As I was coming home from Carthage on Wednesday and passed through the intersection of Braun Rd. and Wood Rd, I couldn’t help but notice several police cars about a block south on Wood Rd. parked on both sides of the street, with lights flashing. It looked a little strange – and actually rather spectacular – and I almost turned around for another pass so I could snap a picture or two, or at least to take another peek, but I was almost home and had voice lessons to teach, so I continued on my way. It was not until the news later that night that Kathy and I first heard the astonishing news- that those police cars parked on Wood Rd. were there because someone had been found outside one of those homes- the apparent victim of a homicide. And this was a home that was not even a mile from our house.
I’m pretty sure that Kathy and I had the same initial reaction- who did this? Why? And where are they now? And as we continued to watch the news, I think both of us were also stealing glances out of our family room windows which face south. All we would have to do is walk through our backyard, along the driveway of our neighbors to the south, cross Braun Rd., and we would be on Wood Rd – where this killing occurred. And suddenly the ravine which borders our house to the east and which we have always loved seemed like the perfect hiding place for a fugitive. And suddenly living at the very end of a dead end, relatively secluded, felt very different than it ever has before.
I’m glad that I had something to do yet that evening. It was the 14th, and the deadline for me to get my registration in for the upcoming NATS vocal competition. Entries must be postmarked no later than the 14th, so I was busy as I always am on the deadline date, finishing up my paperwork- writing the check, preparing the envelops, and then driving myself to the 24-hour post office by the Milwaukee Airport in order to get the entries properly postmarked. (It’s like April 15th for voice teachers- or at least for voice teachers like me who wait until the last minute.) But as I began work on all that at the kitchen table, I found myself glancing out the window again and again. . . and feeling a kind of fear that I haven’t ever felt before- a fear of an unknown yet tangible threat who might be lurking out there. It was only very gradually that it dawned on me that the body had been found much earlier in the day (the squad cars I had seen at 6 were just finishing up their investigation) and that the murder might have occurred even 24 hours earlier. . . and slowly my fear abated a bit. So did Kathy’s, because when I asked if she wanted to ride along with me to the post office, she said she would rather just go to bed. The only sort of concession she made to anything being out of the ordinary was when she said “but make sure you let me know when you’re back. I want to know you’re back home.”
So I drove to the airport myself. (I thought for a second about bringing the dogs along for a little joyride, but of course realized that they needed to be home with Kathy. Fierce watchdogs they are not, but I think an intruder would think twice about entering a house with two good-sized dogs there.) I got there about 11:40 – about average for me – took care of the transaction, and then headed home, with a quick stop at Wendy’s. . . not because I was hungry but because I needed some more interaction with someone, even if it was to say “no thanks, no fries- just the sandwich.” And when I got home about 12:40 or so, all was dark – and not the peaceful, tranquil dark of a normal night. . . but at least the place was feeling more like home again. . . and not like a scene from some television drama. But deep down in the marrow of my bones, that fear is still there, lurking like the proverbial bad guy in the bushes.