Thursday, December 08, 2005

I've been around the world at least once. Seen a thing or two. But last night trumped everything.

We live in a fairly rural area, though we live minutes from an incorporated city. I call it “the town”. Most east coast people would agree—it's just not big enough to even consider calling it a city. But, true enough to the moniker “city”, it has its problems.

The Boy Scouts meet at a school that doesn't really fall in the city. Technically it's within city limits, but “the city” is main street (the longest in the US) and a few tangental streets. It's not a big city by any measure. The church is way up on a hill and way on the outskirts.

Just as the Scout meeting was ending, a guy strode in and sat at the Scoutmaster's table. Later, the three of us who had the testiclees to deal with the situation all agreed that we at first thought he was a new parent.

Well, after calmly walking in and sitting down, our guest suddenly announced that there'd been shooting and he was afraid that his brother was dead. Everyone pretty much froze—what was this all about? Then he started demanding that we lock the doors. I knew full well things weren't right and dialed 911. The operator confirmed that there had been a shooting and asked me to sit on the guy we had until the police picked him up. Another guy called 911 just after me, and we had concurrent conversations with the operator.

Meanwhile, parents right and left just said “screw it” and bolted. Can't really blame them. It's my nature to insert myself into these situations, so I stayed.

The police never showed up for the guy, so I called again and the dispatcher told me everyone was at the scene and she didn't know when a car would be available. While I was having this conversation the 75-year old Scoutmaster simply shut the place down. I don't know if he was oblivious or cranky and didn't give a hoot. Either is entirely possible. Plans were hastily made that I would drive the guy to the police and another couple would take my son and meet me at the station. While we made those plans the only two other fathers with any nads took the guy and put him in a car. Andy, a mountain of a man, sat behind the guy. I followed them to the station just as extra security.

When we got there, the guy's change in demeanor was astonishing. The guy who had been chewing on his coat and moaning that he thought his brother was dead became downright belligerent. The detective was absolutely unflappable, though. She told him his brother was ok (turns out she lied—he was killed) and got on with taking our information. Then he demanded access to his car (in which his brother was shot) so he could get his cell phone (because his contacts are in it, my wife reminded me). She told him he wasn't getting in his car any time soon. Then he started asking for water. The detective said she'd get him a glass of water and he demanded bottled water. I snapped at that point and started laying into his sorry butt. He'd used us. He was neck-deep in whatever got his brother killed (drugs, undoubtedly), he played on our sympathy even though he probably hated us, and now he was playing games while his brother laid somewhere bleeding. The detective reminded me that I was done, so I sheepishly removed myself from the station.

Someday I'll learn about trying to help people. Meanwhile, I'll shed no tears if the shooter manages to catch up with that guy, too.

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