Friday, 31 August 2018

Rock Bottom


     She sat up in bed wondering if the men she could hear shouting in the darkness were part of some vivid dream. When she heard feet pounding up her stairs, she knew this was no dream. 
     She reached out to wake Barry but he was already out of bed and racing toward the disturbance. The bedroom door exploded inward and she heard herself scream, Barry jumped back as a figure in black battle dress rushed into the room with a shouldered machine gun. Barry’s hands shot skyward as a second man rushed into the room and knocked her husband back onto the bed. The lights came on, throwing this nightmare into stark reality. Her heart was racing and her voice box seemed frozen solid. The man kneeling on her husband’s back was roaring, “Armed Gardai! Don’t move!”
            More and more people entered the room and Kate suddenly realised she was naked. She pulled the duvet up to her chest and started to shout at the men invading her home. “Stop! Stop this! Get out! Get out! Leave him alone!” as screamed as Barry was handcuffed. The gaping muzzle of the gun shifted position until it was aimed directly at her and anything she was about to say vanished from her mind. Never in her life had she felt so violated, so helpless.
            “Hands out in front, now!” yelled the man. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t think, this was all wrong, all so terribly wrong.
            “NOW!” the man yelled and the gun jerked in his hand. She dropped the cover and rammed her hands out like one of the cartoon mummies. The chill air played across her chest and felt the eyes of these men, these strangers, ogling her. The cold steel clamped down on her wrists and pinched her skin.
            “No,” she said weakly, but her plea elicited no sympathy from the eyes floating behind the plastic visor. Kate used both hands to snatch up the duvet and cover her breasts.
            The man with the gun turned his head toward the door and said, “Clear.” A tall suited man entered the room. He was over six feet and had a serious face. He nodded and the man with the gun stowed his weapon. When he spoke, his voice was quiet but his words carried authority beyond their decibels.
            “What’s your name?” he asked Barry.
            “Barry Rusk, what’s all this about?” yelled her husband, straining his neck forward causing the veins to stand out under his reddening skin.
            “Barry Rusk, I’m serving you with a court appointed search-warrant for this address as well as business holdings on the Nass Road.”
            “A search warrant...for what? You’ve made a big mistake, huge! I’m going to have the lot of you fired.” Barry yelled struggling with his bonds and trying to sit forward. A black-clad guard placed a gloved hand in his back and pushed him back down.
            Kate felt her blood boil, “Get your filthy hand’s off him. Who do you think you are treating us like this? He’s an engineer... an engineer, not a criminal. Whatever you think you’ll find, you won’t and then you’ll be sorry. This is Ireland for Christ’s sake.”
            The tall man looked at her, his face giving nothing away and instead of explaining himself he asked her, “What’s your name?”
            “Kate, Kate Rusk! Who else would I be?” That was when she heard Toby crying from the room next door. All the shouting must have woken him up. “Take these damn things off me, that’s my son,” she yelled shaking her manacled fists.
            The man turned to one of the other guards standing in the room and said, “Bring the child to Mrs Rusk.”
            “Take these off!” she yelled.
            “Out of the question I’m afraid,” the tall guard said.
            “I’m not having him see me like this,” she yelled and felt hot tears start streaming down her face.
            The guard sighed and rubbed his forehead as he considered the position, then he looked out the door and called to someone unseen. “Can you ask Detective Sim’s to come up here.”
            She heard the door to Toby’s bedroom open and the cries become clearer. She was about to say something when the big guard moved forward and locked her with hard and unflinching eyes. “I’m going to uncuff you but if you set one foot wrong, give me one reason...they’re going straight back on, you got that?” Kate felt herself nod. The tall guard produced a key and removed the restraints. At that moment a female guard appeared in the door walking a crying Toby in by the hand. As soon as he spotted her, Toby rushed across and threw himself up on the bed and into her arms. The big guard turned back to his men and said, “Take Mr Rusk to the sitting room while the search is conducted.” He turned toward the female guard and in a softer tone asked, “Would you take Mrs Rusk to the kitchen?” The woman nodded and moved into the room as the rest of the group led Barry out.
            “What’s all this about?” Kate asked the female guard, hoping the bond of sisterhood would trump any stupid piece of paper a court had mistakenly issued.
            The woman just smiled and said, “Why don’t we get you into some pyjamas and go down stairs?”
***

            Kate was dressed in striped PJ's as she carried a sobbing Toby down the stairs. She turned to join Barry in the sitting room but the female guard behind her rested a hand on her shoulder and said, “Into the kitchen please.”

     As she walked into her own kitchen she felt like a piece of livestock being herded around. Her shock and fear morphed into rage. This was all a mistake, that much was clear, but she wasn’t going to let them off the hook with an apology when this was all over. No, no way! She was going to make them pay and pay big for doing this to her. For victimising her family, for scaring her child, for making her feel helpless. Barry wouldn’t stand for it either, he had that look in his eye upstairs, the look that said he would ruin the men that kicked in the door to their house. At that moment two men with search dogs walked through the hall.
            “Search dogs? What are you looking for?” Kate snapped but the woman stayed mute. This was her kitchen, her home and she was being treated like a...like a...interloper. She wasn’t going to stand for it. “What’s your name?” she demanded.
            “My name is Detective Sims,” said the woman holding out her ID and in a colder tone of voice she said, “Sit...please.”
In the distance Kate could hear the big guard from upstairs questioning Barry and Barry ripping into him in turn. Ten minutes passed before a bellow rang through the house. “Detective Adams, can you come to the garage, I think you should see this.” For no rational reason a chill raced over Kate’s body. It was the excitement in the voice that did it. What could they have possibly found in the garage that necessitated a dozen guards, search dogs, and fucking machineguns!
            A few moments later the big guard in the suit appeared in the door hauling Barry along by the elbow. “Can you come with us Mrs Rusk?” he asked, but it wasn’t a question, it was a command. Detective Sims rested a hand on the back of her arm, urging her to her feet. Kate moved forward and was amazed at the change that had come over Barry. He was no longer demanding they be set free, or that all the guards get the hell out of their house. Now he simply allowed himself to be led with his head bowed.
            “This is ridiculous! I demand you let my family go this instant!” Kate yelled. She was going to keep fighting even if Barry had gone to jelly. She felt Detective Sims’ grip tighten on her arm, readying herself should a struggle break out. There was real strength in that grip and any thought of struggling seemed stupid. Once they were all in the garage the man with the search dog unhooked the grass collector from the lawnmower and began taking out small plastic packages. Five in total.
            “I’ve no idea what they are but they are not ours!” she yelled, turning to her husband, willing him to explain what was happening. If anything, his head was hanging even lower than before. “Tell them Barry.” But Barry said nothing, it was the big guard that spoke.
            He turned to her husband and said, “Barry Rusk, I am arresting you under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. You don’t have to say anything but anything you do say can be recorded and used in evidence against you. You are entitled to have your solicitor, if you don’t have one, a solicitor can be provided for you. Do you understand the rights that have been explained to you?” Barry said nothing, and the big guard motioned for him to be taken away. Toby began to scream and trash in her arms, and honestly, she felt like screaming herself. It felt as if a trap door had been opened under her feet and her life had just plummeted to rock bottom.
            The female guard turned Kate toward her and said, “Kate Rusk, I am arresting you under The Misuse of Drugs Act...” Another trap door opened and rock bottom seemed a very long way up.

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