He had just gotten home from a Boy's Night Out, only minutes before, and we were both exhausted and ready to call it a night, but then, from somewhere outside our window, we heard it.
*BANG BANG BANG*
Eric and I looked at each other with mouths open and minds almost instantly freed from reason.
"Should I...get a number? For the...sheriff?"
Before I could find any helpful numbers online, and before we could decide for certain that we were making the right choice in calling authorities, we heard three more shots fire.
*BANG BANG BANG*
These sounded different. These sounded like they could be coming from our neighbor's house. These sounded like the three shots that could complete a murder-suicide of former lovers. Or the three shots, mercy shots, that could complete the death of a victim pleading for his life after an already fatal shot to the neck after breaking into the wrong home that night. Or the three shots that could complete any number of scenarios I probably picked up from a Tarantino film or Law & Order episode.
Eric bypassed the sheriff's office and called straight to 911, while I stood for a moment, reveling in panic.
Eric is calling 911. 911 Emergency. Emergency? Stop, Drop, and Roll? No, Duck and Cover. Duck and Cover?? That can't be right. Where's Harrison. Get Harrison. Windows. Too many windows in this room. Duck and cover. That works.
Again, *BANG BANG BANG*
It's sad, really, realizing that I was so unprepared to cope with random gunshots outside my home. My first thought, after getting Harrison out of his crib, was to get into the bathroom. No windows in a bathroom. We could sit in the tub. EVERYONE IN THE TUB. Eric, in his wisdom, redirected my path by gently leading my shoulder out of the dark bathroom and into the hallway.
"Not a tornado," he reminded me.
He laid Lennon on the floor, and I sat next to my kids and my niece, and we waited for ...
What do you wait for in a situation like that? A reason to have to act? If you're waiting for it, is it already too late? We were all safe, sitting on the ground in our hallway, Eric with the phone in one hand and a pipe in the other. A pipe? Where did he get that pipe? It didn't matter. A pipe was good. Repels gunshots.
For nearly 40 minutes we sat in the hall, waiting. I made a mental note to replace the granola bars in our 72-hour kits.
And then we started to yawn, and the oxygen returned to our brains, and we realized we were sitting in our hallway, at midnight, with a pipe, waiting for further instruction. A knock on the door from a police officer, or the crash of a back window from a crazed maniac, working house by house, shooting in an oddly repetitive manner.
"Hi, we called and reported gunfire in our neighborhood about 45 minutes ago, and we just wanted to see if somebody had already come out and investigated?"
Then I hear Eric thank the operator politely, and breathe out slowly, quietly.
"Party a couple of streets down. Homemade fireworks. A bunch of other people reported it, too."
And I stood up, holding my baby in my arms, looking at the two little girls positioned precariously against the wall, Eric and I unable to laugh just yet, and I wondered how many of our neighbors were quietly, slightly fazed, mostly tired, putting away their pipes.