“Sure, I can see how you feel like it’s all gone wrong, but this isn’t the way to deal with things.” The bullhorn made his voice sound tinny and mechanical.
“What do you know about it? Huh? You’re not living my life!” I yelled back. I was sick of listening to people always trying to tell me I had to look at the bright side of things. If there was a bright side, I wouldn’t be hiding in a house holding some lady I don’t even know a hostage. “If things were great, I wouldn’t be here, now would I?”
“So tell me about it. Tell me how I can help.”
“You could leave. If you left, so would I.”
“Well, I can’t do that. You know I can’t leave.” The bullhorn screeched with feedback. The sound hurt my ears.
“You stupid cops. You say you want to help, but when it comes time to do something that helps, what do you do? You do just the opposite. You think I want things this way? I don’t, you know. I’m only doing this because you’re chasing me.”
“Well, you broke the law. You can’t break the law and expect everyone to just say, ‘oh, he broke the law. No big deal. Let’s all go home.’ It doesn’t work that way.”
“I didn’t break the law. I didn’t do anything at all. They asked me if I had thoughts of harming myself or others and I said that sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. I mean, how would you like to have cancer and feel pain all the time, knowing it’s just going to get worse and worse until it kills you because there’s no cure? Huh? Tell me that. How would you like it?”
“Well, I understand how it might be depressing, but…”
“But nothing! I tell them that yeah, sometimes I feel like just ending it all and the next thing I know they’re getting ready to put restraints on me and lock me up.”
“Well, we can’t have you harming yourself. What would society be like if we let people go around killing themselves when things get a little tough?”
“Jesus Christ! I was asked if I had thoughts, –not if I was going to do it. No one asked me if I was going to bump myself off. They only asked if I ever had thoughts. Do I deserve to be locked up for thinking?”
“Well, of course people are going to try and help you when you feel that bad. They’re trying to help you …and you attack the people trying to help. That just shows that you really do need help. You’re not in control of yourself.”
“I didn’t attack anyone, I overheard the doctor telling the nurses to get restraints and to arrange for a lock up. So I left. A couple of hours later I’m walking down the street and a buncha you cops pull up and pull your guns and start screaming at me to get on the ground or you’re gonna shoot me. So I ran. That doesn’t sound too fucking helpful to me. So since I haven’t hurt anyone and this is all your fault, why don’t you just go your way and I’ll go mine?”
“Wait a minute,” sad the lady next to me. “You mean you’re not a robber or a rapist or anything? You were just feeling down and they wanted to lock you up?”
“Yeah. I just want to go home.”
“You don’t want to hurt me?”
“Of course not. I don’t even know you. Your door happened to be open so I ran in here to get away from the cops chasing me.”
“You poor thing!” then much louder, “Why don’t you policemen leave this man alone? He’s not hurting anyone.”
“Who’s that?” yelled the cop. The bullhorn screeched again.
“It’s the lady whose house I’m in.” I yelled back.
“So, she’s alright then?” Screech.
“Of course she’s all right. You guys are the only ones looking to hurt anybody.”
“We don’t want anyone hurt. We’re here to help!” Buzz.
“With guns drawn? How is that helping?”
“We have to help the woman you’re holding.” Screech.
“Nobody is holding anybody!” yelled the woman, smiling at me. “He’s my guest. As a matter of fact, I don’t want YOU here. Get off of my property. Get out of my yard!”
“Wow. Thanks!” I said. To the cop: “See? You’re the ones who’re threatening. You have all those guns out there, –someone shoots and you’ll all freak out and y’all will all start shooting. Next thing you know some poor innocent neighbor gets hit. And all because you’re out of control!” My voice cracked with emotion.
“Are you thirsty?” the lady asked me. “I have some iced tea in the fridge.”
“I don’t want to put you out.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m thinking of having some myself.” She fluttered her eyelashes.
“Well, if it’s no trouble, tea would be nice.”
She smiled brightly and left the room.
“What’s happening in there?” Yelled the cop. “Is everybody alright in there?”
“Everyone is fine. We’re having some tea.”
“You’re what?” Screech.
“We’re having some tea and …oh, thank you.” The woman interrupted to hand me a glass of iced tea. I tasted it. It was delicious and I said so.
“It’s sun tea,” she said. “I make it by putting water and tea bags in the sun.”
“It’s very good. Hits the spot.” I winked at her.
“That’s sweet of you to say. So, tell me. How long have you had this cancer? Is there really no hope for you?”
“I’m afraid not. It’s a bone cancer. From the war. You know, the Agent Orange thing. I’ve got some years left, I guess. But no one knows for sure.”
“That’s just awful!” she said. “You’d think they could do something for you poor guys. I mean, getting ill just trying to help your country. You’re very gallant.”
I blushed and was about to reply… ”Hey! Talk to me in there. Is everything still okay?” The cop was yelling again. The bullhorn screeched.
“Are you still here? I thought I told you to leave!” the lady yelled out the window. She sounded very annoyed.
“I can’t do that, lady. We have to contain the situation. Make sure everyone is safe and okay.”
“Maybe we should invite him in. Let him look and see it’s alright.” I said.
She nodded. “Why don’t you come in here and talk?” she hollered. “You can see that everything is fine and then you can leave.”
“You want me to come in there?” Screech.
“If it will get this silly business over with! Yes! Come on in.” she yelled.
“Yeah, come on in.” I yelled.
“You won’t shoot? You’ll hold your fire?” Screech.
“You’re not going to shoot him, right?” she asked in a stage whisper.
“Heck no. I don’t even have a gun.” I said. Then, out the window, “No, I won’t shoot.”
The cop walked over to talk to some fellow cops. We waited. “You have no gun, really” she asked me.
“Nope. No gun.”
“Well, just a minute. I have a pistol in that cupboard over there.” She strode across the room and opened the cupboard. She leaned down and came out with an automatic. “You can use this one if you like.” she said, holding it out to me.
“I really don’t want a gun. I want to go home.” I replied. She looked disappointed.
“I was trying to help.” she said, a bit dejected.
“You’re helping a lot.” I told her. “I appreciate your support. Really.” She brightened a bit at that. There was a knock at the door.
“Come in!” she called out. The front door opened slightly and the cop ducked his head in and out quickly. Then he slowly peered back in again, surveying the room. “Well, come on then.” she said. “By the way, what’s your name, officer? My name is Marjorie.” she pointed at herself with the pistol. “I don’t think I got your name either, come to think of it.” she said to me.
“Oh, sorry. I’m Bill.”
“Pleased to meet you!” We both looked at the cop.
He stood with a pistol at his side, looking from Marjorie to me and to the gun in Marjorie’s hand. “Uh, you have a gun lady?” His tone revealed confusion.
“It’s Marjorie. Yes. It’s a Colt. My husband bought it for me before he died. Isn’t it nice?”
“Where’s your gun, bub?” he asked, looking at me.
“It’s Bill. I don’t have a gun.”
He looked as confused as he sounded. “What’s your name, officer?” Marjorie asked again.
“Duff. My name is Duff.”
“Well, officer Duff, as you can see, everything is fine here. So you and your friends can go ahead and leave now.”
“Yeah,” I said. “You can go. …So, Marjorie, you say your husband passed away?”
“Yes, four years ago, bless his heart.”
“That’s a shame. Say, would you like to have dinner?” I asked.
“Hey, wait a minute.” said Duff. “Nobody’s having dinner. We have a situation to resolve here.”
“I’d love to!” beamed Marjorie.
“Now, wait just a minute there sissy.” snarled Duff.
“Don’t call me sissy, young man!” She growled, pointed at the cop with her gun hand. “You keep a civil tongue!” She put her hand down and glared at him.
“I need to talk to my superiors about this.” said Duff. “I’m not sure what to do here.”
“Would you like to use my phone?” Marjorie said pleasantly.
“Uh, thank you. No. They’re outside.” He moved to the door. “I’ll be right back.” he said.
He stepped out the door and Marjorie walked towards me. “So, I take it you’re single?”
“Yes. I’ve been divorced for six years. She left me for someone else.”
“You poor thing. Come, sit with me on the sofa.” We chatted for a time, getting to know each other when I realized that we’d been talking for almost an hour.
“Hey, I wonder where Duff is?” I said, rising. She got up too and we looked out the window together. The cops had left.
“So,” said Marjorie taking my arm. “You’ve been alone for six years?”