I’ve called the cops twice in my life – both times when I lived in Fair Haven. I spent a year living in a beat-up dive off the main drag through town: an old, paint-peeling Victorian that had been converted to house several apartments, and was covered in a crusty layer of pigeon feces.
Each apartment was essentially a live-in closet, layered in inches of dust and reeking of bleached ammonia – a feeble attempt to cover the old, musty, urine stench left behind by the cats of previous tenants.
Over time, it became clear that the quality of the building also matched the quality of the other apartment occupants.
They didn’t own cars, but the driveway was always full. They didn’t work, but always had money for rent. I’d leave for a few days, then return to find an apartment window smashed out and covered with cardboard.
I’d often wake up in the early morning hours to the sounds of doors slamming and people screaming at each other in the streets, threatening death and trying their damndest to come off as some sort of bona-fide, corn-fed country boy, street hustler.
FEAR MY FARMER’S TAN, BITCH!
Naturally, I had to call the cops a couple times – both for domestic disputes.
If I hear someone smash a window, hop in his car, and threaten to come back shooting off shotgun shells full of buckshot, I’m calling the cops.
If I see a drunken piece of societal scum slap his on-again off-again girlfriend in front of his four-year-old, I’m calling the cops.
If I feel the safety of myself, my friends, or my family is somehow in jeopardy for ANY reason, I’m calling the cops.
That’s why we have cops. That’s why we have 911. That’s why we’re taught in grade school to call a fireman if a frying pan ignites, or to call the police if daddy pushes mommy down the stairs.
It’s knowledge instilled in us at the earliest of ages as an extra injection of pure common sense – if something bad happens, call for help.
So when the college students living in the apartment above Linda Wiggin heard her cries for help moments before the final blow – then did nothing — I couldn’t help but be bewildered.
How does one ignore that? Knowing that the screams for help were followed by an awkward silence, the sounds of furniture dragging across the floor, and then a noticeable weeklong absence of the person whose screams were ignored?
It’s an episode of “Forensic Files”: you yell at the TV screen, lambasting the utter ignorance of those who let another should-have-seen-it-coming killing go down right in front of their faces.
If the students had called the police – or possessed an ounce of common sense — Linda Wiggin may still be teaching her effective speaking class for all we know.
But who knows. Maybe that’s too harsh. We weren’t there. How can we say we would do anything different without actually being there and taking into consideration other circumstances?
Like this: I would have called the cops. Period.