'What the hell? Who the hell?’ she wondered in the fraction of a second it took for the cover to fall from Garry’s hand and rest on her leg. They had money; this was something she’d always feared could happen. Was it some tweaker? Some scumbag-junkie, looking for his next fix? Would they hurt her; or Toby, or Garry? She reached out for him, intending to draw him back to the safety: but the door came crashing in. He was thrown back; landing on the bed like a wrestler hoisted from the ring.
More and more bodies came crashing into the room; all big, all black, all screaming unintelligible garbage. She tried to scream but her words were swallowed by a gaping muzzle of a machine-gun, hovering an inch from her eye. A black, evil, hole, in the universe; sucking her inexorably toward it. She thought her time had come; her life was over, but then she heard the word; “Garda!”
She let out her breath. It seemed like a dream: her life; her bedroom, now full of strangers, one of which was kneeling on her husband’s chest: holding a weapon over his face. These couldn’t be Guards. Guards were there to protect them, not this. Her heart thundered in her chest but her limbs were frozen in place. Second by second, her sensibilities started to surface. She was being attacked, her family was in danger, she had to do something! The word’s that slipped past her lips were as much a surprise to her as anyone. “What are you doing? Get off him!”
The man kneeling on Garry flicked an eye toward her and it was in that moment she realised she was naked. Some primitive urge kicked in and she drew the duvet around her, instinctively knowing these men were dangerous to her; all men were dangerous in the right circumstances and these circumstances were beyond right. Another black-clad-body landed on the bed and she screamed but the one with the gun maintained his deadly poise. The second man grappled with Garry’s until he was secured in handcuffs. It was all crazy; insane, she had no idea what to do.
“What is going on!” she demanded as Garry demanded to be freed. The muscles on his torso were bunched in knots as he tried to buck the man off his chest. She reached out to help him but her hands were slapped away. The Gunman slid his knee onto Garry's neck and his finger settled on the trigger.
“No!” she whimpered, seeing what was going to happen. Thankfully, Garry stopped struggling. The whole scene seemed to last hours, but in reality, it was the work of a moment.
The man who had cuffed Garry now turned his attention on her. He reached for her hands, the digital clock reflected in his visor made him seem like some kind of robot. Perhaps she’d been wrong, this might all be a dream after all.
“Hands out, Muss’s,” he demanded in a lilting country accent. It was far too lilting to come from a Kevlar clad body.
“No,” she said, clutching the duvet closer.
“Hands out!” he yelled, yanking her wrists forward and snapping the cuffs on her. The pinch of metal on her skin drove any delusion of fantasy from her mind. This was happening, it was all really happening. The duvet fell away and she was exposed but it seemed unimportant. The man with the gun turned his head toward the door, and yelled, “Clear.”
A tall man entered the room so quickly he must have been waiting just outside. The guard with the gun relaxed a little, moving the gun so it pointed at the roof. The boss-guard spoke for the first time; his words surprisingly soft, but his voice carried authority beyond its decibels.
“What’s your name?” he asked Garry, who was still yelling at the guard kneeling on his chest.
“Garry fucking Harrison! What’s your fucking name?” he growled. There were veins standing out on his neck and his skin was crimson with fury.
“Garry Harrison, I’m serving you with a court appointed search-warrant for this address, as well as business holdings on the Nass Road,” the man said, laying a sheaf of papers on Garry’s chest. A moment passed where everyone seemed to come to terms with this new dynamic before the Boss-guard nodded at the man holding Garry. This seemed to be all it took to downgrade the situation from attack to wary disinterest. The gunman took his knee of Garry’s chest and moved two steps back.
“What that gives you the right to break into my house? Hold my family at gunpoint?” roared Garry, but he stayed lying on the bed where he had been left.
“I think you will find, that does,” the guard said, nodding at the papers on Garry’s chest. “This is going to happen, no matter what you do. I suggest you co-operate and it will go all the more pleasantly for everyone,” said the guard, his tone mundanely disinterested in Garry’s input.
“Cooperate! You’re having a laugh! I’m going to have your arse for this!” roared Garry as he tried to get to his feet. In the blink of an eye, a black-clad-guard had Garry by the neck and dragging him toward the landing. The boss-guard face said he expected nothing more.
“Stop it! You’re choking him!” she shouted after the man dragging her husband away. Garry was a hot-head, it was up to her to bring sense to this situation. They had nothing to hide! The best way to get this over was to let them do what they want.
“Search the house, we don’t care! We’ve done nothing wrong. We are honest, law-abiding people, and Garry is right, you’ve made a mistake. He’s an engineer... an engineer, not a criminal,” she said.
The tall man looked at her but his face gave nothing away. Instead of explaining himself, he asked, “And your name?”
“Kate, Kate Harrison! Who else would I be?” she yelled, aghast that the man would think she were anyone else. If they thought they knew who’s house they were raiding, surly to hell they know who she was. This only reinforced her certainty that they had made a terrible mistake.
She was about to let the man have a piece of her mind when she heard Toby start crying in the next room. One high-pitched wail was all it took to throw all the rest of this mess to the back of her mind. “Take these damn things off me, that’s my son,” she demanded, shaking her manacled fists, she didn’t give a damn who could see her tits.
The boss turned his head and said, “Bring the child to Mrs Harrison.”
“Take these off!” she demanded again, shaking her handcuffs even more violently. “
“Out of the question,” the tall man said.
“He can’t see me like this,” she said, feeling a sob rise to her chest, praying the man standing in front of her would see past the situation and imagine his sister, or his mother, in such a situation. “What am I going to do for Christ sake?”
The guard sighed and rubbed his forehead. Then he looked out the door and said to someone unseen, “Can you ask Detective Sim’s to come up.” When he turned back, he looked at her worriedly. Kate heard the door to Toby’s bedroom open and his cries became clearer. She was about to demand to be freed a third time but the boss guard beat her to it. He leaned across the bed and pulled her arms toward him. He slid a small key into a hole in the cuffs, but then stopped, and glared at her. She nodded her understand and he sighed before unlocking the handcuffs. “Give me one reason...they’re going back on?” he said quietly, placing them in his jacket pocket. At that moment, a woman appeared leading a tearful Toby into the room. He broke free and threw himself into her arms. His terrified eye’s flicked across the strangers surrounding him before he buried his head in her armpit.
As she stroked his head, she promises herself that she would make these men pay for what they were doing to her, and her family. She wasn’t sure how much Toby understood, but judging by the shivers running through his body, he understood plenty. The boss-guard addressed the woman who’d brought Toby. “Would you get Mrs Harrison ready and bring her down stairs?” The woman nodded and everyone else filed out of her bedroom.
When they were alone, Kate asked, “What’s all this about?” She was hoping the bond of sisterhood would trump any stupid piece of paper a court had mistakenly issued.
The woman didn’t smile, didn’t give her any hope, she simply said, “Get dressed.”