Carjacked! (No, really, for real)

Carjacking: the taking of an occupied automobile by force.

My van was carjacked two weeks ago. With my elderly mother and little dog inside.

I’m not writing this for the purpose of getting a lot of comments with sympathy and outrage and support, although those are great. I’m writing this because I now share the cops’ paranoid attitude/belief that YOU ARE NOT REALLY SAFE AS YOU THINK and YOU’D BETTER STAY ALERT AND KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THE WORST CASE. I also need to tell people why I’ve virtually disappeared from the ‘net and haven’t answered many phone calls for the last couple of weeks; all that I’ve had to deal with and take care of because of this event has really taken ALL of my time. The house looks even more like a pigsty nowadays.

I’ll ruin the suspense that fiction is supposed to have because this is more of a personal letter to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. Yes, the van is gone (*has been recovered now–more on this later*), but I didn’t lose my mother or my dog, which is all that really matters. My mother has a significant “torn” granulating wound all down her upper left arm, and has a few bruises, and has a case of PTSD at some level. But she’s here, and the Pom is unhurt. This is a miracle.

How did it happen? In Plano, Texas, just today named “the safest suburb in the USA” *irony alert*?

I would never have left them in the van with the motor and A/C running had I imagined that nearby there was a crazed junkie escaping from a halfway house . . . or that the locked doors could be defeated with a simple click. But my mother (aged 80) always demands to be taken on any errand that I run, and typically she brings our little Pom along. He sits in his dog bed on the console of my 2004 Ford Freestar minivan. (We have some pillows and cardboard rigged up so the bed stays put.) He loves going for rides with us.

And we had just made the circuit: the pharmacy for her prescriptions, the gas station to fill up, Kroger for some frozen food, Luby’s for an old-lady meal, and now the Jack-in-the-Box restaurant parking lot at Parker Road and US75. It’s in a strip shopping center in a safe neighborhood. All I needed was to pick up a burger and fries for hubby, and we’d be on our way home. The next day Hubby and I were headed to the State Fair of Texas, so I had been sure to get my mother and my dog everything they’d need while we were off for a few hours.

At 6 PM on Monday–now about two weeks ago, October 4th–with rush hour going on and people going in and out of the surrounding stores, I found myself unable to get into the drive-through of JitB, so I parked a little ways away in a parking space so I could run inside. I had *always* parked to go inside various stores and lock the doors so they can wait in the van and people-watch. Never a problem in Dallas, Houston, Richardson, Sherman, and rural Oklahoma.

While this was happening, I had no idea.

Perhaps a numbered timeline would work better.

1) I jump out of the van, lock the doors using the keyless entry keypad on the door (not the keychain–this is important later), and head about 300 feet across the parking lot into the restaurant. I glanc back to see my mom tuning the radio to one of her talk shows, even though my iPod video 60 is plugged into the sound system because we’ve been listening to podcasts of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” from PBS. My cell phone is also plugged into the van charging, but I think nothing of that, as I don’t bother to take my purse, just a $10 bill. Teddy sits happily in his dog bed on the console between our bucket seats, as always, and her cell phone is in the door pocket, and she has a Luby’s meal in a sack at her feet next to her purse. (It was beef tips and rice for me, and a chocolate pie for her, as she had low blood sugar even before all this happened.) It’s a still-light 6 PM in a safe area of Plano, and lots of people are on Parker Road and in the parking lot, because it’s still rush hour. What can possibly go wrong?!?!

2) I give the order at the counter and fill a Styrofoam cup with diet Coke. No large tops anywhere. I go back and stand at the counter. Oddly, I am their ONLY lobby customer. The clerk who took my order is back doing something and I am waiting with an uncovered coke. I hear someone come in the side door and I think I hear something like . . . my name?

3) I turn. A Hispanic woman about my height with spiral-curly hair is looking at me VERY panicked and worried. At first I think it is someone i must know or have worked with and she’s got a flat tire or some kind of crisis. She says, “Is your mother wearing a white t-shirt and has a red dog?”


4) The Universe shifts. I know that this question can lead to nothing good. Thinking Mama has had chest pains or the car got rammed into (which is not unheard of; her friend “Pinky” had her new car parked outside her condo in the parking lot when some idiot students came racing into the parking lot and T-boned her car, pushing it completely across the lot into another car and totaling it–she got $11K for a $30K car because it was 6 months old and she now drives a junker, sigh) . . . I say . . . “YES.”

5) “Come quick. She got pushed out of the car and she’s on the ground and your car is gone.” The lady starts running across the restaurant to exit the other door behind me.

6) “What?!! Is she OK? Is the dog OK?”

“Yes, but come on!”

I am running after her without any idea what’s really going on. Down the back rocks (set into the muddy landscaping, probably where employees come in and out) after her. I have to go slowly because of my right knee that was broken a couple of years ago–it collapses sometimes on shaky ground. But I go pretty fast.

Now I can see where the lady is going and I’m nearly there. Mama and the dog are indeed on the pavement with a couple of cars parked on either side of them to keep the traffic away.

I run down the stones to Mama and find her coherent and talking, lying on her left side, with Teddy sitting very quietly on her extended left arm. She says she’s not hurt, and two good Samaritan ladies are fluttering around her. One of them is the one who came to get me, and the other has called 911. They offer to help her up, but I tell them let’s wait for the paramedics.

But Mama tells me, “Take the dog”–and I’m amazed that his knees haven’t even popped out of joint, which happened two weeks ago and again a couple of times since (went to vet, had panic over it, etc., but that’s another tale), but he looks perfect. She held him up as she fell and landed on her left side, with her knee and upper arm taking the road rash. I snatch Teddy up while the two ladies help her struggle to her feet (against my better judgment). She says her knee is cut and bruised under her pants, but the part that looks bad is her left arm. She was wearing a knitted cotton long-sleeved sweater, and the sleeve is shredded off, as is her skin. It looks pretty hideous.

The Freestar, of course, is gone. The ladies keep asking me what they can do for us. I don’t know.

7) We get Mama up on the sidewalk in front of Mattress Firm (this all happened in a parking lot!! In a safe neighborhood and near the Bavarian Grill!) and she leans on me heavily. I’m holding the dog the usual way (right arm clasping him to chest) and he is perfectly aware and alert, but not having an asthma attack. Neither is she, but she says she’s short of breath and feels really weak. (They both have coughing spells when they get upset. This is another aspect of the miracle.) Both ladies offer to let her get into their cars and sit, but she says she’ll stand. I hear sirens.

8) I realize I must call Hubby. But I don’t have my cell phone. Or my purse.

I’m standing there without even the hamburger, because the food hadn’t even arrived when I ran out.

I feel naked. Like in those dreams where you realize you’re only wearing a thong and a Band-Aid, but worse.

9) Mama babbles. The dog is being perfectly good and wide-eyed and still in my arms, knowing something bad has happened. She’s telling the ladies that a barefoot bicyclist, a tall skinny man who looked crazed and had something on his ankle like some kind of bracelet (this is important later, too), had dropped his bike next to the car and had been fiddling with the door. At first she was absorbed in the talk radio thing and assumed it was me, but out of the corner of her eye she had seen the guy come up into the empty parking spaces next to the van. (SAFETY TIP #1: Park between two other cars. If you have a bunch of empty spaces on either side of you, this gives the evil ones more room to maneuver.)

Quoth she: “This guy looked wild-eyed and I can’t remember what he really looked like. I heard the locks pop up. He just “ripped the door open and jumped in and I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. The car was running and I suddenly realized it was a crazy stranger.”

10) Employees of the Mattress Firm (which is where the van stopped after tearing away from the restaurant) come up to us. We’re standing in front of a store next door that I believe is Burlington Coat Factory–but it’s the side without any entrance, just a blank white brick wall.

“He rode up barefooted on a bike,” says a man from the Mattress Firm, “and dropped the bike and then went to your driver’s door. Don’t worry–I have the bike and took it into the store for the police.”

*blink*

“Yes,” my mother says, “he did something to the door to pop the locks. I was listening to the radio and I thought it was my daughter, back really soon. He ripped the door open and leaped into the seat and then tried to crank the car–it was already running and made a terrible noise. I realized it was a bad guy and I reached over to turn the car off.

“‘No! No! B*tch!’ he shouted. He grabbed my wrist and banged it a number of times on the drink holders on the console. My skin ripped open and started to bleed, and I jerked my hand back.

“‘Let me out,’ I said.

“‘No! You’re coming with me, you’re coming with me,’ he said as he floored it across the parking lot. He babbled something in a language unknown to me. He was crazy and kept muttering, ‘You’re coming along, b**ch.’

“I got the passenger door open–the van doors are huge and heavy–and had my foot sticking out. “Let me out. I have a pacemaker and my heart is thumping and I’m going to have a heart attack.” [She can’t remember whether she shouted out the door, but she was keeping it open.] He kept reaching across and cursing, trying to get the other door closed. It was attracting attention.

“‘You come with.’ The man had another muttering attack. I’ve seen ‘Walker, Texas Ranger,’ and I know that you NEVER go with them. That when people are taken like that, they end up dead. I knew I had to get away now.

“Suddenly the LORD un-hardened his heart, or the DEVIL kinda changed his mind, but whichever it was, the guy slammed on the brakes.

“‘Get out, b*tch, get out now,” he yelled, waving his arms.

“The car slowed to a roll, and I had my foot almost on the ground. ‘Not without my DOG,’ I shouted, realizing Teddy was perfectly still in the dog bed on the console, and got him into my arms. I didn’t jump out fast enough for this psycho, so he shoved me as hard as he could. I stumbled out the door and knew I was falling.

“I remember I held the dog up so I wouldn’t fall on him or let him hit the ground. My guardian angel by now was flying as fast as he/she could and grabbed us in a bubble so that we didn’t get run over or hit by another car. I fell on the blacktop and the SOB got the door closed and tore off towards the access road to southbound US75. Before I knew it the two Good Samaritan women were at my side asking what had happened and if she was OK. I asked one to call 911 and one to get my daughter.”

12) The sirens get louder. The fire engine and ambulance roar into the entrance to the shopping center and head for us. The EMTs immediately want Mama to lie on a stretcher and take oxygen, but she knows better, because if she lies down she’ll have trouble breathing. When she’s panicky, what with that COPD and asthma, she suffocates if she lies flat, and it goes downhill from there.

“OMG,” says a paramedic when he sees her shredded skin and sleeve. They get her to sit down on the stretcher while they cut the sleeve off and do SOMETHING or another to “clean” this area, but say it’s got to be seen by the E. R. She says it doesn’t hurt much.

They’re checking as best they can for a broken hip or shoulder. That’s what the paramedics were expecting to see when they heard “80-yr-old down, carjacked.” But they’re poking at her ribs and prouncing them “not apparently broken.”

I encourage her to let them clean her arm and take some oxygen. I’m holding the dog and wondering what to do, because I can’t do what instinct says I should, which is get into the van and go home . . . the car is gone, along with our purses, my totebag (the one I drag around because it has my iPod touch, and my backup memory sticks and portable hard drive with all my novels on them, and my makeup case, and that kind of crappe), and HER WALKER, which was in the back cargo area (“turtle,” she still calls it) of the van. That van has an incredible capacity, and it was full. As I said, I’d just been to Kroger and I had frozen groceries stacked in the back seat . . . the dog stroller was folded up in the back . . . I had a box of books intended for my aunt’s nursing home . . . I had three pairs of shoes to take back to Penneys . . . we travel with so much junk! But anyhow, the car is gone. The car I had just paid off in April. It is a difficult concept.

11) Three or four black-and-white police cars surge up and stop. We are attracting quite a crowd. A female officer approaches me and starts asking questions. She’d like to get my statement, but I really saw nothing, so it’s a fairly short statement.

“I know the car was locked,” I tell her. Of this I am certain.

I pressed the buttons on the keyless entry system (on the Ford door, not the one on the keychain that was in the ignition) to LOCK the van, as always, and Mama and I both remember hearing it. The police listen to my babbling about how she has demanded to “ride with me” most places since she came to live with us (“I will not be left behind in this hellhole”) and how the dog has usually ridden most places, so this is standard. I know how UN-“green” it is to have the motor idling and A/C pumping away, gases into the air, but MY MOTHER TOLD ME TO DO IT and SHE MADE ME DO IT. This has gone on for YEARS and no one has ever bothered her as she sat in every parking lot around. Actually . . . people often do stop and look in and tap on the window and wave at the dog, or will ask for directions, and she will roll down the window and tell them, as we know the mappe of Richardson/Plano/Dallas like a spider knows her webbe. But never again!!

At any rate, they write this down. “There is a device that criminals can get that sends all the unlock codes for cars that have those keychain unlock things. There’s also one that captures those signals while they’re standing in a parking lot. Lot of ways they can get in nowadays,” says someone. I don’t remember if it was another officer or one of the clerks from the store. I just remember thinking what a bad idea this device is . . . you can’t get it at Target.

Time has dilated or contracted and I have no idea how long it has been. The Hispanic Good Samaritan lady asks if there is some last thing she can do for me, as she must leave to go pick up her kids. I can’t think, so I tell her I never got my food. WTF is my brain process?? But she says, “I’ll go get it!! Now!” and she runs to get it. I do not know why I even said that. The other lady says she’ll go as well (she is a black lady and probably in her twenties), but the police officer asks her to give a quick statement to one of the other cops, which she does. They take statements from Mattress Firm employees as well.

The lady brings back the food and here I am holding a giant coke and bag of fries. My main police woman (who was in charge) tells me I can put the dog and my food into the back of her car. I tell her the dog probably needs to tinkle. I put him up against that brick wall and tell him to tinkle, but he can’t. He doesn’t try to run off, either, and I realize his LEASH and HARNESS were in the car. Dang! I have to hold on to his ruff and beg him to tinkle. No go.

I pick him back up. It’s “twilight,” in every sense, and getting darker.

12) Dusk is gathering. Now they stand my mother against the white wall with her “bad” arm facing us and they’re taking photos. That is going to be a nasty wound to heal, especially with diabetes and at her age. I know that I need to call Hubs, but there is no cell phone. An officer reads my mind and hands me one of theirs. This is going to be interesting.

13) I call hubby’s cell phone. He is already home and is on his computer, gaming with a crowd. “What?!” is his greeting, having sensed it is me–he could not have noticed my caller ID. (“Plano PD”)

14) “Hey . . . we’ve been carjacked and the van is stolen, and Mama and the dog fell out of the car but they’re OK except she has cuts and lacerations on her arm. Can you come get us? We’re at Parker and 75 in front of the Burlington Coat factory, by the Bavarian Grill.”

15) Incoherent sounds emerge from the phone. “What?”

16) I have to repeat it all. “I’m using a police phone. Can you just come get us?”

“I’m coming. This is surreal . . . where are you again?” I repeat the instructions and the cop approaches to ask me what my VIN is for the van. Hubster has his proof of insurance in his wallet, so I get him to read it off to us. They are calling this theft in to everyone on the road so that the van might be seen and tracked. My license plates are amateur radio call sign plates, so they hope to be able to spot it easily. They ask me if there is a radio in there we might track it by, but I tell them that it’s turned off and the guy wouldn’t think to turn it on. This leads to a question: can’t the phone company track by our cell phones? They say that only on TV do you get the phone companies to agree to track a car by cell phone GPS, because they ONLY do it if there is someone kidnapped in the car. They tell me the charges here will include kidnapping, “highwayman” (!!), assault (he grabbed her wrist and shoved her out), and grand theft auto. But there’s little hope of catching him, I sense. They ask which way he went, and several people point.

Mama says to ask hubby to bring her blood pressure pill–the bottle is on her night table. He says he just now has his shoes and shirt back on (he games in comfort) and he is on his way–going to get the pills and then to the car.

The policeman whose phone it is comes back, so I end the call and expect rescue within 15 mins. We are surrounded by flashing lights on all the cars and fire engine, and my eye miraculously doesn’t go into a fit of overstimulation. But just to be safe, I keep covering it with my free hand whenever I have to stand directly next to a strobe.

17) By now they have cleaned and put some kind of “Stuff” on Mama’s arm, and they are wrapping it tightly with white gauze or bandages. “She’ll have to go to the E. R. to see what needs to be done,” the person in charge tells me.

18) Mama is refusing transport to the E. R. and says she will go to the Richardson hospital when her son-in-law arrives. She does not want to go without me, and the dog can’t go into the hospital and go in the paramedic engine, so what would we do? The EMTs need to leave and go on other calls, and they have looked to find no bruises or broken ribs that they can tell, so they have her sign an electronic form that says they’re absolved of blame because she refused transport. They roar away and we are left in the dark–somehow it has gotten dark–with three police cars. They have taken her statement and a lot of other people’s.

The officers are watching for my husband to come, as am I. Mama says she can’t sit down and is feeling short of breath, full of adrenaline but weak. I am holding her up near the wall and holding the dog, who is still amazingly not coughing, and neither is she. I realize all her asthma and heart meds are gone, as she carries them all in her
purse.

19) We wait. It occurs to me that we’ve been waiting for Hubs quite some time, as all the cops but two cars’ worth have now left. The lady cop and the one tall guy with the cell phone are here. “Don’t leave us,” Mama suddenly says to her. “Are you going?”

“I’m going to stay with you,” says the female officer. “Don’t worry. Until they come to pick you up. Do you want to sit in my car?” Mama says she’d feel too claustrophobic. The back seat of the police cruiser IS a bit cramped and does have a screen separating you from the front seat . . . I seem to have set the food bag in there at some point, but the Coke is on the sidewalk at my feet. Mama says she must have a drink of it, so I get it for her and the top slides off and spills diet Coke all over my blouse. But she does drink a lot of it.

20) We are still waiting. The tall cop asks if I want to call hubby again. Hubster’s iPhone says, “This customer is not accepting calls.”

WTF!!! Something’s happened? No, he forgot to hang up. Or something’s going on. I now feel as if I might burst into sobs. The dog looks worried. Mama says she is weak and might faint. They ask if the paramedics need to come back, but she says we’re going to the ER and calling her doctor, Dr. Bell, who will “not believe it.” I tend to concur. He’s home playing with his 4 children and thinking everything’s Archie.

“My daughter was going to the State Fair tomorrow and we were so happy,” my mother is explaining to the three policepersons who are looking worried, but fidgety. “She had just gotten her tickets and $100 in fives at Kroger. I had $500 in my purse. I never have a dime [THIS IS SO TRUE], but this morning we went by my bank and we got cash so I could pay her back for buying my medicine and a bunch of clothes for me and so I could get a birthday gift for my brother. Now that guy has my money.” I realize this is true, but it seems kind of silly and I almost laugh.

“Your insurance company will cover at least some of the stuff in your car like your walker and such,” says the tall cop. “Your homeowners or car insurance.” I know this, as we have had the same agent for YEARS and he is an old friend of Mama’s, so he’ll get us whatever can be had. I figure the value of a used Ford Freestar luxury edition is not $30K, though, so what kind of car will I get? We need a big one to hold her walker and all our s**t. I will end up with a junker of a car. This causes great melancholy.

Hubby is still not here. I am beginning to freak out and panic. I pray that God will deliver him or have him call. But he can’t call me! My cell phone and Mama’s are gone! (This weighs on me because we are so dependent on them.) How can we find out where he is? WHERE IN THE HECK IS HE?? Traffic streams by in streaks of white headlights, but no purple Kia Sorento.

I am on the verge of panic and so forth, from having been very VERY calm and damped-down all this time and just pacing the sidewalk. Will we have to go send a cop car to find him? It is just 15 mins from here to home, worst case.

Female officer gets a phone call and a funny look spreads across her face. “Just a minute.” She looks at me. “It’s . . . your husband?”

Hubby has called 911 and the Richardson police have found this scene and have patched him in through Plano 911 and here he is, on the phone. “I’m lost,” he says. “I went the wrong way on Parker Road and I thought you said the Burlington coat factory and I remembered there’s one out in Frisco and I’m halfway there but then I realized, you said Plano.”

“I’m standing in front of the Bavarian Grill. On Parker at Central Expressway. Across from the Target. You know, by where Jason’s Deli used to be, the one that we came to every Friday night for three or four YEARS for the Plano Amateur Radio club gathering while I was newsletter editor and serving as various officers of the club??”

“No, I really don’t. I don’t remember where that was. I remember going to the meetings and how you were the official greeter but I don’t recall where it is.”

I give directions again. He finally says, “OK, I am going to pull a U-turn on Parker and I’ll be there in about ten minutes. I just . . . got lost.”

Later on in the week while we’re driving in the rental car trying to get to some other errand, we will see a guy in a Mustang who screeches around us at an intersection only to pull a U and seem to be totally lost. Don will joke, “This guy is looking for his wife . . . she called and said she was carjacked and he can’t figure out where he is or where she is.” He will chuckle. I will be horrified.

But anyway . . . he’s OK and he says he’s coming to get us.

What number am I on? 21?

21) So finally after several false IDs (“There–that’s an SUV! But it’s not a Kia. No, that’s not him, either.”) he does pull up. The officers have to help Mama into the back seat, as she has gotten really uncoordinated. They hand her the food sack. I get into the passenger side. The officer hands me a yellow card with her name, desk phone, and my incident report. “Call me if you have ANY questions or problems.” They seem concerned and I tell them they were quick to respond and handled things like champs. We finally weave off into the night, and Don is so happy to see the dog and Mama apparently OK that he’s just exhausted. I feel exhausted.

“Shit!!” I yell. “That b*st*rd stole my car!!! And I just paid it off in April!!” My husband had not been told of this, as I had thought the extra $500 would be helpful in paying off bills, and I was letting him think I would be paying that to Ford in car payments until December. Uh-0h.

But this is simply filed away in his mind, as he is thinking of other things. “We have to go to the hospital now,” he says.

“Yes, I think I need to go,” says a weak timid voice from the back seat.

The EMS responders had cut her good sweater off of her and had “cleaned up” the owies and then had wrapped her arm from shoulder to below the elbow with some kind of dressings and gauze. This is now getting soaked with blood.

“We need to stop by the house, drop off the dog QUICKLY, and then get to the ER.” He looks at me sternly, as if I might stop to check my e-mail and change to a sequined evening gown.

“Yes, but we have to take Teddy home. I am so happy that he’s not hurt. It is a miracle.” The hospital is not 5 mins from the house, as we’re just north of Campbell and it’s on the south side of that same street. This won’t take long.

I get the dog settled on Mama’s bed and give him some water and so forth. He is very very serious and doesn’t whimper and whine when I say we’ll be back soon and turn the TV on for him. I am worried about internal damage or other problems, but I pray that he’ll be OK and won’t manifest anything (we can go to the emergency vet next if I see ANY signs of problems, but I have to do this first.) I manage to tinkle and get myself a bottle of water before rushing out the back door.

At the E. R., there is some confusion but they finally have us drive down where ambulances go and they come to get her in a wheelchair. Everyone is freaked out about what happened. She keeps telling the story and telling them “I’ll never feel safe again.” Someone tells her she has PTSD and will need counseling. She says she can’t afford it. They have a victims fund and tell me to get online to see about it. I don’t have a purse to put the card into! I’m just holding her pants and all this stuff in my hands.

They cut off all the wrappings that EMS had put on and done such a good job with. She says it only hurts and throbs a little, but she’s wincing. They say it looks bad and she begs them to call Dr. Bell. We know the resident here pretty well because of all the stuff that we’ve had happen–he remembers my broken kneecap, her pacemaker, her broken arm, and so forth. He finally comes to look and says, “You are the luckiest lady in the world. I don’t see any evidence of broken ribs or bones or internal bleeding. We want you to see Dr. Bell tomorrow about this wound.”

(I would post a photo, but you’re already behind an LJ cut and there’s no way to keep it away from the squeamish. Like me.)

“They got my medicine and my glucose meter and everything,” she says.

“We’ll call and get him to authorize it all tonight,” they promise.

Hubby didn’t come in with us, saying he would eat his sandwich and make phone calls. He is out there in the car calling his sister and brother and my uncle. Mama demands I go out and get Don’s cell phone so she can call my uncle. I do not see a reason for panicking the man, but anyhow I do go out and get his phone. She talks to my other aunt, the wife of her brother, the one who has the closed head injury and is confused, and explains what happened in a jumbled way. My aunt gasps and promises to tell everyone and tells us to call back when we’re home. I do not think this call was a good idea.

Also, everyone keeps reminding us that the criminal and/or his gang have our garage door opener, the keys to the house and all cars, and our home address (in the purses and also the “home” addy in the stolen GPS.) Mama has freaked out thinking that the “gang” is now headed for our house while we are in the hospital. She demands that things be hurried up so she can get home. They tell us they are waiting for all those medicines to come from the hospital pharmacy, but she says she can’t wait. She is having a panic attack. They start to work on getting her exit paperwork. They give her a tetanus shot in the sore arm “since it will hurt anyway.” They examine her X-rays and I am thinking that we ought to wait and get her meds, but I am outvoted.

Finally we wheel her out and make promises to see Dr. Bell in the morning. We rush to WalMart, where Don buys three chain lock thingies, one for each exit door to the house, and something or another that I can’t remember. We also drive through McD’s for a small single burger, as Mama and I lost our food along with the car. (Remember the Luby’s bag and the Kroger groceries that went bye-bye? In the Kroger sacks were six Lean Cuisines I had gotten so she could eat while we were at the fair for several hours, which won’t happen, and a GIANT box of sugar-free Fudgsicles. I am hoping they choke on them rather than let them thaw all over the carpeting.) We go to the 24hr CVS for gauze and a handful of sterile dressings.

It has crossed my mind, in a sort of fantasy/ESP blend, that possibly the crook will not see my purse. You see, there’s no room in the front seat for it. It’s a medium sized black leather tote. I get into the car and set it into the back seat behind the console where the dog rides in his bed, and I can reach it if needed. But I know that I had put the sun shades (two BIG round foil things) in the back and that the purse is under them, and on top of that sit the Kroger bags. So I have in the back of my mind that my purse is hidden, and if they do catch the guy tonight, he may not have ransacked it. I am also thinking of that red tote from NYC that has my iPods and stuff–it is on TOP of all that in the back seat, but hey, maybe he won’t think there is anything good in it. Who am I kidding–it’s all gone. Sigh.

ANYway, we get home and the dog is now ready to tinkle and go potty and eat. I take him out to the courtyard and verify that he walks OK and does not seem in distress; he has not seemed hurt. I decide we will watch him and not go to the emergency animal clinic (also about 7 mins from here to the north) unless I see any sign of problems. He eats (another good sign) and so do I, but Mama doesn’t remember eating her burger. She has the trembles and shakes and says she will never feel safe again. The exit instructions from the hospital said that we should apply Neosporin and replace her dressings. The dang gauze is not as good as what EMS did, so it is already slipping down her arm and making a tourniquet. I am squeamish, so it ends up that Don gets Q-tips and we unwrap the arm and he dabs the stuff, almost a whole tube, on everyplace he sees blood, and we wrap the CVS gauze around it as best we can.

By now I am completely exhausted. I have to go to bed and rest. Hubby stays up to install those chain locks and turn on all the landscape lights and UNPLUG the garage door opener so the theoretical gang who now has our address and so forth cannot get in (that door is HEAVY–it is the original wooden/glass door) and turn on lights in every room. He then starts phoning the bank (checkbooks are in my purse and her purse) and Visa and MasterCard and Target and Sears and Penneys credit people. I tell him to wait until morning and I will help, but I fall asleep.

I know how grateful I should feel. And I do feel that way. I even manage to send up a few prayers, although not nearly enough. It’s just that I’m so . . . TIRED.

And I miss my car.

But anyhow, this has been a two-week ride through police stations, depositions, picking up recovered possessions (out of a ravine across town–that’s another post), getting a new driver’s license after getting a birth certificate from City Hall, working with the insurance claims agent, dealing with a rental car, getting all sorts of things replaced, and handling the treatment of my mom’s wounds at a wound care clinic. There’s so much to do that it’s overwhelming. Every morning we wake up to find there’s something we’ve got to do IMMEDIATELY. My mother keeps telling the story (the ENTIRE story) to everyone we run into, including clerks at fast-food windows and bank tellers, and they ALL go wide-eyed and ooh and aah and sympathize and exclaim over her. She keeps saying, “I’ll never feel safe again.” She won’t let me leave her at home alone or in the car alone. It’s going to be a struggle getting her past the trembling fits. None of the insurance will pay for counseling, and she thinks she shouldn’t need it. . . .

Yet despite it all, yesterday afternoon I finally did get to the Fair. We only spent a few hours there, but it was like coming back to “real” life. I really must get out more.

And as for the idiots who proudly claim (in a Yahoo homepage news item) that Plano, Texas, is the safest city in which to live anywhere adjacent to a large city in the United States . . . *bronx cheer*. Richardson is SAFE. I’ve never even seen a homeless person or been approached by anyone threatening. There are small towns all around here that don’t even have a second horse to steal. Plano . . . well, I’m not so much at home there as I used to be. Feh.

All props to the Plano police and fire/paramedic staff, though. They’ve been efficient and helpful through all of this. Everyone I have spoken with says that they intend to get this guy. It’s like it was a personal affront for such a weird crime to happen in a safe part of town, in broad daylight, at rush hour. They’d really like to solve this one.

I just want everything to get back to normal. (For whatever value of “normal” we ever have, anyway.)

It’s getting there.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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