October 31, 1992 Woodbridge, Virginia

I lay in bed, eyes opened, heart racing. My breath quickens.  I hear the swishing of blood rushing through my ears. Silver shards of light flicker through the cracks in the aluminum blinds. The whooping of sirens blast outside my window.

A bullhorn blares, “Stand Back!” I glance around the room and fixate on the shadows dancing on the wall, thrown there from the glare of the street lamp outside my townhome.  Two golden retrievers stay peacefully asleep unaware of the panic rising within me. What to do?


The bullhorn continues; an alarm sounds. A drug bust? I don’t know my neighbors.  A murder?  A crime of passion? I am undecided about my safety—alone in the house—hoping the situation is under control.

drug bust       cops at night     fatal attraction

“Stand Back,” the gruff voice booms again, “vipshor armed.” I can’t understand the muffled words, but I know that someone has a gun. Beads of moisture form on my upper lip.

“Psst,” I whisper to Sandy and Chestnut.  They do not budge. “Sandy? Chestnut? Look out the window,” I say again. They are unresponsive to my plea.

sandy and chestnut

I slowly roll off the bed and onto the floor afraid to make any noticeable movements which might be seen from the outside. A tail wags. “Shhh, look out the window,” I order. More tail wagging.

The voice outside continues. “Stand  Back! Vipshor armed!” A woman hollers and I hear the clanking of metal hitting metal, the scuffling of feet. Another siren blares in the distance; a car door slams.

crime scene tape

I grab Chestnut, the one-hundred and twenty pound mutt and drag her to the window. Tail wag. She smiles at me and kisses my arm. “No, look out the window.” She does not.

I crawl over her and reach for Sandy’s collar.  I pull her towards the window and hold her head up so she can see. “What’s happening?” I drop the collar, her head falls to the ground; she rolls onto her back, four legs comfortably spread into the air.

“Damn dogs, you’re supposed to protect me.” I look at them helplessly and decide to crack the blinds. I move to the corner of the casing and put my finger between the bottom two aluminum slats, prying one away from the other.

A woman in a pink bathrobe and white slippers hovers over the Dodge Stealth RT Turbo racing car in the parking lot. Her frustration is evident from my second story vantage point.  She points her keys at the car and scrunches up her face. “Stand back,” I hear clearly, “Viper is armed,” the car commands.  The woman screams and stomps both feet on the ground.

dodge stealth

I turn and lean back against the wall.  The dogs scoot over to me, smiling, tails wagging in unison. “Some protection you are,” I say as I rub their bellies. Two hundred pounds of dog and I’m the one looking out the window at a crazy lady trying to open her car.

Chestnut          Sandy

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