The Scariest Day Of My Life

May 6, 2009 at 1:58 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I don’t remember the year or the month, or the day for that matter.  But it was a weekday, because school was in, and the wife was at work.  It was perhaps 1998 or 1999.  My daughter was two or three years old at the time.  I was still working at Domino’s or Papa John’s at the time–this comes into play in an important way.
  I worked late at night.  It was probably Domino’s, and we would be open until 1 am, and then I wouldn’t get out of there till 130, get home close to 2, and need a half hour to an hour to wind down–so I would get to bed around 3 am.
  And then I would get up at 7 or 730 to get Mitchell up for school.  This would place him about 4th grade or so, so he could walk to school, and then I could lay down.
  Oh, and I was watching the baby.
  This was the way it was for the last ten years, where the wife would work during the day, and I would work in the evening, and I would watch the kids during the day on very little sleep.  For Mitchell I would lay on the couch and watch TV with him while he played at the same time.  The house was locked up to keep him from escaping, since we had a few close calls where he bolted out the door and I would get up and run after him.
  It’s funny how I remember more about Mitchell growing up than I do about Miranda, even though Mitchell is older.  But it was much the same with both of them.  So I was prepared to watch Miranda and keep her from escaping while I was trying to rest.  But after ten years of this, I was tired.  Mortally tired.  I hadn’t slept since 1987.
  The previous night had been busy late.  I got home late, I got to bed late.  I got Mitchell up late for school.  I drive him and the baby to drop him off.  Back home, I try to rest…but Miranda is 2 or 2 and half, and wide awake.  It’s going to be a long day.
 
  I woke up with a start.  It was quiet.  I was on the couch.  Little 2 year old Miranda was not in the room.  I got up and immediately saw the back door open.  I didn’t want to believe that just yet.  I searched the small house quickly, all over.  I wasn’t willing to panic yet.  I head out the back door.  No Miranda.  I turn to the left.  The gate is open.  Shit-fuck.  Now I panic.
  I run around I start calling her name.  Front of the house, back of the house.  Oh-God-oh-God-oh-God-oh-God-oh-God.  What do I do?  In the front yard, I look around frantically, calling her name.  I look up and down the street.  Which way?  We lived in a small house on a busy street that was essentially the main drag for the subdivision, and it was a big subdivision.  To the right, the depths of the subdivision.  To the left, less than a block away, the entrance opened up to a five-lane road.
  I turned to the left.
  I was barefooted, I remember that.  I walked quickly down the sidewalk, looking and calling her name, mostly to avoid thinking about what might happen, what I might find, or what I might not find.  I cross the side street and I am about thirty feet from the  big street, when I see a convertible pull slowly around the corner, and a woman walking on the side walk.  She makes the turn towards me, and she’s walking with a small child.  My child.  My daughter.  Oh. good Lord.
  She starts walking towards me.  She sees me and starts talking to me in a calm voice.  "I was gone, Daddy.  I was gone."  She was wearing a long dress, tights, and two shoes that did not match.  She dressed herself and went out.  The woman dubiously handed her over to me, and I thanked her.  I could tell by their expression that they were extremely leery.  Should they call the police?  Protective services?  Ghostbusters?  Maybe they thought I did not express enough gratitude, that I did not appreciate the severity of the situation, that I was too cavalier.  And that’s not true at all.  Not in the least.
  I was in shock.  I had nothing to say.
 
  From then on, I stayed awake.  I locked the deadbolt on the front door, and I put an extra lock on the back door, very high up where only I could reach it.  (Detroit, if you recall, it’s the lock we can’t find the key for, in the house that is now my sister’s.)  I think this contributed greatly to my decision to go to work at my Friend’s restaurant, Scooter’s, because it was only open till 10 pm.  I was never going to fall asleep watching the kids again…Until they got older.
  And that was the scariest day of my life.  I never–even now–have never told my ex wife about it.  I never told my friend Bunny.  I may have told Detroit.  But I wanted to write it down, get it out of my system.  Scariest day ever–
  So far.  My daughter is now 12, she will be 13 in a few months.  A teenage daughter.  Christ, I have some scary days ahead.
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