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(Continued from here)

The details of the actual robbery are as clear in my mind as if I had been invisible and watching it all from an observational perch. This is probably because I told the story often in the first few days after it happened but also because I think some kind of specialized scrutinizing function had been activated in my brain.

I remember thinking, tied up in the bathroom, “If I survive this, I will have to describe very carefully exactly what happened.”

But the events that followed are not nearly as clear and as well-organized in my mind. I remember and can recount mostly everything that happened but it might not be in the right order.

The police and Dan arrived very quickly after they’d been called. The media (following their trusty police scanners) arrived also — a couple of reporters, at least one TV camera — but I declined to see them.

The officer who was in charge sat with me at the table and asked me to tell him what had happened. He was polite and respectful. He stopped me from time to time and interjected a question. He asked me to go back over some details that I’d already covered. He remarked that I was very calm.

He asked me to describe the burglar — and then later, asked me again, rephrasing his question.

Later that same day, another officer asked me many of the same questions and they also asked me to write an account of what had happened.

It was clear to me that they were trying to see if my details would be consistent and to rule out the possibility that I was involved in the crime or that I knew the burglar. I was not offended by this and I quite understood why they were doing it.

When they felt reassured that I was not a partner in the crime, their attitudes noticeably changed and the senior officer — the one who had questioned me first — thanked me for my co-operation.

He asked me if I had the impression that the burglar was on drugs. I told him I didn’t think so.

After the police left, we looked around the house. I probably wasn’t thinking this way then but later, I thought: this is what I would have found if I’d lunched out that day and arrived home at suppertime.

The china cabinet was as I’d last seen it — all the doors and the drawer open, the silver gone. The stereo equipment was gone. The desk drawers and the drawers of a small antique washstand in the front hall were open and ransacked, their contents spilled out on to the floor.

Upstairs, it was more of the same. Both our jewellery boxes were gone. Dan’s had contained cufflinks, tie pins and clips. He also lost a valuable ring set with an emerald. Mine held mostly costume jewellery but my late mother’s engagement and wedding rings were in there as well as a couple of other pieces that I’d inherited and that were of strong sentimental value.

Dan had cancelled all the credit cards while I was with the police. After we checked everything out, we called a locksmith — as far as we knew, the burglar had taken our key with him. And then we started making lists with descriptions and approximate value of everything that was gone.

I had never been a brave or adventurous person but I had always enjoyed my own company. For a long time after the robbery, however, I was not able to stay in the house alone. I will never be able to repay the friends and family members who came to stay with me — day after day — and often watch as I did nothing but pace the floor.

I was afraid. I soon realized that my fear was not focussed on the burglary — or even on the burglar — but had branched out into many other areas of my life. I was afraid of random men on the streets, in the supermarket, in the movie theatre. I was now irrationally afraid of getting cancer; I was afraid of fire or of the propane tanks exploding; I was afraid of driving if even one snowflake had fallen. I couldn’t sleep, of course.

I was referred to a psychologist and I went to see her once a week. I talked a lot there and I’m sure it helped but I’m also sure that the passage of time — a lot of time — is what really helped me regain some trust in the people out there.

Within the next couple of months, the police called me and asked if I’d come down to the station and help them out. They took me into a small room which had counters around three sides. Spread out on the counters was what I can only call the detritus of a great number of break-and-enters.

I found it indescribably sad. There were earrings and necklaces, watches and bracelets, drivers’ licences, library, health, membership and other cards of the kind that populate most wallets. There were even letters and small documents. The officers told me that they thought they knew who had robbed me and they had staked out the place where he was staying on garbage night — and they’d confiscated his garbage bags. Nothing there was mine. Mine would have been long gone in an earlier garbage pick-up.

Not long after this, the police called again and asked if they could meet me at my office. There was another development. There were two officers. I could see they were very excited. They had brought head-and-shoulder photos of a dozen people, based on my description.

They asked me to sit at my desk and said they would lay the photos before me, one at a time. They said I shouldn’t say anything until all the pictures were in place. When they laid the last one down, they stood back and said, “Is he there?”

I pointed to him and they could barely contain themselves. They asked if I were sure, and I was.

They arrested him shortly after that. While they were questioning him, they asked, “What happened on Clyde St.?” They told me he put his head down into his hands and said, “Oh God, I never should have done that to that lady.”

(More to come … soon, I promise.)

10 Responses

  1. #1

    How sad for that guy.

  2. #2
    Mary DeWolfe 

    Sharon, are you going to write a crime novel? I am quite serious… I think you could write a very compelling one – complete with your wonderful feminist/socialist analysis… and your wry sense of humour, too, of course!

    Bring it on!

  3. #3
    Cicily Brewer 

    Wow, I did not know he had been caught, I just heard part one from you in person, long ago. I look forward to reading more.

  4. #4
    Linda Shand Dyer 

    Sharon, you are an amazing author and you have done so much in your short life. (Of course we are not old!) Anxious to read more.

  5. #5
    Susan MacPhee 

    I remember staying with you in the time following the robbery and the hypervigilance that ate up so much of your energy.

    That SOB didn’t just steal your cherished pieces of jewelry and family heirlooms, he stole your sense of safety and self reliance.

    I am so glad you have reclaimed both over the ensuing years.


  6. #6
    Jane Cameron 

    Sharon, In Pursuit of Justice is beautifully written and should be published in an Anthology of Short Stories. As I was reading it I thought of your sister Marilyn (from Mt. A days!) and then was happy to read her lovely comment. I am loving your columns – Thanks so much and please keep sending them.

  7. #7
    Mary-Ann Browne 

    What an incredible story, Sharon! You are an extremely gifted writer — just so sorry this is a true story though. Can hardly wait for #3 …

  8. #8
    Lee Morris 

    When you described the police interrogation, I thought of CSI. Your story is very well written, Sharon. It’s clear and suspenseful and easy to read. I’m enjoying it.


  9. #9
    Pat Campkin 

    Sharon-You really should write a book!! Waiting for the next episode.

  10. #10
    Barbara Hay MacKenzie 

    The consensus certainly seems to be telling you to publish this story. Your story telling skills have moved from poetry to journalism and on to this story and, of course, more. Keep it coming, dear friend!

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