leather couch that only she could have done. Anger rose inside me. I grabbed her wrist and dragged her across the street to her house. Her father answered the door, and I handed her back to her raper, to be tortured again. I felt satisfaction that she was getting what she deserved — that filthy little girl, tearing up my couch, breaking into my house.
As I drifted off to sleep, I laughed a little at the irony. It wasn’t even my couch. This house, the place I call home…it wasn’t mine either. Well, it feels like mine. I grew up here. I guess it’s mine. My grandparents murdered the family who lived here, assumed their identity, and just passed the house to my father who gave it to me. My family likes it just fine. We complain about the leaky faucets and single pane windows, but we get along just fine. You know what, it is mine. Enough time has passed. I’ve lived here long enough. This is my house!
“What, the!” I jumped out of bed. 3:00am.
“Someone’s in the kitchen,” my wife whispered.
“It sounds like they are…cooking,” I said in disbelief. “Oh! It better not be that little girl again.”
I rounded the corner and froze in disbelief. It wasn’t the little girl. It was her mother!
“What the hell are you doing? Get out of my house!”
“No, please. It’s my husband. He’s beating me. Don’t make me go back. See, look, I’m making food for you for the morning. I’ll be quieter. Let me stay. I don’t want anything, just let me stay the night. I won’t bother you at all. I just…” She broke down in tears. Her plea continued through the gasps for air, “I’ll clean your toilets, dust your house. Anything. Anything you don’t want to do, I’ll do it. Please show me mercy…”
My nostrils flared. Oh the nerve of this woman! If her daughter wasn’t just here, I might be more understanding, but two people breaking into my home from the same family! In the same night!
“Out!” I screamed, startling even myself. I wasn’t just angry, I was enraged. As she sit helpless, on her knees crying, I grabbed her by her hair and began dragging her back to her house.
As we crossed my lawn, she kicked and screamed. Pleading with me. Porch lights came on as some neighbors came out to see the commotion. It gave me pause, but no one was stopping me. So I pressed on, fueling my anger. She could have knocked. At the very least she could have called before breaking in to my home.
As we entered the street, a police officer arrived; my wife must have called in. Ashamed, I let go of the woman. Clearly I was out of line. Apologetically, I approached him as he stepped out of his vehicle and I began explaining that she had broken into my house and that I was just protecting my home. Yeah, I was just protecting my house. The officer just walked right past me to where the woman was just pulling herself off the ground.
I leaned my head back and took a deep breath realizing I had gone too far. I would be the one in handcuffs tonight. Surely, my actions were unwarranted. As I exhaled, my breath was stopped short as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. As the officer got closer to the woman, he firmly planted his left foot in front of him, leaned forward, and flung his right foot into the woman’s face.
I stood there in disbelief…my eyes fixed on the woman screaming in pain. What just happened? My eyes didn’t move as the officer stopped at my side. He placed a hand on my shoulder and simply said, “That’ll teach her.”
My head slowly turned to face him. He had a grin of great accomplishment on his face. He clearly felt as though he had done his job, and done it with great pride he did. “Better get yourself a fence,” he said as he walked back to his car and drove off.
I looked up in time to see the husband finish off a couple blows to the wife’s head as he dragged her limp body through the door. The door slammed shut. I imagined him looking up at me and saying, “Thank you.”
I smiled. I had done a good thing tonight. I protected my family from the dirty little criminals. And I put their family back where they belonged, right? Yeah, of course I did. The officer thought I was doing the right thing, so it must be the right thing. I convinced myself that it was the right thing. They’ll never come back again. Those neighbors should stay off of my property.
I turned towards my house and stared at my bedroom window. My family will sleep safe tonight.
Oh, but why this lingering feeling of remorse. I hate my neighbors. Why did they bring their problems to me? I wish they would just go away. I hate them for making me do what I did tonight. For making me feel bad about my actions. They were the ones who broke into my home. I’m the good guy in this, right?
I assured myself that I was as I walked towards my house. I stopped as I stepped out of the street onto my lawn. “Better get a fence just in case.”