Dog walks and gunshots and neighborhood screamers, cats that are feral and punks driving Beamers, businessmen cruising for prostitute flings, these are a few of my favorite things
Linda and I first started dating she'd come to my old house on occasion, in
the city; the deep dark scary city her friends and family had warned
her all her life to stay away from. At the time I had Nicholas the
Samoyed, the dog I named my country house after (and this blog as well), and the three of us
would take walks around midnight to the city park that was only a few
blocks from my home. There I could let the dog run without interference
as normal people are smart enough to be in bed with their doors locked
by bewitching hour, so we had the few acres of grass to ourselves.
grown up in the country. If she'd walked outside her folks' house after
midnight she was not only wrapped in absolute silence, but she could
actually count the stars if she were so inclined, as they were visible
in her neighborhood's night sky. So one thing that truly fascinated her
was all the noise a city belches, even in the darkest hours; the sirens
and screams, the barks and screeches, the jet engine's whine and the
constant hum of power transmission. Oh, and the gunshots.
first time we heard one I just blurted out my estimation as to how far
away it was; I suppose to reassure her that there was not a platoon of Indians on horseback, riding across the Eaton's subdivision creekbed in
search of settlers to scalp. She just laughed, that I would simply shrug
off a gunshot to begin with, and that I was so accustomed to the sound
that I could delineate its location by the volume and tone at its
arrival to my ears. I had to explain that I was an audio engineer after
all, and that if it was the clank of a frying pan on a cheating
husband's head we were hearing, I could just as easily pinpoint the
address at which the blood spatter might be.
It became our inside
joke, we'd walk, the dog would run, I'd point out the night's tragedy
locales by the ringing of the gunpowder and we'd go home to do naughty
stuff, without the dog of course.
But then one night as we were
walking home a shot rang out from within a dozen houses, just up an
alley to our left, within Jart throwing distance of my house. Now I'm no
superhero, but it was my neighborhood and I had to take at least a
modicum of responsibility for its troubles so my first thought was "if
someone's been shot and is lying in the alley bleeding to death, I
should at least yell to them that I'm going to get help so they have the
tiniest bit of hope to hold onto. Of course the flip side is if I yell
and the shooter sees I've seen not only the crime but the criminal,
he'll just shoot me too; making Linda's remaining walk home all the more
So I walked up the alley after giving a speech on how
fast Linda should run if I were spun around by the entrance of hot lead
into my manly shoulders, and I saw nothing I'm happy/sorry to say.
moment I got home I called the cops, but I decided in my infinite
wisdom to call the local precinct rather than 911. After all by that
time it had been 15 minutes since boom boom, and I saw neither dead
people nor fleeing shadows. It could have been a kid's failed science
experiment, or perhaps someone had kept a case of beer in a garage
refrigerator and the door was stuck shut, so in frustration the thirsty
maniac started beating the handle with a crowbar until he broke it
beyond repair. It seemed silly to call an emergency dispatcher; while I
was actually pretty sure it was a gunshot and not a wanna be rock
drummer playing on two by fours with tire irons, I didn't hear anyone
moaning for help like they do on television.
The cop that
answered was not amused, no doubt I ruined a hand of seven card stud.
She was angry that I was stupid enough to look up a police station
number in the phonebook and try to keep myself off the emergency line in
case some 10 year old that had been stabbed by his father was trying to
get through and couldn't. If I think it's important, I should call 911
she said. So that got me to thinkin. I heard gunshots nearly every
night, am I just being oversensitive because they're happening in my
back yard? It's true, I never called the cops after a walk during which
I'd heard a shotgun go off near lake and Chicago and a large caliber
handgun fire three shots a few minutes later near 38th and Fourth
Avenue. Did I not care about the predominately black neighborhoods and
only took action when the crime was perpetrated in a mixed race
neighborhood like my own?
And then I stopped thinkin cuz it hurt
my head. And I never again called the cops when I heard gunshots. Even
when they came from next door. I didn't want to have to decide if it was
important enough to use 911. It's just a freaking gunshot. Besides, I
hate getting yelled at by the police. I don't have to call anyone for
that, I can get that treatment anywhere.