Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Maybe you're crazy, Madam

In the morning, I was beside myself. What had happened? Had they found the woman? The baby? Had they caught the men? Where’d the guys go with the automatic weapons?

I drove over to the Sandton Police station, and explained myself to the ruggedly handsome police officer (and yes, even in moments of major stress, I’m still inappropriately flirting, apparently. Ooops. In his late 30’s, he had a blondish crew-cut, pale golden freckles, and those Aryan chiselled features so common in Afrikaner men. And then he had a most intriguing and startling scar going diagonally across his mouth: from lower left to upper right, across and through both lips, upper and lower. THAT knife slashing must have been SOME story. Was it the end result of protecting his own people in his own country? Still, or perhaps even because of that, the most beautiful face, he had. And so, so, EVER so compassionate looking.)

He took me up two floors, and he and a woman looked through all the files from the night before.

“Sorry, Ma’am. What happened?” He was so kind and polite and calming.

“I think there were people arguing, I thought I was seeing a house robbery in progress... and a woman was screaming and crying. I thought she was being raped. It was awful.”

The officer cast his eyes down, “Ag, no.”

“And all these police and ADT came out, so I wanted to find out what happened.”

“Leave us your number, Ma’am, and we’ll call you when we find out. There’s no case written up so far, however.”

I went home. Suddenly realized that there was another police station much closer to our house, in Randburg, so I drove over there. (At least I know now where all the police stations are, hey?)

Walked in. Greeted. And I asked, “Do you know what happened in Bryanston last night?” And gave him the address.

“Nothing. Nothing happened there, Ma’am.”

I stared at him.

“Nothing! What? I don’t believe you. I don’t believe it.”

“Yes, I know the incident you’re talking about. But there was no rape. No woman attacked. No house robbery. ADT called the owners, spoke with them, and they said everything was fine. There was NO problem, in actual fact.”

“But I heard her! So did my husband. You can’t be right. Something happened!!!”

“No report was filed. Nothing happened, Madam.”

“I feel sick,” I said. “I have to sit down.” And I parked myself on a bench off to the side. Just sitting there. Completely gaslighted. What had I seen? Did I imagine all of that? All that I saw? What I heard? What in fact DID I see? Do I even know, now?

I wandered out of the police station, stunned, and drove home.

Mr D looked up as I came in. “Well?”

“Nothing. Nothing happened. No report. No complaint. No woman. Nothing. Am I crazy? Did we actually hear that or did I imagine it? Did you hear it? Did you?”

He replied, “Of course we heard it, we heard her screaming and crying, we saw those guys, holding the baby, rummaging through the garage. No, you didn’t imagine it.”

I went to the bed to lie down. Too much. I fell asleep, midday, exhausted.

Later, I spoke with my neighbor.

“Maybe it was a ‘domestic’. The Africans do tend to be really loud when they quarrel.”

God, who knew? I went to bed again Sunday night, feeling sick and ashamed. I was sure that I was losing my mind, and everything was coming apart in my head after last Monday’s experience at the Pilates studio. Not to mention the huge burden of guilt for making my next door neighbors evacuate their homes for several hours on a Saturday night due to my overactive imagination. Perhaps I should have stayed in the house Saturday night and simply written two chapters of a suspense novel? Plus there was the added crime of using police and ADT resources so extravagantly. Fifteen armed professionals on the case... of “nothing”.


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