Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Welcome to Homicide Central.

Last night I was awakened by a burst of gunfire outside my bedroom window at midnight; it was quickly followed by a second and then the sound of a car driving off. My wife rolled over and touched my arm -- "Was that gunfire?"

It's like the sound of a car crash. Once you've really heard it you can't mistake it for much else. I've heard gunfire in my life, once had the chance to spend an afternoon at a gun range. And this would make the third time I've heard someone shot to death.

Karen calls nine-one-one; the line is busy. She tries again. "Is this about the shooting on Derby?" She wasn't the first to phone it in. People in our neighborhood have gotten a lot more interested in calling the cops about this kind of thing since the last murder on our block.

We had emergency vehicles there within minutes. I stayed in bed; if I had nothing to contribute I didn't want to get in the way. Karen went to find out what was going on; she lives here and she needs to know. We've got different ideas as to what constitutes our business -- in this case I think both positions were legitimate.

The details she returned with? There's a body on the street in front of the house next door. There's a bullet hole in the front window of that house; the glass was double-glazed and the shot failed to penetrate the second pane. That surprised me.

Well, it turns out that there were three bullet holes in that house and the young man on the street was not the only one killed in the incident. It had been an exchange of gunfire and the driver of the car died just a while after he'd left the scene. Word is that there was a dice-related dispute but at this point all I've got is gossip.

When this first happened my immediate sympathies were with the victim and his friends and family; now I have little but contempt for both parties. If you get in a gunfight and shoot up a house with kids in it and then die? Very little sympathy -- and if a bullet had gone through our porch window it likely would have hit me while I slept.

Another bit of gossip -- that the Channel Two news is going to give our neighborhood a new nickname.

Homicide Central.


Zachary said...

My wife and I lived in very shady part of Anchorage for awhile after college because we couldn't afford much else. Gunfire was...I don't want to say "common," but...was no longer a surprise after about a year. The bigger problems were the drunks yelling at each other and homeless people buzzing everyone in the building when it got cold outside.

We eventually moved out.

Sean Craven said...

I hear you about moving. There was one time when I was complaining about the city where my parents raised us and my sister said, "Hey, it isn't that different from where you live now."

Which was my point. Unfortunately the missus has had this place since the early seventies and she's fixed here like a barnacle. Me? I want someplace with tropical snorkeling and as little shooty and stabby as possible. Ah, well.

The irony is that I got the best sleep last night that I've had in weeks. There really is something wrong with me.

Thomas said...

Heh, this reminds me of a story a real estate agent told me about one of her past customers - it goes to show that it can always be worse...

One customer she dealt with was a police officer looking for a new apartment. Apparently it was a low-class, low-rent apartment that he was living in and as a result of this a lot of gang members were living there. They'd raise a lot of noise and hell at night and he'd hear all sorts of fights and shit going on. He was paranoid about them breaking into his apartment one day and unloading into him while he slept because they knew he was a cop. When he talked to the landlady about the situation her response was 'Hell, you're a COP, SHOOT THEM!'

At this point he decided that he needed to get out.

Sean Craven said...

Thomas, that really reminds me of something that happened a long time ago, back when I was still working in a warehouse.

There were a group of guys who used to get off work around nine or ten and hang out in front of the house and talk for a while before heading home. Because of the acoustics they may as well have been sitting on my bed.

This wasn't good because at that point I was working ten-hour workdays and had to get up at five in the morning.

I hit the breaking point one night when one of them said, "Fuck, I was inside for fuckin' nine months I come out that bitch six months pregnant. I tell you what, I fucked her shit up!"

This pushed a button that made me roll over and yell, "Shut the fuck up!"

There was a cold moment of silence and then a low, controlled voice said, "You want to watch yourself cursing people you don't know."

I said, "I'm sorry, that was rude. But I work for a living and I got to be up at five, man. I can't sleep with you guys talking about that kind of stuff right in my ear."

Another moment of silence, and then the car doors slam shut and they drive off. They didn't come back for a few weeks, which I appreciated.

But when they did come back you know what the topic of conversation was?

"Oh, man, look at that, that's a real nice piece."

"Why you got a revolver, man? Are you some cowboy shit?"

This time I let 'em have their conversation. "Oafboy," I said to myself, "you're gonna get in over your head some day if you don't give up that tough guy crap."

(As an aside -- Thomas, are you my Uncle Tom or are you someone who came here through some arcane means? I'm not sure which answer would thrill me more.)

Thomas said...

Yeesh. I had to deal with those kinds of 'conversations' going on right near me in high school (it ranged from making drug deals to go execute after class to talking about breaking into someone's house) and it quickly taught me some lessons about minding my own business. Matters were made worse if somebody turned one of those people in and I happened to be in ear shot of the conversation because they tended to assume that (in their words) 'white people are narks.'

I happened to find this blog through a link from another blog which is not ringing a bell at this point. My best guess would be that bioephemera posted a link, but I can't be sure.