So there I was...standing in the door way looking first from one hostile face to another (this would be SIL and oldest teen daughter) and then to Chief of Police, who had a very neutral look which he was perusing me with...but a very sharp glint in his eyes. I cannot describe even close to adequate the very nauseous feeling I had that things were going to get worse before they got better. At least I got to pee first...theres that!!!
I was invited to sit down, which I did with a great deal of hesitancy...sort of like sitting down reduced drastically my opportunities for escape...if only. At this point I was wondering if "pleading the 5th" was an acceptable answer for any or all questions that were going to start coming my way...hmmmm?
All this time daggers of outrage were being thrown my way with deadly accuracy by SIL who was no doubt contemplating the many ways she would make me pay for not staying put in the car. Im not a mind reader by nature but it wasnt hard to understand what she was thinking...if looks could kill and all that. Of course she was probably secretly happy that I was there...now the interfering foreign wife that she never wanted or agreed to for her brother was possibly going to get either thrown in jail or deported...or both...oh happy days!! Like I said...wasnt hard to read her face.
Im wondering at this point just what those two had told the Police Chief up to this point...the thing about being the late comer to the party...you have no idea what happened before you arrived and why everyone is either celebrating the greatness of the "never to be forgotten" party...or totally pissed off and several divorces have been announced due to excessive drinking and forbidden advances and invitations given.
Police Chief was sitting there looking at me with both hands under his chin...both of his index fingers pressed against his mouth as if in deep contemplation. It must have been a full minute before he said a word to me....and his English was pretty damn good (something I wasnt use to back then as many adults were not taught adequate English way back in the day...whatever).
Anyhow, his first question to me was whether or not I knew these two ladies sitting here beside me. My mind quickly searched for the pros and cons of admitting my relationship with them (such as it was) and as much as I would love to have answered "I have no friggin clue who they are...I just wandered in to use the bathroom"...I figured he might be just good enough at his job to see right through that...damn. So I slowly said....yeeeees! and crossed my fingers.
Second question was whether I knew what had happened and what I had seen. Hmmm? Tricky because I didnt know what they had said...mine field here...tread lightly. So I did the only thing I thought would get me out of this precarious position with freedom still an option...I told the truth...up to a point...lol.
I told him that there had been arguing and shouting and lots of drama but that I didnt understand Arabic adequately enough to really know what all the screaming was about. I just stood back and watched...a helpless bystander to the unfolding events. Once again his fingers came up to cover his mouth and he studied me again for a moment or two. *breath in...breath out....slooooowly*
I realize that there is a large portion of the American public that have never ever travelled outside the country and really have no clue what it means to be THE foreigner under police scrutiny. Thoughts of jail is the least of your worries. Bahrain has a rep for not being too kind with its foreign criminals when it comes to crimes committed against nationals. It matters very little if the national "started it" etc...what ever "it" was...as the foreigner you are guilty...plain and simple. (it has improved somewhat this 23 years...but not a whole lot). So while I knew that lying could very well end me in more hot water then telling the truth...I decided I would risk it (dont ask my why...Im known for making very bad decisions...story of my life and all that).
When he asked me did I know anything about the man that had been punched in the nose...I did my best innocent look (Im told its not that great...sigh) and said Im not sure...everything was so crazy...and dark...and lots of people...and an ice cream truck drove by...that sort of distracted me...and I was thinking about what I would cook for dinner...so theres that....and the point Im making if you havent caught it yet is that I was babbling...because Im not a very good liar at the best of times...and this certainly wasnt a good time for it.
Again the two index fingers came up to the mouth...and he studied me some more.
He asked me some other questions...how long had I been in Bahrain...did I like it (not a good question to ask me under the current circumstances eh?) ...did I miss America and was I positive I knew nothing about the assault. He threw that last one in there sneakily like I wouldnt notice and answer without thinking....but my brain was buzzing from all the careful thinking I was engaged in..Not catching me that easy...you gotta work to trip me up...mewwwwahhhhh!!! Im just saying...sigh.
Answer answer answer...breath in and out...blink a few times...try and control heart rate...and count the seconds until I simply passed out from anxiety.
The Chief asked a few more questions about the incident...what I thought was going on...did I understand any of what was being shouted...and did I know anything about the guy punched in the nose. (again with the sneaky question)....answer answer answer...breath breath breath...!!!...all the while in the back of my mind was the very doable fantasy of me making a run for the door...grabbing a taxi...speed like mad to the house and grab my kid, passports and head for same airport I had excitedly visited a few hours before...and rush through customs and get safely on the plane before these clowns could even scratch their heads and or think about reacting...I could totally do it...totally!!!
Now at some point it dawned on me that this Chief was no idiot...he knew very well that I was the one that had punched the man in the face...all though at this point he hadnt actually asked me directly if I had indeed punched the guy in the nose. I found that odd when I thought about it the next day. (I found out later that the man in question was already in the police station screaming about a crazy English lady that had assaulted him for no reason)...it didnt take a genius to add 2 and 2 and get 4...just how many "English" ladies were present in the parking lot and had anything remotely to do with the incident? Im guessing just 1...anyone else? I also realized that the sharp glint in his eye was also tinged with a touch of humor...could it be he didnt want to ask me directly because my answer would require him to act? Could it be he was sitting there thinking the guy maybe deserved it and punching an ass in the nose shouldnt be a punishable offense but deserving of a medal of some sort (wishful thinking I know)...could it be he just saw the humor of it all and wasnt willing to take it further which would require loads of paperwork and inquiries and me being a foreigner lots of other work that just wasnt worth it...Im thinking that one.
Anyhow...after a few more minutes of fingers on mouth reflection he said I could leave. Huge sigh of relief...I had to stop myself from running willy nilly out the door like a convict that had just realized someone had left the key in the lock for whatever reason...I thanked him...excused myself...and with as much dignity and self control as I could muster...I walked out of his office and made for the door.
Just about made it too...only another 5 feet and I would have been home free. Turns out my timing was a bit off and ex-boyfriend had just come into the lobby from his interrogation and spotted me (not that hard to do with all things considered...blazing red hair tends to not blend into...well anything...that well). He immediately started screaming and pointing his finger (the other hand was clutched over his injured nose that was covered in gauze of some sort...found out later that I had actually broken it...thats sorta cool all things considered) All though the Police Chief wasnt around just then the lobby had several other cops standing around trying not to stare at me...Im guessing that since none of them immediately came after me that they were assuming if Police Chief let me go then I must be "innocent" (snigger) and so the guy could scream all he wanted...I was free to go....and go I did. No telling what would have happened if Police Chief had come out just then...hard to ignore the evidence when the "victim" is screaming and pointing at the "criminal".
I got outside and hightailed it for the car and jumped in wishing I had the keys and to hell with how SIL and oldest teen daughter got home. Younger teen daughter was all worked up wondering how long my prison sentence was going to be and how come I wasnt wearing cuffs and all that...she had a warped sense of humor that one. I just sat there with pounding heart and equally pounding headache...and oh yeah...I had to pee again!!
Within a few minutes SIL and oldest teen daughter came out and got in the car with a bang and some ugly looks thrown my way (Im use to them ladies...Im rubber your glue and all that...nah nah nah) and headed for home. Nobody spoke which surprised me...I assumed I was in for an ass kicking...this was different.
It was about this time that I realized my hand was actually hurting quite alot. It was then I remembered that it had been aching for awhile now...I just hadnt had time or desire to focus on it...you know..impending prison sort of erases all other concerns out of your mind. I examined it and only then noticed the pretty bloom of blues and blacks all around it...especially around my pinky finger. Nicely swollen too. Could it actually be sprained...broken? Interesting thought.
At this point SIL looked over and noticed my hand as well. Now there have been very few moments in our long 23 year relationship in which she offered me any sort of kindness...whether in word or deed...so I was completely floored when she asked if I thought I needed to go to the hospital. Hmmmm? This sounded like a trick question...but I obviously needed to go so agreed that I did.
Awhile later when the doctor asked me how this happened I had a moment of panic wondering if she would call the cops when I confessed that I had just punched a national in the nose...ach! oh what tangled webs we weave when we desire to deceive....sigh! So instead I told her I fell down...simple enough. Then she looked at me like maybe I was an abused housewife and so poor me. I was willing to be viewed as a beaten housewife at that moment more than at any other time in my life...just put on the cast and let me go home. She did eventually and home we went.
It was 4 in the morning...a simple trip for some unneeded shopping had turned into something movies are made of...I had a cast on my hand (and was wondering what the Chief would have made of it if he had noticed my injured hand...maybe he did)...the added hatred of SIL piled on my head...and husband to contend with when he found out about this incident. I might add here that husband was in the military back in those days and because of the Gulf War was forced to stay at the base...so he wasnt actually home when we got home...lucky me...for now.
It was then that SIL asked me to please not inform husband of what had happened because, while she would no doubt gain immense pleasure at my ass being kicked by him...her daughter would also be "outed" for the "slut" that she was and that certainly wouldnt do. She didnt actually use those words but I got the point. I had no problems with keeping that particular adventure to myself...to my grave if need be...
Unfortunately what we plan for isnt always what we get...story of my life.
*to be continued