What happened next took a few weeks of rehashing and piecing together by the five of us to finally nail down, a causal sequence of events and a somewhat orderly timeline of the events that happened. It was surprising to me how difficult it was. If I had to describe it in three sentences, like I did to the police, I would just say: “They came in and robbed our house in the middle of our BBQ. I guess we had left our door halfway shut to not bother going back downstairs.” There, I did it in two. If I had to add a third, I would say, “this kind of thing shouldn’t happen here, should it?”
In reality though, between my sister and her husband, myself and two of the earliest arriving friends, Mona and Jack, it took us several to remember all the details and resolve the conflicting ones of what happened after the four men, spastic, seemingly as or more nervous than we were, came in with guns pointed and ski masks on. We had the usual minutes, perhaps a few quarter hours, after the fact where everyone looks around, eyes shooting in a few different directions and the creeping sensation in our skin slowly subsided (at least that’s the way it was for me and how I thought everyone else felt). Then there was the obvious, “let’s call the police” and before we even did that, we looked at each other and had to slowly pull the information out of each other, were they three guys? Four? Did we think they had accents? What build were they? Guys, guys, really do we have to start racially profiling? No, that’s not what we’re doing, we’re being factual. Bickering – the leftover stress spilling over to our scared psyches into silly arguing. Then we had to try to remember what was taken, what was taken? Laptops, jewelry in a few boxes, stuff in wallets. That was difficult too, how is it so easy to become so hazy?
Then the cops came, and feeling like we were doing something about it felt better, and not having had our locks broken in helped the feeling of security sink back in a lot faster, and having others around, sirens, note-scribbling, people measuring distances on the floor and reciting our inventory back to them – it felt better because we had to pretend we weren’t shaken and shake off the confusion and fear.
And then followed a week of silence, everyone staying back in their own routines, getting back to them and not speaking much about it, until we had dinner again at a restaurant this time (public place, just in case it was our party of five which brought bad luck, I thought and then mocked my superstition). But we had to fill out a detailed police report, so what happened in the few minutes after the four (really, four? Not three?) walked in? We sat down at dinner and tried mapping it out. It was both amusing how hard it was to remember, and it was also strange how foreign and distant the events felt.
It started like this, they said, “everyone, freeze!” and came in pointing in different directions, standing in a semicircle with their backs protecting each other. I’m sure they saw that in a movie somewhere just like we had. And then, what happened?