"How are you doing?" I asked my middle child, Joel, a 24-year-old up-and-coming artist who was on the other end of the phone.
Earlier that day, he worked the morning rush hour shift at a drive-through coffee shop on the corner of 72nd and Dodge in Omaha.
"Not so good," his voice slumped.
"What's wrong," I pried.
"I had to break up a fight today. It really wasn't a fight. It was some jerk beating up his girlfriend," he droned.
"How in the world did that happen?" I pried further.
"I was making someone a $5 latte when I heard a young woman screaming. I looked up and saw her run in front of our store about 20 feet away," Joel said, as he began to recount what he saw from the coffee shop window.
"My co-workers and I didn't know what was going on. Then we saw some guy chasing behind her."
When the man caught up with the woman, he grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground.
"She got up and started running again. At her heels, the guy grabbed her by her shoulders and tried to take her away."
That's when Joel bolted out the door intent on stopping the abuse. Half scared and half angry he ran straight at the couple, yelling back over his shoulder, "Call 911! Someone, call 911!"
"I wish you would be more careful," I coaxed with powerless worry.
"Mom, I couldn't stand there and watch."
As Joel got closer, he heard the woman cry, "Ayudame! Ayudame!" Help me! Help me!
Joel shoved the man to the ground. "He was a little bigger than me, but I was angry."
The woman grabbed for my son Joel. "She tried to use me as a shield. Me? As a shield?"
To be continued…
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 Paula Damon