Saturday, October 08, 2005

Mental Upset

Well, everyone has stress. There's good stress and bad stress. Then there's stress caused by terror and it's aftermath.

Last week, our family endured that kind of stress and this week is the aftermath.

If you live in the area, I'm sure you read about it or saw it on TV and maybe didn't make the connection. If you live outside our area, you didn't even know it happened. A murder in a small town. Doesn't happen often here. Last murder here was 5 years ago. The last significant assault was 2 years ago. Even bar fights are rare.

Last week, Greg and I were in the shop. Doug and Fred were delivering a car, Brian was still out on leave, no customers, no parts delivery people around - Thank God. We heard what sounded like an accident out front. Tires squealing, bangs and then yelling. Greg walked around the vehicle he was working on to look outside when the van that was rammed by the truck came to a screeching stop in front of bay 2. A woman started screaming that "they" had killed her husband and were after her van (?). By this time, I was out of the office and had started to look out towards the road. Then I saw a woman with a baseball bat. She was hitting the ground, hard, with the bat and screaming. I looked to the left and saw a man, Hispanic, comming towards the shop armed with a gun - it looked like a shotgun. I screamed, "He's got a gun!" and dove for the office. I didn't see Greg. I thought I saw a kid get out of the van and I never saw the woman get out of the van. I also lost track of the woman with the bat. I slammed the door and dialed 911. They answered on the first ring and I admit that I was just a little hysterical. I managed to tell them that a man with a gun was there, gave them our address, twice, and then the man entered our shop and walked to the back. Remember, I still didn't know where Greg was. After about 15 seconds or so, he came back out. I told the 911 operator that he was leaving. At that point the operator told me that the Police should be on scene by now, could I look out and see? Then, just as I was ready to open the door, the woman with the bat came in and saw me through the glass. She said, "Where's the boy?". I shook my head and she went to the van, looked inside and then walked away. Now I feared for the boy's well-being - she had a bat and looked so angry!

I finally got out of the office and looked outside. I saw the cop, I saw Greg! He was walking towards me, obviously upset. He asked if I was alright and then asked, "where's the girl?" I almost asked him who he was talking about and then I heard a moan behind me. I turned and saw a woman covered from head to toe in fresh blood. She was leaning against the door jam to our parts room. I screamed for Greg to call an ambulance and helped her to the bench by the counter. I ran into the back room to get shop towels and saw where he had beat her with the bun - to the point of breaking it into multiple pieces.

The QR team arrived. At this point I found out that her husband/boyfriend had been fatally shot. She kept asking for him and her son. I assured her that the boy was safe (Greg had gotten him and two little girls playing next door into the house while he was trying to get 911 on his cell phone), I told her that I didn't know about her husband. She was drifting in and out from at least 3 head wounds and pain from two broken arms. I was in "nurse mode". Pressure to wounds, C-spine precautions (ha), collar applied. Keeping her oriented and awake. Medics arrived and took over.

By this time, multiple police agencies, CSI and detectives were there. Our local police chief, a former state police detective was there. As he's also a friend, it was comforting to have him there. Now, all this happened the last half hour of the business day on a Friday. In a small town, news travels fast and the rumors were flying. When it got out that the two men (the shooter and the victim) were brothers - then the rumors go really wild as Greg and Doug are brothers. My son, Keith, was at college and was fielding calls from friends asking what had happened and he couldn't get ahold of us for nearly an hour. When he did, we gave him the details and he spent the next 2 hours on the phone. Greg's mom, one of our first calls, also fielded calls at home. We were at the shop until almost 11:00 PM.

The next day we went to the MSU/Michigan game. We hid out, away from home and questions, and had a day of diversion. Greg was and still is upset. I was able to compartamentalize most of it until I tried to sleep. It's been a week now, the blood has been cleaned up, the shooter was denied bail and has a hearing on Tuesday, the 11th. If he pleads guilty (and from what we've heard, he is showing no remorse) then it will be over. If not, we'll wind up in court to testify.

But for now, coping with the stress is most important. A little xanax, diversion or two, time with the kids, work - all help. Prayers of friends and family, our church have been gratefully accepted and appreciated. We went to the football game last night. Homecoming. We beat our opponent 35 - 0. Life goes on. The news stories have moved on to the next crisis. We're going to start Christmas shopping. One way or another, we will live our lives and pray that we are never again witnesses to such inhuman behavior. Unfortunately, it's too human and such an old story - all the way back to Cain and Able. Brother against brother. Will we ever learn?