There’s what you hope to be true and then there’s what you know to be true and what you hope doesn’t always win the day over what you know.
Last night I was getting ready for work and I heard gunshots in the alley behind my house.
I knew they were gunshots. For a moment I entertained the vague hope that it might be firecrackers. Might be despite Memorial Day having passed four days earlier and the Fourth of July one month away. I really and truly wanted to believe this was only the sound of firecrackers going off way too early way too late at night, but I knew better.
My wife was in the kitchen, my son in the living room and my daughter on the computer. They all heard the sound that wasn’t firecrackers..
There is one bad house two doors down that has repeatedly been a magnet for misfits during the 14 years I’ve lived here. Apparently where the gunfire was coming from. But I’ll get back to the Neighbors from Hell. This is just the latest in a series of events leading me to believe I need a dog. Or a gun. Or maybe a dog that knows how to use a gun.
- Last month my wife and I were driving to lunch we had to move over for a fire engine tearing down the street headed in the direction we had just come from. When we returned home we passed a house which had burned in the front but there was yellow police tape all around it. Come to find out later some kid had been shot and killed when he opened the door. Then the house was set on fire to cover the shooting. He was only there because he was house-sitting. I never found out if he was the killer’s target or just happened to be in the wrong place in the wrong time.
- Coming home in the morning after work, I couldn’t take my normal route. A block in all directions was closed with police cruisers blocking the intersection. On the evening news an unemployed man had gone to an ATM sometime in the wee hours of the morning. He was shot and robbed. He didn’t make it.
- It was 7:00 am on a Sunday morning when I passed a gas station where there were at least four cops cars around parked in the lot and yellow tape all the way around it. I never did find out what that was about.
These are all random acts of urban crime and there is no connecting thread. Except that I’m a lot more aware of what is going on around me and I can’t say I much like it. Little by little and bit by bit, my sense of security is chipped away just a little bit more.
Back to the bad house on the block. Last year the police arrested a thief known as “the Shotgun Bandit” because that’s how he rolled. He lived in that house and was arrested there after ripping off a store. Detective were there all night hauling crap out of there. There were at least ten other idiots including their kids who seemed to be crashing in the place at one time or another.
When those losers were evicted the property owners allowed some new losers to move in. My next door neighbor who moved out last month said he was sure they were dealing drugs and I don’t doubt it. When they first moved in there was one beat up, busted down junker of a car that used to pull up, the driver would go in and come back out ten minutes later and take off. This crap car had a busted muffler so I always heard it long before I saw it. This went on every weekend, all weekend.
Last February my wife parked her van overnight in front of their house. The next morning two tires on her van decided to commit suicide by slashing themselves. ce? No way. That was an expensive lesson learned to not park anywhere around these assholes . Can I prove it was them? Nope. Do I believe it was them? Yup.
Fast forward to tonight. The paddy wagon rolled past the house, went around the alley and came back to park in front of the assholes house. I wasn’t the one who called the cops. Not this time.
The thought has entered my mind that I might want to buy a gun. Maybe. It doesn’t seem like a completely crazy idea. It sure seem like less of a crazy idea than it did, oh say 14 years ago.
Am I afraid? No, I am not. Does the possibility of a vicious home invasion or walking in on a burglar fill my heart with fear? Not at all. On summer nights I sit on my porch (though I might back off even that since the assholes two doors down like to sit on their porch and smoke). For the most part I feel safe if not totally sound.
I haven’t used a gun since I was in the military and that came to an end 32 years ago. I haven’t even touched a gun since a friend of mine let me hold his probably 20 years ago. But I’m not afraid of guns. From what I remember I liked holding one. I’ve just never felt the need to own one. If I ever did buy a gun I wouldn’t buy some big-ass hand cannon. I’ve seen Dirty Harry, but I have no wish to be Dirty Harry.
If the day comes that I want to be strapped to the max I’d treat buying a gun the same way I’d approach buying a car. I’d do my research, wouldn’t choose form over function, understand exactly what the weapon can and cannot do and treat it with respect, keep it in top condition and keep it locked up when I’m not using it. I’m not anti-gun. I’m pro-responsibility. With extra big helpings of preparation, caution and common sense on the side.
Not saying that I will, but I’m not saying I won’t either. The wife and kids are already totally unthrilled at my making noises about buying a dog. “We’re all too old for a damn dog so why do you want one now?” is what they’ve said. I can only imagine what they will say to me buying a gun. They’d probably prefer I adopt a pack of dogs before I do that.
I don’t know if I will ever buy a gun. I’m not the bravest man in the world and the courage a gun gives you is false. I’d rather walk a dog and have to pick up Fido’s droppings than ever fire a pistol at another human being.
But I can see myself changing my mind. Especially if I keep hearing gunshots in the night way too close to home. It doesn’t matter if the shots have anything to do with me. Bullets make mistakes and especially when they’re fired in anger because somebody gets pissed off at somebody else. Make no mistake about it; I don’t think a gun will make me safer. It’s just a concession that things ain’t like they used to in the old neighborhood and because they aren’t I have to make the proper adjustments to that change.
Which might include a gun. I’m start to think seriously about something that was once unthinkable.