When I tell you that life to this point was relatively bordering on the mundane I would be lying to you. My life has been known to be a seesaw of events. But this day I would say tops them all. I’m not sure my bestest of friends would agree as they have a better gauge of my reality based on the whole truth and behind the scenes VIP access, rather than just the facts I allow to be known to be public. A concept that some say should be the title to a book I write, an ode to the 5% of the story I didn’t write.
When I told them this story, everyone was just as shocked at the unbelievability of the events as I was, but then were quick to follow with “well, if it was going to happen, it would be with you.” Which I would snort in protest, as if I had any control over these events. Strangely enough there does seem to be a common denominator. Me.
Ok, back to the story.
June 14th 2015, Edmonton AB
The house was awake. I could hear the business of the boys upstairs excited for the birthday boy’s ritual of a pancake breakfast. My daughter had just started to wake and was lying beside me hogging the bed as per usual. Ethan was laying in his bed playing on his cell phone…… surprise, surprise.
Penny had been up early that day in preparation for Levi, the birthday boy was about to celebrate with friends and family later on that day. It is tradition in my brothers house, that on your birthday, pancakes with sprinkles were on the menu, complete with ice cream and various other toppings. The age you were turning determined the hight of the pancake tower. I feat not easily mastered even for someone with big hungry eyes. Levi was turning 8 and so he was given a pancake tower of eight pancakes. His eyes grew with excitement as his stomach growled in anticipation. If I remember correctly, he finished them all.
With breakfast winding down, Levi and the other kids were laying on the couch like stuffed turkeys, settling down in the basement to watch a movie while we started to clean the kitchen. One last pancake remained and no one was interested in finishing off so I picked it up and called over to my Jezebel as I opened the sliding doors.
“Here girl, you want birthday pancake?!?!” She sat pretty like the princess that she was as I gave it to her. Her nose went straight up in the air and her feet danced excitedly as she took the pancake and ran over to and under the trampoline. Just as dogs do, she did her three times-the-charm spin before settling down to enjoy the pancake.
But the something happened. It caught my immediate attention and I watched out of curiosity. Just as she was about to settle down, she dropped the pancake and instantly her hair rose on her back. Just like the werewolf in Harry Potter, my lab morphed into her Rotti self.
Her head went low. Her hair stood on end giving her a faux hawk as she let out a deep warning “WOOF.”
“WTF?” I muttered and immediately stepped out onto the deck to investigate.
I heard a young male voice call “Mom!” Naturally my mom ears perked up with instinct, thinking it’s my son. My concern was instantly raised as I thought the boys were playing outside and given the events of the previous day, I didn’t think that was a good idea.
So I step back into the house and ask my brother who was standing near the front entrance sweeping, “Are the boys outside? I swear I just heard Ethan.”
“No their downstairs, why” now he was curious.
“That’s weird because Jezebel is acting so weird.”
I step back outside to go look again. Tyler looks to investigate out the front door just make sure.
Then I hear it.
It was like nothing I had heard before. A shrilling multi-pitched woman’s voices wailing. There’s no other word for it. A middle eastern wail at that. Then there were two.
My dog was going wild, barking and head low. She stood her ground and just kept barking.
I jumped in the house and said to my brother and Penny confused “OMG it’s the neighbours!!!”
My brother’s forehead wrinkles and his brow deepens, now he’s going to investigate from the front door. Penny rushes outside to the deck to aid in help “THOSE ARE WOMEN!!!!!”
So I follow her.
From our position on the deck, whatever Jezebel was barking at was hidden behind the fence between the houses but it was clear the situation was not good. We could not see much.
All I saw was this young middle eastern man with intense eyes, pointing to my dog and in my sister-in-laws and I’s direction, and say:
“FUCK YOU!!!! YOU AND YOUR DOG KILLED MY FATHER!!!!!!”
The dad was lying dead between the houses.
Maybe you didn’t read that and understand the absurdity of it all so I’ll write it another way so that you can understand better.
The son’s anger was intense and kept climbing, matching the intensity of the wailing women, which didn’t seem humanly possible to reach decibels such as those. I had never heard anything like it before.
Instantly we run into the house. Jezebel right behind us kind of whimpering and pacing. My brother who was watching this from the front door and could see the actual seen before him called out in simple English
As Tyler described it, the father was lying between the two houses. His feet were lying raised up on the bottom few stairs. There was evidence of blunt force trauma to the head. Being a firefighter, he is fully able to administer first aid, however given the hostile situation and after he had offered help, and was denied with another finger pointed “FUCK YOU!!!” his course of action was much different.
So with that he entered the house calmly but most definitely assertive told Penny and I “Get the kids to the basement. Lock the doors. Close the curtains and call 911. Ask for Police and Ambulance.”
Jezebel was still pacing and whimpering in distress.
I hurriedly looked for the phone as did Penny. She found it first. For the second time in two days she was calling 9-1-1. The first for sexual molestation of my dog and the indecent exposure to her son. The second time for a death of the very same man who committed the previous acts.
She was shaking this time. The panic in her voice was thick and as the words escaped her mouth when answering the question:
“911 What’s your emergency?”
“There’s a dead man next to our house and our neighbours think we killed him. We need the police and an Ambulance.”
I won’t go into the details of the call because honestly I wouldn’t be able to remember it, except the fact that it seemed to take forever for the police dispatcher to determine exactly the situation. I’m sure the way she had worded it gave the dispatcher a challenge on exactly how to triage the incident with how many police to dispatch and such. In the end, after it was all sorted out, Penny ended up hanging up and we waited.
And we waited.
It was quite sometime and even my brother was getting concerned at the response time so he phoned his station and asked his fellow firemen if they’ve been dispatched yet? And just like that, as he had questioned them, he said he could hear the call come in over the loud speaker and hung up.
We knew they were on their way. So my brother headed to the basement to check on the kids.
Miracle upon miracles, they were totally oblivious of what was happening. All five kids were glued to the TV. It must have been a God thing because not once did they come upstairs to ask what was going on till it was much later on in the day. I am thankful for this to this day.
It was at this time I was standing at the front door peering out the little 4 x 8 window they had waiting for police cars to show up. When all of a sudden,
I jumped back startled.
The youngest son had jumped on the front porches and tried to kick in the door. I could see the door frame bend but the door remained steady.
BAM!!! …again and again.
He was pissed. Demanding for us to come out.
Penny started to panic. I remember reassuring her that he couldn’t break through the door and that he wasn’t going to hurt us. She hurriedly went to get Tyler but he was already on his way.
Once at the door, the calm cool collected brother that I know, remained calm but his intensity exponentially grew and with a solid firm voice he told the brother:
“You WILL stop kicking the door!!!”
“COME OUTSIDE!!!” The man demanded.
“I will come outside when there is a police officer standing at my door. Until then you will stop kicking my door, or I’ll MAKE you stop.”
I was standing off to the side beside him, watching calmly and with intensity. I knew this man’s 5’8″ at best, skinny frame was no match for my brother.
It was in the next half moment, when there was a momentary lull in the chaos that I half whispered, with care, as I knew my brother was on guard mode;
“Ya” he muttered….
“You know you can’t go out there right?” I was speaking in reference to the threat to the son should he continue kicking in his door. The cost would be too much to risk and the red tape in the process for an assault to now be in question.
Half smiling, half wishing he could, he answered “Ya……I know that. But he doesn’t.”
It was at this very moment the first of the mob of police arrived and things got quieter.
As police were taking statements next door, and we had quite a few in the house, taking our statements and leaving us paperwork to be filled out. Never once were we asked to the leave the premise. A review of the previous day, the charges, and our statements ended up taking most of the day as various persons came in for clarification of this that or another. For the most part, the atmosphere in the house was quite and calm while we waited out the process.
Again the kids, all remained glued to whatever they were watching downstairs. I’m pretty sure, somewhere in the time frame Penny must have fed them and made sure they were satisfied with treats.
Needless to say, we did end up cancelling the birthday plans. Just in case you were wondering.
To the best of our knowledge, this is a summary of the series of events which happened.
June 13, 2017
9 PM neighbour dad was taken into custody and charged with leud act in presence of a minor and with cruelty to animals through humane society.
June 14, 2017
3 AM dad was release on bail. No family would pick him up so he took a taxi home.
Sometime between 4 AM to 8 AM
Dad dies. To this day we don’t know the cause. That information was not released to us. He had visible blunt force trauma to the head which my brother had seen. He had fallen backwards on the steps. The overall process was quite time consuming as an interpreter was needed to be found so the police could process things properly. I heard they actually got an interpreter from the base located in Edmonton to help out. I can not confirm this as we did not actually meet any people, our doors and curtains were closed at all times.
The mystery remains for us all.
Maybe he was drunk and fell? We don’t know.
What are the odds of that happening though? Seriously this is what I can’t get over. It’s all so absurd.
The family had made it seem as though my dog had some voodoo spell on them and killed their dad in vengeance. They expressed hostility towards Penny and the family and due to the nature of what was now not a safe environment, my brother and his wife ended up selling the house and moving within a few short weeks upon an unofficial recommendation from the police officer who followed up a few days later.
Later that night Ryleigh had a soccer game which was the first time the kids were even aware there was a situation going on upstairs. As we were not allowed to leave the premise, so we had a cousin come pick her up as she was escorted by a police officer to cross the yellow line and then then handed over so that she could attend her game.
It was quite the sight outside. We did not realize the amount of neighbours which were gathering as we stayed behind closed doors and closed curtains. I guess it was to be expected as there was about six police cruisers, a fire truck, at least one ambulance and the news truck.
It never made the news. Not that I’m aware of anyways. Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. We didn’t care. We went out for supper and had a make shift birthday supper for the the birthday boy.
The next morning when packing up my vehicle, the neighbour’s Afghani community started to visit to support them in mourning. They stopped in their tracts as they were walking up the driveway and would watch me while I packed up my vehicle. It was beyond anything I’ve ever felt before.
At last my Jezebel, the witch-dog and her voodoo ways, jumped into the car, we buckled up and we drove off back to Grande Prairie and that was the end of that for me and my kids. Of course my brother and his wife ended up moving and with the help of his platoon they him moved lickitey split.
Months went by before my kids stopped talking about it. It’s now almost exactly two years later and I’m finally telling the story. But it’s lasting effects linger much deeper than one can imagine both with my family and my brother’s.
It was to lay the foundation of a fear based prejudice that would soon be a topic of conversation between both myself and another Afghani man, but of a different kind.
It was only then that Mahdi was able to shed some cultural light on the situation and why my dog was seen as evil or vile in any case. His first words after hearing my story was of concern “Tell me, do your brother and his family still live in that house?” “No they moved.”
“Ok good. That was a bad man. You have no idea.”
I have a pretty good idea.
I feel like I need to qualify the reasons as to why I wrote about this story. I wanted to give the reader an idea of some of the person barriers I had experienced with respect to the Middle East and individuals I had interaction with prior to meeting Mahdi. Other than 9/11 and the various attacks and the half assed media coverage of the war in Afghanistan, my world was pretty small.
It was a slow fade of understanding before I could fully relax in my conversations with Mahdi. It took about a year. A year of talking daily, twice a day sometimes, and then one step forward and two steps back with deep and heavy, open and honest with a willingness to listen.
For those of you who know me well, know that I am not easily persuaded. I speak my mind quite clearly and I have no problems letting someone know who lives half way around the world what I think, because worse case scenario, DELETE, BLOCK and DONE. I also went out of my way to contact western references to validate or I think the term is “vet” Mahdi and his stories.
Anyone who has every spoken with him, will know that he speaks with honour and respect and welcomes any question and any chance to stand up for who he is as a man and for the journey he has travelled. I tell this story in my efforts to show that I am fully aware of the bigger picture and very confident in who Mahdi is.
This is my journey. My story. My understanding.
Others have to make their own journey.