I just finished typing up my version of the events for the police, the district attorney, the judge, whomever needs to see it. It was a pretty easy task because I'd run through the story of that night hundreds of times - in my mind and to other people. But there is one part I have a hard time recalling in detail. It's the part where I wasn't killed or bear spray sprayed.
The man in the RV right next door to mine tried to kill his wife. What would you do if you heard your friend screaming? Police always say domestic violence calls are the most dangerous and they warn the public to stay clear and let the police do their job. But the police were slow in arriving and I felt we had to do something so I started banging on the RV door.
This is about the creepiest image from that night: The husband came to the door and smiled at me through the window. "Everything's fine. She's just drunk." He walked away and resumed beating her.
I guess our banging on the RV and screaming at the husband pissed him off enough that he left his wife alone in the back bedroom and when he did that she managed to fling herself head first out the emergency exit. A huge feat and fall for a woman her height (around 5 feet tall).
This is where events get foggy. Another neighbor carried the wife to the lounge chair in front of my trailer. I went inside to get a blanket. When I came out I saw the wife slide off the chair and crawl under my trailer. I watched her husband walk the road in front of my trailer with bear spray in his hands, arms straight out like that pepper spraying cop at the Occupy campus, direct shots to the eyes of two men standing there, direct shot to the eyes of the nice Mexican woman who lives at the end of my row. Where was I that I saw this but was out of the line of fire? I must've been hiding in the shadows next to my trailer where I could see that the wife was under my trailer and that the husband was spraying people but he couldn't see me. I tossed the wife the blanket.
The cops arrived and found the husband. After he'd been cuffed and taken away the wife came out from under my trailer. That's when we learned that another neighbor - the man who had banged on the RV and yelled at the husband right along with me - had received a machete blow to the head. One thousandth of an inch more and that man would be dead, the blade slicing into his brain.
I tended to the two men who had been sprayed, leading them to chairs, turning on the hose, grabbing towels. I sprayed water directly on their faces, rinsed the towels, held them to their faces. BAD MOVE! When I saw the towels the next day - turned orange like they'd been dipped in napalm - I realized I'd been reapplying the bear spray to their faces. And I had failed to keep my hands thoroughly rinsed so they burned all night long along with the area around my mouth.
There was one funny moment. I had to lead one of the men back to his rig. When we got to his door he said "take off your shoes." I mean really, he was worried about the carpet? I led him to his bedroom where he stripped naked while I turned on the water in the shower, being careful to only see his backside.
It wasn't until two mornings later when I woke and realized that if I hadn't gone to tend to the wife at the other side of the RV, if I'd been standing by the door when the husband came out with the machete, I'd be dead. He's a big man. No way my little head - as stubborn and hard as it is - could've survived that blow. And how was it that I avoided the bear spray?
Thankfully no one died. The wife is banged up but okay. The machete'd man will survive. The bear spray sprayed people were resuming normal activities the next day.
What about our decision to get involved? I think our relentless yelling and banging on the RV is what caused the husband to leave his wife alone for the time she needed to escape. Would I do it again? You betcha. But I now know to move away from the door when the husband emerges.
The husband is being held in a Mexican jail on two counts of attempted murder. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Since living in Mexico I've witnessed expats suffering medical emergencies and sudden deaths. I've seen how the judicial system works for Mexicans. This will be the first time I will see how that system works for an American in Mexico. Of course most people I know hope he rots in a Mexican prison but I wonder if they (his lawyer? the American consulate?) will try to get him extradited.
Most people were shocked - they seemed like such a loving couple. When someone said that to the wife the next morning we looked at each other. I said "I'm not surprised." I knew her husband didn't like me and I didn't like him either. I'd seen bad behavior (not on this level) from him before. This year I felt that things were not right over there.
Domestic violence and RV parks, they seem to go hand in hand, not just here but when I lived up in Amado, too. Retirees mostly. People who are bored. Who maybe drink too much. Who share a small space. I spent years living in close proximity to other people - mostly apartment buildings - and I never saw this much spouse beating.
So far the wife is hanging tough. She's got lots of support from the community and her family. It's difficult to throw over a 30-year marriage but I think she can do it.
I got an email from her the next day when I was up in Tucson. She said everyone in town knew - Mexicans and Americans alike. Can't you just picture the talk in the barrios? "Did you hear about the crazy gringo who almost killed his wife and machete'd a neighbor?" Aye carrumba. Things have been a little too crazy in the park in the recent weeks. Let's hope these things don't happen in threes because if so, we're due one more.