Guy in a Park

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AFTER THE SWAT TEAM class, the officers took us to the shooting range again. They put together unique shoot/no shoot scenarios for each of us to practice. I was given a pistol with 7 rounds, the bullets that hit but don’t hurt badly. The officer took me behind a wall and said, “You are a police officer and first to respond a 911 call where there is a guy in a park acting weird. Keep in mind you shoot if he puts you or others in danger.”
I was ready. No shaking. Focused.
As I walk to go behind another wall, I hear a guy yelling and cursing. I turn the corner and I see a man wearing a camouflage heavy long coat, army helmet and a mask shouting bad words and walking up and down. He carries a big shovel, with the metal up, like a weapon.
“Police!” I yell to cover the noise. “Drop that!”
The guy doesn’t even look at me, but approaches a man who was minding his own business. “Drop down!” I yell again as loud as I could.
The guy doesn’t care and lifts up the shovel above his head ready to strike the man. Then everything went on in a split of a second.
I shoot up in the air to get the guy’s attention, and yell “Stop!” The guy doesn’t listen. I hold my breath and shoot him in his arm. Nothing happens. Shovel still above his head. I yell, “Drop it!” He steps ahead to get the man. Then I go again for four times, until the man drops down. Arm, shoulder, leg. I had a very limited reach, only a couple of steps on a side, and I couldn’t get behind him.
I tell you, there are only a few seconds that make the difference between life and death. Idealistic, you want to shoot in the legs and preserve that life, but when the other party holds a weapon, a leg wound would not stop him/her from shooting you.
The officer patted my back. “Good job! You didn’t let him get you or that man. I have only one question. Why did you shoot up in the air? That bullet coming down may hurt someone.”
“I wanted that guy to know I was not kidding.” The officer looks proud of me.
I should have stopped there. But no, I had to continue, “This is what John Wayne does in his movies.”
The man looked at me to see if I was kidding. When he understood I wasn’t, he patted my back again. “Right.”

Ride

2adf21221b88b589b4360a66c4795157--trucksIt was early in the 60’s and I remember my first ride in a car: it was a military truck, dark green, covered with a grey canopy. I was four or five years old and Uncle Paul was taking me from my house in the town for a short vacation in their village. The driver was one of his friends who happened to have some business in the countryside area.

The smell of cheap cigarettes the two men were smoking inside the car didn’t bother me. I was eating a candy bar. That was when I thought I could be a truck driver and drive a truck like that.

A woman on the side of the road waved at us to stop, and Uncle Paul held me on his knees to make room for the new traveller.

She handed the bundle in her arms to my Uncle and pulled to the handrail to get in the car. When the bundle moved, my Uncle’s arms trembled: there was a baby crying under the cover.

The new comer was taking the baby at her house after her adult daughter was caught listening a forbidden radio station and was put in prison.

I didn’t know what was that about, but I knew my dad and my mom locked the door and pulled the shades every night when they listened the radio. I knew I was supposed to keep that as a family secret. And when my parents were sitting down on the floor with their ear close to the machine, I played on the carpet with my cubes, but listening.

“Ta-ta-taaa! This is The Voice of America.”

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Las Vegas

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I didn’t know what to do. I prayed after reading the news, but even prayer, which is sweet to my heart, didn’t seem to soothe the pain. When Americans suffer, the whole America suffers. I went and took a long walk on the island. I thought I would pray more, but my soul was too hurt to say words before the Father. Then , as I was passing by the yards full of flowers, I stopped and smelled a rose. The splendor wrapped me in its arms. It was something I could cling to in this world of madness. I stood there on the deserted sidewalk and thought to dedicate this picture to those who suffer today.