Knock-knock: HELP!

The guy next door beat the snot out of his wife on the weekend. The nine-year-old knocked on doors.

It took two neighbours and three cops to end it.

They say he’ll be out in six months.

I remember in high school, walking home through cabbage town, a sunny afternoon, sound of kids ahead of us, when suddenly a large man in their midst was wailing on them. The kid noises turned to small boy screams. And my own. I don’t know what kind of stuff I was screaming but my own frenzy didn’t penetrate his. He battering-rammed a kid’s head into the stone wall of the church, gave him a couple of kicks to the gut and stalked off.

The kid’s friends collected him and then melted into the neighbourhood while we followed the guy for several blocks. “I know what it’s like to get beaten up by a gang of kids!” he shouted at us. The people we passed knew who he was. We ducked into a shop to call the cops but the lady said no. My friend insisted. The cops came and he was arrested.

We were subpoenaed many months later, “Tell us in your own words what happened.” I think my own words were more colourful back then. “So, you’re saying, after all that, he just picked up his grocery bag and walked away?” I knew it was a trick question but couldn’t see the trick. “Yes,” I offered. “Is that your final answer?” In the end they argued that he never did put down his grocery bag, so how could he have done all this with one hand? How could I be remembering correctly if I didn’t notice that? Mr. RM was given community service for his trouble.

Houray for neighbours. One called the cops. Two ran to intervene. Several looked after the kids. But what happens next? How do you help in the long run? How many nine-year-olds have to ask for help? I’ve mentioned this guy before, wondering if it’s possible to be universally inclusive. And if so, how? How will it end? I feel like he is a bomb that has already gone off.

Can we really hope to contain the energy or deflect the damage?