"On the ground!" Officer Cairns was shouting at me. "On the ground, now."
The ground, so to speak, was a $15,000 Aubusson carpet that I had inherited from my father. It had been in the family for two generations and I wasnít actually sure how old it was. I just knew it was worth a lot more than anything else at that moment.
"Just let me go to the bathroom, please," I muttered.
He just kept repeating his order "on the ground" over and over, louder and louder, more forceful than ever. I was still peeing, of course, and I was very reluctant to lie down on top of the puddle growing in my pants and at my feet on this expensive rug.
"Please," I pleaded. He would hear none of it. I could feel the growing heat of his finger on the trigger of his gun, now pointed directly at my head. As impossible as it seems, that gun had taken on a life of its own the life it had taken, of course, was mine.
I got down on my knees, quietly praying for everything to stop, for all of this to just go away, for someone rational to come along and call a spade a spade, make some sense out of this nonsense. Cairns told me again to get on the ground and I stretched out slowly, until my body was on the carpet. I wondered, not aloud this time, if this was what it meant to be "called on the carpet."
"Okay, cuff him," came Cairnsís next order to his compatriot.
"Please, donít," I said, somewhat muffled from my face being buried in the high pile of the old rug.
My hands were pulled behind my back and I could feel the police officer jerking them together, a cold shock of metal embracing the wrist of my left hand, then a similar jolt on my right. There was nothing I could do to prevent this final humiliation. I was at their mercy now, on my belly, on my face, wet and stinky, my hands caught in a forced languor behind my back.
"All, right, get up," Officer Cairns barked at me. I heard the order, but didnít see how I was supposed to do it. I had no arms to use, no hands to push upward with. I tried squirming my way backward onto my hips and then onto my knees, but the wet surfaces now clung to one another and I had no traction in my upper body.
"I canít," I said after making the attempt. "Help me, please."
"Nothing, I wonít try nothing, anything, nothing," I cried unable to get it straight. "I need help."
"You need to talk to the judge," Cairns muttered.
"I didnít do anything," I called out of the side of my mouth.
"You didnít...?" I could hear the consternation in his voice. "You resisted arrest. You refused to answer questions in an investigation interrogation. You broke into a private place. You lied to officers attempting to help."
"I didnít," I cried. "I didnít."
"Itís all here in my report, sir. You did."
My telephone began ringing. No one picked it up. I couldnít and the two policemen seemed uninterested in doing so, but my large blue-light Sharper Image Caller ID machine registered the calling number for all to see.
"Thatís the station," the second policeman said.
"Pick it up," Cairns ordered him. He did, identified himself and then listened.
"Well, we have him in custody now," he finally said. Then he listened again. "But he resisted arrest." He listened again. "I see, Sir. Do you want to speak to Officer Cairns?" He listened once more. Then he handed the phone receiver over to his superior.
"Cairns," he said. Then he listened. I couldnít see his face, but the warmth had dissipated from the gun, of that I was certain. I heard him hang up the telephone and move behind me. Now both of the policemen were standing behind me.
"What a mess," Officer Cairns muttered. His constant muttering was getting annoying.
"What do we do now?" his compatriot asked.
"Stand him up, Red," Cairns said and the officer named Red tried to help me to my feet. It wasnít exactly easy, for one thing working from behind me was difficult for him. My bulk isnít easy to manage and the extra resistance from the wet clothing and rug made it harder.
When he finally had me secured and on my feet, Cairns told him to uncuff me which he did quickly. I took a look at my wrists as soon as I could and saw there were no marks on them. Cairns, meanwhile was moving around in front of me.
"Sir, it would seem that your story checks out. The detective at the station talked with the woman you work for and she told him that you had made this mistake all summer about the phone number."
"I told you that."
"Yes, sir, you did." I could hear the edge of the apology caught on his lower lip. "Weíre sorry to have troubled you, sir," he said. "Red, letís go."
"Hold on a minute," I snapped. "Weíre not done here."
"Yes, sir, we are, sir," Cairns said.
"Not by a longshot," I asserted. "You canít come into a private home and assault an innocent, tax-paying citizen this way and just walk away from it like that."
"Iím sorry, sir, but we can."
"I donít think so."
"Under Homeland Security rules and regulations, sir, if we suspect you of anything unlawful, if you seem to possess possible public harm, we can do exactly that, sir."
"But you didnít suspect anything like that when you came in here."
"And who is to say we didnít sir?" His arrogance was really beginning to hurt me.
"I do. I would in court, too."
"Are you threatening me, sir?" he said, a slight curl on his lips causing me to take an emotional step backward, if not a physical one.
"Threatening?" I asked him cautiously. "No, no. Just... no, no."
"What is that gibberish about, sir?" he said.
"I need to go to the bathroom," I said abruptly, changing the subject and learning, once and for all, to hold my tongue, keep my thoughts to myself. I was about to turn away, go through the kitchen and find the toilet, but I decided to wait until they were out the door, but they made no move to continue leaving the premises.
"Is there another problem, Officer Cairns?"
"Yes, sir, Iím afraid there is."
I trembled. There was no end to this nightmare.
"Youíve made threatening statements to the police and that leaves me no choice but to place you under arrest, sir."
"I did no such thing," I insisted.
"Iím sorry sir," Cairns said, smiling now, "but you did."
"I didnít. You know I didnít. Iíll tell that to your superiors and to the judge."
"Well, sir, you can say whatever you like, but it will be your word against ours, isnít that right, Red?" He nodded in agreement. "And you see, sir, it will be your word against ours and youíre a known felon, with a police record."
"Iím not a felon."
"Iím sorry, sir, but we have a record of your attempt to break into a local museum and of lying about to the investigating officers."
"Itís not true," I shouted.
"We know your story, sir."
"But I didnít..."
"Cuff him, Red," came the order.
"Itís a mistake. All I did was punch in one wrong number. I didnít do anything."
"Then how would you explain our need to place you in restraints, sir?"
"It... Itís a frame," I spat out the words at him.
"Weíre the police, sir. Weíre only doing our job."
I was going to refute that statement, too, but held my tongue, let them lead me out the front door of my house and over to their patrol car. They opened the door to the rear seat and, holding onto my head, they pushed me down and into the interior of the vehicle. I fell onto the seat as the door was slammed after me. I sat upright and watched them get into their cars. I looked at the house and realized they had not closed the door behind them.
"Officer Cairns," I started to say, "my door is...."
"That will be quite enough, sir," he said.
"But could you just...."
"Quiet, sir. Or do we have to gag you as well?"
I certainly didnít want that. As we pulled back down the driveway my house alarm went off. It wasnít quite as loud as the one at the place and I wondered how long it would take the alarm company to phone, find no one home, call the police and have them dispatched to this emergency call.
I was betting, with myself, that Iíd be a long while at the police station before anyone reached this site of an unintentional "break-in." A long, long while.