I was only wearing boxers during the strangest, non-violent break and enter in Moose Jaw.
After months of writing out police calls for the Times-Herald, I was involved in two incidents separated by less than an hour: a bystander in one, a victim in another.
On Friday, a dispute down the hall in my apartment building continued for 15 minutes.
I listened as two male voices grew louder and the tone became more serious. I heard shouting turn to pushing. The pushing sounded frantic, like punches were being thrown.
That’s when I heard a female voice in the room, begging for the two men to stop.
My analysis of the situation changed, because this woman sounded like she was in the middle of the fight.
I was encouraged by a neighbour in the building to call 911.
As I started to talk to the dispatch lady on the phone, the neighbour yelled out, “We called the cops.”
The door of the apartment where the dispute was taking place flung open. Two men were fighting and the woman who had been yelling slumped onto the floor in the hallway.
The way her head hit the floor, for a moment I didn’t think we were going to find a pulse on her.
The two men continued to fight overtop of the woman who was inexplicably only wearing panties and a T-shirt. They stepped on her and she groaned. At least it was a sign of life.
Me and another tenant carried this woman into another suite. She lay there until emergency responders arrived.
As we moved the woman —we’ll call her Alice — the two drunken men took off down the steps and outside. By the time I got outside, the two men had continued to beat the hell out of each other, and one — we’ll call him Brent — was on his back, nearly knocked out.
The man who lived in the apartment where this all started, Jim, was still feeding punches to Brent.
I had no idea who was to blame for this disturbance; I just wanted it to be over.
I split up the fight and Jim took off back inside.
I assumed he went back to be with his common-law wife, Alice, the mother of his two children, as she was transported to hospital. I was wrong.
Police arrested Brent (his description on the police radio was “short, fat and bald”). Alice was loaded into an ambulance and I filled out a witness statement.
I returned to my apartment, turned off the lights, took off my clothes and got into bed. I was staring at the ceiling, trying to decompress after my stressful and unnecessary involvement with other peoples’ drama.
That’s when I heard something open outside of my bedroom. I had locked the front door.
I had never been the victim of a break-in. I had no weapon within reach, other than my car keys. I put the keys between my fingers and clenched my fist to create Wolverine-like claws.
I walked toward the living room, knowing immediately the sole security weakness of my apartment: the crawlspace.
I hated that crawlspace the moment I saw it, but I loved my apartment more.
It’s a creepy opening that runs along the length of the building on the top floor. Usually I kept a coat hanger over the latch on the door, but my landlord had been doing some work in it on Friday.
It was unlocked and easy for the man in the crawlspace to get into.
I started cussing when I turned on the light and saw the crawlspace door wide open. Then I saw cigarette smoke.
“It’s Jim,” said the voice from inside the dark space.
Jim was hiding from the police.
I cussed some more and told him to go back the other way.
“I’m coming out this way,” he said.
I made threats, but he was too drunk to care about breaking and entering into my apartment.
He stood up. He was bigger than me. He was wearing more clothes than me.
“I just need to go through,” he said.
He slurred his words as I pushed him towards the door. I didn’t say bye.
I put on some clothes. I called the police again, but they couldn’t do much but offer me the opportunity to press charges.
I put a coat hanger back on the crawlspace door and went for dinner with my wonderful and calming girlfriend.
I drank more than my share of wine after. I felt weird about using alcohol to calm down after I had been an unwilling participant in the bizarre mayhem it had caused with Jim, Alice and Brent.
I had never been the victim of a break-in before. I didn’t know if it’s better to happen while you’re at home or not. My incident was remarkably non-violent. I’m lucky in that way.
I hope to never see those three people ever again. I hope they resolve their issues.
I have opted not to press charges against Jim.
Since Friday, I have checked the crawlspace door constantly, making sure it’s closed and the coat hanger is triple-knotted.
I grew up in Regina, and it took a move to Moose Jaw to drill some paranoia into me.
I’ll relax as time passes, but the baseball bat beside my bed won’t.
Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theaustinx.