January 18, 2007

Gun shot

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It is about 2:00 AM. I just heard the first gun shot in my otherwise quiet neighborhood. This is very surreal.

The last time I lived in an area where there were gun shots, they were from hunters tracking dear or other game. The time before that was when I lived in Durham. I rented an apartment one block off of Duke’s East Campus.

Onslow Street. The first place I rented after graduation. I worked for Duke at the time, so it was very convenient. It was a two bedroom apartment with gas heating, which I couldn’t afford to have turned on. Winter was warmed by electric heaters, which worked okay (unless you count getting mono that January).

At first I loved it: upstairs of a Victorian house. Half of the head room was from the dormers in each room. My bedroom had a full-size futon in the larger of two dormers. My saddles lived in the second dormer. There was a lovely old tree outside the window at the foot of my bed. I used to have nightmares of someone climbing up the tree and crawling into my bedroom in the middle of the night.

It took some work to get it into shape, but my roommate and I managed to paint the rooms (so they were all white instead of multi-colored) and repair the holes in the living room ceiling. It was just a neat, funky house. With some really strange stuff that happened there. That is another story — good for sitting around a fire on a foggy evening.

A house with ‘character,’ as one of my friends used to say. Character it had, all right–and ghosts. The house was in what looked like a reasonable neighborhood. One block off of campus should be safe, right? The problem was that 2-3 blocks off of campus was a bad part of town. Over the winter holidays when I first moved in, the sounds were only sporadic. Only enough to make you wonder if it was a car back firing or if it was a gun shot.

In spring, as things began warming up, the gun fights began. The gun fire became more common as the months wore on. Towards the end of the summer, sounds of several weapons could be heard, including the distinct sound of subautomatic weapons. In late summer, the apartment was robbed. I began sleeping with several swords and assorted weaponly next to the bed, just in case someone did climb in through the window. (Some times I think I’ve watched too many B movies.)

When the lease was up in the fall, my roommate and I moved to another neighborhood. We lived there two years. Again, a quiet neighborhood in what we thought was a good part of town. When we moved out, we were hearing gun fire again.

It’s strange to think about the gun shots and stuff that happened when I lived in Durham. I drove by that old house this past December. Maybe five years or so since my last drive by of the property. Some one had obviously bought the house from the land lady I rented from. The three apartments were gone. It was a single residence now. One mail box on the front porch. Such a neat house. I hope the current people there are happier. I hope the neighborhood has been cleaned up.

Here’s hoping this single gun-shot noise doesn’t portend the same kind of neighborhood downfall I’ve experienced before.

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