The Day the FBI Turned My Dream Room Into a Nightmare

Grocery bags filled our arms. We walked up the stairs of our beautiful rented home in the hills of Burbank and my mother’s overstuffed arms wrangled with the front door keys. I pushed the door open and stopped.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. Mom, worrying that eggs would break, wondered in frustration why I wasn’t moving. Then we dropped to our knees, groceries banging and breaking and rolling. I started crying.

My bedroom was in perfect view of the front door, and as I peered in I couldn’t see anything that resembled my bedroom. It was destroyed.

I was 12 and my father would be dead in a few months from the last of several massive heart-attacks, but right now, things were fairly calm. This house was the one I was proud to show my upper-class Burbank friends. This house would be the house we lived in when my father died, and this house would be the one that my mother and I would pack up alone and move out of in broad day-light; a novelty for me.

My room looked like it came right out of a 1970s Sears Catalog. It was my dream room. I always wanted a big white canopy bed with matching furniture. Curtains, bedspreads, side table dressings all in the same big bright happy fabric. To me it meant a combination of high fashion and stability.

My mom always told me that the furniture I wanted wouldn’t fit in an apartment. She said it was too big and heavy to move, and we moved a lot. So when she let me order every single coordinated piece from the catalog page I had torn out months before and saved, I felt that maybe this would be the house we’d stay in for good.

I was very organized and neat. I wouldn’t leave for school until the bed was made, my parakeet’s cage was clean and my stacks of games and toys were organized and put away. I was so proud of that room and at this time in our lives. It felt like we had arrived.

The exact pattern in my room. I had it all.

But when we arrived this time, our beautiful home was in shambles.

I suppose the thought was, if my Dad were hiding something, maybe the girl’s room would be the place to hide it. So my room took the biggest hit. My canopy bed was broken in half, drawers were pulled out and broken. My mattresses and pillows were shredded by knives. Every board game box was busted open and every puzzle piece scattered. My bird cage was upside down with my bird, still alive, inside.

Why would anyone do this I cried? Why?

Every room was ransacked. Carpets ripped up. Cupboards, drawers, and shelves completely dumped. In the middle of it all we realized that everything of value was still there. Television sets, appliances, jewelry. Nothing was stolen. It was broken and dumped, but not stolen.

My mother tracked my father down and was in tears. I was just trying so hard to make sense of what I saw when I heard her say, “I don’t know. I didn’t think to look. Hold on.”

She ran to my dad’s den where he would sit evenings and read the racing form, watch a game, or more recently, work with recording devices and tapes.

“They’re gone,” she says. “Son of a bitch. Those bastards!” she yelled.

“What bastards? What’s gone?” I asked. But I was not getting any answers.

“Mom we have to call the police!” I begged.

“No. No we don’t,” she said.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.