We have a small incline of a road in front of our home that leads up to a fairly large cul de sac.
Lately, I’ve been taking Trixie for her walk up this small hill, past the next door neighbor’s house; the one with an elderly couple living there. The guy is okay but his wife is a nut case. She doesn’t like Evelyn for some reason and has been harassing her for years; one time turning her hose on new telephone books that had been left on the ground next to our mailbox, intentionally wetting them down. Stunts like that. Evelyn was furious with her for that and other tricks. They don’t talk to each other. Neither likes one another and I don’t know what brought on the mutual enmity.
I’ve never met the gal but she doesn’t like me either. The other day, one of Evelyn’s friends attended a funeral of an older fella who had just died. At the post funeral gathering, this old biddy asked Evelyn’s friend if she knew Evelyn Madison. “Sure do,” she said. “Evelyn’s a good friend.”
“Well she’s no friend of mine,” the old biddy said, “they’re living together you know. And they’re not married.”
Evelyn’s friend responded . . . “Yes, well that’s all right. I’m sure they have separate bedrooms.”
Evelyn and I just chuckled, shook our heads, and went on with our lives.
Anyway, I walk Trixie up past the old biddy’s house, hang a left and there’s another house on the left; don’t know who they are, never met them. Just west of their house is a huge vacant field where Trixie loves to go exploring and, we hope, does her business. After our visit to the vacant field we return and there are about three or four houses on the left side of the street, most of them well covered with foliage and masked by trees. Evelyn knows some of the folks there, I don’t.
On this day, however, we were approaching the vacant field when I saw an infant . . . I suppose about a year old. Old enough to walk, though unsteadily; still in diapers, and wearing some nondescript tee shirt. The child seemed fairly comfortable but there was no adult in sight.
As I approached the child I said something like . . . “Hello there, sweetheart. Where’s your mommy and daddy?” I got a pleasant smile in return but no answer.
At this point, Trixie, a rather jealous puppy, began to bark at the child and it startled the youngster. She began to pout, then the face wrinkled up and the child began to cry. I looked sternly at Trixie and in my best command voice I said . . . “Trixie, NO! NO BARK!” Bad decision on my part. My booming voice startled Trixie and she ran away, tugging on the retractable leash I held in my left hand. It also startled the child and it began to cry even louder.
Quickly, I changed my voice to a nice, calm, soothing voice and leaned down to pick the child up and comfort it. Trixie now made a mad lunge away and, in so doing, yanked the retrievable leash out of my hand. The leash, being spring loaded and retrievable, began to wind up the 16’ cord and bounced along after Trixie . . . frightening Trixie even more. She would run faster and this crazy blue retrievable leash would constantly keep chasing her, bouncing along the pavement, making a racket. It was funny the first time it happened, in a hallway at home, with the leash “chasing” Trixie all the way into the kitchen. Wasn’t funny now, with her running away, outside, frightened, and nothing to keep her from running in front of the cars that often pass by our home.
And now I had a crying infant on my hands to boot.
I held the child and talked to it, trying to calm it down. Its diapers were wet and I could smell the urine. The dampness of the diaper also began to soak into my polo shirt. “Let’s find mommy and daddy, ok? Is this your home?” pointing to the house in front of us. “Mama? Daddy?” No response from the child other than she had settled down a bit and was now more whimpering than crying. I walked to the front door and knocked. No answer. I waited a few minutes and decided to try the house across the street. A square, box-like house, clean, well formed, orange in color, looked just like a home out of New Mexico. I started to walk across the street to that house to see if that’s where the parents were when a police car pulled into the cul de sac.
I waved at them and the patrol car came to a stop. Two officers got out.
“Boy, am I glad to see you,” I said.
“Just stand right there, sir. Don’t move.”
They had their guns drawn.
What was going on?
“What’s the deal?” I said. “I have this baby and I . . .”
“Put the baby down on the ground, NOW!” barked the officer.
“What is this? Why do you have your guns drawn? There’s no problem here.”
Out of nowhere a third officer reached in, grabbed the child out of my arms. I turned to see who the officer was and why she had grabbed the child . . .
“Get on the ground, NOW!” the officer commanded.
“But, wait . . . wait a minute. Listen, there’s a huge mistake going on. Get a hold of Lt. Craig Carter or Chris Wynn . . . or Chief Maher. They all know me. They’ll tell you . . .
“I said get on the ground, NOW . . . or we’ll put you down . . .!”
Before I had a chance to do anything one of the officers grabbed me, slammed me into the asphalt. A searing pain hit my left hip that had only recently begun to recover from a painful bout of sciatica. My right shoulder had a similar pain . . . the shoulder that is frozen due to arthritis. The right side of my face was slammed into the asphalt and now I had one of the officers knees on my head, pressing my face further into the pavement . . . and the few pebbles between my face and the asphalt began to feel like boulders.
The officers grabbed my left hand and twisted it behind my back . . . “Watch my right arm,” I shouted, “I have a frozen shoulder. It’s arthritic!” They didn’t care . . . they twisted my right arm into my back and threw on a set of handcuffs. Pain coursed through my body like red hot pokers.
“All right, stand up,” one of the officers commanded. The other officer brought me to my knees and helped me into an upright position.
I spit the dirt and pebbles out of mouth and sputtered . . . “I don’t know what’s gotten into you! Why are you doing this? Call Craig Carter or Chris Wynn . . . or Jim Maher . . . they’ll tell you you’ve made a horrible mistake.”
Just then another patrol car pulled into the cul de sac and out stepped Lt. Craig Carter.
“Craig! Gawdalmighty, am I glad to see you. Will you tell these officers who I am and have them get these cuffs off me?”
I saw that Craig had his ‘game face’ on. Something didn’t feel right.
“What’s going on, Lyle?”
“I have no damned idea, Craig. I was walking my dog . . .”
“What dog is that, Lyle?”
“Trixie . . . she’s run away. She pulled the leash out of my hand and ran away because I startled her. She barked at the baby . . .”
“How big of a dog is it, Lyle?”
“Oh, it’s just a pup, maybe 15 lbs at most.”
"And you weigh how much?”
“Probably about 225 lbs. Why?"
“You’re 225 lbs, the pup is 15 lbs and you couldn’t control the pup, on a leash?”
“Well . . . yeah. I didn’t have a tight hold on the leash and was concerned about the baby . .”
“What is this baby to you?”
“I have no idea who the baby is or who it belongs to. It was just out here walking around, and I, . . . . ”
“Do we know who the parents of this baby are?” asked Craig of another officer.
“Yes sir, they’re over there in that house behind the trees. They’re the ones who called in the missing persons report. . . “
“See, Craig? I told you . . . now will you have them take these damned cuffs off? I just want to go home, track down my dog . . . and besides, I have to pee.”
“Afraid not, Lyle. We’ll have to take you downtown for questioning. Just routine but where children are involved . . .”
“Craig! C’mon! This is ridiculouse . . .
My bladder, which had been making mild suggestions that it needed to be relieved now became quite insistent . . . .
“Craig, I need to go home. We’re only 30 yards away. Evelyn’s there. She can help straighten this all out . . . I can hit the bathroom and we’ll sit down and have a cup of tea and . .”
I glanced over at the house to the right of us . . . and there she was. The old biddy, looking out her window, cackling like an old hen . . . delighted that I had gotten my comeuppance . . . ‘that’ll teach that nasty old Evelyn Madison,” I could imagine her saying.
Now my bladder was bellowing for attention.
And, then, finally, it was over.
I awakened . . . drenched in sweat, bladder bursting . . . but terribly, terribly relieved.
I had been dreaming. It was all a horrible nightmare.
In spite of my great relief at knowing this was all a nightmare . . . my bladder continued to demand my attention. I got out of bed, walked to the most welcome rest room, put my bladder to rest and came back to bed, not believing how realistic the dream was . . . and amazed at how much I had sweated through this ordeal.
I remembered stories of people being in the wrong place and the wrong time and the wrong set of circumstances . . . and having been accused of crimes . . . and of having been convicted! Later, they were (perhaps) exonerated and released from jail/prison . . . but in the meantime, their lives, their reputations that they had worked so hard to build . . . had been totally ruined.
Imagining what would happen to me had a scenario as described above really happened made me fret all the more. I’ve been in this community for forty years, am well known, and mostly well liked and respected . . . though I’m sure I have an enemy or two. I know a goodly number of senior officers within the local police department . . . even coached a couple of them in Little League and Youth Soccer. (That’s when you know you’re getting old . . . when Lieutenants and Captains on the police department are “kids” you used to coach; or who went to school with your kids).
It was just too frightful to imagine. All those years of building a reputation as an outstanding citizen, founder of several major organizations, editor of the local weekly newspaper . . . gone. In an instant!
I could not get back to sleep. I looked at the clock and it was 3:15am. That was an hour ago. Couldn’t get back to sleep so decided to get up and document this horrible nightmare while the details were fresh in my now beleaguered mind.
I usually sleep well. I usually have wonderful, sometimes marvelous dreams. I seldom have nightmares. Tonight, I did. And I have no idea why.
I don’t want anymore like this one.
I think, from now on, I’ll ask Evelyn to walk that doggone pup!