I wrote this line some time ago in a comment on this story:
- I have another domestic violence story about the police. I'll post it at some point.
Promises, promises. Sorry it's taken me so long. Here's another story about an encounter with the police. They are part of a series of stories called "The Lighter Side of Domestic Violence."
Loud sobbing and crying come from upstairs. The stereo starts blasting. Then the banging on the wall starts.
I want to get Rachel, our five year old, and leave (we've been in the way of flying objects before), but I'm becoming more assertive. I run up yelling, "What is it? What's going on?"
He has locked himself into the front bedroom which he uses as an office. There is more heavy, loud banging on the wall.
"Stop it! Let me in! What's wrong?"
Plaster and wood chips are flying into the air in front of me as the wall gives way to his assault. He bangs louder and yells, "Go away!"
Rachel is crying. My husband, Henry, is crying and banging. I run downstairs and dial 911. I give them my address and tell them that my husband is flipping out and smashing walls. They try to keep me on the line. I say, "I'm getting out with my child. We might be next." I hang up, grab Rachel, and head towards the back door.
911 does not hang up. The phone starts its continuous emergency ring. Henry comes running down the stairs and says, "You called the cops didn't you? I'd better get out of here." He grabs his bicycle from the hall and flies out the door, down the steps, and away.
I pick up the phone. She says an officer is on his way. I tell her it's okay, he's gone. She says to wait for the officer to advise me.
A patrol car pulls up. A large, slow-moving, police officer surveys the house, cautiously, expecting to be shot at. I go to meet him.
"I'm Officer Rogers. What's the problem?"
"My husband was smashing down the wall, but he's gone now."
"Was he drinking?"
"No." -- He can behave like a drunk without drinking.
"Why was he smashing down the wall?"
"I don't know."
"There must be a reason. People don't smash walls for no reason." His eyes say - c'mon lady, fess up, you were driving him crazy.
I say, "My husband is unemployed."
This seems to him like a satisfactory explanation.
"I guess he's pretty frustrated," says Officer Rogers.
"Yeah, I guess."
I bring him in to survey the damage.
We're standing by the door and he points to a place in the hall where Henry had ripped the plaster from the ceiling, through to the beams, so that he'd have a place to hang a noose. The noose isn't up today, but the ceiling is crumbling.
"Is that where he was smashing the walls?" the policeman asks pointing to the ceiling.
"No," I reply.
Before I have a chance to take him upstairs, he points to the ceiling, by the door, above the stairs. Henry had ripped out the boards and plaster to not fix a leak in the plumbing.
"Is that it?" he asks pointing again to the ceiling.
"No," I reply.
On the way up the stairs, he points to places in the wall where the plaster had been torn away to change the wiring. Henry's inner tension led him to unfinish a lot of household projects.
"Is that it?" he says.
I am seeing my home through another's eyes and getting very tense and embarrassed. The stairs have been half-painted several shades, several times. Parts of the bannister had been yanked out during other outbursts, and while being a wall in this house was risky, being a door was suicide.
"Are you renovating?" he says.
"No, officer, we're just - very - poor - people." I say. I figure Officer Rogers was a rookie on the domestic assault team and, so far, batting 0 for 4.
At the top of the stairs, Officer Rogers stops. He's well-armed with his pistol on his left hip and his night stick on his right, but he only stares uncomprehendingly at the destruction. His big, round-toed, black boots crunch plaster. His badge shines palely in the morning light.
We are standing outside. Officer Rogers is advising me to leave for the rest of the day when Henry cycles by, turns at the sight of us, and races towards the waterfront. This sluggish, plodding cop suddenly becomes a dynamo and tears after him on foot.
Twenty minutes later, Officer Rogers returns, heavily understating Henry's condition, "He's pretty upset. Says he'll see a counsellor. Get your stuff. I'll stay here until you're safely away."
Refugees of domestic terrorism, Rachel and I throw some toys, clothes, and books into the car, wave to the neighbours, and flee in search of shelter.