Wednesday, March 15, 2017
I’m sure I never gave much thought to there really being U.S. Marshals. If the subject ever crossed my mind, it would have been in the form of watching Marshal Matt Dillion ride across the plains of Kansas on his big gray horse or maybe Wyatt Earp in a shoot-out in Dodge City. Hell, I thought U.S. Marshals died out with the Old West.
I’m here to tell you, that isn’t true. They’re here. And they’re likely here to stay…forever. Which is a good thing. I’m in no way denying they’re a good thing.
But the day I learned they were real was a real eye-opener for me. I was sooo not prepared to meet a U.S. Marshal, especially not with no makeup on, my hair slicked back in a ponytail, baggy sweatpants, overly large top, plus that little extra bit of weight a woman puts on every month.
But, come hell or highwater, I was about to meet one.
The day started out like any other day, a nice, cloud-free sunny sky, typical for Florida, with not a hint of warning of what was about to happen. The only thing different that morning, was that my younger son, Shayne was home sick with the flu.
Around nine a.m. the phone rang. You would think a tingle of warning would slide down my spine warning me not to answer the phone, or I would hear the theme from Jaws in the back of my head telling me nothing good was about to happen.
But no. Nothing like that occurred. So, here I am, not a forewarning in sight and me, bloated, innocent, and unprepared, answered the phone.
“This is Marshal Dan Trooper.”
“Uh-huh. Yeah, sure it is.” In the back of my mind I’m thinking this is one of Shayne’s school buddies pulling a prank because Shayne is absent from school. Playing along, I said, “If this is about him being absent from school today, he’s sick with the flu.”
“No, ma’am, this isn’t about him being absent from school, but I do need you to bring him to the school.”
“Yeah, right. Is this a joke? You aren’t really a U.S. Marshal. There’s no such thing.”
“Yes, ma’am, I assure you, there really are U.S. Marshals, and I’m one of them.” By this time, his voice was dead serious, a thread impatient, and I’m feeling damn nervous.
Why the hell is a U.S. Marshal calling my house? I haven’t done anything wrong. Lately.
“I need you to bring your son, Shayne to the school. I have some questions he needs to answer.”
“Can you tell me what this is about?”
“I’ll tell you when you get here.”
Huh. Okay. “He’s in the bed with the flu.”
Surely, no respectable U.S. Marshal would want an over-protective mama to get her child up and drag him out of the house to be questioned when said child was so ill.
And why the hell was I arguing with this man? I didn’t mean to question him or his authority. Of course, my mind was numb. I couldn’t think, else I’d shut my big mouth and just say, ‘Yes, sir’, ‘No, sir’, and, ‘No problem, sir’.
But all I could think was my son is ill. I didn’t want to disturb him. At the same time, I was terrified. Why did a U.S. Marshall want to question my son?
I don’t think the man hesitated with his response. “I need you to bring your son to the school. Now. Or I’ll come get him.”
Holy shit! “I’ll bring him, but I have to wake him up. He’ll have to get ready, but we’ll be there in a little bit.”
By now, my gut burned, churned, and my head pounded. My hands shook. I was ready to burst into tears. What the hell has my poor baby done that warrants a call from a U.S. Marshal? I couldn’t think of anything. I knew he hadn’t robbed a bank or we’d be living high on the hog. He hadn’t kidnapped anyone. I’d know that for sure, because we lived in a trailer and there wasn’t room for anyone extra.
Anyway, I hurried to my son’s bedroom. “Shayne, you have to get up,” I yelled in a calm voice.
“Mom, I’m sick.”
“I know, but they want you to come to the school.”
“You tell me. It was a U.S. Marshall that called.”
By now, Shayne had poked his head out from under the covers. “U.S. Marshal? What did he want?”
“He wants you at the school. Now. What have you done?”
My son is fifteen. He’s a typical teenager, but still, a good kid. At least, I thought he was. I couldn’t imagine what he could have done, what heinous crime he might have committed to warrant all this.
He flung back the covers and moved to the edge of the bed. “I don’t think it’s anything serious, Mom.”
He says this to me and I’m thinking, Oh, hell yeah, it’s serious. This is a U.S. Marshal calling my house. I didn’t even know we still had U.S. Marshals, but I do now. It. Is. Serious.
“Not serious?” I blinked and remained calm. “You know what this is about?”
“It’s probably about the school bomb,” he said nonchalantly. No big deal. Just a little old school bomb.
My head reeled. My hands turned sweaty. “Bomb? School bomb? What school bomb? Has the school been bombed? Why didn’t I know that?”
“No, Mom, the school hasn’t been bombed.” So, damn patient, when I’m on the edge of a breakdown.
“What’s going on? How are you involved in a school bombing?”
“I’m not involved in a school bombing.” Again, soft and patient, like he was explaining to a little child.
In that moment, I felt like a little child. I wanted to jump in his bed and pull those covers over my head and never crawl out again, but sadly, we all must face the real world, and today, this was my real world.
“You’ll find out what it’s all about when we get to the school, Mom. I have to get ready.”
He dismissed me, like he was the parent. Standing there, I realized my son was too mature, too grown up for his age. In a matter of seconds, he’d become a man in my eyes. I wanted to weep, yet at the same time, I wanted to hug him, hold him close, protect him from the evils of the world. My son, who was just a boy, couldn’t possibly be involved in a school bombing in any form or fashion.
I looked back on my years of rearing him. I’d taught him right from wrong, taught him to be a good human being and never harm others.
But I doubted myself. Surely, I taught him not to do such ugly things, taught him not to destroy, but to appreciate life and all that entailed, to come to me if he had problems. I’d be there for him. Yet, with something so huge looming before us, I didn’t know if I’d be able to do anything to help him. This was serious. The long arm of the law had reached out for my baby. I was terrified it’d take him away from me. In these kind of moments, you aren’t sure you’ve done anything right when it comes to turning your child into a responsible adult.
I walked the floor and bit my thumb nail down to the quick as I waited on him to get dressed. When he came out of his room, he wasn’t nervous or upset, or even willing to run, which is what I wanted to do. I wanted to take him, cover him in bubble wrap, hold him in my arms like I did when he was a baby and lead him to my getaway car ASAP.
When we arrived at the school, which was five minutes from the house, someone guided us to a room. In this room stood a long table where several people were seated on one side. The empty chairs on the other side were for me, my husband, and son. A tall, lanky man stood back in a corner. I knew he was the marshal right away. He had that air of authority about him. He didn’t crack a smile. He stood with his arms folded across his chest and a hard look in his eyes. A, Don’t Tread on me, warning on his face.
“Sit down,” he said.
I sat down. Who was I to argue with a U.S. Marshal? I figured I’d already used up my quota of debating with the man. Not a whisper of disagreement escaped my lips. My husband sat down beside me. Still. Quiet. I swear he looked paler than Death, and I felt damned ethereal.
“Is this Shayne?” the marshal asked.
I nodded. “Yes sir, this is my son, Shayne. My youngest son. I have three other sons.” I guess I was volunteering them if he wanted to question them, too. “Yes, Shayne’s my baby.” Why I babbled, I have no clue, but I couldn’t make mouth behave.
There was another man in the room seated at the table, the superintendent of the school. He suddenly jumped up and leaned across the table right in Shayne’s face and shouted, “If I find out you had anything to do with this threat to bomb the school, you’ll be expelled for the rest of the year!”
I was so taken aback. I had no clue how to respond to that. And I thought, ‘Oh God, if they expel him, he’ll lose a year and have to go through that grade again’.
Before I could say a word in my son’s defense, the U.S. Marshall plowed right in, in a no-nonsense, take-charge-kind-of-way. “It’s my understanding that if it wasn’t for this young man reporting the threat of a bomb, you wouldn’t know there was a threat. It’s not his fault. He’s your witness.”
Oh, yeah. Take that, dumb superintendent!
Suddenly, the U.S. Marshal was my hero, my son’s savior, my hero, my hero, my hero. The mother came out in me immediately. My heart burst with pride and relief. My son wasn’t a terrorist/bomber, after all, but a possible witness to the event. That changed everything. I hoped.
“Now then, Shayne,” the marshal said, “why don’t you tell us what happened, beginning yesterday. I understand this all started on your bus ride home after school?”
“Yes, sir,” my son said, so polite. So, mannerly.
Did I teach him that? An hour earlier, I would have said I’d failed to teach him a damn thing, but now…now, things were different.
“My buddy, Mike and I were riding behind two boys on the bus,” Shayne continued, “and we heard them making plans to write a note to bomb the school. We didn’t know if they were serious or just joking around, so we tried to listen, but we couldn’t hear anything else they said.”
“What happened then?” the marshal asked.
“The boys got off the bus and Mike and I moved up to their seats to see if they left any evidence behind.”
“Did they?” the marshal inquired. He was very patient with his questioning.
“They did.” Shayne nodded. “They left a note in the seat. Mike and I read it and thought it needed to be turned over to the school authorities.”
“What did the note say?” Again, the marshal was calm and quiet with his questioning. Thank God, because I was on the verge of hysterics.
Who were these boys who wanted to threaten the school?
Were they dangerous?
Would they go after Shayne and his friend for turning them in?
Shayne lifted a brow and shrugged. The note, written with pencil, stated, ‘There’s a bomb at the school.’”
Duh! Simple enough to deduct.
The marshal handed Shayne a plain piece of notebook paper all wrinkled and a small corner torn off a sheet of paper. “Is this the note?”
Shayne looked it over. “Yes, sir, that’s the note we found on the seat.”
“And you and your friend saw them write it?”
Then Shayne had a question of his own, which astounded all of us. “Did you catch the boys who wrote the note?”
I didn’t think the marshal would answer him, but he did. “We talked to them already. They won’t be attending school here for quite some time. It seemed one of the boys has a birthday today, and he wanted the school to close down for one day so he could celebrate without being marked absent.” He shook his head. “He got his wish, the school is closed for today, but as I said, neither boy will be back. If they give you any trouble, call me. I’ll take care of them.”
I was never so relieved to get out of a place in all my life. Still, I had a big grin on my face. My son, the hero, brought about the day I learned, there really are U.S. Marshals.
Posted by Tabitha Shay at 11:58 AM