From our balcony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico we can see all the traffic entering and exiting the condo complex.
Our interest is piqued anytime the vehicle entering the complex has a light bar on top. Two days ago we raced from the front balcony to the rear when a Sheriff's Deputy pulled into the drive. The female officer parked across the lot from our unit and a female neighbor I recognized but have not had close contact with, got out of her car and met the Officer.
The neighbor is a tall, slight, tired and gaunt looking individual. She is civil anytime I greet her, but obviously wants no further conversation; sort of "Hi. Now leave me alone, thank you."
It's a cool, breezy night and she is dressed in pants and a blouse with an afghan draped around her shoulders.
Our own personal episode of "COPS" is unfolding before our eyes.
Not wanting to appear obvious in our curiosity (and because of the temperature), we stood inside our sliding-glass door and watched gestures and demeanor. The neighbor wasn't crying. She talked with the deputy several minutes, then the deputy turned her head to talk into the speaker-microphone attached to her left epaulet.
Soon another deputy quietly arrived, male this time. He chatted with the lady officer, then walked to the corner of the line of condos to our rear, carefully peaked around the corner down the line, then walked all the way down the line of condos, emerging at the other end and returning.
More talk all around.
Another deputy arrives.
The maintenance man arrives carrying passkeys. More talk.
A Fire Truck goes by and parks in the lot of a nearby restaurant about two blocks away. (We have "Public Service Officers" here, so these guys are all paramedics.)
Two Sheriff's Department pickup trucks arrive, adding two more uniformed deputies to the mix.
"What do you think is going on?" Sara Jean asks.
"I think it's a domestic dispute" I respond. "These things can turn really ugly in a flash and it's one of the jobs our Law Enforcement Officers hate most."
Everyone huddles. One of the deputies is on a cell phone... talking with the guy inside the condo?
He hangs up. More huddling. The female neighbor gestures in a way that I decipher as "Up the stairs and to the right"...
That's where the bedrooms are in those units. She then gestures with two fingers and an upward movement, then one finger down...
Two bathrooms upstairs, one down?
One of the Deputies gets the keys from our maintenance guy, walks to the front door and enters.
I pray I don't hear gunfire.
He soon emerges with our male neighbor with hands behind his back, handcuffed. He's barefoot, dressed in a bathrobe. He shouts something at her. She responds, but her level of response carries about half the emotion. He's loaded in the back of squad car number two and transported away.
Some talk with the female neighbor follows to insure she is well, then our public servants all vacate the premises.
"Handcuff's" significant other enters the condo, comes out with a box of stuff, and drives away.
Next morning dawns with more of the same... cool, rainy, breezy. I'm surfing the 'net when I notice her drive up and get out of her (their?) car. She goes back into the condo and comes out with an armload of clothing on hangers. She returns to the condo and comes out with two boxes filled with the stuff of life. One more trip yields another box full.
She then drives away.
Late in the afternoon I notice a taxi pull into the lot. From it emerges the male neighbor, sans handcuffs.
He enters the condo, spends about an hour there, then leaves.
We've seen neither of them since.
When I'm safe, warm, belly full, sharing time with a woman I love, I force myself to remember...
Others are not so lucky.
For whatever reason, many are living day-to-day, surviving one difficult event after another.
Most of us are blessed.
If that describes you, say a prayer of thanks.
And remind yourself to commit an act of kindness next time you can. It may mean more than you imagine to someone you don't even know.