Any time at all

Wednesdays, we have a standing arrangement with our baby-sitter; she comes over for an hour or so, Beloved Husband and I get out for a walk together.

This week, we weren’t feeling well, either of us, and we decided to go to the little mall near us instead of marching around outside in the cold. BH had some toys he wanted me to see at the department store at one end of the mall, and then we’d check out the grocery store at the other end. At the department store, I did a full tour of the toy shelves tucked into the furthest corner of the department store, while BH moved on to the electronic section closer to the mall doors

That’s where he was when he heard the shots. Being him, he recognized the sound. But, unusual for him, he discounted the possibility. I didn’t hear a thing, and I met him in electronics just as staff closed the mall doors, not too unusual at 8:45 . Then, when we made our purchase, the outside door was also shut. The store was locked down. After a very brief delay, the doors were opened; we went out, and then into the rest of the mall to do our other shopping.

Two people had been shot to death in one of the mall stores, as it turned out, men who were involved in drug distribution.

Apparently a purposeful shooting, and we were at no virtually no risk, though it shocks me to think what if we had finished our perusing a little earlier, and had been wandering past as the gunman tried to escape? I can vividly picture that going very badly.

But what I really did see is bothering me. As we entered the mall, about half-way along, a woman ran past us, with so clear an expression of pain on her face that BH remarked on it. I made some comment on stupid high heels. She ran down to the crime scene and began to cry. I pulled BH on, to do our shopping, but I can’t get her out of my mind. Presumably she knew the deceased, but is she deeply connected? Married to one of them? How is she now?

This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in our city. It isn’t a big place or a highly crime-ridden one. But that undercurrent is there. And, crime aside, life can end abruptly. I’m hugging my kids and BH a little harder than usual this week.

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