Still In The Past
By mid-morning the police had come and gone taking a report while the cop had stunned me by admonishing me to be more careful in the future. Like I'd caused myself to be mugged? Had nothing to do with my being stupid, but just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nevertheless, a few hours later I was seen by a doctor and released with a sheet of instructions, a packet of meds, a fistful of prescriptions and a hefty bill for my insurance company and the grocery store's insurance adjusters to barter over months from now. I went to depart via the main lobby. I felt ugly and awkward without a purse, still in the previous day's clothes.
The lady who sat at the reception desk in the hospital lobby misdirecting the various visitors was kind enough to call me a cab. I braved the sunlight, missing my sunglasses to see the familiar yellow vehicle pull up to the curb. The driver got out to open the door and saw I didn't have a purse. I began to explain to him that I would be able to pay him once we reached my house when René saw me. He was just arriving to visit his brother. He insisted on paying off the cabby and escorted me back to the parking lot to his sleek black Lexus.
"Can I not leave you alone for a moment?" he joked, opening the door for me. I accepted his gracious gesture and tried not to wince as I folded myself into the car.
"Apparently not! Needless to say I haven't had time to start any discussions with my accountant," I smiled at his charm. After making sure I was buckled in he promptly joined me in the expensive car. He adjusted the air conditioning and grinned while backing out of the parking space.
"You wound me! I had not a thought for business seeing you in such distress," he was sincere and asked me how it was I was coming from the hospital without a purse. I quickly him about told my encounter with an unknown assailant the night before. He was properly horrified.
"It seems things are happening at a far different pace than you ever intended. Allow me to drive you home and see you inside safely for a change," his sincerity was shadowed by his obvious concern.
Directing him to the freeway I asked if I could borrow his cell phone for a quick call. Rapidly dialing my office I explained to Janice that I had been mugged at the local supermarket and was now on my way home from the hospital. She sighed and started running down a list of things she would do for me -- beginning with getting my car back to the house -- she knew where the spare keys were kept in my office. She would send Kyle, the office runner, to meet us at the house with a spare set of my house keys -- they were kept with the car keys in the office safe. She also asked me what credit cards I had on me last night and if I'd lost my cell or not. I told her which cards and that my cell was gone. She went into hyper efficient mode and said she'd handle it all and send some petty cash with Kyle, then rang off.
I sat back feeling a bit more in control. After giving René back his phone, I felt obligated to answer all his questions while giving him directions to my house. Soon he was pulling into my driveway and I was happy, yet startled, to see that Kyle was pulling in right behind us. Even with the freeway traffic delays we'd had, I knew that Kyle had to have broken more than a few of the posted speed limit signs in order to get to my home so quickly. But honestly, I was relieved to see him.
"Alanna, you have had an extraordinarily bad week." was his understatement while turning off the car. I introduced the two men and we all headed for the front door. Kyle had given me the keys and was trying to tell me about all the paperwork Janice had forced on him that needed my immediate attention and signatures.
Distracted by Kyle's rapid-fire chattering I started to put my door key in the lock when the door simply swung open to my touch. It was unlocked. Puzzled I pushed it open further. My home was torn apart. Kyle dragged me from the living room moaning while René walked outside and used his cell phone to call 911. I was led to the car by a quiet Kyle and soon sat in the Lexus feeling violated and waited for the police, yet again. René sent Kyle to the company van with the instructions to call Janice with the update. I stared at the paperwork I still had clutched in my hands and René sat next to me in his car keeping me company without talking. He did offer me a thin dark cigarette. Declining, I told him to go ahead and smoke in his own car. The soothing smell of fine tobacco kept me calm while we waited for the police. It wasn't an American tobacco but something exotic.
Los Angeles being such a busy city it was rare to have any timely response, especially for a break-in that was not in progress. Thus I was really surprised at how quickly the police arrived. Two different cars drove up with lights flashing and the officers burst out with their guns drawn; streaming past us once they figured out I was the homeowner, the four cops searched my home.
Seeing my puzzlement at the officers' behavior René said, "I may have told them that there was a possibility the robbers were still inside." He patted my hand and shot me a wicked look. I didn't think they were inside because the house had felt empty but trashed. He knew it too but was willing to mislead the police to get a response. I smiled weakly at his innovative approach since it certainly caused a reaction.
Moments later an older, mature-looking officer approached me. From his demeanor and uniform I gathered he was probably the senior officer in the group. He asked if I would mind looking through the house to see what was missing. Still stunned, I staggered through my wreck of a house. It took me a second to identify what was bugging me.
I kept asking myself, "Where have I seen this before?" Then it came to me, "Randolph's family den!"
Shelving the image, I refocused on what was actually amiss. As I wandered thought my house I told the officer truthfully that I didn't see anything missing. I kept little around the house that was valuable enough to be stolen -- my real assets were in my equipment and business. Basically the house was completely tossed, trashed and generally torn up. The police officer guided me through some now familiar questions. Once he'd heard I had just been mugged the night before, something shifted. They let Kyle return to work and René had stayed with me at first. But he really needed to go back and be with his brother. I had asked Kyle to return to the office after I mechanically signed whatever it was that Janice had sent over for me. To my relief, they both left without seeing what a horror my house was. The police didn't want their fingerprints messing up the scene.
The cop's attitude was obviously different once I'd given him the news that I'd been mugged. Bothered by the change, I asked him straight out, "What did I say?"
With a smug air of world-weary boredom he looked up from the dining room table where he sat writing out a report and shook his head slowly from side to side. He put his pen down and looked at me over the tops of his reading glasses. The smile on his lips didn't reach his hard eyes as they met mine.
Taking on the tone of a college professor seeking to educate a reluctant student he said, "Well, Ms. Hagen, we find muggers are often upset by the sparseness of a victim's possessions. What with all the identity thefts up folks just have to call a single number mostly and they cut off all their credit lines -- you know. That's if the cards aren't already maxed out over their limits. So cut to your criminal types, once they've pawed through a purse and found not much in the way of money and canceled cards they get a mite angry. They usually need fast money, for drugs or bad debts of their own they've run up with folks not so understanding late payments -- what have you, they figure you owe them something. The perps take the address off the victim's driver license and either sell it or use it for themselves."
He paused to take a breath and tapped his pen between his fingers nervously onto the nearly completed form, "So your friend, the French guy, said that you had just come from the hospital, right? This particular perp had all night to toss your place by himself or even with some of his loser friends. It may take days to discover what's missing. We'll go talk with your neighbors in the off chance they noticed something out of the ordinary. Was your husband here last night?" looking at my simple wedding band, "Is he expected home anytime soon?"
Meeting his eyes I nervously twisted my ring while answering, "His family had a sudden death. He's been staying over there."
After getting the phone number and address of Randolph's family, he was hailed by one of the policemen exploring the ruin. Numbly I sat down at the dining room table while the officer went back to see what was wrong.
"Miss, could you please join us?" A voice called out from the hall. I walked back to find a cluster of uniforms in the back office.
Somehow more police had arrived while I was answering questions for the report. They parted to allow me through. Strewn around the floor underneath clothing and books were glossy magazines and pictures. It took my brain a minute to process the flesh colored slick shots into what they were -- hard-core pornography. Stunned, I looked at the array of magazines with men and boys performing extremely graphic sexual acts on each other and with other unseen pieces of human flesh. From the dates blurring before my eyes only one or two of them were older than a year or so most of them seem to be pretty recent publications.
I was sick and shaking as I noticed that there was a young man with an angelic face and twinkling eyes peering out from many of the pages scattered opened on the floor that bore a striking resemblance to Randolph. Those pages were more worn and not as glossy as the magazines with the newer visible dates. I never had seen any of those pieces of filth before, and crimsoned under the rather cynical looks from some nearby officers.
However, embarrassed, I slowly returned with the lead officer to my dining room after having gone through my decimated kitchen. My brain flashed on the chaos I'd just seen. The slick sexually bizarre magazines and my destroyed kitchen blended somehow sickly in my soul. Flour, sugar and grains were scattered underfoot. Frozen foods had been dumped into the sink and a knife still was stuck into the middle of a bag of fish. He explained to me as I walked through that some people hid valuables in such areas and most thieves were aware of such places.
He detoured me though the master bedroom and I saw that my clothing had been ripped out of the closets and dresser and were slashed and torn. Randolph's shirts and pants were also tossed around but it appeared to me that there were far less than usual. I discounted my self-involved thoughts as personalizing the randomness of the destroyed clothing as only being mine, figuring he must not have picked up his dry cleaning lately, so there was more of mine there to trash.
It didn't matter; I still felt violated and screwed yet again. I was missing my purse, cell phone and now my safety in my own home. This wasn't good.
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