When The Cops Aren’t There

An open door allowing light to shine into a dark room.

I had a dream where I got robbed.

It was a clever plan. I was the only one home and they lured me into the driveway, then one of them went into the house and took stuff. It seemed to happen so quickly.

They left with only my food – frozen bags of things, some fruit, one of them took the time to cut up an apple and eat it, which seemed strange, but then again, isn’t that always what thieves are stealing: something on the way to sustenance? They usually don’t take a TV so they can watch it.

Where was I… Oh yeah, they left.

I ran out of the house looking for cops but I couldn’t find any. Instead, there were these people, all wearing the same shirts. They looked official, but they looked like me too. I tapped one on the shoulder and they took me into an office.

What was weird was, as I told my story of being robbed, they seemed to have empathy for the thieves. They kept trying to tell me about their motivation, what was inside of them, why they would do such a thing. It made me angry (what about my pain!) but then I realized my fear was dissolving.

Robbed by a human, I thought. Not a monster. Somehow that was easier to take.

It was comforting to see people moving around in that office, looking at computers, carrying paper. I knew they were working to help me. I knew they wanted to find the people who robbed me, but not just for me, for the people who robbed me, too.

I started to get up and then the regular-looking person sitting across form me, unadorned, without a hero’s utility belt nor a kevlar vest, put up a gentle hand.

“Sit,” he said. “What about you? How are you doing?”

I told him about how I’d wished I’d done something different, that I was naive, stupid, careless, that I couldn’t protect my family, that I was thinking of getting a gun.

“I did everything wrong,” I said, staring at the ground.

“No,” he said. “You did everything right. You’re here now. You’re going back to your family. And they’re going back to theirs. We’ll find them.”

“I should have never believed them,” I said, looking at the ground.

He leaned in, put his hand on my hand, and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized he had been listening to me this whole time.

“What I’m about to tell you might sound weird,” he said. “But it’s the truth: we’d be a lot worse off, all of us, everyone of us — you, me, them — if you didn’t believe them in the first place.”