Copyright LC Cooper 2011
Published by LC Cooper at Smashwords
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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There was a knock at the door. Before she could yell out, I clamped my hand over my daughter's mouth. She struggled to get away, but the gravity of recent events overwhelmed her desire to call out a cheery, blissful greeting. I looked across the table at my wife. Quiet, fearful, and grief-stricken sobbing replaced her beaming smile.
Several more knocks followed. Each series was more forceful and agitated than the last. Two days had passed without incident. I thought we were in the free and clear. Prior to these last few moments, we shared not only dinner, but also a healing conversation. My wife believed, and I prayed, that our family would survive this nightmare. The fear of who was knocking reminded us, however, of the tenuous bond that held our family together. They were in control and we knew it. The knowledge that their power was unrestricted burned in my skull.
Still, no matter the terror, we refused to answer the door. More than nervous, the three of us were scared motionless. Silent glances at the front door replaced our desire to scream, "Leave us alone!" My grip on my wife and daughter's hands grew tighter.
Admittedly, it was difficult for me to hold my daughter's, but we were a family and I was determined to drive that point home. My heart was pounding and the adrenaline coursed through my body. Attempts to show stoic determination were undermined by my inability to control my trembling hands. With a caring squeeze, I let go of my wife and daughter's clinging grasps. I had to show my family that I could get myself together. It was important to recover what was left of my dignity.
Acting unfazed by the incessant knocking, I pretended to eat, but the spoon slid out of my shaking fingers and disappeared beneath the dark broth of the vegetable soup. My wife's forgiving and caring glance told me she understood. I was so glad to have her on my side.
They, again, pounded on the door, but refused to announce themselves or say anything to us. We knew it was them, and they knew we were inside. How could they not know? Prior to that first knock, we had been laughing and carrying on so loudly that our upstairs neighbor came down to ask us to be quiet. Playful, loud giddiness clearly announced our presence. We were alive and together, which was all that mattered. Even our daughter appeared relieved and sweet again.
That was before the knocking began. I carefully stroked her hair as she rested her forehead on the table. Her forearms covered her ears. My wife's shocked expression told me she was feeling the same unnerving sensation. She opened her mouth to scream, but stopped when I put my finger to her lips. Those sweet, soft lips should never have endured this torture.
Faith drained from my body as the knocks reverberated, unopposed, throughout our home. It felt as if the knocks were sentinels, sent ahead to locate our exact position. Once discovered, these invaders amassed in our dining room, hacking at the remnants of our already-strained bonds.
Expecting the front door's frame to shatter from the deafening blows, the last few knocks were surprisingly soft and oddly timid. Had these monsters grown tired of their game?
Emboldened, I rationalized the weakening knocks had to be because they didn't have a warrant. Without such a means of gaining entry into our home, they realized they were unsuccessful at wearing us down. I remembered my lawyer said that without a warrant, they were only allowed in if we opened the door to them. Expecting, though dreading the knocks, we finally understood that we had the upper hand by not answering the door. As small and insignificant that revelation was, it was still a victory for us. God knows we needed this win. After all, it had only been two days since I was arrested.
From jail, during a phone call with my attorney, she explained that because of the country's economic collapse and because this was an election year, every state and federal agency was fighting to survive.
In order to justify their existence, the director of Child Protective Services (CPS) invested a huge chunk of their budget on a gamble. They created a set of television ads aimed at generating fear and suspicion. The rationalization was that if CPS could get enough people to call in reports of child abuse, the startling increase in numbers would justify the need to retain CPS.
CPS' television ads featured a girl acting afraid of her parent. The girl shook and trembled as she cowered. She held her arms over her head to protect it from further trauma. My daughter saw this series of ads. My wife and I explained their intent, but, as it turned out, our daughter chose to hear a different message.
A week later, we (my daughter, wife, and I) went grocery shopping. My wife led the way. Our daughter begrudgingly pushed the cart while I brought up the rear. Our daughter was irritable and edgy that morning, having lost computer privileges for hitting the neighbor's dog with a stick.
Stuck behind my daughter and the cart, I watched in shock as my daughter rammed the shopping cart into my wife's legs. The attack was so violent and deliberate that it dropped my wife to the floor. Blood streaked out from where the cart hit a few inches above her ankles.
After caring for my wife and helping her to her feet, I turned to deal with our daughter. I grabbed her coat collar and bent down to lecture her. As if on cue, she threw her hands up over her face and shook them – all the while scanning the aisle for sympathetic onlookers.
A group of gathering women, who ran over to us when they heard my wife scream as she fell, whipped out their mobile phones. Some recorded me grabbing my daughter's coat collar as well as her staged reaction. Two called the police.
Armed with such incriminating evidence, I was handcuffed and brusquely shoved into the back of a police cruiser. I stared out the window at my daughter and yelled, "Why?" Her satisfied grin told me all I needed to know. In her own childish and selfish way, she was punishing me for taking away her computer privilege.
I watched out the cruiser's back window as my wife screamed and cried, begging the officers to release me. "It'll be up to a judge to decide, ma'am," was all the cops said. They hopped into their front seats and began to drive away. I, handcuffed, pressed my face against the side window when my wife pushed the palm of her hand against it. We were desperate to make a connection, no matter how feeble.
Later that afternoon, the cops completed their initial investigation and allowed our daughter to stay with my wife in our home as long as both of my in-laws were present. CPS agents, posing as caring social workers, violated our home twice to inspect and ensure their controls were strictly adhered to.
I was jailed overnight, booked on charges of child abuse. The jailer took my wallet and other personal effects and put them in a bag. I reluctantly slid the wedding ring off my finger and kissed it. I never saw it again. Once released and given back my things, I wasn't surprised when the jailer claimed I never put my wedding ring in the bag.
CPS didn't bother to interview me. They had all the evidence they felt they needed. Being an upper-middle-class family, our good name was smeared across the airwaves and newspapers as a result of CPS' bloodthirsty press release. Each story's tag line mentioned the need for more CPS staff to help assume some of the added burden from bloated caseloads. To make themselves look like heroes of the people, CPS' spokesperson blamed the terrible economy for frustrations that go too far. The bastards spun the situation to appear that America is one big family and that we all need to encourage helping each other by reporting possibly abusive situations.
After being released from jail, under the pretense of giving me a ride home, my lawyer briefed me on what to expect from CPS and the court system. Nothing she said prepared me for what awaited me when I arrived home.
Minutes of shared silence passed as my wife and I sat pressed against each other on the study's sofa, our fingers woven tightly together. Sighing, she lifted her head, and then locked her sad, drenched eyes on mine. She whispered that my boss had called before lunch. My stomach tightened, and I grasped her hand even tighter, dreading the words I knew were coming.
I was fired from my career of twenty-seven years. In my line of work, an arrest meant instant job-termination. Justified or not, a criminal blemish was considered a high-risk security threat for my employer. I was their Vice President of Human Resources. I had fired a number of people over the years for smaller infractions than this. I knew forgiveness was not an option.
I broke down, sobbing, "How could our daughter do this to me … to us?"
Then, once I pulled myself together, I told her that after I walked out of the police station, I was accosted by two CPS thugs. Although they begrudgingly admitted that our daughter had come clean, since I had been reported to CPS, they had three days to complete and close their investigation. This meant we could expect frequent visits from other CPS "social workers," and we had to call in our every movement during this timeframe.
It's been almost a year since then, but we're ruined. Financially, we haven't been able to recover from CPS' raping. I was never able to get my record expunged because I was labeled as a potential threat to society. So, I follow behind a truck every Monday and Thursday, emptying trashcans into it. Other days, I'm a dishwasher at a couple of restaurants. My wife, who never had to work a day in her life, is a substitute teacher and gives piano lessons on the weekends.
Ashamed and overwhelmed, our daughter never tried that trick again, but the damage was done. All her pretty things were sold at auction, along with our foreclosed home and our dearest heirlooms. She also lost her friends as their parents wanted nothing to do with any of us. My wife and I refuse to let CPS violate us again, so we live in our car, appreciating its flexibility, but acknowledging that the real reason is that we can't afford to rent a home. With time on my hands, I often sit on a dock, letting my feet dangle above the water, staring at my empty ring finger, and dreaming of what could have been.
Whenever we see a cop car, we melt into the scenery. Sure, we're paranoid. We've been violated by the Gestapo of the United States of America. Once the hunter, I can't help but feel we've become the hunted.
Nothing became of CPS' final report about my case. However, the press that CPS received as a result of my arrest was the crowning jewel in their presentation to Congress, which granted CPS a significantly larger budget. Their gamble paid off handsomely, but at what price to American families?
"When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny."
-- Thomas Jefferson
I wrote "There Was a Knock at the Door" in response to a challenge to write a short story that began with the line, "There was a knock at the door." This is not a personal story, but a work of fiction derived from a collection of news stories I saw on TV. The driving force was, of course, those vile ads created by CPS (and their ilk) which clogged the airwaves for a couple of years.
While writing this story, I imagined the shocked and panicked look on parents' faces as they watched those ads. I also imagined the faces of a number of children who eagerly jumped at the chance to apply the techniques and methods they learned from these same ads.
I realized that related headline-grabbing stories always positioned CPS as a hero, but time after time, I saw a devastated family reeling from a tragedy, only to be finished off by the callous hounds of CPS. The profile of my story's protagonist was based on a simultaneous pair of investigative stories. In one, a minority pre-teen was set ablaze when he got too close to his careless uncle's unattended backyard barbecue grill. The uncle had left to grab a beer. CPS' spokesperson said there wouldn't be an investigation. During the same newscast, however, a very well-known couple was arrested because their toddler was found dead, drowned in their community's pond. The interviewed CPS agent was nearly frothing at the mouth, wild-eyed and eager to put this feather in her cap. Then, along came a story of a different CPS agent found murdered – her death came at the hands of a family that she pushed over the brink. They were willing to go to jail in order to eliminate this woman's further poisoning.
Thank you for your interest and your time. Not meaning to come across as pretentious, but I truly hope you didn’t enjoy reading this story. Instead, I pray you take Thomas Jefferson's words to heart and pressure our state and federal governments to ban CPS/DCS/DHS' terrorist tactics. These departments are supposed to protect, not destroy, American families.
I would appreciate it if you would visit my author's page within Smashwords.com. There, you can learn more about me and discover my novels and short stories. There, you will find a romcom, some action/adventure stories, and a few comedies.
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