Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Gunshot

So far, I haven't been able to find any news about the gunshot I heard last night outside my window. It was about 10:30 and my mom and I were sitting on the couch watching a movie and eating a slice each of her birthday cake. Chocolate.

I stealthed to the bedroom, where the lights were already out, and peeked out the window beyond the fence of my building. I didn't see anything. But I was mostly hoping that I wouldn't be seen.

I left my mother staring at her cake and the television. Must've been a car. Must've been something breaking. A tree branch. A pipe. I didn't want her to go near the windows.

She went back to her piece. The cat went back to sleep. I didn't call the police or the security number for our building. I know what I heard, but I kept doubting that that was really what I heard. I didn't have any information. I didn't see anything happen. I know there is no reason not to call the police when you see or hear something suspicious. But I think that I was afraid to get involved. Why is that? What makes us afraid that we'll be considered a hassle, a burden? What makes us think that the information we report will be considered a waste of time if we don't have any real information? Or if it turns out to be nothing at all? Isn't it our duty to get involved? Isn't the mantra "Constant Vigilance?"

I still haven't called the police, and I probably won't. I haven't been able to find any news about the gunshot. Maybe no one was hurt. Maybe someone was and no one will know about it until later today, or Monday. Maybe it was a warning shot during a mugging. Maybe it really was a car backfire.

Can I hide behind the fact that my mom didn't think it was a big enough deal to call the police? Did she, like me, want to pretend it was nothing so we can both sleep easier knowing that there's no chance I live in an area where people get shot? It's likely that I will be mugged one of these days - it's happened to most of my friends. I don't live in a quiet community where shit like this doesn't happen. I live in a major city with quite a few violent crime problems. It's better than 1997, when I moved here, but it's not great. I do walk home from the metro and the neighborhood pub after dark - tough not to when it gets dark at 6 pm (though daylight savings will help that a little) - and I've been hassled a little on that walk, but nothing seriously threatening.

But am I seriously going to just stay in after dark? Take a cab three blocks? Find a boyfriend and fast so I don't have to walk alone? These are seriously my options? And who says I'm safer inside?

This shit has me spun up today, but it's likely I'll move forward with whatever plans I have this evening and try to forget it happened. I probably won't check the police logs again after tomorrow. I'll probably peek out my bedroom window again tonight before bed, but not Monday or Tuesday night. There's a certain level of fear we all learn to live with, and that threshold can easily get higher when you move out of your fancy Foggy Bottom bubble and into a "developing neighborhood."

Not that any place in this city is really all that safe.

I am ashamed that I didn't act and that I probably won't. Partly I didn't want to scare my mother into thinking this neighborhood was some kind of gritty shithole. Partly because I don't want to think that myself. Partly because I might be able to live with myself staying out of it, staying uninvolved. I'm not afraid that I'm going to be shot, so I don't know why I can't get the sound out of my head. It'll let go eventually ... sadly.

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At 3/10/2008 9:28 AM, Blogger asianpixie said...

I remember hearing a gunshot when we were at the Foggy Bottom place as well. There is no place in DC or the surrounding areas that I would label as "safe." Some places are safer than others, but constant vigilance is the key. That and always carry a sharp object ;)

At 3/11/2008 12:33 PM, Blogger MKD said...

Use it as a lesson. Do something more next time.


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