Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I try to live under the concept of "no regrets," and "live for today," and lately, "you can sleep when you are dead."

Honestly, that first one, has a few wrinkles. You see, there is a ghost haunting me. Not the type that goes 'boo' or creaks the stairs or rattles ethereal chains in the attic. This one just hangs out in my subconscious, occasionally stimulating my long term memory and visual cortex.

199o, Prospect Heights, Illinois. My ex-wife and I had just purchased a small condo for a nice price. It was right on the approach path for one of Palwaukee Airport's runways. Didn't bother us much.

It was an unusually quiet and pleasant late summer Saturday. Our third floor condo had a small balcony where I could regularly be found on the weekends grilling or watching the planes or reading or just enjoying a coffee, looking down at the small cul-de-sac parking lot. This fine Saturday was winding down. The afternoon breeze cooled the grill after sizzling up a nice round steak.

Going out to clean the grill, I see it. Them. In the car.

Now, I am 43 and my memory of things past is becoming a bit hazy. Never known for a good memory, I can't even remember my new street address after living here two weeks.

But those shoes. Those red sneakers and white socks worn by a boy, likely in his teens. Flailing under the weight of an older man, all that was visible of the two was from the waist down, hanging out of the open left rear car door.

Sneakers and socks waving wildly, trying to catch hold of something, anything. The man's waist twisting in a motion that could only indicate he was swinging his fists.

Muffled cries could be heard as I yelled down. He didn't stop. I called 911.

Part of me wanted so badly to go down there and break it up; get between the two. Another part thought of the danger and the legal issues and the fact that I had a new job and bills to pay and a baby on the way. All I did was call 911 and yell at the bastard.

The man stopped and exited. There was only a barely perceptible crying coming from below. The boy, no longer thrashing, likely exhausted and injured, pulled his legs and his red shoes and his white socks into the car.

I yell. Ignoring me, the large balding bastard closes the door, opens the driver's door and drives away. No plates.

Police arrive about ten minutes later. They take a brief statement and leave.

To this day, I wonder of that boy. Wonder if that now thirty-something man is ok. Wonder if justice or karma was served. What would have been different if I had gone down there.

I wonder.

Should that happen now, there is no question what I would do. No hesitation. No pause. No regrets. I would be that obsticle.
Kind readers, this is sadly a true story and one I don't believe has been told. It is one of my ghosts.


mq01 said...

we all have ghosts, and you cant beat yourself up over the past or future. and be advised, i learned the opposite lesson; do not throw yourself into the middle as that may not turn out well either. 1997, worst year of my life, i lost everything in a nightmarish case of gang retaliation, all because i stood up.

trust and believe in karma and authority, even when it seems hopeless. dont take the law into your hands unless you are prepared for repercussions.

FindingMe said...

You did what you thought was best at the time. You learned from that and now you do better. That bad experience helped push you to fight for kids' safety, so even though it was a horrible thing, it helped other kids indirectly. (((((You))))))