There Are All Kinds of People In Your Neighborhood
These are the people in my neighborhood.... in my neighborhood....in my neighborhooooooooood.....
...or at least they were, until Saturday, when most were carted off by various servants of the public.
Person #1:The Dead Girl. I don't know her name. I think she was about my age. She lived across the side-street from me and was rarely seen, though I once did see her riding a motorcycle. No one I know had ever had a conversation with her except Graham, the Englishman who lives catty-corner (that's how we say it here) from me. The Other Neighbor Girl who lives next door to The Dead Girl went looking for her escaped cat and found The Dead Girl's body laid out on a tarp in her garage, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She had been there for SIX DAYS. Neighbors remembered hearing something that sounded like a firecracker coming from the area of the garage on Easter Sunday, but, this being New Orleans and all, where such sounds seem to be heard with relative frequency no matter where you live, they didn't think much of it. I am grateful that we had all gone off for the day when this grisly discovery was made and we were fortunate to miss the removal of the body.
New Orleans Note: Neighborhoods are so mixed up here that you will have wealthy people of all stripes living in homes with varying degrees of opulence within blocks of impoverished people living in absolute squalor, surrounded by everything in between the two extremes. Years ago, I could barely differentiate the sounds of certain fireworks and firearms and I'd jump when I heard what I could clearly discern as gunshots, look out of the windows, and call the police if it sounded anywhere within blocks. It happened rarely. Now, although it's not quite an everyday thing, I admit that I'm barely phased by those distant sounds and would only call the police if it were coming from within a couple of blocks. I probably wasn't home when this poor Girl offed herself.)
Person #2: The Armed Bankrobber from the FBI's Most Wanted List. Rachel and I came home from our Saturday outing to find two police cars in front of Graham's house and before we could turn off the engine, three more showed up in front of the DG's house. There were some SWAT team guys and some other officers with flak gear on, and apparently there were more police cars on the corner a block down from us. I told Rachel we'd better get inside quickly, but there were a group of little girls playing a few yards from the cars and the cops didn't tell them to go inside. So, we came back out and eventually Graham, (who always seems to know everything about what's happening in the 'hood), came by and gave me the skinny. I don't have details about the heist, but apparently, this guy held up a bank about two weeks ago and decided to hide out in the house behind the Dead Girl's, which I believe may be his mother's house. I don't know for certain. In any event, they got him without much fuss. Everyone in the neighborhood, including the Second District police who had been there earlier for the Person #1 incident, was buzzing about the day's activity in an area which is normally pretty quiet and uneventful.
Persons #3, #4, #5, & #6: Armed and Dangerous Criminals Eluding Capture. Alex had been hanging around with his friends all day and shortly before 10:30 PM, Rachel and I went to pick him up. I told him about all the neighborhood events on the short drive home and as we were coming the "back way" up our street, we saw a police car buzzing through a cross street. As we proceeded, we saw several more and, a block before we got to our house, in the same block as the houses involved in #1 & #2, in fact, virtually in front of house #2, another three police cars blocking the street, one with lights flashing. I had to go around the block to get home and as soon as we got in the door, Graham called to inform us that there was some incident involving a car stolen by four guys known to be armed and dangerous and a police chase into our neighborhood. (Aren't they all armed these days?) The police told him this and urged him to get and stay inside, as he was, of course, outside trying to get the whole story. Apparently, the police caught one of these guys, thanks to his brilliant decision to wear a white, hoodie, the perfect broadcast beacon for a fugitive on a dark night. But the other three were still at large. I turned every light on outside and took the kids upstairs, where Rachel cried and clung to me like a fat lady's polyester pants to her kneehighs on a cold, dry winter's day. Soon after, we heard the police helicopters buzzing around a few blocks away and saw that the patrol cars had left our area, apparently confident that the thugs had fled here.
I think we filled the decade's quota for gruesome, sad, exciting and/or harrowing experiences in this neighborhood yesterday. Today was a most quiet and peaceful Sunday.