please send the police now

June 1st, 2022

It was the summer of 1965 and the city was burning. The Watts Riots had erupted one hot August night in Los Angeles and kept going for days. On the fifth day, we were piled into our family station wagon heading down the 405 freeway after a visit to my grandparents’ house an hour north. We made this drive nearly every weekend, only this drive was different. A convoy of National Guard vehicles lined the road, soldiers at the ready. Street fires glowed on the horizon, their smoke darkening an already dark sky. Traffic barely moved and we were far from home. I was 8 and very afraid. My world wasn’t safe. It wasn’t even my world anymore.

Please send the police now.

For years after that I had nightmares in the bunkbed of the back bedroom in our teeny house on Eastwood Street. Nightmares about being attacked. Sometimes by a war party of Indians with feathers and facepaint, just like in the movies. Other nights by soldiers in helmets with rifles crawling in the windows and inching down the hall. Either way I was undefended and about to die. I was little, my house was little, and my parents were asleep in the other room.

Please send the police now.

Such sad words. Such desperate words. Please now, please now, the little girl in Uvalde whispers into the phone while the police are asleep on the other side of the wall. How brave she is! And how goddamned polite! But no one can hear you whispering when you are in the middle of a nightmare. No one comes.

Please send the police now.

Those words remind me of another time I went looking for the police. Well, looking for the good guys, any good guys, the Army, the Navy, the Secret Service, the Search & Rescue Team. Surely someone was about to be dispatched to save me, to save the country, to save the world from tyranny and ruination. It was right after the presidential election of 2016. No one came then either.

Please send the police now.

These days you hear people decry the “politicization” and “polarization” of our public discourse. That’s bullshit. There’s no discourse. There’s hardly even any politics. What’s really happening is that we are killing one another, and not with words, not ideas, not policies or opinions, but with guns. Guns made for killing people, and lots of them, especially in 4th grade classrooms or churches or grocery stores. at concerts, in dance halls and a medical building in Tulsa. Really, people? Just try to convince yourself this is about the Constitution.

I don’t know what toxic sludge of rage, shame, hate, impotence, boredom and extreme self-loathing motivates a mass shooter. Nor can I fathom the pious defense of a weapon whose only purpose is slaughter. But it’s too late. Horror stories always end in horror.

A little girl is on the line. The call is coming from inside the house. And right now, in America, it’s the shooter’s house.

Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash

14 Comments »

  1. There are no words.
    The US is a country, on the one hand so free and open, on the other marinated in fear to the core.
    I pray the women of all generations stand up together and create the change that is needed.

    Comment by Sim — June 1, 2022 @ 10:55 pm

  2. Thank you. I so appreciate this. I feel and have felt exactly the same way. It feels similar to the insanity of being a child in an alcoholic family with no one acknowledging the truth or the impact. So many people around me are able to just go on; they say “you can’t live in fear,” but it has gone far beyond my fear for my own fourth grade child. It’s horror and disgust for a country that allows this slaughter with lawmakers taking no action. I feel less crazy reading your words. Thank you.

    Comment by Eleanor Kootsey — June 2, 2022 @ 3:42 am

  3. It is truly a public health emergency.

    Comment by David Sparer — June 2, 2022 @ 5:56 am

  4. Such a powerful and honest assessment of the horror we live with every day in America. Thank you for sharing your anger and frustration. It makes me feel less alone in my anxiety and grief. Thank you for being the beautiful being you are…

    Comment by Barbara — June 2, 2022 @ 6:56 am

  5. I hear you and abide with you.

    Comment by Elizabeth Aquino — June 2, 2022 @ 9:17 am

  6. Thank you for putting words and emotions into the world in a way that speaks to the horror – it provides temporary solace somehow.

    Comment by Sarah E Meisinger — June 2, 2022 @ 2:10 pm

  7. Your words cut through all the bullshit as always. Crystal clarity. Thank you so much for giving us the words to describe what is the awful and absolute truth. I love you.

    Comment by Kirsten — June 2, 2022 @ 7:25 pm

  8. […] June 3rd begins Wear Orange Weekend to demand awareness of a future free from gun violence. It is a small thing I know, but sometimes small things are what we have. Sometimes it takes a thousand … a million, small acts before things begin to shift. But they do shift. We can’t not believe. We can’t bury our heads. We can’t backstep, or skip ahead. We have to be in it. Here. Now. Up to our necks in the quicksand that it is. My friend wrote something amazing. I’d love for you to read it. Please Send the Police Now. […]

    Pingback by Over the River and Through the Woods – In Search of the Very — June 2, 2022 @ 9:00 pm

  9. Karen this is so well written. I can picture your journey and the trauma of the childhood journey. The current events show that many elected officials do not honor their oath of office. “ . . . To uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States of America, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of . . . “.

    The key phrase is faithfully and impartially. Many elected officials often represent the wealth donors and not We the People.

    Comment by Keitha Bryson — June 2, 2022 @ 10:03 pm

  10. Thank you for this articulation. I have felt struck dumb by the immensity of all this and you are articulating it on behalf of many. May your words fly and heal. And please send in the Congress now. Blessings to your day… and safety.

    Comment by Christina Baldwin — June 3, 2022 @ 6:53 am

  11. That 911 call was like a gut punch. Thank you for always giving what you hold in your hands … in your heart. Their small, brave lives have to mean something and I cannot believe for even one moment that it is too late to make it so.

    Comment by Bonnie — June 3, 2022 @ 7:00 am

  12. Thank you for this, for your clarity and forthrightness. It’s hard especially that it’s the same mistakes over and over, that something can be fixed and we continue not to fix it. Our job is to protect these tender young lives and yet they’re continually thrown to the wolves. I want solutions and we continue to blunder and misstep. It’s hard not to just give up in frustration. But that’s just another wrong step.

    Comment by Nancy Friedland — June 3, 2022 @ 8:23 am

  13. Oof. That’s all I’ve got. Gut punch, struck dumb,cutting through the bullshit, horror, anger, frustration, deep grief, disgust. What they all said. Beautifully and frightfully articulated, Maezen. I will re-post, but this deserves and needs a wide audience.

    Comment by Gretchen Staebler — June 3, 2022 @ 8:35 am

  14. Thank you. As always, I’m grateful for your voice, but especially now.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — June 5, 2022 @ 6:23 pm

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