They Don’t Know a Wall Fell

I was outside working in the yard when I saw a police car, with the emergency lights activated, pull up in front of a neighbor’s house and I saw the officer run into the house.

Less than a minute later, the fire department paramedics pulled up in the ambulance and the medics rushed inside with their their lifesaving equipment.

A minute later another police car arrives and the officer from this car walks into the house.

Ten minutes later, the paramedics leave and a fire department crisis response van arrives.

Twenty minutes later, a van, discretely marked “Medical Examiner”, arrives at the neighbor’s house. At his point, I see the first police officer, his head hung down, slowly walk out of the house, get into his car and sit there a few minutes before driving off. He wasn’t writing a report. He seemed to be collecting his thoughts before going on with the rest of his shift.

Soon, the medical examiner people go get a gurney from the van and take it inside. A few minutes after that, they are pushing the gurney back out to the van. This time I can tell the gurney is no longer empty.

It was the neighbor’s son. I knew him.

He had been in the army and had been in several combat engagements. When he came home, demons followed him. He fought his demons, but to no avail, so he tried building a wall, using whatever he could find, to provide cover from the demons.

He had been in and out of various acute care places and as soon as he was deemed “okay”, the demons would return…and he would start rebuilding his wall.

Today his wall fell on him. A drug overdose.


We live within walking distance of a high school and tonight the football team is playing at home. I can hear the band playing and I can hear the crowd cheering. Obviously the people cheering don’t know what happened just a short distance from the school.

Normally I would be part of the cheering crowd. But not tonight, because I know that a wall fell down.