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Another Day At Work

Short story By: Jerri Kaplan

BANG! I jumped at the sound of a gun being fired. The realization that someone just shot the keypad of the door set in and I quickly ducked under my desk and pulled the cheap office chair in.....

Submitted:Nov 15, 2009    Reads: 70    Comments: 2    Likes: 3   

I work for a company that deals in protective services for children. Once the Department of Children and Families removes the child from the home due to domestic violence, drugs, alcohol, and numerous other reasons, protective services steps in. We help those parents by referring them for a number of things. There is parenting classes, rehabilitation, drug testing, anger management classes, and the list goes on and on. But we are only able to help those that realize their mistakes and want to change. There are many that believe they have done nothing wrong to have their child taken away. Those are the ones to worry about. They are confrontational during visits, rude on the phone, and always have an angry look on their face when you see them.
My office is the file room. I maintain all the files for the case managers. Along with filing, I answer the phone, make copies, and work with the Legal Department. The file room is the first door you come to after getting through the secure door. I had always drilled myself on what to do if an irate client made his or her way back here. I guess I would find out how well that plan would work today.
The entrance door to the back jiggled. I sighed in exasperation, assuming another case manager had someone managed to forget the four digit numerical password that had remained the same for the past six months. I refused to stop what I was doing to open the door.
I jumped at the sound of a gun being fired. The realization that someone just shot the keypad of the door set in and I quickly ducked under my desk and pulled the cheap office chair in. My desk was right next to the door and if someone were to glance in, they would not see me hiding under the desk. The only way I would be seen was if they were to take several steps into the room, turn around and look under the desk. But I was lucky and the person just glanced in and kept going.
I heard screams, two more gun shots, and a lot of yelling. I grabbed my cell phone out of its holster on my side and dialed 911 as I slunk out the door. Running out to the parking lot, I fumbled with my keys until I managed to unlock the door to my husband's Ford F-250. For some reason this morning, I felt the urge to take his truck instead of my Tahoe and right now I was glad for it. He kept a gun and two clips in his truck.
"Hello, this is 911. What is your emergency?" the operator asked. I quickly filled her in on the details. I gave her the name of the company and the address as I shoved a loaded clip into the butt of the gun. Cocked it and clicked the safety off.
"If anything is to happen," I told the operator, "please tell my husband I love him."
"Please stay right where you are," the operator responded quickly. "The police will be there in another minute or two. They are trained to handle this type of situation, you aren't."
"I can't sit here until then," I replied. "And I can't sit here while God knows what is going on in there. Just remember to tell my husband what I said." I disconnected the call and tossed the phone on the seat. I made sure the extra clip was loaded and stuck it in my back pocket. I was glad it was Friday or I would not be wearing my comfortable jeans nor would I have an extra pocket. A handful of bullets were shoved into my front pockets and I crawled into the front lobby, past the receptionist window. Once past the window I jumped to my feet and ran to what was left of the secure door. I took a deep breath and quietly made my way past my office door. It was quiet for a few seconds and I froze. A man started yelling and I heard one gunshot ring out. I heard the cries of my coworkers. I dropped to the ground and began to crawl on my arms and stomach past the copier, fax machine and printer.
Peeking around the corner, I saw one of our clients whose children were just removed. His three children had been taken away and just given back when he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana on a court ordered drug screen. Immediately, the case manager, investigator, and police showed up to remove the children. He had almost been arrested then with his raging insults and threats.
The case manager who had removed the children already found a foster home for all three kids and had left to take them there. I guess this had made the father even more angry. He was yelling and cussing at the huddle of women. Some were crying and weeping and others were quiet and restrained.
I could see the man clearly. He was unshaven, tall and lanky. He also had a wild look in his eyes. He had my coworkers sitting on the floor in the kitchen area because there were no doors or windows for anyone to get in or out of. There were windows all along the front of the building, but you couldn't see him because of the curtains that were kept closed due to the privacy requirements of our job.
I took a deep breath to calm myself. And then another and another. I just couldn't seem to calm with the adrenaline rushing through my petite body. I gripped the pistol with both hands, closed my left eye, and sighted him in. Taking another deep breath, I pulled the trigger once.
Female screams filled the air at the sound of the gun going off. I watched the man fall to his knees, a bright red trail of blood flowing from a hold in his left shoulder, right above his heart. He turned and looked at me, raising his own pistol but I quickly took aim and fired again.
He fell forward, his gun still gripped in his hand. I ran forward and kicked the gun out of his grasp. I motioned my coworkers towards the fire exit. But as soon as they opened it, the SWAT Team rushed into the building. The first four people pushed through the throng of frightened women while the rest lead them to safety.
I just stared down at the man who lay in a pool of red blood.
"Ma'am," one of the officers said. I looked up at him, my pale face devoid of any emotion. "Are you okay?" he asked. I nodded woodenly and he gently extracted the gun from my rigid yet shaking grip. He put the safety on and removed the bullet from the chamber.
I was led out of the building and over to an ambulance. They checked me over and finding no wounds, released back to the Sheriff's Department. Then the interrogation began. I was questioned on everything from why I disregarded the 911 operator's order to how many bullets I fired. I answered the questions as best as I could.
One of my coworkers had called my husband and he raced into the parking lot in his work van. He grabbed me in a huge hug and he ran his hands all over my body, checking for injuries. My laughter turned to tears as the truth of what I had done set it.


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