I should have known better than to turn out the light.
The concoction I created to cure my sinus cold and migraine (Benadryl, Excedrin, more Benadryl, coffee) was finally starting to kick in around midnight. My day had pretty much been shot, so I was ready to call it a night and start fresh in the morning. And in my stupor, I leaned over and turned off the lamp. It's something I never would have done if I weren't high on antihistamines, for you see, I'm scared to sleep in the dark.
It seems like a childish fear for someone pushing forty, but I developed this intense phobia about ten years ago. Forget a simple night-light, I'm not getting any shut-eye unless there's a Jack Bauer interrogation-strength light bulb glaring down on me! So when I woke up in the dark to the sound of someone shouting angrily out on the sidewalk, I thought I was going to lose my shit.
I was still disorientated and it sounded like more than one person. The thought that an angry mob was moving fast through our complex had me on my feet. I held my breath, hoping they would continue down the courtyard. Instead, I heard an incredibly loud, menacing voice on the stairs leading up to our apartment — and then the violent banging on my neighbor's door. I took that opportunity to run to the peephole. A young woman appeared. As I stood on the other side, she pounded on the door, cussing and demanding to be let in. I was shaking as hard as the door.
Grabbing my phone, I noticed it was ten after three. I dialed 911 with trembling fingers, but kept hearing the tone of when a call drops. By then, Marissa was aware of the total fuckedupness at our front door. My mom, a deep sleeper, was still in her bedroom with noise from the fan canceling out the commotion. But when the crazed chick kicked it up a notch, I heard mom call out for me. Crouching down (like I learned in all the TV crime dramas I grew up on), I peeked around the corner and ordered my mother to stay put. I was totally having my Dee Dee McCall moment.
Just as I cursed the fact we don't have a landline, Marissa handed me her phone with a 911 operator on the other end. As mom barricaded the door, I explained the situation of how some pissed-off stranger was trying to break down our door and please send a posse of cops, pronto.
"Yes, but there is a city emergency right now."
Unless those badass aliens from Battle: Los Angeles invaded Orange County, what could possibly delay the police from coming to protect us from the petite bitch who may be packing heat and trying to punch her way into our home at three-thirty in the morning?
What happened over the course of the next ninety minutes in the United States of America is absolutely unacceptable.
For an hour and a half, we were basically held hostage inside our home because of someone terrorizing us from outside. We made a least a dozen calls to 911 and the Anaheim Police Department pleading for help and making them aware of any change so they had an idea of what to expect when they arrived. The sympathetic dispatchers repeated the excuse that police officers were overwhelmed with a crazy amount of 'fights and traffic accidents' around town.
When three officers finally showed up, the young woman woke up defiant after having passed out on the stairs. Not one of the officers had the courtesy to knock on our door to check on us or ask about the circumstances or simply give the all clear. When I saw her being questioned from my bedroom window, she looked like someone I would be friends with. And what a story that would make: "Remember that night you came over threatening, 'I'm gonna kill all you white bitches?' Good times."
There had been a brief moment when I was concerned about how much stress the door could take from her beating when I questioned if owning a gun would make me feel safer. And I can honestly answer no. I could barely keep my finger steady to dial a phone, much less keep it steady on a trigger. But I have also lost all confidence in the police keeping us safe too. So what is there to do? The distraught, unstable woman at our door may not have committed a serious crime against us, but the police stole our faith in their promise to protect and to serve.