It has been a very strange past 5 weeks, oh hell let’s not limit it to the last 5 weeks given my 9 year old daughter’s life threatening accident a year and half ago and Katrina. Life has been interesting… On top of all that trial and nearly being at the end of the garage conversion to a master bedroom bath, pictured here I have been trying to get everything switched over to my new WordPress blog at my new domain http://pierrelegrand.net/ And just because Murphy is a real bastard he went and threw something else on top of the heap just to keep my attention you know.
The story begins
About 3 or 4 months ago I was working alone on the conversion. The wifey and 3 children were away at the store and being a good and diligent honey doer I was working hard to finish the conversion. It was past dark when out of the corner of my eye I spot someone looking in the window facing the backyard. Startled me a bit, but being Mister Friendly Neighbor I figured it must be one of my neighbors taking a look-see at the hammering. So I went to the French doors, yeah I am pretty good at this stuff, opened them up and said hello to my visitor. It turned out to be a person we knew though I probably should not say how. He was not a neighbor and no friend.
Because the natural human impulse is to not understand when you are standing in the middle of a crime, unless there are loud noises and pain, I invited this “person” into the garage/master bedroom. By this time the used to be garage was looking more like a master bedroom and less like a garage. We talked about the conversion and our children, he has a son who went to school with a couple of my children. Friendly enough but like I said you usually don’t realize what is going on till later.
Recollection of a crime from 28 years ago.
Like the time when my childhood best friend came to “visit” me in Las Vegas 28 years ago. It was slightly unusual to get a call from him saying that he was in town because last I had heard he had been sentenced to life in prison/mental institution in Texas for the murder of his wife. Stabbed her 42 or more times then tried to take his own life by slashing his wrists and failed. Told me he had gotten out early and being about 23 years old this sounded reasonable. Wanted to know if I could pick him up at his motel. Sure.
Went to the motel and asked for his room number using his name. No one registered under that name. Hmmm…are those alarm bells I hear? Nah. Caught up with him in the parking lot of the MGM where I worked as a supervisor of the mail room. It was around lunch time so we decided to pick up Emily (ex wife) who worked in acct at the MGM and go to Macayo’s on Paradise for some Mexican. On the way to get her from the accounting office I asked him how he got out of the hospital, told me he walked out the front gate. He had escaped. There began one of the strangest and nearly funny lunches I’ve had in my life.
In an absolutely packed restaurant he described how the murder happened and that he was ok as long as he took his pills. Nervous giggles around the table..hmmm. Not sure what my face looked like but looking around at the tables was a real study in human reaction. At the end of lunch I felt like I was in the middle of one of those Merrill Lynch commercials where everyone stops talking to listen. Right about this time it struck me that I was in the middle of a felony. Neato. It didn’t strike somewhat dense Emily. Admittedly he was a charmer except for those electric blue eyes that looked like something you might see staring back at you from the cover of a book about mass murderers.
It might be time to mention that he and I had done Judo nearly all of our lives and I didn’t relish the thought of having to take him down should the need arise. Though I used to beat him that was before his acquiring vast amounts of spare time to work out with weights in prison/hospital.
So then after lunch we are driving back to the hotel and I am trying to figure out ways of having this nut-case put back into jail and out of the blue Emily asks him if he wants to stay overnight at our house. hehe….ooops. Hope his prescription is fully filled. Drop him off in the Casino, give him a few bucks to tide him over till we get off work. Walked Emily back to the acct office. As soon as the elevator doors close I look at her and ask her exactly what was on her mind inviting an escaped murderer to stay overnight in our house. Right up till that moment she had no idea she was in the middle of a crime, she burst into tears. Sometimes crime is hard to recognize but thats not really the point I wanted to make with this little missive….though it is a good one to consider.
Back to present day 4 months ago
So I tell my wife about the knucklehead looking into the backyard window and she then informs me that this person has shown up in the driveway a couple of times in the past. Oh nice. So for the next couple of weeks I am nervous and leaving work at various times to check on my house which isn’t so far away. I work splits both night and day. Weeks turn into months and I forget about the incident.
Things get serious
4 Weeks ago my eldest daughter comes into the living room about 9:00pm and complains that when she was in the bathroom she heard someone in the backyard. I saddle up with a flashlight and for safety’s sake I slip my holster containing my Springfield .45 stainless GI model onto my belt. Out the beautiful French doors into the backyard looking to see what is up.
No one back there, naturally. But up against the back wall by the bathroom I see one of my plastic lawn chairs right up against the wall. You know like someone might have been using it to look into the window. Isn’t that neat. Then I make a much more interesting discovery, the bathroom window lock latch has been broken and the window merely swings open, nice and quiet like. Now I am getting the same feeling that I had in the restaurant when I figured out I was in the middle of a crime. I call the wifey out and scare the beejesus out of her with the broken window latch. Checking the other windows I find another one in a similar condition…aluminum windows about 50 years old, made when you trusted people. This window in the living room. Wow.
The next morning I pull out the screw gun and stick some sheet-metal screws into the windows. We are gonna replace the windows soon anyway.
Being aware of your surroundings
So the next night I am driving home and in front of me a guy is beating the tar out of the woman sitting next to him in the car. What a spectacle. They stop. I stop, naturally. He really starts wailing into her. Gets out of the car and walks around the car opens the door and starts kicking her. Wow impressive. I am parked about 20 feet away in a parking lot that I pulled into to call the police. Another car is in front of me and the guy beating the crap out of his driving partner goes over to that car and from the looks of it ask the driver what the hell he is looking at. I reach into the glove box to recover my holstered .45, just in case. At the same time I am talking to 911 telling the dispatcher what is going on. The guy looks at me talking and instead of walking over to me starts to run over to a Burger King in that same parking lot. This is too much, I follow him giving updates on appearance and the perp’s position the entire time. Police arrive, perp arrested.
Back to the Main story
So about 2 days later on Thursday night I get a call on my cell at work. My wife calling from home and she is clearly upset. There is a strange white male lurking in the shadows. She said she saw him as she got out of the car in our driveway. I tell her that I am on the way, run out of the building and get into my MPV Mazda (Kid Bus) to see if all that crap about Zoom Zoom is true. Pull the holstered .45 out of my glove box and check to make sure the Mag lite I keep in the holster works, it does.
Normally it takes about 5 minutes with no traffic for me to get home. Tonight it takes me about 3 minutes of fairly fast driving and fortuitous lights to reach home. Zoom Zoom. As I pass my house the front door is closed and appears secure. I pull into my driveway and those beautiful French Doors are also secure. Chamber a round, flip the safety on and exit the car.
Now I have my light in my left hand and the .45 is in my right hand in condition one, with my trigger finger laying across the top of trigger guard so as to force me to deliberately act if I pull the trigger. Thumb on the safety ready to act if the need arises. As I make my way all the way across my 275 feet of backyard it occurs to me that I am hunting a man. Going through the yard I check to make sure the windows are secure and there are not any signs of forced entry. None and no sign of the bad guy. I can hear my kids inside and they sound ok, it occurs to me that I messed up in not checking to make sure he wasn’t inside first, aside from my checking the doors.
I walk back to those beautiful French doors and holster the cannon. When I walk inside I call out to make sure that my wife hasn’t loaded up the shotgun. Didn’t want to be a friendly fire “accident”, not likely but I had shown her how to load my .20 gauge a while back. I put the holstered .45 on top of the refrigerator since the household sounds normal.
When I reach the living room my wife is talking to 911. The babysitter is sitting on the couch looking like she hopes that bastard comes into the house so she can lay a Columbian ass-whipping on him, my son the youngest and the girls are building forts out of sofa cushions to ward off the bad guy. My little boy is walking around with his 3 year old chest puffed out saying he is gonna get the bad guy. hehe…He’s got my back!
My wife gets off the phone with the police, amazed that I am home so fast. She tells me that I must have just missed him since she hadn’t been on the phone long when she heard me call out. Then she told me what happened as she drove up to the house.
She said she got out of the car in the driveway which is on the opposite side of the yard from the perp’s position. Since our yard is very big apparently the perp didn’t think she could see him in the shadows the trees since the street light was out. He walked towards the front door, changed his mind, turned around walked back to the corner, then turned around again and walked back towards the front gate leading to our front door. At the point where he was nearly to the front gate he stopped then turned around again and walked back to the corner. My wife went inside. Told Andrea, our terrific babysitter, what was happening and asked her to gather up the kids. She then went to the girls room that is closest to that side of the yard he was walking in front of and noticed that while there was not anyone there the swings were moving as if someone had just walked by.
She went into our bedroom and immediately walked to the window. She cracked the curtains just in time to see the perp walking in a crouched position right under our window. Luckily the lights were out so he didn’t know he had been observed. At that point she had a description and she went to phone the police.
Apparently the noise from my arrival must have scared him away since he exited our property before my wife had given a description to the police. We know this from the police officer who spotted him near our house. Not having a description he didn’t stop him. But as soon as my wife was able to get the description to the dispatcher the officer turned around to go talk to him since he did fit the description. By the time he had turned around the perp had run pretty far and the officer commented that was very strange behavior. He stopped him and to make a very long story somewhat shorter we had caught the same person who my wife had seen in the driveway a couple of times and the same person who had been staring into my back windows. Busted.
Later on that week I see him while riding my bike at the LSU Lakes. I had a chat with him and his dad, who had come down to help his son get out of this mess. In a easy tone of voice I told him that he had to leave town. It was a calm conversation where I pointed out the obvious, he was not the victim, my children who were refusing to sleep anywhere but next to mom were the victims. Furthermore that we had decided not to press charges because we didn’t want to ruin his life and more importantly his son’s life. (btw this was one of the recommendations talked about in several FBI Profiling books a friend gave, give them an out and if they have family, he did, they may take it and leave you alone, otherwise stalkers can go on for years sometimes with tragic results) In no uncertain terms I let him know that this was his chance to remake his life into something better than lurking around in the shadows, staring into bathroom windows.
His father assured me that he was in therapy. It bothered me, and I said so, that he had lied to me when I first saw him that day. When I first rode up both he and his dad had turned away which forced me to stop, I had been undecided till then. When I stopped he turned around and I asked him what was up. He tried to say that this was the first time this he had done this sort of thing which was a lie. I told his dad that if he was telling these sorts of lies to the therapist then it was my guess the therapy would merely be a cover to hide his derangement. I then outlined all the events including the broken window latches and the chair pushed up to the bathroom window, I hope his dad related all of this to the therapist.
He took the opportunity to leave town, selling his house and moving away with his wife and child. Now he is gone and for the first time in weeks I am not sleeping on the couch with one eye open and the cannon nearby. For the first time in weeks I am stopping to realize the implications of what I was doing in the backyard that night with my .45. For the first time in my life I understand what a lie it is to say that handguns are useless and dangerous. I was there before the police even after having to drive home. Not the fault of the police but the merely the result of this fact, no one is more enthusiastic about defending my family than me. That is the way it should be. For those who doubt that sort of sentiment read this little missive “A Nation of Cowards“.
On the other hand it gives me tremendous pause to consider just how close I was that night to a decision on whether to shoot or not. Because we didn’t arrest him we don’t know whether he was armed or not, at least the officer didn’t mention frisking him. Given the sequence of events I missed coming upon this freak by perhaps seconds. At night with a flashlight as my guide I would have had to make a decision on whether he was dangerous or not. I am glad it didn’t come to that sort of decision but given my attitude I am confident that I would not have been impetuous.
Clean up on Aisle 11
- Childhood friend who visited me in Vegas is out of jail and living somewhere. Reportedly he wasn’t very happy with me for having put him back into jail. Isn’t the legal system peachy? Btw this was in Texas where they are supposed to be tough on crime.
- My Daughter completely recovered except for some adhesion problems which manifests as a stomach ache from time to time.
- Wifey is absolutely confident in loading the shotgun these days. Prefers that to the .45 which is handy since I prefer the .45.
- The kids have settled down now that I told them the bad man has moved away. Both the girls sleep in their own bed. My son still has not moved out of our bed but that is our choice. Yea we are one of those strange families that allow our children to sleep with us till they get right around my son’s age.
- If you are going to carry a weapon spend some time thinking about the implications of what you may have to do. Yes it is good to have the option of stopping a bad guy but regardless it is still an awesome responsibility that macho crap doesn’t cover very well. Consider that had I come across this freak I might have shot a father of a darling child. If that doesn’t make you pause for a second then don’t own a weapon.
I am hoping that these exciting times are over…but given my penchant for spotting trouble I doubt it. One day when we are standing around drinking a fine glass of Romanee Conti, Domaine La Tache, let me tell you about the time I caught a women fleeing the scene of a hit and run. She had a baby carriage stuck under her car…drunk out of her mind at 10:00am…what is that Chinese curse “May you live in exciting times”!