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Saturday, December 21, 2019


by Jen Schneider

The holes left by 14 bullets that tore through their house during the nearly 8-hour police standoff in North Philly on August 15, 2019—which saw six officers shot but no one killed—were being patched up for free. Finally, their home would no longer serve as an unwanted reminder of the terror and trauma he felt after being trapped inside while more than 100 rounds were fired from directly across the street. Photo: Mayor Jim Kenney talks to Cynthia Muse, block captain on the 3700 block of N. 15th Street, and other neighbors LAYLA A. JONES / BILLY PENN November 7, 2019.
Police remained on the scene after a gunman was apprehended following the standoff on August 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. —WHYY

Late afternoon, right before naptime, the troubled marksman paced in a first-floor apartment. On the second floor, baby’s dog-eared picture book dropped, then bounced, on the hardwood floor. Fan whirrs stifled ground floor hollers. Gunshots sliced heavy air.  Bang. Crack. Thud. Momentary silence. More fire. Help. First-floor situation. Second-floor fear. Voices drifting through vents roused all. Four pairs of eyes, arms, legs, and sweat-drenched ears hid under freshly laundered-cotton sheets. Specks of yellow daffodils sprinkled among confetti bursts of green, red, and turquoise streamers shielded bodies that retreated into each other. Silence, then creaks in the back window.  Tap. Crink. Clank. Glass pane rose. “Police. This way. It’s okay. Baby first.”  Drops of tears, questions, and relief pooled on the hardwood floor. Four pairs of eyes, arms, legs, and sweat-drenched ears slid to safety, down freshly laundered cotton sheets. Bare soles—and souls—touched searing concrete. Block on lockdown.

Prayers for police. Salvation. No more guns. Questions. Unanswered. Sirens continued to roar.

Hours later, right before bedtime, we returned home. The television flickered. New nightmares. Naptime. On primetime. Our prayers. Our faces. Recorded. Replayed. All in 10-second clips.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Her work appears in The Coil, The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, 42 Stories Anthology (forthcoming), Voices on the Move (forthcoming), Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.