i grew up in silver spring maryland.
its the suburbs...about 15 minutes outside
of northwest dc.
two car garages, clean sidewalks,
synchronized streetlights after midnight,
perfectly maintained parks,
familiar neighbors, annual
carnivals at the local elementary
school, bike ramps, creeks
with crawfish, swim team,
communal tennis courts.
you can see it right?
*if not, think "father of the bride" scenery.
my roomate knocks on my bedroom door...
she is holding her 14 month old niece.
"hey pam...don't overreact, but when
tammy and i were coming up the stairs
we passed two men coming down. now,
i don't think they're guests because i didn't
recognize them, and when we reached our
floor, we saw that the roof hatch was open.
so they somehow broke it. ....and now
i just looked out the window, and our entire
building is now surrounded by police".
my heart stopped.
and i stared at her niece.
i lifted my laptop from my thighs,
hopped out of bed, and grabbed
the shorts laying on my chair.
i prayed. loudly.
..."amen"....i had forgotten tammy was here.
i stepped on my bed, stood in the windowsill
and looked down at the chaos taking place
on the street. about fifteen cops stood outside
my front door, and neighbors talked amongst
themselves. i collapsed and sat still for a second.
i ran to the front door...and made sure everything was locked.
tammy and abby sat on the couch.
they looked comfortable.
abby stood on her mother's legs and bounced around.
being on the top floor puts our apartment at immediate
risk for anyone entering from the roof. in the back room,
windows open up to the fire escape that scales the length
of the entire building.
"did you make sure all windows are locked in the back?"
"well...theyre locked now, but they were open earlier while i was out".
"ummm, did you check and make sure we're alone?"
"yea...my room is cool."
"okay...close your door"
i go back into my room and sit in my windowsill.
i open the screens, and literally lean out of the window.
not one policemen looks up.
i am scared.
i don't want to yell.
i am staring down at the heads of the cops...and over
the many random onlookers.
this is a scene.
everything feels unreal.
i am trying to speak...and its taking me a moment
to actually hear my voice.
an officer looks up...then what seems like a sea
of people turn their faces our direction.
i can hear my roomate from the living room
window speaking to him. fingers are
pointed at us. i retreat back onto my bed.
within the minute i hear a stampede of
footsteps coming up our stairwell...
they came quick.
i was expecting a delay assuming that
they would apprehend the trespassers first.
"hey ladies. whats going on?"
my roomate speaks.
sitting on the floor, tammy continues to
play with abby.
"two men? when? where?"
she speaks again.
"but we didn't see two men.
were they coming or going?"
either they went back up onto the roof.
or they forced entry into one of the remaining apartments.
or they walked out the front door.
judging from the baffled expressions,
i am leaning towards number three.
a couple climb the ladder to search the roof,
while others go into the back room to make sure
no one else is in the apartment.
they all briskly walk towards the back with their
hands on their guns.
God save me.