Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NEIGHBORHOODS

I'd heard about it, the possibility of the downturn in the economy and what it might mean.  More crime, watching out where I never had to watch out before, and then I heard what sounded like a gunshot, the whine of sirens.  Can't be sure what it was, but a gunshot sounds like no other blast that I know, and sirens don't signal good news.
People I know who live nearby in other communities in the San Gabriel Valley report crimes in their neighborhoods, in their homes, in the homes of family members.  Violent crimes; robberies of car keys, coming back later for a 3 AM car theft; a man leaves a house for fifteen minutes and comes home to a home robbery in progress; streets where I drive alone, sometimes at night, just to get away, aren't safe at night, they tell me.
The Eastland Mall neighorhood just off the 10 freeway, my friends say, has outsiders (unspecified, but they're driving in from all over, theyre saying) surging in and robbing parked cars.  Hacienda Boulevard just around Amar, where I used to drive home twice or three times a week from Industry, boils over now with crimes; robberies, drug sales, gangs.
Surprising?  Not really.  But I never thought I'd hear shots in my neighborhood.  Coyotes?  Yes.  Owls?  Sometimes.  Hawks do their hunting in the day time when they can see, but human predators crawl the streets at night, apparently, and not it seems with much thought of seclusion.
I don't have answers.
People driven from their homes with the loss of jobs and income, doesn't always produce an instant criminal class.  Sometimes, of course, but no economic depression has yet produced a rising criminal class that I know.
A friend of mine  recently bought a gun .  A woman.  I understand.  A neighbor a few doors up the street just told me he carries a pistol in his car, and it's not licensed for concealed carry.  He told the Police Chief he was going to do it, after a sidewalk robbery ocurred last year.  Not something I'd recommend.  But when you're scared and you're alone and you hear of friends in nearby communities, people you know, getting held up and robbed in what appear to be crimes that are planned so they know when you're home and when you're not, it gives me pause.
It was one crack-boom that I heard.  That heavy reverberation that lingers a second or two.  That only resonates from real firepower. If you've been around guns, you know the sound.  No car backfiring resounds with the pure power of a gunshot.  No firecracker or toy or any other mechanical sound bears up to a certain size hand gun.  In the open, the sound will wash over a ravine or a gully or a block of houses with a harsh reminder that absence the roar of thunder, something's been fired.  Something most likely has been aimed and the trigger pulled on something living.  A coyote, a dog.  A human being.  A moving vehicle.
In my neighborhood.
There were no helicopters weaving tight patterns in the sky flooding backyards with floodlight.  Not like what Luis described.  Choppers warning people to stay inside, metallic bullhorns with their surreal movie-like quality that Luis says he hears all too regularly in his neighborhood.  No, I didn't hear the dull throb of the rotors patrolling the back alleys.
Not this time.
But I heard the shot.
I heard the sirens.
I hear the warning.

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