There was torn up mail with his mother’s name on it all over the floor in the living room. The two policemen were talking to each other on the front porch. The mailman seemed to be gone. He went over to his mom and put his arms around her waist. Her hand came down to gently rest on his shoulders.
The policemen came back to the door and the other one, the one who had not gone into his room with him, said, “Ms. Freeman, we’re not going to take you in…”
His mother’s “What?” was explosive and sudden. “Take me in?” Jeremiah had never seen his mother angry like this. “After what that racist asshole said, you’re talking about taking me in!”
The man rested his hand on his gun, stepped forward, and said, “Ma’am…”
Jeremiah watched the gun with wide eyes. His mother had told him about how he should never get upset at policemen or resist them or talk back to them or anything like that, because that was how black men, and boys, got shot, even in the back, when they had done nothing wrong. He tugged on his mother’s arm, but she pulled her hand away and continued yelling.
“That… man… called me a nigger in my own home and ripped up all of my mail. You fucking watched him do it!”
The policeman took another step forward and unsnapped his holster. Jeremiah’s heart raced as hard as it had when the monster was outside and he would have peed himself if he hadn’t already done it. “Ma’am, you need to calm down. We can still take you in.” His eyes darted down to Jeremiah, “And have someone come take away your boy.”
His mother froze. The policeman who had gone to Jeremiah’s room with him stepped up and put his hand on the angry policeman’s arm, “Mike, stop. She hasn’t done anything wrong.”
“Mike’s” eyes got tight, “I don’t know; I think she’s assaulting an officer of the law. You’re not assaulting an officer, are you, ma’am?”
“Leave her alone, Mike.”
“Mike” didn’t look like he wanted to leave her alone. No one even breathed for what felt like hours. But after a moment, he snapped the clasp back on his holster and turned and stormed out of the house, leaving only the policeman, the one Jeremiah could only think of as the “good” one, in the house with them.
He spoke softly, “Ms. Freeman, I’m sorry about all of this. And I’m sorry to say that someone from CPS will be in contact with you. It’s policy after a domestic violence call when a child is involved.”
Jeremiah could feel his mother tense up, but she didn’t speak again. She just stood there. Jeremiah didn’t know what to do.
“You need to report your mailman. If nothing else, him ripping up your mail is a federal crime. You need to get it on record.”
Jeremiah quit listening and only stared at his mom. Tears were running down her cheeks. At some point, the policeman left. At some point later, his mother sat down on the couch and cried for real. Jeremiah sat on the floor next to her, to keep his wet pants off of the furniture, and held onto her leg. The only thing he knew at that point was that he was not going to get to go outside.
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