Park Forest, IL Saturday-- May 28, 2016
It’s 6:45pm. My children have just scarfed down the best bowl of chicken alfredo their pallets have ever had the pleasure of encountering. My teen-age daughter is being long-winded. My 4-year-old is bouncing around the couch while playing Sonic Dash on my pre-paid cellular device. My baby girl is being “airplaned” by my husband, his spine pressed into our laminate floors, his legs just below her protruding belly; her eyes and mouth wide with wonder, and her miniature fingers interlocked with her father’s. The first Lethal Weapon is playing, from a 4-pack blue-ray set Calvin surprised me with, some time ago.
The breeze flows effortlessly through the newly placed linen curtains. The weather & light blocking window treatments, which had been present for nearly eight months, made a sauna out of our living room. We were all grateful for the change, and I couldn’t mention what a good idea it was enough, to my love, who protested when the switch originally took place—bad timing he said—we are supposed to be cleaning up, he complained.
I part my lips to tell the hubs, “this is the good part”, but I am cut off by “Bang! Bang! Bang!!”. I pull aside my curtain to reveal a small-framed young man firing two guns in tandem. He fought to hold his weapons horizontally, as the firearms yanked his arms skyward. His starter locs hung just above his narrowed eyes, as the setting sun blinded him. The moment was a clash of Clint Eastwood meets John Singleton.
I call Calvin to the window, but now our vision is obstructed by a tree poorly placed near our window. After a glimpse, he says, “Call the police!”. For the first time, in what seemed like forever, I look away from the window, to locate my phone. It is on the couch, lying right next to me. My middle daughter must have dropped it when my husband called her away from the window. I fumble to pick it up. I punch “911” and frantically tell the operator the situation-- she transfers me to local police dispatch, and I repeat my story—including the young adult’s description-- and his blazing red, slim-cut pants and stark white t-shirt.
The authorities arrive immediately. Community citizens offer their full cooperation, which results in the suspect being identified. He actually resides within the address, where he stood and engaged in the gun battle. He and his mother are ushered outside, at which time, she curses officers and professes zero knowledge of why her son’s wrist are being bound. She begins to label the officers with names typically reserved for difficult women and man’s best friend’s girlfriend. Her words are smothered in generational dysfunction and infused with the fatherlessness which victimized her, as well as her son.
The responding officers comb the grass with their boots—in search of shell casings for hours. Dusk turns to darkness and their uniforms are camouflaged by the night—their flashlights and voices are the only proof of their continued presence, on the south side of my home. No casings were found. And though I was told, by the officer who discreetly knocked on my back door, and the operator, that I had the right NOT to give my name and contact information— a right which I elected to evoke both times-- the following morning, a detective approached my rear door, called me by my full name, and persuaded me to come to the police station to “look at pictures”.
The young men on the photos, all had similar features, and I was unable to make a positive identification. I had only seen his profile-- from approximately 30 feet away, on the previous day. I left the police station wondering, where I would like to move. Definitely, some place warm.