Tuesday, June 10, 2014


It’s the season of recitals: baton twirling, piano playing, dance swirling, tambourine thumping, unicycle riding . . . The land resounds with the sound of mommies and daddies applauding their children’s performances—both accomplished and halting. 

Children sweat. Parents yearn. Tiger Moms insist. Grandparents endure and encourage, happy to be off the parental hook for a change. It’s a lot of fun. 

Recitals are the cherry on the yearly parenting cake, representing thousands of miles driven over hard roads through nightmare clouds of whining. I know. 

I did that—drove kids thousands of tiger mom miles: dance, tumbling, synchronized swimming, Boy Scouts, Little League, church activities, school trips, library runs . . .

And once through an actual DEA/FBI/CIA take down . . . 

No, really. An. Actual. Police. Sting.

Schlepping a van full of teenager types back from a library run, I had to slam on my brakes. My Dodge Caravan fishtailed to a stop. It was that or T-bone a white Corolla that had shot out of a hedge of azaleas to our right. The car full of young men bounced across highway 426 close enough to my front bumper to be able to wash it. Teens jounced, bounced, and slammed inside their seatbelts. 

Everyone screamed.

Mid-scream, I took a breath and thought about hitting the gas to proceed. I didn’t.

A black windowless van shot from the azalea hedge after the Corolla. The side door gapped open as three (possibly thirty) men wearing BLACK hoods—WITH GUNS—braced themselves in the opening. 

Everyone screamed.

I took a breath and tried to get the heck out of there.

The white Corolla crisscrossed back in front of my Caravan. I pumped the brakes.

Everyone screamed. 

I hit the gas.

The black van crossed the highway behind us, bouncing after the Corolla. I saw the driver in my rearview mirror waving me on, out of the way of an armed police pursuit. His BLACK hood looked stuffy and hot.

Screaming, I hit the gas. 

The Corolla cut me off again. I slammed on my brakes. Rubber burned. All the young men inside the car screamed soundlessly. The black van, bristling with hooded men, jounced after them in close pursuit. 

The men in the black van were not screaming, that I could tell.

The screaming inside my Dodge Caravan was now continuous. 

I hit the gas and managed to get as far as the Gas-N-Go at the corner. 

Throat raw from screaming, I sailed past the sight of hooded men pouring out of the black van in the Gas-N-Go parking lot, guns drawn, descending on the white Corolla like one of the Biblical plagues of Egypt: boils, lice, flies. Take your pick.

Everyone screamed.

And home we went.

The library books were due on the fifteenth.

Linda (Take-Down) Zern 

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