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Updated on December 10, 2010


Bill stepped away from her, slid the knife under the desk and opened the door to the office.“Yes, Officer, how can I help you?” Lynn slid past him on legs as weak as a new born lamb’s and saw an officer motioning for her to come to the squad car.

“He has a knife – under – it’s under the desk – it’s on the floor.” She deposited her body on the curb by the squad car, drawing her legs up to her chin, her arms encircling them and rocked gently back and forth. A second squad car sped up the drive and two more officers went toward the office. She lifted her head slightly when she heard Bill’s easy laughter float across the almost dawn air, wondering how he could weave in and out of drunkenness so easily. A blanket, stiff and harsh to her bruised skin went around her and a hand encircled her arm, helping her to a standing position and then into the back of the squad car.

“NO, you can’t arrest me I didn’t ….,Lynn’s thoughts cleared enough to know her children were alone, or at least without her, but not enough to grasp fully, the sight of Bill, handcuffed behind his back, being led toward the other car. An ambulance had pulled up now with lights and siren screaming a wake up call to any of the tenants who had managed to escape the early show. “No, OUCH - DAMNIT! No I don’t want to go to the hospital. The attendant was cleaning a cut above her eye. My children, I don’t know where they are.”

“We’re here Mom”, Traci was pushing her way through the ambulance crew. Through the break Lynn could see Tim, dressed in pajamas and coat, staring down at the ground and looking like he wished he could sink right down into it. Jake was beside him speaking to an officer and pointing in the direction of Bobby’s apartment miming a kick to the door and a fist to his face. It was his shoulder, Lynn thought, he broke it in with his shoulder. She had to call maintenance to get the door fixed right away. Did Traci have her coat on? Yes, yes she was dressed and had on her coat too. “No, I said I can’t go to the hospital – yes x-ray my ribs, all right I will later. Yes, thank you. No officer, yes sir – but can you just come to my apartment and I can tell you. I am trying to cooperate, YES I want to press charges I am just trying to”, she lowered her voice, “get this circus out of the parking lot and get my kids in where it’s warm.” She told him the apartment number and refused Jake’s offer to drive them all over to the apartment, “The kids, would you drive the kids please Jake and I’ll be right there.” It was still hard for her to tell what she was saying out loud and what was running loose in her head. Did someone lock the office? “Whisper and stare at me you sons-a bitches and I’ll evict all of you!” Lynn really hoped she hadn’t said that out loud but a few of them scattered like cockroaches startled back to their nest by a bright light.

The officers were waiting outside of her apartment, one shining a flashlight on the door casing. “This door doesn’t look damaged, did you let him in?” Is he your boyfriend? Have you been drinking?”

Lynn walked past them into her apartment picking up things from the floor that had fallen or dropped. Wordless, she filled the pot with water, spooned two heaping scoops into the filter and turned on the coffeepot. She pulled a jacket from the hall closet and handed the wool blanket to one of the officers.

She had noted Jake’s soft voice and the answers of her children and thanked God someone was there to watch over them while she recounted what had started with a key inserted into the lock of her apartment, still smelling of Christmas baking and the echo of a family, laughing together at Freddie The Freeloader. She wondered if Bill could smell the freedom when he opened the door hours before and if it added to his rage.


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