I saw the bogeyman last week.
All the years of my childhood, I feared that unknown scary person. You know, the one that you were sure was under your bed at nights when you couldn"™t fall to sleep, or the one who was definitely hiding in your closet just waiting for you to nod off and would then come out and choke you. Yeah, that "˜thing"™ "“ the one without a face or a name, but the one that scared you silly and caused nightmares.
Guess what? He"™s now real"¦ at least to me. And he came out in broad daylight last week and terrorized myself and my city.
Around 7:00 pm, on June 4th, a few kilometers away from my tiny little house in the usually quiet small city of Moncton, NB, he came out of the shadows into the slowly fading evening skylight.
At first, none of us knew his name or what he looked like except those who saw him first. I just happened to log into Facebook after my hubby had left to run some errands that evening and saw posts filling my computer screen faster than lightning flashes on a hot summer sky. Comments like "œOMG! I heard shots fired on my street! There"™s a gunman loose in our neighbourhood! Oh dear God"¦ he"™s shot some policemen!" None of the comments were good. I immediately called my hubby and told him to get home now as he was shopping near the area where people were stating that shots had been fired.
An hour later, after reading hundreds of social media posts, I decided that we were going to leave our house so we headed to my niece"™s home across the river. We grabbed our iPads, put the fur-babies into their cages, and off we went. I was certain that the RCMP would catch the bogeyman before total darkness fell, and we"™d be back home before 11:00 pm, happily snoozing away in our bed.
That thought couldn"™t have been further from the truth.
Around 9:00 pm, a photo of the alleged gunman was posted on Facebook. He looked like an actor out of some action/thriller movie, wearing camouflage colors, and a bandana around his head via Rambo style. Proudly displaying a high-powered rifle, two guns to be exact, he could have been a stand-in on a movie set. Actually, he could have been anybody"¦ except now we knew that he"™d supposedly shot and killed three RCMP officers and wounded two others. And he was still at large.
His face to me now became that of the bogeyman.
At 12:45 am, we checked into a hotel in Dieppe because we were fairly certain that our street would be blocked off since there had been an unmarked SUV and police officers at the end of it when we"™d left earlier the evening before. The hotel manager had to "˜buzz"™ us into the building as they were on lockdown as well. I"™ve never seen that happen in this friendly city of ours, but this was just another incident in a long line of firsts that were to occur during the hours of this tragic ordeal.
Around 8:30 am the next morning, leaving the hotel wearing the same clothing we had on when we"™d checked in the night before, we headed back to our home. By this time we knew our house was in the lockdown zone and the gunman was still at large. Thankfully, we were able to get into our home"¦ and there we stayed for the next 16+ hours. Every resident in the designated lockdown area was asked to stay indoors and not venture out… for anything. However, we had a problem: we have two dogs that need to be let out on a regular basis. Every time my hubby took them out, I stood watch at the back door. I kept scanning our backyard, certain that at any moment the gun-toting man would come barreling across the grass shooting anything that got in his way.
To say I was petrified would be a gross understatement. I was literally glued to my computer, iPad, or television for most of two days, devouring every tidbit of news hoping that at any minute I"™d read a post or hear someone say that the nightmare was over.
That night we risked sleeping on the main floor of our house as there aren"™t any beds in our basement. It was a fitful night"™s sleep for both of us "“ tossing, turning, listening to helicopters flying low overhead our home, still searching for the gunman.
We awoke two hours earlier than normal on Friday morning. The first thing I did was check Facebook to see if there was any news and thankfully, I read where he"™d been caught. He was now in police custody and no further lives were taken.
Bit by bit, we"™ve resumed our usual activities, although not everything has returned to our "˜before"™ normal. Now every time I take the fur-babies out to do their "œbusiness", I do a full 360 degree investigation of my surroundings. Some kid in the neighborhood let off a fire cracker the other night while I was outside and I swear I jumped 3 feet off the ground. I heard a siren wailing in the distance Tuesday afternoon and I thought "œOh, no! Please don"™t let it be happening again!"
I sat and cried for 3 straight hours watching the procession of scarlet-clad RCMP officers silently walk alongside the hearses carrying their fallen comrades, and the funeral services for these three brave men. I knew none of them personally, yet I felt an enormous sense of anguish for their families and their loss. I commend all of the members of our local RCMP force, our mayor, and all first responders for their dedication and perseverance they showed during this horrific time as I"™m certain this trying experience wasn"™t easy for any of them.
Yet I wonder how much time will have to pass before I feel totally at ease in my own home and my neighborhood. How long it will take before I drive by the street leading into where the shootings occurred and not silently think "œThat"™s where "˜it"™ all began."
And I truly wonder if there will come a time when the bogeyman will once again become the faceless, nameless entity I remember from my long ago left behind childhood.
One can only have hope.
NOTE: If you feel moved to do so, donations to the official Moncton Fallen RCMP Members Fund can be made by clicking here.