Adapted from the annals of KOIN-TV, Portland, Oregon:
Setting: Suburban home, bedroom, 2:00 a.m.
Characters: HUSBAND, WIFE, DOG, 911 DISPATCHER, INTRUDER.
HUSBAND and WIFE asleep in queen bed, illuminated by faint blue gel (oblique through window).
(Sound of breaking glass)
(DOG begins barking)
HUSBAND awakens and gets pistol; WIFE reaches for telephone and dials 911.
(Sound of pounding on locked bedroom door.)
HUSBAND (to DISPATCHER): There’s somebody breaking into our bedroom!
DISPATCHER: Hold on, officers will be there in a few minutes…
HUSBAND (to INTRUDER): The cops are on their way! Get out now!
Enter INTRUDER, breaking through bedroom door.
HUSBAND aims pistol at INTRUDER and fired multiple times.
INTRUDER falls down, twitches, and dies.
My cousin is a script reader in Hollywood. He went to film school and worships Marty Scorsese and the ground he walks on. He’s probably never fired a handgun in his life and likely won’t unless I can talk him into visiting us someday. But he’s smart enough to round-file a script like this in less than three seconds. And not because nobody uses a .22 pistol to defend their home (they do).
Why then? Because this story sucks, that’s why. The characters are barely even two-dimensional stereotypes and the action unfolds so predictably as to be a complete cliche. You don’t have to be a film buff to know that when the homeowner wakes up first and arms himself it’s the bad guy that buys the farm. The only way the homeowner dies is if he puts on his bathrobe and ventures out to investigate. Or if the intruder is a vampire or ninja or something.
Now if you, me, my non-gunny cousin and Gene Siskel’s ghost all know this story sucks, how can it be that criminals just don’t get it? Why do they keep volunteering to play the real-life intruder and whey do they keep getting ventilated by the horrified real-life husband?
Because they’re stoned, stupid or just plain evil. Whatever they are, you can’t expect them to be nice to you at 2:00 a.m. (or ever) and you can’t expect the police to arrive in time to save you. You can think carefully about your home security, and have the mindset, the skill set and the tool set to defend yourself. If all you’ve got is a Walther P22, remember to fire repeatedly until the threat is neutralized.
Oh, and if you want to know why we recommend that you give 911 basic info and then hang up or set the phone down, click here for the actual 911 audio on this incident.