Monday, January 23, 2006

Knock, Knock! Who's there?

The news story about the guy sneaking out of the hospital reminded me of a story of my own. This is a true story and it happened about ten years ago. I was still married at the time and living about four blocks away from Mercy Hospital. It was late and I had gone to bed, but I wasn’t asleep yet. My husband was still up watching TV, which was unusual because he almost always went to bed before me.

Our bedroom was right next to the front door, and the bed was right next to the window, so as I was drifting off to sleep I heard someone walk up the steps and knock on the door. I didn’t think much of it, figuring it was a friend stopping in to say hello. I heard voices for a minute, and then my husband came into the room and told me I needed to get up. He said there was a lady at the door and that she needed help.

When I walked into the living room I found a woman who was in really bad shape. Her shirt was ripped, her bra was exposed, and she feebly tried to keep herself covered with one arm while the other was very clearly broken. Her face was bruised and bloody, and she had scratches and cuts all over the place. Nearly hysterical she told me her boyfriend had beaten her up and that she had run to get away from him. When I told her we needed to call the police she became very agitated and begged me not to. Hoping to calm her down, I went and found a T-shirt for her to put on, and showed her to the bathroom so she could clean up. While she was in there, I grabbed the phone and headed to the back of the house.

I wasn’t sure if I should dial 911 or not, since there wasn’t really a pressing emergency, so I decided to just call the regular phone number. After a few rings someone answered and I explained that an injured woman had come to my door claiming her boyfriend beat her up. “Where do you live?” the operator asked. When I told him there was a short pause and then I was told the police were on the way and to stay on the line. Puzzled, I stood there waiting for further instructions, when all of the sudden I heard what sounded like a dozen helicopters buzzing around the house. It had literally only been a minute, maybe two, from the time I called. A couple of seconds later the door bell rang. I was still holding the phone when my husband opened the door and a stream of policemen poured in. There must have been five or six cop cars outside clogging the street.

Around the same time the cops showed up, the woman emerged from the bathroom and they immediately pounced on her. They grabbed her, handcuff her hands behind her back (broken arm and all), and led her outside to one of the vehicles. Confused, I tried to stop them, explaining that this was the woman who needed help, and asking why they had arrested her. That’s when I found out what had really happened.

The woman had been fighting with her boyfriend when she shot and killed him. The police had taken her to the hospital to treat her wounds before taking her to jail, and she slipped out the door while they weren’t looking. That was the reason they were able to respond so quickly – they were already searching the neighborhood for her.

The moral of the story? Don’t let strange ladies into our house in the middle of the night OR if you ever get arrested, pray they stop by a hospital first.