The Misguided Choice
Next morning the silence continued, and Mildred decided to let it run its course. He loved her and would forgive her, at least that’s what she hoped. She’d placed a wedge between them and Eric’s brother. She’d let him alone for a while but knew she’d have to apologize and bring the family together again. What if Gary had reported this to her in laws. What would they be thinking of her and how would she deal with that? She desperately wanted to make things right again with Eric so he could help her through this. She also needed to check with the neighbours again and see how this had gone so terribly wrong.
So mid-morning she took Katy and went to recheck her facts with Maria. The door was open, so she peeped inside and gasped quickly pushing Katy behind her. She fled to her car at the bottom of the drive as she’d intended to go to the supermarket and had checked in to see if Maria wanted to come. They could have talked on the way. With shaking hands, she punched in the emergency telephone number giving the address and urged them to come quickly. The operator asked for details but glancing at Katy and choosing her words carefully she repeated ambulance and police over and over.
Within minutes she heard sirens blaring and found them blocking her way out. An officer came to her driver side window. “You called Mam, what’s the problem?”
“I have a child here officer, please go to the house and see inside. There are five in the family, I only caught sight of three and they need an ambulance. I live next door and need to get my child out of here. If you’ll allow me to get out you can interview me at home.”
Officer Clancy motioned to one of the women officers in the second police car and indicated the ambulance paramedics should follow him. He advanced with gun drawn.. The woman got into the back seat.
“OK, let’s take your daughter home and we can talk there.” She smiled kindly and Mildred waited while the police car moved to let her out. She turned into her driveway sobbing silently.
Officer Stella responded to the urgent vibration at her side and activated the phone listening carefully.
“How many family members did you say lived in that house Maam? You said five but there are six there. I know you’re upset but we need to get the facts straight?”
Officer Stella responded after confirming that. “Definitely five Chief!” She listened as the voice at the other end responded.
“Maam, would your little girl be comfortable to stay with me while you identify those family members if not you’ll have to get someone she’s familiar with here immediately as they want you over there now.”
“Katy how would you like to show this lady your dolls while Mom goes next door?’
Katy clapped her hands. “You like dolls? Come I show you.”
Mildred hurried over to the neighbour house phoning her husband on the way to report what was happening. When he didn’t answer she paused to message him. He was probably in a meeting and not permitted to pick up calls there she thought. She really needed him by her side as this was going to be gruesome.
Mildred howled with grief as she identified each body but there was one stranger she’d never seen before and it looked like police had identified him as the shooter. But why was he dead having killed the family?
Later as Officer Stella and her chief meticulously recorded everything Maria had told Mildred they contacted immigration to try and search for a motive in the slaying. They located the documents hidden at the top of the cupboard out of sight and tried to fit them into the puzzle.
Eric had received permission to pass on his appointments to others in the department as he sped home to offer support to his wife. Their quarrel was forgotten now as he supported Milly through the long ordeal of questioning.
There was a wall of silence as police investigated the case but eventually the mystery man’s identity was discovered, and the case closed as a murder suicide.
The afternoon Mildred had watched Maria’s husband sitting on the porch was the start of this tragic outcome. Some illegal immigrants come under notice of immigration when they apply for protection, but some melt into the underbelly of society earning a living in a clandestine way and surviving on a day to day basis until they are caught and shipped out. The mystery man was from Maria and her husband’s country but had chosen to go underground rather than risk being sent back. However, in a way that few understand those who are known and those unknown to immigration have contact and the methods of those contacts are secret. This unknown man knew his own safety was at risk and a return would be certain death. Maria’s husband had shared his own fears for his family and the two of them had made a pact. They’d not risk being repatriated and see their families abused and raped. Better to die here with honour. Maria did not know this until the man appeared with a gun and rapidly shot each member of the family then himself. Better to die at their own hand than be tortured then killed.
The irony of it all was that after that final interview with immigration it had been decided to continue the family protective visas and move them on a path to citizenship recognizing their genuine need of protection. They were to be informed of this the day of their murder. If they’d only waited one more day before deciding on such drastic measures.
When the story came out eventually through the press Mildred felt pangs of remorse. Not only for the little family next door who’d come to this country looking for protection and a safe future, but for her haste in passing judgment without knowing what was transpiring behind the scenes. It was a full year before Mildred was able to repair the damage between her and her in-laws. But over time healing and forgiveness did take place.
© Copyright 2019 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved
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