As I spoke with Michelle, the lovely blonde who sold me the car at the dealership, she said, “Ag, man, I feel so bad for you. It’s terrible, isn’t it? I was Christmas shopping on the 23rd, nine at night, and suddenly, next to me in the mall, 7 guys with AK-47s opened fire. Shooting into the air, all around. Then they shot out all the windows in the jewelry store next door, and helped themselves to everything, and then they were gone.”
“Oh my God, was anyone hurt?”
“No, no, no one. We were so, so lucky.”
Yes, everyone says that. She was so lucky. We were so lucky. I was so lucky. I am so fortunate. I am happy. No one was hurt. We all lived. We are SOOOO, so lucky.
I was LUCKY. I was LUCKY?!?!?! I was effin’ LUCKY!?!?!?!?
Yes, you could say that. Lucky? Unlucky?
How do you decide? Unlucky to be there? Lucky to live? Unlucky to lose jewelry, car keys, cash? Lucky to keep my life!? It starts to make you really angry.
Yeah. “LUCKY” starts to sound like a really crazy-ass word. Doesn’t mean much, in the context.
So, anyway, I had the house re-keyed, the car re-keyed. I set the alarm 50 times Monday night, checked the electric fence charge. Ready for the next day, for trauma counseling, back at the Pilates studio.
Drove over there, 8:30 am, for counseling with the rest of the gang. They brewed up some tea, we sat at the kitchen table, settled in. Aubrey, trauma counselor, introduced himself and went into the bit about “stages of adjustment”, “denial, anger, depression, etc., etc.” Yes, yes, we’ve heard this bit before.
And then we went on, to each tell our story, one after the next. The Swiss girl, the receptionist began, and then we followed suit as our stories fitted in.
It was awful, actually. I’d thought a bit, already, about the people who’d been in the bathroom, hostaged, the longest. I’d gotten off pretty lightly, really. Imagine, having the bathroom door open three or four or five more times after you were put in there.
"What’s going to happen now? are they going to kill us? shoot us? what’s going on?"
But we finished all our stories, and then went on to talk about how things could have gone differently, what we might have done.
Cilla, of course, was right there with big plans. “I’m going to take a martial arts class, I just want to take them out, I was so angry. Next time I’ll kick them in the balls and just attack.”
And me, I’m listening, and thinking, “Cilla, my sweet, I know you’re angry, but NOTHING is effective against three GUNS. What are you THINKING, my darling???”
But she was so angry. ”And I realized, this was different than a house robbery, where they have all the time in the world. They weren’t going to come back and gang rape us. They were going to get on their way.”
Gang rape!?!? I had never even considered that. Rape. Sh--. Not on my agenda for a Monday morning.
And then Cilla talked about her house situation. She was worried about security there, too, and was going to have more panic buttons installed, because this was the third time this had happened to her.
Do I have to think about being raped? In my home? It happens, yeah. Should I be worried, or not? I am not SO worried about me, but Miss T, that would be awful if something happened to her. What do you do with that kind of input? Hey, what? What decisions do you make? Is this random bad luck? Is it a deal-killer? Should we go? Stay? Move again? My God, move AGAIN??? I can’t take it.
I could sense that Cilla’s house and my house are much the same -- security, cameras, panic buttons. She’s scared sh-tless, should I be too? How do you evaluate the decisions you’ve already taken, to move here, to invest the time, energy, to get here, weighed against this new “personal safety” information?
Ai yi yi.
Not so easy.
We disbanded, and felt maybe a little better. Maybe. At least now we knew what had mostly happened, we knew what we might think about, in terms of improving security at the club, and we wandered out into the reception area to get on with the week.
I moved over to chat with the Swiss receptionist girl, then looked toward the door.
Bloody f---in' hell. The security gate was hanging wide open.
“Sweets! Darling! Look!”
She looked where I was looking, and her eyes widened and she laughed.
“Oh no! No!”
“Oh yes. It’s open! We just did this! We just went through this! Yesterday! We can’t have it! Come on!”
We both were laughing at the horribleness of it all. Yesterday, hostage at gunpoint in the bathroom for 35 minutes. Today, 24 hours later, the security gate is open, unlocked, ready for anyone, ANYONE, to come in.