Fiction Friday continues below. I’d almost thought of abandoning this particular pastime, but after hearing a some of you express interest in what happens next, I decided to continue on for awhile.
To be clear, I wouldn’t exactly qualify this story as a mystery. We do, after all, already know who committed the crime. (Or so it seems?) But, I would say, the story is an exploration. An exploration of a utopia of sorts. A world where people are flawed and imperfect, but where they work together as best they can.
A hard rain battered the windows. The wind gusted. Trees shook. It was a dreadful night to be outside.
Yet many had braved the storm. Pushed through the wind, huddled tightly in their jackets. Inside-out umbrellas flapping at their side.
Despite the cold storm raging outside, the community room was warm and cheery inside. The youngest kids played off in the corner, under the watchful eye of all nearby. Older kids crowded in with their parents, taking extra servings of dinner and stuffing their pockets with cookies while engaging intently with the discussion.
Three weeks had gone by since the brutal murder of a young man. A friend and neighbor. Known well by some, though unknown by others.
It felt as though the whole city had shown up at this meeting – the second in a series of dialogues to collectively process what had happened. How it happened. What it meant.
As the final stragglers dragged themselves in, neighbors greeted each other warmly. Strangers met and became friends. Soon the buzz of conversation died down as folks settled in their seats and the discussion formally got underway.
Nadia Hakim sat a table of ten, her two children on either side. Her wife, unfortunately, was still at work. Buried in the details of this very case.
She listened politely as Greg McManners went on about the value of security cameras.
While neighbors were generally very alert to their surroundings, this crime had taken place in the middle of the night. Neighbors had been asleep. By the time they awoke to investigate, the perpetrator had already fled the scene. If there had been security cameras on the street, he argued, the perpetrator would almost certainly have been caught – if not entirely dissuaded in the first place.
Nadia had known Greg for years. He was always eager to cede his privacy in the name of protection. From his experience, she knew, it seemed like the best solution. She disagreed.
She waited as Greg finished his comment and let the interpreter finish his last few words. She looked around the table to see who was most eager to speak next.
“You raise some really good points,” her teenage son spoke up. “But, from my experience…it may be necessary to have some authority, but I find…it’s better to have as little as possible. I understand your concerns, but I’m concerned that if we put security cameras in our streets, if we hope that authority will deter people from doing things like this…well, I’m concerned that will just raise a different set of issues.”
The listeners nodded thoughtfully.
The conversation went on more than another hour. People shared their thoughts. Their reactions. Their ideas. Solutions were still a long way off, but even in the discussion, some progress was being made.