It was a Sunday when the police came. Daddy answered the knock at the door because we’d seen the lights flashing from the living room windows and knew it was them. Mommy held our hands, “Don’t worry girls, your father will take care of this.” My little sister Cat and me stood with her in the hall, listening to the police tell Daddy that he had to go with them.
“What am I under arrest for?” Daddy’s voice had the same strong timber it always had. He wasn’t afraid, I could tell.
But the policeman’s voice sounded impatient, almost mean and my chest started to hurt. “Mr. Buie, you must come with us.”
Daddy insisted, “First tell me what I’m under arrest for.”
The policeman shouted, “Now you’re under arrest for resisting arrest.”
Mommy pulled us with her when she ran to the door, and we stood watching as one of the policemen dragged Daddy down our front steps toward their car, and held him while the other put something on his wrists behind his back. When Daddy demanded again to know why they’d arrested him, the other policeman yanked him toward the open car door and ripped his sweater right at the shoulder. I started crying. Cat did too. Mommy yelled at them. Daddy looked back at us as one of the policemen pushed down on his head to get him into the car. Daddy didn’t look upset. He looked angry. “Call the lawyer and come get me out,” he said to Mommy.
“Of course. We’ll be right there.”
Mommy gathered us back inside, knelt down and gave us both hugs. “Now girls, I have to call Uncle Bob to meet us so I want you to hop in the car, and when I’m done, we’ll go get Daddy back.”
In the car, me and Cat sat holding hands waiting on Mommy. I didn’t want to go to the police station. It was bad enough two policemen had dragged Daddy away, I couldn’t imagine how we could get him back from a whole building full of them.
“Are you scared?” Cat asked me.
I nodded and looked at her. We both had tears on our faces. Cat wiped hers off and said, “Mommy’ll get him back.”
“Uncle Bob will help her.”
Mommy jumped in the car right then. She backed the car out and we zoomed off to rescue Daddy.
Thirty years later talking to my mother about that incident, she said she’d never understood why I’d always been fearful about stepping outside of my safety zone. I’d done just that numerous times, including now and the reason I'd called her. I am a writer. I was in a doubting crisis, LOL. (Those of you who are also writers perhaps understand about fear and self confidence, and why I might have too much of the former and not enough of the latter!)
I said, “I think somehow during that experience with Dad and the cops, my little brain decided that if those men had power over someone as strong as Dad, I didn’t want to be noticed by them in any way and so learned to hide whenever I felt threatened.”
“But Lisa, don’t you remember getting him out? We did that very thing a few hours later. We won that battle.” Genuinely perplexed Mom didn’t understand.
“I don’t remember anything else but them taking him away. I know we got him back. I just don’t remember anything else.”
“Through the eyes of a child…” my mother said. “I’m sorry you were so scared. I’m sorry I didn’t know how frightened you were.”
“I’ve always been fearful.”
“Yet it hasn’t stopped you from doing things you thought you could do.”
“Yes and no. Some things I’ve done because I wasn’t afraid of doing them at the time, like going to Europe alone. But finishing college? Well, I didn’t think I was smart enough to do that.”
“You’re smart enough to have finished five novels!” I smiled at her righteous-mommy-tone and immediately wanted to negate her statement by saying yeah, written, not published. But I didn’t. Instead I said,
“That’s why I called you, Mom. You always know what to say.”
Footnote: Loosely based on a true story. My father WAS arrested, twice (!) but after the election that he had just won. Friends coming for a dinner at our house were stopped in our front yard by "plain-clothed" police for "not stopping long enough" at a stop sign on the way to our house. My father went out to ask what had happened and why they were being so rough with our friend and the police, who wouldn't show any ID, got angry and arrested him for interfering. A few weeks later we were out on a family picnic on some land near a park. As we napped after eating, cops came up with guns and arrested Dad, again, this time for trespassing. Both cases were dropped. The first cops couldn't agree on their reasons for arresting my dad in his own front yard, and the trespassing charge was dropped because the cops were out of their jurisdiction and there were no signs to say we shouldn't be there. A reporter brought both events into the limelight and the persecution disappeared... Oh and, they really did rip my dad's sweater!