The Neighborhood Watchman
© Sharon Perkins July 15, 2013
Just a side note on this story… This is fictional piece written in the style of Law & Order, Criminal Minds, etc. While some facets of the narrative may match recent events, it is just that – a story. I did want to show that every story has two sides. This is the other person’s side of the tale. I hope you like it!
Despite the fence meant to keep the bad seeds out, lately there’s been a rash of robberies in my nice community. But I’ll be damned if some snot-nosed kids are going to ruin it. I’m part of our neighborhood watch program and plan to help us get back the crime-free neighborhood we had when I moved here.
I’m driving home when I spot the guy. He’s wearing light-colored jeans and a dark hoodie, which is pulled over his head and makes his upper body and face indistinguishable. From my vantage point it’s obvious he’s up to no good. I remember my training, and dial 911 from my cell.
It’s going to take the cops a while to get here, it always does. The 911 operator insists they need a street name. I can’t remember these damn street names. I don’t need signs to find my house.
“I need to get out to see the street name,” I tell her curtly.
“Sir, I’ve notified the police and they are on their way. Stay in the car sir. Help is on the way.”
The figure has noticed me. I can tell he’s about to bolt. Not on my watch he’s not! I quickly exit my vehicle. I’m in pursuit now, trying at the same time to read the street sign.
“These damn kids always get away with this stuff,” I mutter to her. “He’s going to get away!”
I’ve seen it happen a million times. There’s no justice in this world. Little thieves and vandals running wild all over the damn place. Well, not in my neighborhood. Not anymore. I’ll see to that.
It’s hard to talk on the phone and give chase at the same time. The operator is saying something to me. Same old, same old; she wants me to return to my car. “The cops are on the way,” I hear her say.
“It’ll be too late!”
The shadow I’m following falls out of my line of sight and I can’t see him. I’m a little apprehensive but decide to continue on. The little prick wasn’t going to get off that easy. I walk past some bushes and over to a different street. I can see a street name and relay it to the 911 gal. She again requests I return to my car.
I continue, around a curve and around again. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the criminal.
“Maybe I scared him off,” I decide, and start walking back the way I came. It will make the girl on the phone happy if I’m back in my vehicle.
I’m deciding that’s what I’ll do when I hear a noise; a rustling that I can’t quite make out. I can’t see anyone or anything. It’s really dark.
“Damn, I should have brought my flashlight.” I curse to myself.
It’s eerie. Every sound gives me a start. I put my hand on my gun, anticipating. Worried.
Suddenly I’m knocked to the ground. I can’t make out a face but I’m sure it’s the delinquent I’ve been following. He punches me, lifts my head and slams it down. I hear the sound of my own skull hitting the pavement. And again.
Oh my God. I’m struggling. He’s on top of me. Pounding. Beating. I try to push him off but I can’t seem to manage it. He’s screaming. I’m not sure why. He’s got the better of me. Maybe I’m screaming.
I’m really worried. I’ve never been this frightened in my entire life. I’m strong. I’m the terrifying one. No one is supposed to overcome me but it happened so quickly. He had the element of surprise.
My head hits the cement again. Hard. Survival seems unlikely. My lovely wife. I can’t do this to her. I can’t die on this sidewalk. I’m suddenly sorry for everything I’ve ever done to her. The fights, the abuse, my mean spirit. It’s not who I am – I swear it’s not. Life had hardened me and the thought made me sad.
I remember the firearm. My hand is still clasping it which surprises me. It’s no easy task but after some maneuvering I manage to get it out of my jacket pocket. I shoot him at the same moment his fist hits my face. There was no way I’d miss with him so close. The guy slumps down and I’m finally able to push him off.
He lands facing upwards. His eyes stare at the night sky. His mouth is gaped open. He’s so young. He looks like an innocent child.
I’m gasping for air, hyperventilating, shaking and holding the weapon tight – waiting for him to move, to pounce on me again.
The police have arrived. I realize the one I was chasing moments before is dead. I killed him. I never meant for this to happen. I should have listened. I should have stayed in my car.
They are saying he lived in the neighborhood. I’m distraught. No, that’s not right. He was up to no good. He was about to rob someone’s house. He was planning to steal something.
The cops find out he was visiting his dad and stepmom who live a few streets over. Why didn’t the stupid kid just run home? Why’d he have to hide and jump me like that?
I’d been so angry. I knew he was going to get away and I was certain he was going to do something bad. I had let the recent robberies in my community cloud my judgment. I let my temper get the better of me and now I’ve killed another human being.
His parents come. An officer is holding the child’s dad back. I can tell he wants blood – mine. I’m ashamed of my actions. His stepmom is crying. A young, frightened-looking child holds tight to her leg.
I remember my own fear, a short time ago, when I believed I was going to die. I survived, but now…I’m certain my life is over.