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Stepping off the curb an immaculately dressed woman hails an approaching cab. “Taxi!”

The approaching yellow cab changes lanes and stops abruptly. The driver, a middle age man in the standard cabbies livery of black slacks and pressed white dress shirt, steps out and opens the rear door.

“Where to?”

Shepherding her four children into the back seat with a shhh and a nudge, “Please take us to the nearest police station.”

“Yes ma’am. Do you want the RCMP[1] station in Newton[2] or Whalley[3]? Whalley’s closer but it’s not exactly a nice place for the little ones if you know what I mean.”

“Newton, then.”

“We’ll be there in ten, no fifteen minutes- if the traffic holds.”

“Thank you, but we’re in no rush.”

Taking his seat the driver adjusts the rear view mirror, turns off the radio and starts the meter.

“You know you could have called 911[4]. That’s what 911 is for. Emergencies- you know for when things get out of hand at home.”

“What makes you think anything’s out of hand?” sounding more aloof that she intended.

“Ma’am…you’re dressed for an upscale job interview, but you have all these children with you like you can’t trust to leave them at home.  That, and it’s the dead of winter in Canada and you’re wearing big sunglasses that hide half your face.”

“Not a very good disguise then?”

“The clothes were a good idea. Looking like a professional business woman might get you taken seriously. Of course it could backfire too. Try to get a female officer if you can. Ask for one if you have to. ”

“I’ll do that. Thanks for the advice.”

“Here we are. Newton RCMP. Good luck.”

****************

Herding her children in front of her like ducklings on an adventure, “Please hold hands now. We don’t want to lose anyone.”

The police officer[5] at the front desk appeared disinterested and bored out of his dimwitted mind. Glancing up from a pile of paperwork, obviously irked by the interruption, his attention focused briefly on the woman and a huddled mass of fidgety little kids. All four kids appeared well dressed and scrubbed clean like the mother, and under the age of seven. Great! I can add brat-sitting to my list of to do’s today. 

In a tone of mild contempt he uttered, “Well? Why are you here?”

“I want to report a crime. My husband…”

Holding his hand up to stop her from spewing the entire sordid story all over his pristine lobby, he indicated a row of uncomfortable plastic yellow chairs “Miss, if you and your children would wait right over there I’ll find an RCMP officer to take your statement.”

“Could that be a female officer?”

The officer turned away absent-mindedly brushing crumbs from his uniform, tossing an “I’ll see what I can do.” over his shoulder as his attention returned to his mountain of paperwork.

****************

A few minutes later she overheard the desk officer speaking with another man.

“Hey Mike! Got a minute to take a statement? There’s a woman in the lobby with a pack of kids, said something about her husband and some crime she wanted to report.”

****************

“Miss. Officer Mitchell[6] will be right with you.”

“Thank you. But if it’s not too much trouble I really would prefer to speak to a female officer. ”

“Miss, I’m sure Mike here can address your concerns and take your statement. He’s a good guy and he’s been on the police force forever. ”

****************

“Hello Miss, I’m Officer Mitchell. Could we step into this office so that you can speak freely without worrying about your children overhearing anything that may upset them?”

“Sara Smith[7], please call me Sara. But my children…”

“The front desk officer will supervise the kids, and they can see you through the window so they’ll know you’re close at hand.”

“I guess that would be ok.” Sara nods at the man at the desk.

Addressing her children, “Be good and mind what the policeman tells you. I’ll be right over there talking to this nice officer. I won’t be long.” She points to the adjacent office windows.

****************

Officer Mitchell escorts the woman through the door shutting it tightly behind him. As she settles herself into a chair, he takes a few moments to evaluate the young woman. She appears to be twenty-seven to thirty years of age. Attractive, blonde, average height and build. Four kids, obviously hers. Claims to be married. Overdressed, trying hard to impress others? Controlled and nervous, but that may be due to her leaving the children alone in the lobby. With the usual marks on the right side of the face and head. In his mind he summarizes his assessment, the woman looks like a typical Monday afternoon domestic abuse report.

Officer Mitchell knows that- nine times out of nine- after the report’s filed the case is dropped because the victim refuses to press charges. The abuser apologizes and promises to never do it again. Oh baby I’m so sorry. Case closed. Total waste of time. With this foregone conclusion in mind Officer Mitchell launches into his interrogation.

“So Mrs. Smith, looks like you’re dating a southpaw[8]. What’d you do to piss him off? ”

“Nothing. My husband Greg, Greg Smith[9], came home late and his dinner was cold. He got angry and hit me.”

“Cold dinner. That’s it?”

“Yes.”

“Lady I’ve been doing this a long time and a man doesn’t beat his wife just because his dinners cold. He’s usually got a list of excuses. You’re sure that’s the whole story?”

“Yes. He came home around midnight, got angry and started hitting me. ”

“Where were your kids when this happened?”

“They were in bed asleep. Bedtime’s at 9.”

“So the kids didn’t witness the event?”

“No. Nothing.” she silently prayed that this was true.

“Mrs. Smith I’ll have to speak with your husband Greg to get his take on the evening’s events. There’s two sides to every story you know.”

Pointing to the right side of her face, bruises blooming around her right eye, cheek and jawbone,

“Well Officer, I’d like to talk about this side.”


[1] Royal Canadian Mounted Police- total misnomer as most drive patrol cars and wouldn’t know the business end of a horse if it bit them. Canadians call their police force Mounties.

[2] Newton-A dodgy neighborhood in South Surrey, British Columbia.  Between White Rock and Vancouver.

[3] Whalley-(Wally)- An even dodgier more dangerous neighborhood of Surrey, north of Newton.

[4] North American # to call in an emergency for assistance. You’re kidding me right?

[5] Identity unknown, and unimportant.

[6] RCMP Officer Mike Mitchell is a figment of my imagination derived from Jeff Foxworthy’s anecdotal references to Officer Mitchell in his “You might be a Redneck” routine.

[7] Sara Smith-not the wife’s real name.

[8] Left handed boxer.

[9] Greg Smith –not the husband’s real name.

Author’s note and official disclaimer: Although written in present tense, this event occurred more than 20 years ago. All names have been changed and dialogue has been recreated to tell the story. The events recorded are sadly not altered in any way.

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