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Episode Four: "The Welcome Home Party"
The only thing the neighbors had to say was, “Man I’m glad I missed that party.” They took Jeff and his wife away for further investigation and incarceration at the county jail. My wife and me offered to babysit their children for a while until they could figure out what was going to happen. It was a terrible time for the whole family. Jeff was sentenced to 36 months since it was his first offense and his wife Sherry was given a suspended sentence. She decided to tell them who their main supplier was and that got her off the hook.
She was however put on probation for a year. Jeff and Sherry were inseparable but now Jeff was gone and she was going to have to learn to live without him. They almost lost custody of the children. It was a hard case the welfare people had against them because of the drug related case they went through. There was a hearing and it came right down to us as character witnesses and good neighbors to vouch for Jeff and Sherry as good parents. We told the Judge they were good neighbors and spoke rather righteously about their treatment and rearing of the children. Whatever we said must’ve left a good impression on the judge and welfare plaintiffs. After careful scrutiny and a couple of months apart from their children, the Judge gave Sherry back custody under the condition that we would look out for the well being of the children as well as Sherry’s behavior.
Sherry was a good woman and a good wife as far as we knew. She was a blonde haired beautiful girl with green eyes that would melt your heart. Anyone could see she was a good girl that made a mistake or as the judge said, "you have made an error in judgment.” Never mind that her dad was a councilman on the county seat, which did help a bit.
Jeff was the black sheep son-in-law her family didn’t much care for. But Sherry loved him and that is all that mattered to her. She was willing to wait for Jeff as long as it took. Two years went by and Jeff came home. Sherry’s dad helped him come out early on a good behavior probation condition. Her dad knew the children needed a father and maybe this time things would change for the best. Sherry prepared a welcome party for him. It was a success. Everybody was there to welcome him home. Bonnie and me were there too with a great anticipation of welcoming the prodigal son.
They thanked us for helping with the children and everything. We all went over the past as well as the present. It was good to be together again and it was just like old times only without the uproar of raising hell. We embraced and wished each other well in this new day of regeneration and a second chance. Things were going to be different now for Jeff and his family. There was going to be a bible in the front room from now on. We even set a time to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday. He was eager to meet the preacher who had visited him in jail.
Jeff spoke of the preacher very highly and was even asking how he could go into the ministry to do God’s work under the mentorship of this man of God. Jeff had finally arrived to a great door knock that he was finally going to answer. It was almost like Christmas Eve once again and everyone was going to be surprised by the opening of presents left under an artificial red and green Christmas tree. Santa had come to town.
It all seemed to be going smoothly until from out of nowhere we heard the gunshots ring out. It seemed as if hundreds of bullets went whizzing by my head. The lights were shot out and it was pitch black in the house. We tried to figure out what to do but as soon as I tried to stand up, I slipped on a very thick liquid and I knew it was blood from the body lying on the floor. It was about eleven at night and it seemed as though time had stood still while a rushing avalanche of fear overtook me. Everyone hit the floor and scattered quickly through the rooms. Flashbacks of Vietnam came knocking again as I crawled around looking for Bonnie and the others.
Another horde of bullets hit the home again and it seemed as though it was an endless struggle just to lift your head to see if you could still move. No one dared yell or scream for fear of letting the enemy know there were any survivors. It is amazing what you do when your life is holding on by a thread of a silence that would determine if you live or die. I didn’t have time to look around to see if anyone was still alive. I was only hearing my own breath as I inhaled and exhaled hoping that I wasn’t in shock. If I was in shock, I could most likely be shot and not feel anything for a while. My fear was so intense that pain would only be secondary to my fleeting death. Maybe I would bleed out and go to sleep and never wake up again. I didn’t want to die!
I yelled, "Everybody alright?”
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