Life can be so great. Sometimes I'm convinced that God is trying to hand me my ass on a platter. This is a true story. Zero embellishment, simply because none is required.
At 4:30 on the morning of my husband's funeral, I was awakened by a noise in the kitchen. I thought it was Charlotte, maybe getting a snack or a drink of water, and I thought she shouldn't be eating at a time like this. Poor Charlotte, she is probably so nervous and sick and depressed. Now she is up in the middle of the night, trying to calm her nerves. Damn you, Dave. She is such a good friend to me. We've been friends so long; how long has it been? 20 years? And just like that, really quietly, there is a black man standing in my bedroom. I watched him walk in. He wore a black baseball cap, had a black bandanna around his face, a black shirt and black jeans. He wasn't that tall. He looked pretty young. He pointed his gun towards me and the kids, holding it sideways for extra thug-like emphasis. He stood quietly by my door and said "Where da money? Where da safe?"
"I don't have a safe," I say quietly as I bolt upright. I was in bed with my 3 kids. We had gone to bed clutching one another for dear life. We had cried hysterically, all of us, until we were so spent, so crazy, so out of our minds....surely we would die of the sadness. I prayed for it. I was surrounded by little boy arms and legs and sweaty sheets and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. "You betta get dat safe and open it up o' I'ma kill you."
Really, motherfucker? "Well, I don't have a safe, so fucking kill me, I don't give a shit!" I'm not the least bit concerned that he will. He flipped on the light and all three of my kids sat up and started crying. I leaped from the bed and floated across the room at lightening speed, right up into his face. I quickly turned off the light. "Turn out that fucking light and don't you fuck with my kids. Now get in the kitchen!" I hissed the words like a snake. "My fucking husband just killed himself and the funeral is in 5 hours, so I really don't give a fuck if you kill us all. I already told you I don't have a safe. But I do have some money, and obviously you need it more than I do, so I will help you, but if you fuck with me, if you hurt me, you get nothing, do you understand?!"
I know there is $120 somewhere, it was in Dave's truck and a hundred people have been in my house taking charge while I stand in the corner and try to figure out how to kill us all, making sure we all die at the same time so we can get the fuck off this earth and be with him. This motherfucker in my kitchen is desperate, but he hasn't a fucking clue how much more desperate I am. Is this shit really happening? Fuck you, Dave! I dug through some papers and the stash in my kitchen where I keep pizza money. Nothing. I went to my purse, and he said "I done already been through there, they ain't no money there." Fine. Charlotte is asleep in the living room, I prayed she had some cash, surely she drove here with something. I said, "Let's go ask my friend if she has some money." We walked into the living room and I quietly said, "Charlotte". She looked up and there we stood. He was holding his gun to my head, and holding my arm. I calmly said, "Charlotte, this man needs some money. We need to help him get some money." She bolted up, said, "Ok", and she walked calmly to her purse. I don't even know if we took the time to look at one another. Again he repeated that he'd already been through our purses, and I suddenly noticed that credit cards and receipts have fallen all over the floor. He doesn't want that, I'm thinking, he just wants CASH. "You're gonna have to go to the ATM, take our cards and we'll give you the pin numbers" I said. "OK, but I'm going to take you with me," he said. "No way!" I hissed again. "I already told you my fucking husband is dead! I'm not leaving my kids." Then Charlotte says calmly, "I'll go." She says it like we are just about to drive to the store with friends for a six pack. I can't believe it, but then I can. She knows I'm not leaving my kids, and somehow we know this man is not here to hurt us. He's here for money. I'm talking to him like he's a piece of shit, and he's not getting mad. I give her my ATM card, she gets her purse and keys and towards the door they walk. I run up and grab both of their arms and say, "Can we say a quick prayer?" He says quietly, "Ya'll do that when we get back." Then he says, "If you call the police, I'm going to kill her." "I'm not calling the police, I told you we would help you." As they head back through the living room he tells me to put my flat screen in the back of my Navigator. They leave and my first words are to Dave. "Damn you, I don't know where you are, I don't know if you even know what to do yet, but you need to figure it out in this instant and fucking help us NOW!" My next prayer is to St. Theresa, she will not fail me. It's just not possible. Dear God, please don't let him kill her. We just need to do what he says. A little bit. With a slight twist. So I dial my neighbor across the street. This guy has been a friend of ours for years. He's such a good neighbor that I think he even cleaned Dave's blood and guts from my garage floor two days ago. Really. And now I'm calling him to say, "I need you to get alert and wake up right now. We're getting robbed. A man just walked into my house, took my friend to the ATM at gunpoint and told me not to the call the cops or he would kill her." "Ok," he says, "we need to call 911." "No! We can't call the cops. We can't take that chance. I can't let him kill her. She volunteered to go in my place." The phone then makes a noise, and he is gone. The battery died.
I decided to call New Orleans 3rd District Police Station. This should be a safe alternative to 911, which would surely result in sirens blazing and Charlotte being murdered in front of my house. Oh hell no! We just did that. Somebody just died; we cannot at all go through this again. I quickly explain the situation. My voice is calm; I'm alert and coherent. I say we need an unmarked car. "We ain't got that," is the answer. Really, pricks? Really? This is your answer to me? So I say, "Well you need to go outside and get in your own car and drive over here then." "That's against the policy" is the answer. Really? You have a fucking policy that you can't fucking save a widow and three kids from an armed fucking thug ass robber who has just carjacked and kidnapped my best friend. "What the fuck am I supposed to do?" "Call 911," he says. I scream, "I thought I was talking to the fucking police! I already told you why I can't call 911!" It's too risky. There is no way in hell I'm putting my friend's life in the hands of a 911 operator asleep in her snuggie. If they get it wrong, sent cars flying over here with sirens and shit....no....we cannot have anymore people dying here, especially Charlotte.
I thank him for ensuring that now we are all going to die, and I hang up. I have second thoughts and great ideas about sending regular police cars into the alleys, and I'm going to tell them where to park, on what streets, what route I want them to take here, etc. I've got this all figured out. And I'm looking at the getaway car, only its really dark and I can't see what it is. So I redial third district. It rings and rings and rings. No answer. You gotta be fucking kidding me. I hang up and dial again. Same thing. There is no answer. I badly want to believe its because they're running like Starsky and Hutch and diving into their cars to come and save us. Instead I know they are eating donuts and figuring out that my husband just committed suicide at this address and they're deciding that I'm a crazy, fucking lunatic.
The thug returns with Charlotte unscathed, but there's trouble. I've given them the wrong card and pin. It wouldn't work. I'm calmer now, thinking more clearly, so I quickly find my business card and thrust it at her. He's standing right there. Listen to me, I say to him. This is my business card. You can get two withdrawals with this card. $800.00. He agrees this is some consolation for my screw up. They leave again, then return shortly thereafter. Charlotte is shaking like a leaf. I've already loaded up the widescreen myself, into my own fucking SUV. She runs inside as he takes off in my vehicle. My neighbor dials 911. We have a nine minute lapse while we wait for the cops to arrive. Seriously. This really happened.
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