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“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.”    Paulo Coelho

There are times in life when we have no choice about what we do, or rather there are limited choices available given the circumstances. This was one of those occasions.

When I was first married and living at Kingston I met a vast cross-section of people, as diverse as any I had previously met. The people  next door were classic examples. She was a beautiful lady, beautiful in appearance and her little daughter was a little doll. She looked like a miniature replica of her mother.  Her husband, however was not “beautiful” in any way. He was what I would call a “nasty drunk”. Sober he was bearable, just, but a chauvinist, something I had difficulty putting up with. Drunk he was the meanest son of a gun you would hope to avoid.

We had heard disturbances from next door in the past, heard the police arrive and leave and seen her the following day sporting black eyes and bruises. She was afraid of leaving and so stayed.  When I was home her daughter loved to come over and chatter away as I worked. She was avoiding her father.

Then one night about 2am we heard a terrible shriek from next door, (the daughter), quickly followed by  screams from her mother. “Please stop” and “Help” predominated.  For those who remember, this was back in the days of the “baby doll pyjamas”.  Definitely not something to go running around outside in, but there was no time to dress. So on with a light dressing gown and we started to see what was happening.

The screams were so bad we obviously couldn’t wait for the police. When we  got outside I was astounded by the scene. All our neighbours were lining the footpath watching “the show”, Not one person had offered to go to assist the woman they all knew or the little girl.  There was a man on the verandah looking into the house and the little girl was crying on the lawn. I grabbed one of the neighbours and simply told them to look after her. She was terrified saying over and over “Daddy is killing Mommy”.

My husband charged up the stairs and disappeared into the house.Seeing no-one else was going to help I ran up the stairs and arrived shortly after to see the husband kneeling on top of his wife, her shoulders pinned under his knees as he kept hitting her about the face and body. After my husband grabbed him and pulled him away from her the fight quickly turned towards him. (It usually did work out that way). As they struggled they stumbled out onto the verandah where the second man decided it was a good idea to attack my husband from behind. Not very sporting, nor acceptable to me!

I could not understand why no-one was willing to come to his aid yet were happy to watch someone being attacked by two drunken men. OK, at that point I became truly angry. I was no longer in the Police Force but then enough is enough.  Adrenalin is a wonderful and powerful thing. I grabbed the second fellow and whirled him through the front door, almost a parody of the waltz. After stumbling and falling to the floor I ‘decided’, that is if I actually thought about it, to sit on him to keep him out-of-the-way. It seemed like a good idea at the time and worked. A bloodless coup!

The fellow I was ‘detaining’ was rather perturbed at having a woman, scantily clad at that, sitting on him in the middle of a brawl. The scuffle was continuing unabated outside as her husband decided he didn’t appreciate not being allowed to pound on his wife.  The second fellow kept pleading that he ‘wouldn’t hit a woman’ and ‘if I let him up he would just sit out of the way’. I unceremoniously told him to shut up and keep still. I wasn’t willing to trust him.

The fight suddenly came whirling back into the lounge room. There was a piteous wail from the little girl outside. Around the room they went and into the glass terrarium coffee table, which were the fashion at the time. Unfortunately they were not designed to carry the falling weight of two struggling men and the table smashed as they went down.  I saw blood flowing down my husband’s leg and knew he’d been hurt.

Shortly thereafter, the husband ran out of steam as his drunken binge caught up to him and he was brought under control. His ‘mate’ was still protesting his good behaviour as I sat on him. The local police arrived to take over, finally, and I was able to get to my feet.

Needless to say there was a great deal of smiling  at the scene as they took notes on what had occurred. They knew my husband but it was obviously amusing to see us there in our pyjamas. I can understand why.  It eventuated that the second drunk was the cousin to the woman who was being bashed. He didn’t want to get involved so he stood outside and watched! Both men were arrested and taken away for the night.

We returned home so I could perform some first aid on my husband’s leg. In over 25 years of service the only time he was injured was that night. Ironic don’t you think. Domestics are the worst cases to handle. The police called to the scene so often become the source of the problem once they arrive and are often attacked by everyone. It really is often a no win situation for them.

The police eventually came back to get a formal statement, (not much sleep that night!) and we finally got back to bed.  The sad part was the fact that the husband came back home and the wife remained until he beat her again, so severely that she finally decided to leave him. (He was arrested and jailed this time). I can only hope she made a clean getaway and she is fine now.

In my mind I didn’t really do very much this night, even though the police who came thought I was so brave to tackle the second drunk. However, the potential for things to get much worse was there. My husband was being attacked by two drunks, a very bad situation, and had no hope of assistance from elsewhere. Whilst my attire was not really the best for a fracas there seemed  no choice but to assist. (In my mind at least). Sitting on him seemed a fair exchange for attacking my husband from behind. If he got a few bumps and bruises in the fall then he deserved it.  You simply don’t leave ‘your partner’ in the lurch, you always ‘have his back’.  I’ve said it before, old habits are hard to shake, especially in ‘this game’.

The mindset for being a police officer is fairly entrenched and at this time I had not been very long out of ‘the job’. It’s not an excuse but a fact of life. I was still a police officer in many ways. I guess at times I still am.

The memory does play tricks but I am positive this is exactly what happened. The most embarrassing part for me was being in my ‘baby doll’ pyjamas, not the dress to wear to a drunken brawl, but appreciated by the attending coppers. 🙂

Ciao, Susan

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This is another true story, all the more peculiar because of the way it came about,of how I became involved in an incident with the police in busy rush hour in Roma Street, Brisbane. At the time I was working for the South East Queensland Electricity Board. At the end of each day there was a mass exodus for the train station on Roma Street. It was a case of first in, you might get a seat. If you were tardy then you most likely had to stand all the way home. Gentlemanly behavior went out the door with a suit and a newspaper!

I’d had a great lunch break, buying up big in the sales of large glass jars of moisturisers and cleansers and all those lovely things women are fond of (and the men too if they admit to it).  There I was, the five o’clock rush already in full swing.  My heavy shoulder bag full of carefully wrapped glass jars.

I was hurrying along in my beautiful high heels and short skirt – nice to be in the height of fashion, when I suddenly heard a strident cry – “STOP, POLICE!”  This, the call to action for any police officer, anywhere, the Queensland Police Force was no exception.

That was enough to make me stop. A cry to arms no less! I could see nothing ahead of me except a sea of bodies, mainly male in their nice shiny suits, everyone hurrying for the train. I knew I wasn’t hearing things but I couldn’t see anything amiss.  Suddenly the crowd ahead of me started to melt to each side like swiftly flowing syrup. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like it before or since.

Ahead of me I could just make out the figure of a young man running hell for leather towards me, or at least in my direction. No-one wanted to know he was there. They didn’t want to acknowledge the three plain clothes police charging behind him. (To be fair I had to presume they were police after I’d heard the call).

Back in the day, dressed in the ‘height of fashion!

Thoughts tumbled through my head, ranging from outrage that all these burly suited loafers were going to pretend they couldn’t see what was happening and let this ‘perpetrator’ escape. (I suppose I could call him an unsub these days). Closely on the heels of this outrage was the thought that I had to do something to stop him getting away, followed by – OMG – my jars of cream! Drop the bag?  No way, and smash all those jars. No-one would help me clean it up and then I’d have to explain what I’d been “up to”. (That was my husband’s favourite query when something odd happened).

OK, the only thing was to try to stop him. He was getting closer. Even though time appeared to have slowed down there was little time to make a decision and I was determined he wasn’t going to get away. But how to stop any attempt from breaking my precious packages?

Right, the time had come to stop pretending I was a superhero. I decided in some deep recesses of my brain, that if I dropped my shoulder, just so, as he tried to rush past I could knock him off stride, perhaps slow him enough to let the police chasing him to catch up.

Not really thinking any further than that, as he came up to me I took two quick steps to the side and dropped my right shoulder, being careful not to get my expensive jars broken!

It worked!! He ran into my shoulder, lost momentum, staggered off the footpath and the pursuing police caught him.  Truthfully, it hurt a lot more than I expected but I was quite pleased with myself for stopping him when all those burly guys pretended they couldn’t see what was happening.

One of the detectives came over to get my name and make sure I was alright and then we parted ways as the handcuffs were slapped on the erstwhile runner. Yes, I made my train, late and stood up all the way home. There’s no justice for heroines.

An aside from this tale is how I became notorious for it. I was overheard telling my friend what had happened on the way home from work. She thought it would be a great story for the Public Relations team, of whom she was a member, as they were compiling the quarterly newsletter. No matter how hard I tried to play it down it was written up as “Receptionist Sue nabs Police runaway”. Ugh! I suppose it was payback for the leotard episode.

I didn’t hear what happened after that, the excitement was enough. It’s strange how you forget what the adrenaline rush does to you. It was also a reminder that some things never change – instincts and training stay with you a long time if they meant anything to you in the first place.

It was obvious I still had a lot of the instinct left as I found myself in another situation later on, but at least there were no snakes!

Cheers

Susan x

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This is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect…. the innocent!

Many years ago, our heroine had been, for a relatively brief time, an officer in the Queensland Police Force, back in the days when it was called a “Force” to represent that it was a force against the undesirable element in out society. In the heady rearrangement of brain cells created by the ‘love bug’ she had been persuaded to leave her dream job to marry and eventually start a family.

It was at this juncture that the family relocated to a relatively sleepy country town called Toowoomba, in the Downs area of Queensland. Her husband remained in the police department and she wrestled with motherhood and the boredom of a country town, being known as a policeman’s wife.  In desperation she became a member of the local YMCA gym, eventually becoming something of a gym junkie, there being little else to do in town.

image from whatshotwhatstrendingnow.com –

This was in the days of Jane Fonda’s highly publicized  exercise videos and gym wear. I can attest to the fact that those slinky, shiny g string lycra leotards and form-fitting leggings were extremely comfortable to exercise in! They didn’t look too bad then either.

So here we have the bored housewife at the gym on a cold winter’s morning, music blaring and fully engrossed in the class.  Suddenly there is a cacophony of sound coming from across the spare paddock, near the shopping centre. The alarm from the local bank was blaring away.

As they all gathered at the windows three men, dressed in ‘great coats’, balaclava and carrying what appeared to be heavy bags cam running across the paddock towards the road running past the gym.

Excitement! Bank robbers – fleeing the scene – escaping! Without another thought she ran out of the gym and up the street towards where the robbers had crossed the road. There was a vague, not quite fully formed idea in mind that she would check where they had disappeared into a driveway and let the police know where they had gone. Perhaps she might see the getaway car and let them know that too,

Imagine the scene. A young, relatively scantily clad woman is running up a street, dressed in gym gear, in the middle of a cold Toowoomba winter’s day, after three armed bank robbers. (She didn’t know they were armed at that point). Heading into the driveway they had disappeared along she carefully trotted down the concrete drive to see if she could catch a glimpse of them.

There at the edge of the driveway was a black object. Getting closer she realise it was a sawn off shotgun. Interesting! Very interesting! No sign of the offenders but a car had its engine roaring in the next street and disappearing at a great rate out-of-town. (She peeked, and saw a dark blue Ford heading away – FAST).

Heading back to the gym, after all she wasn’t carrying a phone,

she met a taxi slowly coming up the street so headed towards him.

After telling him what she had seen and where the gun was she asked him to let the police know. She could hear the police channel on the radio so she knew that he could relay the message. Instead she was met with a pair of eyes as round as teacups and a mouth hanging open wide enough to catch blow flies!

She had to repeat the message three times before she saw a glimmer of understanding and by that time the police had arrived and she went through her story with them.  To be fair, apart from grinning at the sight she presented they got the information out to the other  cars.

Getting back to they gym, as odd as it may sound, the gym class resumed as if nothing had happened. Nothing got in the way of the aerobics class!

However, not everyone was able to approach the incident with the insouciance  of our accidental heroine. The gym owner had called the local newspaper to relate the story and they had a reporter waiting in reception to interview ‘their star’! This was disastrous.

Being a police officers wife, it is against all policy to be interviewed by the press, without getting clearance from Headquarters. This of course, failed to even consider how her husband would react when he found out, or the rest of his fellow officers.

Fortunately, the reporter was a ‘good scout’ and hearing the problem, reported the story without identifying the heroine. Except – everyone at the police station had already been given a detailed description of the lady in the ‘sexy leotard’ by the officers she had spoken to. He couldn’t get away from it, neither could she.

The bank robbers were caught a few hours later, thanks to her information. The staff at the police station twitted our erstwhile detective for weeks. It was a boring town, very little exciting happened there! Promises of “Never Again” were extracted and life returned to its previous humdrum pattern.

image from lillieleonardi.com

“Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself.”   N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

.

(But I still have the article which appeared in the newspaper to remind me of a little excitement on cold winters morning in Toowoomba!)

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