Tuesday, December 12, 2006

crack house in da 'hood

This is my house, with the picket fence and my happy yellow car.


Finally, I get around to telling the crack house story. I know, I can hear you over there...clamoring for da REAL DEAL.

Once upon a time, about two years ago, there were some nice people, the professor, and me, who lived in town and believed in urban renewal. (all good stories start this way, right?) These nice people had a young setter mix puppy named Harry, who was younger than a year old at a time. As a result, we were outside all the time with little man Harry, who had to tinkle a lot.

At first, we thought, hmm, new people moved into one of the apartments across the street. They weren't friendly, but they were loud. In the past, I'd gone over and nicely asked folks to turn down their car stereos or to stop honking in the middle of the night but this time, I didn't. I follow the "Mom, he's touching me!!" school of neighborliness. I try not to bother others, but I'll ask them to stop doing something if it is infringing on my sanity. That's assuming I'm not afraid of the other person. If I'm afraid, I stay on my side of the street.

Over time, I noticed it wasn't just loud people out at night. Every 20 minutes, from noon to about 2 am, somebody drove up, usually in an SUV, on the lawn of the house. The subwoofers in their cars rattled my house windows. I began to watch more closely. I saw baggies being exchanged. I saw cash. I saw some seriously strung out folk.

Around the same time, as winter turned into spring, I began to get approached by strangers on the street near my house. Could I give someone money for a ride? Drive them someplace? Since I grew up near a big city, I knew how to politely turn down these people and get away, but it was getting worse. I saw what only could be described as "ladies of the night" coming in and out of the house across the street.

First, I mentioned this on the phone, long distance, to my mom and my best friend. They both thought I seemed a little odd and agitated, and suggested maybe I needed some drugs too, you know, the kind for anti-anxiety? I told them they'd feel weird too if they had their work and their sleep interrupted by teeth rattling music every 20 minutes all day and half the night. I started calling the cops.

At first, the cops thought I was messing with them. What they didn't know is that I started out my career teaching in inner city DC, and I'd just finished a gig teaching in downtown Buffalo. I'd escorted stoned or strung out people out of my classroom, using my body to shield the students. I taught in schools with shootings, fires in the hall way, broken metal detectors and confiscated weapons. "Honey," I felt like saying the dispatcher, "I done seen high people before. I know what crack heads look like."

Then, my neighbor, a waiter, slept late one morning and someone tried to break into his house... while he was there. Now I started calling the cops and reciting the license plate numbers of the cars I saw. "Ma'am," they finally said, "We know about it. We'll do something."

On Memorial Day weekend, 2004, the police did the first drug bust. They found crack, heroin, meth (drug of choice around here) along with pot and prostitution. It was one stop shopping across the street. Since the bad guys were jailed for 2 nights, I got a decent amount of rest and realized I no longer felt agitated all the time. Amazing what lack of sleep and adrenalin will do. After two days, they were back. Out on bail. More, in the next installment of...crack house in da 'hood.


On the left, a photo of the former crack house, now undergoing renovation. On the right, the house of an older widow neighbor. Her husband was a preacher.

2 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

Oh your house is so cute! I'll be waiting to read the next installment.

December 12, 2006 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

How disconcerting: Kentucky looks like, well, like Edmonton.

That must have been highly unpleasant. I think I could have overlooked the drugs aspect if they'd kept the noise down and been courteous to the neighbours. I get very annoyed at being woken from sleep by someone else's noise (the 3am cat races are self-inflicted). Worse yet is being kept awake all night... do you have raves in Kentucky?

I look forward to the next installment only because I know the story has a happy ending :-)

December 13, 2006 at 7:49 AM  

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