The man and woman were good parents, conscientious parents. They watched over their daughter with great fervor in a dangerous world. There were so many dangers out there to worry about. They were vigilant about the boys she dated, the friends she kept, the books she read and the movies she watched. Their focus was to make sure that nothing harmed her.
They lived in a wonderful community where crime was light, almost non-existent. The other citizens had decent values. Their daughter, Hillary, was comfortable here. She was turning into a fine woman. They felt a degree of satisfaction in their hard work. And then it happened.
A girl Hillary's age, walking home from a school basketball game one night, was attacked, raped and killed. The community was rocked by the horrible crime, but not for long. Everyone rallied around the family who lost the daughter. Great outpourings of love and service were shown. It bound the community together stronger than ever. At least for a little while.
Immediately following the crime, the sheriff, Nathan Steven Andrews, called a town meeting. "We can't let anything like this ever happen again," he said. "We must make a few changes, and to do that I need more power and authority."
The father and mother, fearing for their daughter's safety, immediately voiced their support. What price could be too great to stop such a crime in the future? The sheriff, with his new power and authority enacted a law to be able to keep constant surveillance on the girls Hillary's age. He explained that by constant surveillance, he could prevent such a crime in the future. The parents rested well knowing that Hillary was under such protection.
The perpetrator of the crime was still on the loose. Although he hadn't been identified, all law agencies were alerted and searching. Soon, everyone was pointing fingers and condemning others as a partial reason the crime occurred. And what about Sheriff Nate? Shouldn't he have recognized that this crime would happen? Shouldn't he have foreseen and stopped it?
Sheriff Nate called another town meeting.
"I have been watching your daughters constantly and taking my job seriously. "
It was true; the sheriff seemed to constantly be watching their daughters with great intensity.
"We can see the terrible toll this crime has exacted on our community," he continued. "We need to take further steps to never let such a thing happen again. The safety of your daughters is my utmost priority. So here is my plan:
I've narrowed the next probable attack down to a small number of girls. I need greater power and authority to be able to prevent this next attack. Although we are able to keep your daughters under complete surveillance while they are away from your homes, I believe there might be an attack in your homes, while you are sleeping. I want to bring the girls to my home where I can provide greater safety for them with constant surveillance."
The sheriff then read off the names of the girls for whom he feared. Hillary was one on the list. The town meeting erupted with discussion and debate as to whether this was a good idea. The sheriff raised his hand and asked for silence. He then held up a picture of the girl who had been raped and murdered.
"Can we let this happen again?" he asked.
A few dissenters still disagreed. The sheriff was an unmarried man and these were teenage girls, they said. Should they be staying in his home alone with him? But the majority, when they saw again the picture of the raped and murdered young girl decided it was best to let the sheriff have more power. Hillary's parents were in this group. After all, their own daughter was one of the few who were potentially targeted.
Rumors continued to fly throughout the community about when the next attack might be. The news agencies supplied a constant stream of ideas and opinions about who had perpetrated the attack and when the next might occur. If an attack occurred elsewhere in the state or region, it was highly publicized.
Sheriff Nate called another town meeting.
"You have seen how crimes such as the tragedy we had here have been popping up in other areas," he said. "I believe that such a crime could occur again here soon. And I fear more than ever that these girls staying in my home at night could be targets for attack. Obviously I can watch them closely before we sleep and after we get up, but I fear that there could be an attack while I am sleeping since I do have to sleep sometimes.
"So here is my proposal. If I feel that a particular girl might be in great danger that night, I will have her sleep with me in my bed so that I can better protect her."
The town meeting again went wild with debate. Even more people started siding with the dissenters. Hillary's parents were among those against the proposition. It seemed a little too much. The sheriff raised his hand and the crowd grew quiet.
"I know this unusual, but we are in a crisis here. We can't do the same things that brought us to this crisis and expect to get different results. If I am not allowed this power, I fear that what happened before will repeat itself. And who will be to blame?"
The sheriff looked directly at Hillary's parents.
"What if your daughter is the next one targeted? Wouldn't you want me to be able to protect her?"
Such a direct question made Hillary's parents feel ashamed at their lack of concern for their daughter. Of course, they didn't want such a thing to happen to their daughter or anyone's daughter. Obviously the only way to see it didn't happen again would be to allow the sheriff the power needed to stop it. They used their power and persuasion to help the sheriff get his idea accepted and passed.
Attacks continued throughout the surrounding cities and states. To Hillary's parents, it felt like a different world than just a few years previous. But at least no other attacks had occurred in their town. Still, they worried constantly for their daughter who was possibly targeted.
A new town meeting was called by Sheriff Nate.
"I am very pleased with the safety we have had since the terrible crime was perpetrated. Obviously, our system is working. But, we are in different times than in the past, and drastic measures are called for. I fear that if one of your daughters is with me in bed and an attack occurs, that girl might not listen to my every instruction. I need complete power and authority over your daughters while they are in my bed, according to my discretion. If I think they are in danger that night, even if no attack occurs, they need to follow any order I give, no matter what it might be. And remember, I am only thinking of your daughters. "
Well, of course, there were those that disagreed with such a proposal. Couldn't complete power over the girls in his bed be abused? Hillary's parents were again concerned, but wasn't the sheriff right? There had been no more terrible crimes since the new laws had been implemented. Wasn't this for her safety? They helped the sheriff gain the power he needed.
Hillary didn't seem as happy as she had previously; in fact, she seemed very unhappy. She was dull and listless and always very tired as if she never slept, but her parents realized that she must be terribly worried about the crimes happening and scared that she could be next. Who could sleep with such worry?
Sheriff Nate called a new meeting.
"Our plan is working," he said. "But I fear that other girls may be targeted now. My home is only so big, so I think it is time to expand the program. My deputies will start having some of your daughters stay at their homes. Also, I fear that wives are in danger and they will need to start staying at our homes as well. We will need the same power and authority over them as we now have currently over the daughters staying in my home."
The sheriff paused. His voice choked with emotion.
"I'm so very glad this is working and that we are stopping these terrible crimes."
It was obvious to Hillary's parents that it was working. Their community had been safe. Why not expand such a successful program and let others enjoy the benefits? The community must be protected. They helped the sheriff get the new laws passed.
The man said goodbye to his wife for the night. She would go to stay at one of the Sheriff's deputies' homes tonight. It was difficult to let her go, but it was for her safety. In the morning, the sheriff called another town meeting. Only the men showed up.
"I have grave news," started the sheriff. "There is ample evidence that one of the men in our community is the attacker we have been searching for. However, we still don't know which man it is. For the safety of the women, we are requiring all men to leave the area until further notice. The deputies and I will continue to protect your women and girls from our homes and beds. In fact, we are so dedicated to our work, we almost never leave our homes."
The room erupted. The man had never seen such anger before. The sheriff needed to draw his gun before the room quieted.
"I know this is unprecedented," he said, "but it is needed in such a drastic situation. We obviously couldn't grant ourselves this power, so last night with your wives and daughters, we held a community vote. With the women and the deputies and me, it was more than a majority vote. The voting was unanimous."
"But you have total control over our women when they are with you!" screamed one man. "You could have forced them to vote as you wished."
The sheriff looked shocked.
"I hope no one would consider that my deputies or I would ever abuse our power in any way while your women are in our homes or our beds. We are simply trying to prevent further tragedy. The decision is final. All men except my deputies and me must leave. Any resistance will be met with imprisonment."
The man wasn't sure what to do. Some men resisted and were hauled off to prison. Others looked defeated and left. The sheriff came over and put his arm around the man.
"Do not worry about your daughter or wife," he said. "I am personally watching your daughter this week and I will have your wife at my house next week."
When the man realized the dedication of the sheriff, he felt ashamed for ever having considered that anything treacherous could be happening.
"Thank you, Sheriff," he said blinking through teary eyes. "Thank you for all you've done for our community. I can't help but think of the improvements that have come and it all has been because of you."
"Well, that means a lot to me," said the sheriff. "It has been a difficult time, and I don't see it getting better. We all might as well get used to it. The deputies and I are putting in extra hours every night. We're passionate in our work. We almost don't sleep. But for the good of the community, we'll do it."
The man rested easy and counted his blessings to have such a tireless and selfless leader in his community as Sheriff Nathan Steven Andrews.