Some heavy shit went down yesterday.
I was crashed out with an increasingly close friend (no, fear not - relationships are no longer my bag). And I heard some commotion going on outside.
I get up without disturbing her and slalom through the drum gear and drying canvases to see a group of early twenty something white kids "woof"ing at each other. The usual come on, bitch, ya wanna go? Typical baseball cap wearing assholes. (Unusual for this neighbourhood, actually - there are few whites, and they tend to the Lynyrd Skynyrd loving variety).
I had a really good vantage point from my second floor window. All the body language was there for faux aggression. In many species of animal, in order to protect the males from literally killing each other through senseless violence in actually establishing domain by combat, there's a ritualised form of aggression/domination that does little actual damage. In the human jock asshole variety, that involves standing with arms to the sides, chest and head forward, greatly invading the personal space of the other and staring down but without having one's arms up, which is a truly offensive position. A LOT of that going on.
My neighbour was on his porch, clearing the scene. He had a length of wood in his hand. I'd have done the same- there was about twenty of them. I kept watch in case he needed backup - and we've ALL done that. I've done my share of threatening people with a motorcycle primary chain, and we got us some guns, bitches, cause this is the 'hood. But the Canadian in me would MUCH rather stand there with a baseball bat than a pistol. But if we do legitimately end up in a fire fight, I know where our guns are. We generally don't fuck with people unless fucked with, but the guy around the corner ended up getting his house and vintage car sprayed with lead in a drive by a while back. There was something going on there, and I don't wanna know what it was, but point being, I can easily forsee having to pull a trigger. This town has a reputation for a reason.
Back to the narrative. It's 1 am, and the would-be street battle between multiple pairs is off. The neighbour's yelling at them, they're yelling at each other, and not him. He's in his 60s but tough as nails - you have to be, here. They get in their cars, split decisions as to who's riding with who, and pile in, racing away. They must have twigged the cops are on their way. Three cars almost collide hideously - as one peels out in true macho fashion, as another hangs a U-turn almost into his left front headlight in typical macho fashion, causing both to brake hard and the first to almost get rear ended by a third peeling out in macho fashion. Lots of gangsta rap and nu-metal blasting from stereos.
And then, complete silence.
I thought nothing of it. Nice looking cars, probably some slumming kids from better parts of town and/or better towns. People who'd actually be worried about the cops showing up, thinking they would. Hoodrat gangbangers here put on their MySpace pages that they make over $100,000 a year, but they all strangely walk to where they need to get to, or take the bus.
I went back to bed. It's so rare in my life to be asleep next to someone else. It's rather nice, so I went back to it.
BAM, BAM. (pause) BAM, BAM.
I didn't register it at first. I don't know what time it was, either. It must have been at least an hour later, and I was in that strange fugue state in which you're not asleep or awake, dreaming or still-brained.
About half an hour later I was awoken by the house shaking, and flickering light against the ceiling. At first I thought some of my electronics were inadvertently on, until I looked out the window and saw the strobing lights of police and emergency vehicles. Chillingly, they had not arrived with sirens blaring, which would have woken me. They'd glid into the scene in complete stealth mode, which they only do when someone's gonna end up in a bag if they don't get to him in time, but they wanna catch whoever's responsible and not chase him off.
I got up again, not disturbing her, and looked out the window at the furiously rushing police and paramedics, the police frantically looking for someone and clearing the scene, and the paramedics knowing they have precious little time, if at all.
I had night vision but that strange just-woke-up blurriness to my vision, as well as the not-quite-awake inability to truly process it for a while.
Somebody had been shot a block away. Once again, I had a great view and vantage point, and I watched the racing and the running, the cops pointing and directing each other, and equipment being thrown from fire engines and ambulances at waiting paramedics.
There was more to that than a common street-woof between jocks. Either that or this block saw two sets of bullshit in one night, completely unrelated. I went back to sleep. Fuck it.
I once, a long time ago in Canada, wondered how the fuck someone could live in a place where you hear gunfire, people got shot, where gunfire takes people down in their 20s or so, where death is omnipresent.
Now, scarily, I'm getting used to it.