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down the hill
tuesday, february 11, 2003

late last night some girl on a bike was shot on the corner of our street. not a few blocks down, not across town, but here. cross the street directly in front of our place, turn left, walk past two houses, and you'd be right where she was. i don't know her condition. i remember hearing the shots and going in to check on my kids and telling them to keep down and away from the windows. i remember calling 911. i remember my husband going outside to see what the heck was happening. and i remember the white car going past as someone took the girl to the hospital.

i remember being terrified.

i've lived in this neighborhood for over 6 years now. when i first moved in, cops drove through the back alley 3 or 4 times a day at random intervals. they met in the street, one car facing one way, the other face the opposite, and the cops would talk for 5, 10, even 15 minutes before moving on. we had a few users and a few hookers, most of which kept a low profile. i knew the place wasn't safe, but i was able to walk home at 10 at night and only be a little nervous, and never once was i bothered. the major annoyance was loud, and i mean LOUD, parties on weekends and holidays.

then the cops stopped driving through the back alley. they met in the street to talk still, so we didn't lose them totally. little did i know that was the beginning of this neighborhood's abandonment. i had a car stolen and trashed beyond repair and haven't had a car since. i wouldn't want one, between gang activity and insurance and gas costs. my ex-father-in-law had his car stolen too, but he had left it running. mine had been locked and we'd been home less then 10 minutes when someone came in asked where my car was. we heard gun shots, but never at close range. except once: a boy across the way in our apartment complex shot his father while trying to protect his mother from a beating. he didn't know the gun was loaded, so we heard. a teenage girl started hooking at 13, was pregnant the next year, left, and came back. my daughter wanted to be her friend and couldn't understand why i wouldn't allow it. i knew when we moved in i would have problems. gangs live and work here. last thing i wanted was for one of my kids to unknowingly do deliveries and get caught.

some time after that, and i don't know quite when because my head was stuck in a textbook most of the time, the cops stopped meeting in the middle of our street. two of the block's families got in a major fight and a woman was knifed. a friend got shot a few blocks over. he was lucky to survive and he can still use his hand. last year someone was shot a block down. i don't know who, but the people in the neighborhood woke up to it enough to put flowers there for two weeks. last year i started having to call the cops repeatedly because of the kids in the neighborhood. no longer 5, 6, and 7, they are teenagers being raised with attitudes. they get into the mail, they beat up other kids, they steal.

and last night someone shot a girl on a bike on my block.

since i've moved in, this place has been on a steep slide into hell and the police have slowly abandoned it to its fate. most of the people who live here are gangsters, drug lords, hookers. but there are a few of us just trying to survive the jungle. my kids finally understand to stay away from the neighbor kids and families. we have a middle school teacher who is disabled living in our complex. a woman across the way with several kids who fled L.A.when the cops stopped being here except when we call, they didn't just decide to let the gangers be gangers if that's what they wanted, they abandoned the few of us who just happened to land here and have done what we can to avoid being a part of it.

and this girl, whoever she was, was shot seven times. we heard three discharges. then four more.

and i'm terrified. i'm terrified my kids will get sucked into this horrid lifestyle of drugs, sex. blood, and death. a life that has 2 sides, this gang versus that gang. will the family of that girl go find the people responsible for shooting their girl and shoot back? will they perpetuate the cycle. i have no way of knowing and i am terrified my kids will get caught in the middle. i am terrified that one of MY kids will be dead.

and right at this moment, unemployed with a job market that's in a worse condition than my neighborhood, there is nothing i can do but be terrified.

site of the moment:
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Beyond the Words
word of the moment: fresh

having its original qualities unimpaired as (1) full of or renewed in vigor, (2) not stale, sour, or decayed, (3) not faded, (4) not worn or rumpled; not altered by processing; not salt; free (1) from taint (pure), (2) of wind; experienced, made, or received newly or anew; additional, another; original, vivid; lacking experience, raw; newly or just come or arrived; having the milk flow recently established <a fresh cow>


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