Jason Lawrence Bell
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07-25-20                               AUDIO AVAILABLE SOON

‘However, when we ignore the problem, it grows to a bigger problem,’ explains Daryl to his wife. After weeks of trying to put out an emotional fire within their quiet housing cul-de-sac, he feels exhausted. Daryl’s family has lived in this suburban neighbor for over twenty years. He cannot remember a time when he felt so alienated from his neighbors.

In the last three years since the 2016 presidential election the neighborhood has shifted from a peaceful oasis of friendly occupants to distinctly divided enemies separated along political party lines. Progressives and conservatives gathering in opposition. Before 2016 it was impossible to tell the politics of home owners. The homes were well kept and friendly and politically free. But today every house’s front lawn are shrines and statements of the politics of the owner. Flags, Trump signs, Biden displays, Black Lives Matter painted on sidewalks, are found on nearly every house. Every house except Daryl’s.

Daryl has resisted the pressures from every other neighbor to commit, but that changes today. Daryl has his owner sign. The sign simply reads “Independent: you both sound ridiculous.” The neighbors didn’t see this coming. Both sides thought Daryl was secretly with them, but now they don’t know what to think. They know he doesn’t like their politics but also doesn’t like the oppositions. So, Daryl seems kind of ‘with them’, but also ‘against them’.

Daryl made his lawn statement out of frustration from pressures, but he was surprised at the neighbor response. They left him alone. He seemed neutral and untouchable. His house was the calm within the storm. However, the resentment between the other houses was growing. Daryl noticed more guns displayed in homes. Neighbors were acting threateningly towards each other. Tensions were growing and Daryl was in a unique position to see it. The leaders of each faction would confine in Daryl their fears and plans. To them he was safe because he was not a friend to their enemies. With this Daryl could gage the level of passions within each side.

Recently Conservatives were being stimulated by Fox News. Because their candidate was well behind in the polls, Fox News has become more aggressive and determined to ramp up passions to change the polls. In the cul-de-sac the red houses were showing more opposition with bigger signs, hateful looks at blue houses, cursing at progressive families and also, threatening with the guns. The police were called a few times, but the tensions just grew. Then the unexpected happened.

The family of one of conservative leader in the neighborhood was found murdered in their home. The husband, wife and two high school age sons were the victims. There was one survivor, the daughter, who was in the military. The daughter apparently found the murdered family when she arrived on military leave. The neighborhood was shocked. The progressives immediately showed their sympathies, but conservatives were suspicious and pulled away.

As the police went door to door searching for any clues, it became obvious they needed to investigate the political tensions. A leader on one side is murdered. Was that motive for someone on the other side to kill? The police could tell a lot by just seeing the yards of the neighbors. Politics was everywhere. Then they saw Daryl’s yard and knew he was different.

Investigator Paulson lead the investigation, and considered Daryl as a good source for questioning. Daryl gave Paulson a clear understanding of his neighbors. Who was more angry, who showed the most aggression, or who had the grievances against the victims. During one interview with a Daryl, Paulson received a call and immediately left. Daryl didn’t hear from the investigator for a couple of weeks. Then came the media announcement.

The police had the killer in custody. Everyone listened from the television as announcer began. ‘Police have confirmed they have the killer in jail on suicide watch. The killer has confessed and the murder weapon has been located. The person arrested was the family’s older daughter, a corporal in the army. The daughter had come home earlier than originally stated. There was an argument between the daughter and the family. It was a strong disagreement about politics that lead to the deaths. Apparently, the daughter had become a political devotee to the QAnoun movement and the family’s conservative beliefs somehow repulsed her as stupid and dangerous. The daughter was convinced the family was evil and unrepentant. In a fit of overwhelming anger, the daughter murdered her family. The daughter insists she would do it again. A sad ending to needless murders.’

The announcement left the cul-de-sac in deeper shock and confusion. People were quickly losing their taste for political statements. First it was Daryl who removed his yard display. Within a week all the yard displays were gone and the neighborhood looked normal again. Peace