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Death of a Family

A friend of mine, Dave Johnson, is a policeman in San Jose, California. One morning, he was called to the scene of a family disturbance. When he arrived, he found another family that would soon be added to the casualty list. “The woman was crying and yelling at her husband who was standing with his hands in the pockets of greasy overalls. I noticed homemade tattoos on his arm, usually a sign that someone had been in prison. I was glad that my “fill unit” had arrived.

I stepped from my patrol car. As I walked towards the two I could hear the woman yelling at her husband to fix whatever he had done to the car so she could leave. He made no reply, but only laughed at her with a contemptuous laugh. She turned to me and asked me to make him fix the car. My fill unit broke in and we “split” the two up so that we could find a solution to the problem. I began talking to the husband who said that his wife was having an affair and she was leaving. I asked him if they had gone for counseling and he said that he was not interested. He went on to say that he was interested in only getting his “things” back. He said that his wife had hidden them from him.

I asked his wife about his things and she said she wouldn’t give them to him until she got one of the three VCRs they owned. I found out later that his “things” consisted of the narcotics he dealt in. The other officer went to the wife’s car and began looking under the hood to see if he could spot the trouble. The husband walked over, took the coil from his pocket, and handed it to the officer. He then told his wife that she could have one of the VCRs if he could have his things. She finally agreed and went into the house.

As she entered the house, I noticed two little girls standing in the doorway, watching the drama unfold. They were about eight and ten years old. Both wore dresses and clung to a Cabbage Patch doll. At their feet were two small suitcases. My eyes couldn’t leave their faces as they watched the two people they loved tear each other apart. The woman emerged with the VCR in her arms and went to the car where she put in into the crowded back seat. She turned and told her husband where he could find his things. They both agreed that they had equal shares of the things they had accumulated in 10 years of marriage.

Then as I stood in unbelief, I watched the husband point to the two little girls and say to the wife, “Well, which one do you want?” Without any apparent emotion, the mother chose the older one. The girls looked at each other as the older one picked up her suitcase and then climbed into her mother’s car. I had to stand and watch as the littlest girl, still clutching her Cabbage Patch doll in one hand and her suitcase in the other, watched her big sister and her mother drive off. I watched as tears streamed down her face in total bewilderment. The only “comfort” she received was an order from her father to go into the house as he turned to talk with some friends. There I stood, the unwilling witness to the death of a family.

Steve Farrar, Point Man, pp. 21-23