When the news drove away

It was raining when the Channel 2 van drove by the house.

It was raining and the baby (and he’s not even 3 weeks old yet) had just fallen asleep in his bed and the toddler was sinking deeper into my side as her eyelids grew heavier with every page in her book but the television station from Pittsburgh sent a van up my dead-end street.

I couldn’t follow. Before, when the girl and the boy were still waiting to come to me, I’d have grabbed pen and notebook and umbrella and followed up the street. I did that once, when fire trucks passed in a hurry (for what turned out to be a gas leak, nothing exciting).

My mind followed though, running through scenarios. No emergency vehicles had passed that I knew of, definitely not a fire or a working crime scene. A feature story of some sort? Would they really send a van all the way out here for a feature?

I couldn’t follow but I could call, trying to reach someone – anyone – in the newsroom. Are you aware? Are you on top of whatever it is Pittsburgh news is covering?

But a newsroom after deadline, during lunch, is a dead place and no one was picking up. The toddler flipped pages in her book, voice petulant. “Read,” she said. Then “read!” again when I dialed another number.
I gave up and we finished the book, rocked and sang and settled her into her crib. The baby slept on and I saw the van leave our quiet neighborhood and wondered.

Turns out my old coworkers were indeed aware of and on top of the situation. A neighbor, whose name and I know and who I see now and again in church – who has 2 kids but drives up and down our street too fast, engines revving as if a 16-year-old boy was behind the wheel – had been arrested on charges of attempted homicide. Police said she stabbed a man during an argument in the early morning hours.

And now it’s my turn to sleep but I can’t. I’m thinking of her kids, tow-headed and tan all summer long. Their dad faced jail time not too long ago, now it’s their mom in trouble. I’m thinking of her mother, who often cries when she shares a passage in church.

But there’s something else keeping me awake. I saw news happening on my street, felt the pull of a developing story again, and watched it drive away as my babies slept.

I guess you never lose the adrenaline that comes with breaking news, even if you can’t follow.


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