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8:50. Rain drizzles down and out of the storm drains all around me. The water drips down the side of the looming brick buildings surrounding the alley way. Windows line the walls starting at ground level working their way up to the sky. Footsteps steadily squish through the damp, spongy ground in front of and behind me. All I can hear is the echo and I see nothing but darkness and faint shadows ahead. I can make out the shadows, looming tall, they are the few blokes that I have halfheartedly followed to this discrete location. The long shadows in front of me grind to a halt and I nearly crash into them. There is a loud cracking noise. My eyes adjust, two of the men begin to break the wood of a window frame to the left of us. 8:55. I turn to a fellow next to me.
“What if they wake up?”
“No one is home.” He spits his gum on the ground next to me and growls. I don’t dare ask another question. I cross my arms and hunch over, backing away slow. I look back and watch as the window is pried from its white encasement. It leaves a dark, seemingly endless, gaped hole in the brick wall. What if they come home early? What if the neighbors hear us? Any minor mess up could blow this entire operation out of the water and yet, we have worked so hard.
The lead man, Esteban, turns to another a man close by and whispers something in his ear and then motions in my direction. The man nods slowly, maneuvering his way towards me, I cower in fear. Pushing past the bloke in front of me and grabbing my arm, the man pulls me forward, and nearly rips my arm out of its socket. Esteban wraps his arm around my shoulder and the other man lets go. He tussles my blond hair, which I have put up into a makeshift bun.
“You first, poppet.” He says as he thrusts me through the dismantled window. I crash through the hole and over a desk, knocking trinkets and knick-knacks onto the floor. I land on the hard carpeted floor and nearly get the wind knocked out of me. Slowly I rise uneasily nodding towards the gaping hole leading outside. Esteban signals with two fingers for the group of men to enter. He lumbers into the room like he owns the place and barks orders in every direction. I cringe as he yells, someone is bound to hear us.
“See, that wasn’t so bad.” Esteban walks by, patting me on the shoulder. I am paralyzed with fear, afraid to breathe in case someone were to detect my anxiety and rat me out. I glance at a clock on the wall. 8:58. Time to move. I casually duck into a small bedroom and pretend to rummage through an open jewelry box. I look at a clock sitting on the dresser, 8:59. When no one is looking, I lunge for the bed and slide under it and listen as faint sirens grow louder. The group of men throughout the house seem not to notice.
9:00 and there is a faint cracking from what seems to be the front door. Thud, thud, thud CRACK! The door breaks down and a herd of people, dressed in blue, storms in. Dozens of black boots swarm the area and all hell breaks loose. Men are being thrust to the ground and against the walls. Things crash to the floor and the men grunt as they try to fight back. Seconds later, all is quiet and the blokes I arrived with are either corralled out the door or dragged. I wait a few more seconds and come out from under the bed. I peer around the corner and see a tall officer standing in the room.
“There you are, ma’am. Without your undercover work, we would have never caught them.” He smiles at me. I dust myself off and nod. I can’t show my fear, my gratitude, or my pride. I whisk past him, showing no emotion.
“Are you okay, ma’am?” The officer places his hand on my shoulder and I turn around.
“Yes, I’m fine. No one is hurt and I just want to go home and sleep.” I walk out the door without looking back. There is still the officers’ lingering presence and stare as I walk down the street and get in my car. I take the gun holster out of the glove box and wrap it around my waist. I drive away, knowing that I am still being watched.
I arrive at my home and proceed to the the front door. I hear a rustle in the bushes of my flower bed. I hesitate and then I dive, quick, to the door frame as a bullet whizzes past my head. I reach for the gun in the holster on the right side of my belt. I turn, point the gun, and aim it at a small shadow that is peering from behind the bush. Bang! The shadow slumps to the ground. I reach in my pocket for my cell phone and dial 911.
When all is said and done, the body is removed and all the officers have left the scene. I can finally enjoy the safe, privacy of my own home. I go into my bedroom and remove my gun holster. I place it on the night table next to my bed. Without changing my clothes, I crawl under the dense covers and fall into a deep sleep, satisfied with the days work.
No more than a minute goes by when my face grows warm. I feel the light burning my retinas through my eyelids. I blindly reach for the gun on my nightstand, no avail. With a flutter, my eyes open to the harsh light, which I immediately try to shut out by throwing my forearm over my face. I hear a voice through the loudspeakers.
“All patients, please report to the front desk for daily medications.” I roll out of my bed in a slow hatred, the sheets fall to the ground, and I scan my room; clean and sterile, covered, white, padded walls. The door buzzes and it swings open heavily.