As an author, you probably never think twice about putting your characters in danger, and as a reader, you most likely enjoy watching the protagonist fight for his/her life. But, obviously, we wouldn’t want to witness such events, let alone live them. Well, I had my chance this weekend.
Saturday was my mom’s last day at her bridal salon before she closed her doors to retire. For the past few months, she’d worked alone in the store and had at least one gown stolen under her nose. She was worried someone would take advantage of her during her final day and steal another gown, or several, so she asked my husband and me to work with her.
The plan was for us to stay an hour or two to see how busy she was, then be on call after that, so we brought our eight-year-old twins with us. This way, they could visit with Grams when she wasn’t busy, and we could help her remove mirrors and fixtures that she’d later sell to competitors.
The store was divided into two sections: a bridal gown section and a section for bridesmaid and graduation gowns. My mom was on the bridal gown side with a bride and her mother, and my husband and I were removing body-length mirrors on the other side, near the cash register and our children. I glanced over my shoulder and could have sworn I saw an older, scruffy-looking man exit my mom’s office. Because I wasn’t familiar with the store and my mom had mentioned the property manager might stop by, I thought maybe that was him. I asked the man what he was doing in the office. He shrugged it off. My mom came over and said he’d just been on the other side with the bridal gowns, not in the office.
But I saw him come out of the office. Didn’t I?
The man asked about the floor-to-ceiling mirrors near the office, so we figured he was just in the store to see if he could get any fixtures at a steal. We didn’t seem to have what he was looking for, so he left.
But something still felt wrong.
Her purse. She kept it in the office, didn’t she?
I told my mom to check if her purse was missing. It was there, but her wallet was gone.
Without hesitation, my husband and I tore off. We ran up and down the streets looking for this man, but we never did find him. Hours later, the wallet was recovered and only her money was missing. Credit cards and all kinds of ID cards were still there. Thank God. My mom had been more concerned about someone knowing every little detail about her life than the money she lost, so this was a huge relief.
Afterwards, I sat back and thought about what had transpired. Why was I chasing after this criminal? Most of the time, my husband and I had split up, leaving me alone and vulnerable. What would I have done if I’d actually found the guy? Ahhh… Nothing. ‘Cause no amount of money is worth my life. So, what the hell was I doing? Not thinking, apparently.
The guy was at least a foot taller than me—easy, considering I’m only five feet tall—and, well, as much as I’ve been building muscle at the gym and all, I wouldn’t have been in a position to fight a man. Especially someone who probably knew how to fight.
Was this a case of real life mirroring fiction? I write dark romantic suspense novels, so my hero and heroines are confronted with dangerous psychopaths on a regular basis. Did I forget this wasn’t one of my novels? That I could actually get killed?
My guess is that my husband and I felt we had to react. It’s an instinct that just kicks in. Get the guy. Get Mom’s wallet back. Help poor, defenseless woman.
But, in hindsight, I realize I’m not a cop, nor do I want to be one. All that adrenaline pumping through my veins gave me a whopping headache. And, I really shouldn’t have taken off like some kind of hero.
This is real life. Not fiction.
I’m just a normal person, with normal abilities. My super-sleuth senses didn’t come to life, drawing me closer to the perp. My attention to details wasn’t turned on, so I wasn’t able to give the police as much of a description as some of the other witnesses. And I ignored my instincts. I somehow let others convince me I hadn’t seen this stranger exit the office, but my gut knew I had.
I’m not a hero. So what? I’d much rather lead a safer life and live though my characters instead.
How has your life mirrored fiction?