Stephen Kahn

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

A meditation on violence (part 1)

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2011 at 3:37 am

About 40 years ago, there was a frantic pounding on one of our two front doors late one night. (As we lived on a corner, we had two front doors.) I opened one of the doors and encountered a sobbing, screaming, hysterical woman, who fell into our house more than she entered it. Amidst all her hysteria (probably the worst I have ever encountered), I managed to decipher that her brother-in-law had beaten her up. My wife appeared, followed by our (then) four-year-old daughter.

As my wife tried to calm down the woman, who indeed did have bruises on her face, and who was sobbing, throwing herself on the floor, and occasionally screaming, I called 911 and asked for ambulance and police (actually Sheriff’s Department in the then unincorporated area north of Seattle known as “Shoreline”). As we awaited for them to arrive, put a blanket around the sobbing woman and offered her some tea to drink, and tried to convince our curious child to go back to bed, I heard some furious pounding on our other front door.

Thinking this was the villain pursuing his victim, I refused to open the door. A man called, “I need help! A man attacked my friend with a knife.” No you don’t [need me to open the door] I thought. Through the locked door I called, “You will have wait. The Sheriff is on the way.”

Eventually an ambulance and a Sheriff’s car arrived, each vehicle bearing two people. The aid workers checked the woman for vital signs and began to put her on a stretcher. The deputies briefly questioned her. She lived in a house about four or five houses up the street from our rental house, one of those houses where an odd assortment of young people (who may or may not be related to each other in any formal way such as blood or marriage) lived together.

The deputies asked whether her husband was involved in the assault. In an unconvincing way, she sobbed that her husband had been present but had not participated in the assault.

As the ambulance attendants carried her out to the aid vehicle, the deputies told us that they were well acquainted with the alleged perpetrator, indicating he was a well known criminal in the area. “If we don’t catch him tonight, it will only be a few days before we pick him up,” they assured us.

The deputies went out to check on the outside victims, one of whom was also being transported to the hospital in the ambulance. We got a bit of the story from the other person, who fortunately was uninjured.

After I had let the woman in the house, two servicemen (not in uniform) driving down the street observed the perp pursuing her toward our house. They stopped to see what was going on. When the driver asked the perp why he was chasing the woman, he responded by slashing the driver in the face with a knife. Fortunately, while there was a lot of blood, the attacker missed his eyes and other vital parts.

[to be continued]