( Book 1 - Heir to the Throne )
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15. A sudden police raid; and I stare down a police officer.
The next morning, heavy rain poured down from the darkened sky, thoroughly soaking our camp and its surrounding woods.
We huddled together, next to our smoldering and hissing campfire, shivering from the sudden wetness...
After some time, a few helpful grown-ups built us a provisional shelter, from a couple of stakes and a piece of plastic.
That helped a little bit, and we thanked them abundantly.
Today, everything in our camp felt too cold and damp to have any real fun.
Languidly, we sat down and munched on a couple of delicious gadjo leftovers.
Next, we tried to dispel our boredom, by teasing each other and playing silly games...
Fortunately, the heavy rain in our mountains never lasted long.
After some time, the rain slowly turned into a drizzle, while the sky started to clear up.
We hoped that, at the end of the morning, we would be able to leave our shelter and have some fun...
Suddenly, we heard a lot of howling sirens, sounding from far away.
We perked our ears up, wondering where the sound came from, and tried to guess what could be happening.
A moment later, a whole bunch of tooting and flashing police cars showed up, approaching our secluded camp at high speed!
They entered our camp and immediately overflowed our circle of caravans, where they stopped with screeching tires.
Several nasty looking police officers jumped out of their cars, staring at us with strained faces...
Feeling rather overpowered, we huddled together under our plastic shelter.
Why would any bunch of gadjo police officers want to raid our peaceful camp, at this early hour of a rainy day?
We were absolutely sure they wouldn't find anything questionable; so why were they here?
Maybe, our parents hadn't been careful enough; after they visited a gadjo town to gather some goods, but only from rich people who wouldn't miss them anyway...
Or, had this to do with our kids, unintentionally breaking some law while begging for food and money in one of their towns?
Would the police officers now give us a fine, or put us in jail?
One of the stern looking officers, who seemed to be their boss, stepped forward and looked around...
Of course, all our hastily gathered people stared back at him unashamedly, to let him see they weren't impressed at all!
For a moment, the officer hesitated...
Then, he saw our group of cold and shivering children, huddling together under our provisional shelter.
Getting a nasty smile on his face, he marched over towards us.
What did he want from US?
He pointed to one of our boys, and barked:
"You, come here! Where is your leader? Bring him to me immediately!"
Before the boy could answer, Michail stepped forward and shouted to the officer:
"What is your problem, officer? What are you looking for?"
"You KNOW what our problem is, and we want you to take us to your leader immediately."
"Well, officer, your leader is here, and I don't have the faintest idea what you are talking about!"
"Then, I will refresh your memory. A couple of Gypsies raided one of our towns, and snatched away everything valuable they could lay their hands on...
"Now, we want to know who did it, and we want to have our stolen goods back."
"Well... yesterday, we visited a nearby town; to beg for money and food, because our kids are starving. However, we did NOT snatch away anything at all!
"I feel very offended by your rude accusations; and I want your immediate apology, for thinking such abominable things!"
We all listened intently to their conversation; and I thought that Michail was handling the situation very well!
I also grinned inwardly, because he hadn't lied at all with his cleverly dodging answers.
Our real leader WAS here, silently looking at the spectacle from a safe distance...
I winked at my worried Dad, who was our real Leader; and he smiled and winked back at me.
We understood each other without using any words!
Now, I wondered what all these angry looking police officers would do next.
In my eyes, they looked like clowns, in their strange costumes, with their rude and condescending attitude...
The nasty officer tried to stare Michail down; but, of course, Michail didn't waver and just stared back at him!
Nobody had ever won any staring contest with my Big Friend, who also was our very competent vice Leader.
Michail's stare seemed to make the officer unsure, and I saw how he started to doubt about what to do next...
Suddenly, he barked at Michail:
"Then, let's have a look at what you gathered yesterday; and I want to see everything you brought here!"
Michail shrugged his shoulders, turned around, and slowly sauntered to our parking lot.
Immediately, two officers stepped forward and followed him towards his truck!
Did they really think he would try to flee from them?
After a moment, Michail returned, carrying our gadjo paper bags.
He showed them to the officer, and told him:
"This is what we got from our begging; except for a few things we already ate, yesterday and this morning."
The officer looked at the halfway filled bags of goodies, and didn't seem to be satisfied.
He counted the little bit of begged money we had gathered; and seemed to hesitate again...
Suddenly, he pointed to several of our waiting men, while he barked:
"Oh yeah? Well, we are going to find out the truth... You, you, and you, enter our cars, and remain inside until I am satisfied!"
All the waiting officers harshly pushed several of our surprised men into their police cars.
They told them to wait and be silent; while they locked the car doors from the outside.
Unfortunately, my Dad was among them, looking at me through the back pane of one of the cars...
Furtively, he winked at me and brought his finger to his lips; telling me without words to keep our secret a secret, and do nothing to give him away!
Unseen by the too busy officers, I winked back at him, to let him know I understood his message.
Of course, he could count on me!
Now, all the officers went to our caravans, harshly telling the people inside to leave immediately.
Our people had to stay outside in the still drizzling rain, while the officers searched through all our private possessions...
Every officer entered one of our caravans; without asking for permission or bothering to wipe his dirty feet!
In our so proud and structured community, committing such a rude infringe was absolutely unthinkable.
Many of our waiting people gritted their teeth and balled their fists, in helpless anger...
The officers started to rummage through our private belongings, muttering and making quite a mess.
They opened our drawers and lockers, and rudely threw all the contents onto the floor.
Then, they looked under our mattresses, and even turned several couches upside down...
Of course, they didn't find anything of value; and that seemed to make them even angrier.
Still muttering, they left our caravans empty-handed, shaking their heads at their waiting boss...
The impatiently waiting boss-officer started to look even more frustrated.
Tapping his feet, he waited until the last searching officer showed up and shook his head.
For a moment, he was silent, obviously thinking about what he should do next...
Suddenly, he returned to our huddling group of children, and pointed to one of our smallest girls:
"You! Tell us where your parents have hidden our stolen goods. Where are your secret places?"
The poor girl stared in shock at the angry officer...
She brought her hand to her mouth, while she started to tremble all over and got tears in her eyes.
Finally, she managed to bring out:
"We don't have any secret places, sir. Honestly! And, we didn't steal anything from anybody..."
Of course, our still trembling girl didn't lie at all.
Our kids really hadn't stolen anything from anybody; and we didn't have any secret places either.
They were just natural caves along a ravine; but you had to look very careful to be able to find them...
Besides, none of our kids would ever tell any outsider where they were, even if they were tortured!
Our parents could always count on us, and they knew it.
Suddenly, the now even nastier looking officer turned towards ME.
I thought that he chose me, because he saw I was the smallest kid in our huddling group...
Maybe, he thought I would also be the most vulnerable one, and had to be an easy prey to deal with...
Well, this time, he would be in for a surprise!
If the poor man had known me better, he would have thought twice, turned around, and fled from our camp in a hurry!
The officer showed me his filthy teeth, in a futile effort to look friendlier, while he asked me:
"Please, little boy, could you help me? I am looking for the things your men brought here yesterday. Can you show me where they put them?"
Was this absurd question really the best one a gadjo police officer could come up with?
Then, I felt utterly disappointed in him and his comrades!
I was sure that even our smallest children would have phrased their question a lot better!
Even our dumbest kid always knew how to get a valuable answer, by formulating the correct question...
I straightened my back, stepped towards the officer, and looked at him in disdain.
Using all the inner power I could muster, I looked straight into his eyes, and stared him down!
Now and then, our group of kids had a staring contest; and the first one who averted his eyes, was a chicken.
I had never been very good at it; because, in the eyes of my friends, I was only a 'little runt' with a too big mouth...
However, this time, I was very angry; and I could feel my Inner Power building up and soaring high.
This gross and brutal officer had to keep his filthy hands off our private property!
He had no right to rummage through our belongings, or enter our caravans without being invited!
It was time to teach him a lesson he would never forget...
I switched into my best 'brainiac mode'; while continually staring the officer down.
Then, I told him, slowly and plainly, as if I was speaking to a stupid duffer:
"Officer, I assure you that I am not your little boy. I may be small, but I am a proud Gypsy and a real trapper; and you will have to address me accordingly!
"About your question; why do you bother asking? Our kids didn't bring any stolen things here, or put them away, because they have only been begging in a gadjo town.
"Besides, you have already looked at our gathered things, because you saw our paper bags and even counted our little bit of money...
"Now, shall I give you some good advice? Don't make such a fool of yourself, leave us alone; and, maybe, one day, you may start to catch REAL crooks."
By now, my eyes were shooting hot daggers, burning holes into his gadjo soul!
Stepping even nearer, I held on staring the officer down, using all the Inner Power I was able to muster.
I knew I was right and he was wrong, and this knowledge was giving me even more Internal Power.
Using all my built-up strength of will, I forced the officer to feel frustrated, break down, and leave us alone.
This time, Prince 'little runt' would win the staring contest!
At first, the officer tried to stare ME down, because he thought I was an easy prey...
However, now, he started to look more and more frustrated, while he hesitated.
Obviously, he didn't know how to cope with my unexpected demeanor and my very 'brainy' use of words for such a small boy.
He started to feel more and more uneasy, looking at the small imp who suddenly turned into such a dangerous little devil...
Desperately, he tried to regain his posture; looking for words, but being unable to find any...
All the time, I stared the officer down, forcefully willing him to give up and leave us alone!
In my fantasy, I entered his mind, opened all his inner doors, and confused his troubled thinking by filling it with pictures of dancing devils...
Chuckling inwardly, I saw how he started to fidget, while his frustrated face became redder and redder...
Suddenly, the now totally confused officer averted his eyes and looked at the ground!
Hastily, he stepped away from me, almost tripping over his own feet!
At that same moment, as on purpose, the rain stopped, and the sun started to shine from behind the clouds...
This time, I WON!
Today, I won a staring contest with a real police officer!
From now on, nobody would ever again call me a 'little runt'!
After today, all our kids would treat me with utmost respect...
My friends had followed our conversation, crowding around us while holding their breaths...
They had looked at me with proud faces, crossing their fingers and silently wishing me success...
They knew how caustic I could be when switched into my 'brainiac mode'; and they almost pitied the poor officer.
Now, they started to cheer loudly; while the red-faced officer left our group in a sudden hurry!
The frustrated man wavered towards his car, on the way beckoning his companions to follow him.
He slumped down into his driver seat and drove off, with screeching tires, without looking back.
All the other officers jumped into their own cars and drove off too, following their leader back to the gadjo world.
Unfortunately, they took our captive men with them...
Immediately, a couple of our own men raced to our parking lot; to follow them in our own cars.
Of course, they wanted to know where the officers brought our men...
They would also try to protect our beloved Leader, my Dad; and, if necessary, defend him with their own lives!
However, for the moment, they didn't want the police officers to know they had caught our real King as well...
All the people who remained in our now very empty camp, felt devastated.
We slumped down onto our wooden benches, and stared at each other with sad faces.
What would the nasty police officers do to our confined fathers, uncles, and friends?
Would they torture them, or coerce them to confess things they hadn't done at all?
Would we ever see them back alive, supposing they survived their ordeal?
We remembered our stories from the past, telling us about cruel witch-hunts and false accusations...
Then, our people were tortured and hung, only because they had tried to survive or help their starving children...
During the remainder of the day, we waited for any news about our captured men.
Sitting together, we stared at our campfire, cried, and tried to comfort each other.
Now and then, a pair of kids went into our woods, to have a look at their traps.
After a short time, they returned quickly and empty-handed.
They looked at us questioningly, and we shook our heads looking sad.
We had no news...
One time, Misha and I decided to have a quick look at our traps.
We left our group; and Misha guided us straight through the dense forest, to the end of our steep ravine.
Just like the others, we hadn't caught anything; and we set our new traps along other faint animal tracks.
For a moment, we slumped down onto our flat boulder, staring into the depth at the meandering water stream with its many rapids...
Misha threw his arms around me, held me close, and told me with tears in his eyes:
"I feel very sorry for you, and I hope your Dad will return soon. I know how it is, to live without a Dad..."
I knew that Misha had lost his own Dad a few years ago, due to a slipping caravan tumbling into a ravine.
Since then, he lived with his mother and a younger sister in another caravan at the end of our circle.
Fortunately, he and Michail seemed to like each other; and I really hoped they would become very good friends.
Even Michail's small sons, Michi and Movi, seemed to adore their 'big brother'...
We threw our arms around each other and cried together, mingling our tears.
Misha cried for the loss of his own Dad; and I cried for the uncertainty we felt about our captured men...
After some time, we dried each other's eyes with a tuft of moss, and decided to go back to our camp.
Again, Misha led the way, guiding us in a beeline through the dense forest to our camp.
We returned into our circle, and looked at the others questioningly.
They still looked sad, and slowly shook their heads...
Again, we sat on our wooden benches, and waited...
Near the end of the day, the sun started to disappear behind our mountains, while the air became chilly.
We tried to eat a couple of delicacies from the gadjo paper bags, but they tasted like cardboard...
It was no fun to munch on them; while, at the same time, our own men were hungry and, maybe, even tortured or worse...
We took a few bites, swallowed them with some difficulty, and discarded the remainders with sour faces.
Then, we drank some water, and waited again...
Suddenly, little Dimi jumped up, while he shouted:
"I can hear them! There are our cars!"
Immediately, we all perked our ears up, trying to detect the sounds of approaching cars.
To our utmost delight, Dimi turned out to be right!
After a short time, we could clearly hear a couple of cars, approaching our camp at high speed!
We all rose to our feet at the same time, to have a better look...
THERE THEY WERE!
Our cars raced towards our camp; and stopped in our parking lot.
All our men left their cars and stumbled to our campfire, to sit down and have some coffee to soothe their dry throats.
They all looked dead tired, but were very happy to be home...
I jumped up and wrestled through the turmoil, until I reached my Dad.
Then, I clamped myself onto his chest, sobbing loudly, and planning not to let him leave me ever again!
My Dad choked up and got tears in his eyes, while he threw his strong arms around my waist and tried to crush me.
However, I didn't mind at all, although I was now making little squeaking sounds...
I HAD MY DAD BACK ALIVE.
After a moment, my Dad released his death grip on me, kissed my nose, and told me to sit down next to him.
Then, he thankfully accepted a steaming cup of coffee, his first one since many thirsty hours.
I couldn't help sitting glued to his side, forcefully pushing my head under his left arm...
Until my happy looking Mom took me onto her lap, telling me to let my Dad have his much needed coffee first.
Then, it would be up to him what he wanted to do with his 'octopus'...
Okay, I could live with that.
First, our thirsty men drank buckets of much-needed coffee, and took second and even third helpings.
Then, everybody hugged everybody else; while many kisses were exchanged and many tears mingled together.
Fortunately, none of our captured men had been hurt; except for, maybe, a few dents in their self-esteems...
Finally, Michail started to tell us how all the police officers blindly assumed he was our Gypsy Leader.
They took him into another room, where they questioned him about a gypsy raid in a far away town.
However, Michail only told them what he knew about our kids begging in the nearby gadjo town.
The officers didn't really believe him; but they couldn't prove anything...
At the same time, our other men were separated; and interrogated in several different rooms.
They all told the frustrated officers exactly the same things: they had done nothing questionable, and didn't know what the officers were talking about!
At last, the officers didn't know what to do next; and, after many hours of trying to get a confession, they finally let our men go.
Before they opened the door, they threatened to put them into jail for a long time, if one of their towns would be 'raided' again...
During the whole day, our own cars had been waiting outside the police station, ready to take our men home!
The moment they staggered out of the police station, our waiting cars picked them up and took them home safely.
Now, they felt hungry and dead tired, but very happy to be home...
Again, we had a Big Feast; and our gadjo goodies suddenly tasted more than delicious!
We filled our stomachs to the brim, and burped loudly to thank the good gadjo's for giving us their nice food.
Then, we danced and had lots of fun, until the already rising sun started to glow around our mountaintops.
I can vaguely remember my smiling Mom, taking me from my Dad's lap, before I closed my eyes and fell asleep...
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Harry AnderS, Dutch psychotherapist and writer of 'books with a message'
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