I just wanted everyone out of my house. I wanted whoever had done this to pay. I wanted to tell my wife not to be scared and have her believe me. I wanted to tell Hannah that Mommy and Daddy were okay. I wanted none of this to have ever happened. Most of all, I wanted my anger to burn on. Without my anger, I would lapse into becoming another victim who feels violated and confused. I would not allow myself to feel that way so I fanned the fires of my rage. I began to radiate searing anger.
The Mt Penn Police Department’s casual attitude and lack of confidence in ever being able to solve this case, “We have what we need but this probably won’t get solved. Unless we can get a usable fingerprint, but more than likely we won’t.”, was just the accelerant my fire needed.
It didn’t take too much longer for the 10 pounds of fingerprint powder to run out and that seemed to signify the end of their investigation. They thankfully left.
The chaos I had come home to had died down. Alicia had settled to the point where her body no longer heaved. All she could do is call out questions neither of us could answer. Why had this happened? Why had someone taken our things? What are we going to do?
It was decided that instead of sitting in the house wondering why, Alicia and Hannah would spend the night at her parents’ house. Alicia did not feel comfortable spending the night in the house anyway, not with the burglary’s stench still lingering under our roof.
I was going to stay. There was more to gain for my family by me staying and spending the night than by me going with them. I had made a promise to myself to take back what was stolen and I had a plan. I kissed Alicia and Hannah goodbye and closed the front door. It was time to go to work.
I had plans of scouring my house. I wasn’t going to be able to get back the material items taken from us hours earlier, but I could get back some level of normalcy in our home. This meant each room, each piece of furniture, every inch of trim, every window; every nook, corner, tile, knob, handle, hinge, and hook was going to be scrubbed.
I would spend the next five hours doing just that. I hadn’t known the burglars exact path through my house (me and Mt Penn’s finest had something in common) so I swept, wiped, mopped, and brushed the entire house. I moved the furniture. I saw places in my house I had not seen since we first moved in and the house was empty. I went through a bottle of Mr. Clean and half a bottle of Glass Plus just trying to get rid of the fingerprint powder in my sunroom and kitchen that David Starsky left behind. I emptied and refilled my bucket of hot water more times than I cared to count. And when I had finished I sat down on my sofa, looked at the empty space on the entertainment center where my DVD player had been and exhaled a sigh of relief.
I was never going to see the jewelry Alicia’s grandmother gave to her, Hannah’s baptismal Rosary (what they would want with that I will never know), or the DVD player again and I knew that (make that something else me and the police had in common). I had made some sort of peace with that fact while sitting on the sofa. I also recognized there was nothing I would be able to do to get them back either (and yet one more thing the police and I had in common) so I had said my goodbyes to all of it so I could move on.
I also wasn’t so angry anymore either. With every wipe of my rag and pass of the vacuum cleaner, the anger receded. I needed it less and less as the house got cleaner and cleaner and I was able to wipe away any physical trace of someone being in my house.
My girls would come home the next morning (I have to confess, I slept next to a baseball bat that night and was wide awake at even the faintest sound). They came home to a house with the only trace of what had happened the day before was a missing DVD player and the broken entry doors (which were now boarded up where the glass had been broken). Alicia felt better about coming back to this. Hannah, I think, was glad to see her Mommy and Daddy smile, if just a grin, again. I was glad that I was able to wipe away what had infected our house 24 hours ago.
Despite some lingering effects of the burglary, we were able to reclaim some of what had been taken from us, not the materials (they continue to elude the inept hands of the Mt Penn Police force), but our sense of normal. Our sense of home. And thanks to the people who make up our home, that is one thing that could never be stolen.