Monday, June 23, 2008

Encompassed in Yellow Tape: Questions from a Crime Scene

I need to finally address this

A 21 year old (man? kid? gang banger?) was stabbed less than 25 yards from my condo.
Stabbed... Twice in the chest... To death...

I have a real hard time calling the deceased a man. He's 8 years younger than I. But I can't call him a kid. He was done with school and starting his adult life.

The presumption he was a "long time" gang member doesn't necessarily make it easier on me. Sadly, it doesn't make it tougher.
The fact that he was stabbed, and not shot, has given me a completely screwed up sense of safety. The other fact that a kid younger that the deceased also aides to my ungrounded sense of security.

Honestly, this hasn't changed my life. This hasn't changed my willingness to walk to my friend's place, or Potbelly's, or the train station.

I'm not in a gang.
I'm almost 30.
I don't wear expensive shoes, or anything of value that would make me a "target."
I don't bother any kids, they don't bother me.
I don't take a thought about what they may be doing or talking about on their stoop next door - I highly suspect they given a half thought to me in my Corolla driving by them.

A neighbor of mine used the term "ashamed."
Ashamed to be living here
Ashamed his friends know that a murder, not just a death, occured here

I don't feel shame.
And not really any fear.
But I'm angry.

Angry that I've been proven wrong somehow.

A long time ago (it now seems) my friend drove over here and drove home. A friend who lives close enough for me to walk. I teased him the first time he drove over. He reasoned that he didn't want to walk that path at night.

Does the death of Israel Morales make him right?
Does the death of Israel Morales make me some kind of macho / testosterone fueled nimrod for continuing to take no pause?
Should I have known better and should I know better now?

I can't say my neighborhood is safe to anybody without a footnote or asterisk. It is now basically meaningless that the police station headquarters is 6 blocks away. The next 50 to 1,000 times someone asks me, "How's your neighborhood." I will hesitate before speaking.

I'll have to wait until I stop running through these recent facts to spun a spinned response. Wait to let the items at the tip of my brain fall back into silence.

All these are indirect consequences. All my emotions are based on perceptions of others. Safety of my friends, Property value to prospective buyers, Rumors.

Maybe it would be different if I didn't wear headphones to bed that night?
What if I had heard the "altercation" at 2 am, as the Des Plaines Police Detectives described it to me at 8 am the next morning. How about the fact that I was already awake when the detectives conducted their initial canvas. The random knock at the door surely would have scared me - but nope, I was awake.

I was mildly, only mildly, inconvenienced getting my car outside the yellow tape perimeter. Even less trouble sneaking my car around the poorly guarded "barricade" in my alley to my parking spot.

This is the closest I've ever come to a violent act, and all I can feel is a twinge of inconvenience in my Saturday errands? Am I that cold?

Last Sunday, I sat on my balcony, in the near dusk light listening to my iPod as I looked at the candlelight vigil held my his family struggling to figure it out. I attempted to figure me out... figure what to say...

That's over a week ago now, and I'm still at a loss of emotion. I don't know what it means... This (writing) certainly hasn't helped... This has only chronicled my questions - not answered any.

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