I immediately told Cop 1 I was going to vomit. I knew I was likely in his custody; -I knew he wanted to talk to me. I was happy to comply, but I was going to puke.
“If you must.”
I went to my bathroom, closing my bedroom door behind me. I knew that looked bad, but I wasn’t going to release the dogs on the first responders. I left the bathroom door open, I knew I would be followed.
Cop 1, who would become my babysitter for the night, followed as expected. I vaguely remember him gathering my hair from my face as I vomited, but I am not actually sure this happened. I am sure I could feel his sincerity. He was good people.
When I turned back to him, I told him I had been smoking pot that night. As far as I knew Howard had not and that was the only drug in the house. My bong was sitting on my bathroom counter; my room reeked. I had nothing to hide, so I addressed it.
I grabbed my wedding rings off my dresser and put them on. I hated that I didn’t have them on looking at my hands giving compressions. I now think this is why I will likely wear them to some capacity for the rest of my life.
He said they didn’t care about any of that and led me out of the room.
Howard was now in the middle of our living room.
Bagged, finally and now “The Thumper” was inflicting more pain on his body than I ever could.
I had to step over him. That bothered me. That still bothers me. They moved him so they had room to work on him, and I went into the bedroom before that happened. I am grateful I didn’t see it.
I froze, and Cop 1 directed me. I did as instructed.
He took me outside, into the breezeway. My hair was still wet, I was barefoot, in booty shorts and a tank top. In a blizzard. I didn’t feel the cold.
I was asked so many questions, I remember mentioning his Asthma multiple times; I just didn’t know.
Cop 2 stepped out of my apartment and took over questioning me. He was an ass. In his mind he had already pegged me. I did this. I was not a person of interest to him because I was not a person to him, I was simply a suspect, and he was going to get the truth out of me.
I remember thinking he was likely a sergeant or at least had more time than Cop 1 because Cop 1 was clearly bothered by the demeanor but submitted and stepped aside.
Cop 2 asked me for Howard’s ID, I said I wasn’t sure where it was, but in his wallet, likely on his desk in the room he collapsed.
He let me inside.
As soon as I stepped in I was lost in the scene in front of me.
“Did they find a pulse? I couldn’t find one anywhere.”
I hesitated before entering the room. I knew at this point I was a suspect; I was surprised they let me back in, especially to that room.
He said it was okay; he was behind me watching.
I grabbed the wallet and was taken back outside.
I was asked the same questions, but Cop 2 was much more aggressive this time. I was standing against the wall, as close as I could get to it. He was so close. I would move back and he would follow. I could feel his breath, and he was so loud. His chest was puffed. He was not only on guard, he was on attack, and I was the target.
“What aren’t you telling me? Clearly something happened? You are not smarter than me, I will figure it out. You might as well just tell me. You won’t get away with it.”
I felt trapped in so many ways. I couldn’t articulate what I wanted to say. I know the words to use, I know to call you, sir, I know it looks bad. I wanted to scream, I wanted to run, anywhere just away from him, but I couldn’t. I could only spit out a few words here and there-, and doing so took so much energy.
I know now that I was in shock. I also know now that COP 2 should have known that. If he had perhaps, he would not have added to the PTSD I will carry forever.
Cop 2 went back inside, came out again and asked me about the snakes.
Howard worked for vets and shelters most of our relationship. Anyone in the industry knows that means we had a ton of rescues. Two of which were snakes, in Howard’s office, and one was pretty big. People are weird with snakes. I know this, but I was unbelievably frustrated with it at the time.
“They are boas.”
To me, that was enough information.
They are boas, non-venomous. They capture prey by strangulation. They are both in their cages, no where near Howard, the cages are locked, and it is not feeding day. Plus, not that it matters because a bite from a boa wouldn’t do this — but I didn’t find any punctures on his body when I scanned him.
I ruled the snakes out long before help arrived.
Eventually, I got all of that out verbally, but it took a long time and that frustrated Cop 2.
Cop 1 was still there. I retreated to the doorway across from mine, I sat down and curled into what I now call my trauma ball.
Every muscle in my body was tense, I was hyperventilating, trying so hard to keep myself from spiraling into a full blown panic attack.
Every thought I had was followed by: “Is he alive?”
I kept asking, they kept not telling me anything. Every so often I would get a glimpse inside at the men in blue huddled around my husband. Cop 1 did not stand in the way of my view when others came and went. He knew, I felt that, but I also felt that he knew I didn’t do it, he saw my pain.
Medic 1, the guy I screamed at, came out; I expected an update.
They won’t transport him until he is stable. It’s been a long time, meaning he wasn’t stable yet. He didn’t look at me and went to the truck and ambulance.
He came back with an IV bag in his hand.
I tried to read the label. Probably just saline. Just one bag. I tried to do the math, I tried to remember how many bags would have been in his medic bag, was that the only medic bag I saw go in?
How much have they given him? How long are the drips? Shit, How long has it been?
It’s REALLY bad.
I need help.
Cop 1 and I were alone. I had also grabbed my phone when I grabbed my rings and stuck it in my bra.
I’m going to jail tonight, but I am going to be truly interrogated for a long time before that and I got a taste of that from Cop 2.
I started doing math again.
It’s Sunday night. I’ll be interrogated tonight, probably won’t be arraigned tomorrow. Not until they know what’s going on with Howard and know what to really charge me with. They will hold off. They can come up with a light charge that would hold me during that though. It looks bad enough and there are enough unknowns.
Dad will get me out Monday.
So I asked. Looking up, with big, tear filled, doe eyes, batting my long bare lashes, trying my hardest to muster more tears.
Look how pathetic I am.
“Can I please call my dad?”
I intentionally stuttered out in the youngest, meekest character voice I could attach to.
While in my head saying “that guy is an asshole, I want a lawyer, and I want that lawyer to be my dignified, plays by the rules, brilliant, was a criminal prosecutor most of my life with a hell of a conviction record father.”
My dad answered after several rings, slowly. They had gotten a late and unexpected call a couple weeks ago from Howard when I nearly died.
“Howard fell. He’s unconscious. They’re working on him; can you get here?”
That’s all I could say, and it took me an eternity to say it. It came out in rough chunks.
He confirmed I was at home, and I hung up. I could hardly speak: there was no point in staying on the line.
I set my phone to the ground, stepped away, looked up at Cop 1, and returned to my trauma ball.
My neighbor whose door I was sitting in front of opened it a sliver and peaked out. They had moved in recently (Ironically after the last tenant died and his roommate moved out). I didn’t know them.
“They are working on my husband, I can’t go inside, but I can move if you’d like.”
Somehow that statement came out like butter.
Everyone knows and loves Howard. Of course, he knew him.
He told me to stay and closed the door.
Scott and his wife came back down the stairs, I didn’t notice they had been taken up. I knew they would separate us, and it was a good sign they were allowing us to be together. They tried to put clothes on me. I pushed them off at first but eventually gave in.
My other neighbor came back and wrapped a blanket around me, and asked what else he could get me, anything? water, a bigger jacket, a hat, another blanket?
I asked him to pray. To a being I do not know if I believe in. I have studied but rejected that being stubbornly, fully avoiding it, replacing it with a strong love for science and desire to learn.
“I don’t know what your beliefs are, but would you please pray for him?”
I looked at everyone around me, including Cop 1 asking them as well with desperate eyes.
I was that desperate. Helpless. I could do nothing. I tried everything I was supposed to. I followed protocol, I heard and felt ribs crack, my compressions were strong enough, I kept my rhythm, Scott and I were perfectly in sync as a team, I honored my vows, I didn’t get pregnant before I got married, and I didn’t puncture a lung. So why not give this sky daddy a try too.