Days later, and like lead the knowledge sinks in. In our quiet little community, Windermere and nearby Ocoee and parts of west Orlando, the shooting death of a police officer echoes like a bell whose ringing makes you not only hear, but smell the rust, the decay, the imperfection of what looked perfect.
Two teenagers, 20-plus miles from home, walking in a bedroom community in the wee hours of the morning. Officer Robert German, age 31, doing his job, stopping them, perhaps asking if all was well…or perhaps challenging them; all we know at this moment is that he is dead, shot, and the teenagers, a boy and a girl, are dead also, bodies found nearby. Murder suicide? Suicide pact? Runaways? Much information is missing, but the key information is clear: three lives, gone, drained, unrecoverable, frustratingly, irrevocably ended. Between the three of them, not more than 77 years of life, in this day and age not enough for one life…
Here, at this moment, a town gropes. It stares into space. It recriminates, even though it knows there is no point. Why did I take police for granted? Why have I ever felt so safe? What did we…do wrong? However misguided those kids were, they were…kids. Does not the volunteering to be on the front lines of safety deserve some…safety? Why? Why not? And what now?
And so out comes…something. A gesture. A town filled with violet ribbons on lampposts, signposts, mailboxes, boathouse fences. They waver in the wind under a sunny spring sky. A quiet acknowledgment. A tacit promise to do better. A hand held up in a pledge: I am here. I see. I saw. Thanks and Godspeed. We are safe, reasonably safe, because you risked this.
© 2014 Adam Barr