The crime rate in my hometown has drastically increased. A once safe quiet city has laid victim to a handful of heinous crimes and the shooting of innocent people. Every city has it’s bad neighborhood, which is where the crime usually resides. The designated “bad neighborhood” in my hometown is the east side of town, not to be confused with rural farm area of the southeast. When the streets begin to say presidents’ names and state names, then you know you have come too far. However, over the course of a year or two, the crimes have begun to expand to other parts of town that were once considered safe.
My friends and I like to go to a local bar called Clinton’s. Clinton’s is notorious for fights, but these fights escalate to the point where someone pulls out a gun and someone not going home to their family. Why doesn’t any call the police you ask? Well, these fights take place outside after closing time. People are drunk, incoherent and belligerent. You could say the wrong thing to someone without meaning to. My friend Keke is a hard person to please when drunk, in terms of different types of drunk people, Keke is classified as the angry drunk. The angry drunk is perpetually angry and no amount of coaxing will calm them down, which brings me back to the fights that take place outside of the bar. Many of the people who are stumbling their way out of the bar are angry drunks. Being angry and having alcohol do not mix.
Remember when parents would tell us nothing good happens after midnight? They are most definitely right. I witnessed a shooting last year. I was with Keke, her sister and a friend of hers named Kay. We were all piled in the car giggling as we tried to decide what we wanted to eat. There are only a few restaurants that are 24 hours other than the McDonald’s. Kay was driving, Keke was sitting next to her and her sister and I was in the back. We were at the exit of the parking lot and Kay was waiting for other cars to pass. There was something odd happened across the street. An African American male was having a dispute with the passenger of a black SUV with tinted windows. The yelling grew louder and then he pulled out a gun. Kay was just about to go, but then shots fired. One. Two. Three. The perpetrator ran off firing erratically and the SUV drove off quickly. It stopped two other cars on the road, slamming on their breaks. Kay took her hands off the wheel. “What do I do? What do I do?” she stammered. Sirens were blaring in the distance.
“What do I do? What do I do?” Kay stammered.
“Drive! We can’t be here!” I said.
“But I need to go left!” she stated, trying to calm herself.
“Just go around the block!” Keke’s sister hollered.
Kay obeyed and veered the car to the right and we sped off as the sirens grew louder.
We sat at Denny’s silently trying to process what happened. Kay was staring off in the distance. Whatever world she was in, it is probably better than this one. Keke broke the ice. “What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened.” We were all in complete shock. We didn’t know. It happened so fast.
The next morning Keke called me to check on me and asked if I heard anything about the shooting on the news. I checked thoroughly, but there was nothing about the shooting that we had witnessed. However, a shooting that occurred with arrests occurred on the east side of town, about a couple miles from our location. I still can’t get that sound of the gunshots out of my head.
About two weeks ago I was given news of another shooting at Clinton’s. Did I know him? Not necessarily. If someone asked how I knew him I’d say, “Well, my sister was once friends with the mother of his child. I never met him personally, but I know who is.” That’s usually how it goes. We don’t know the victim personally but were connected in some form another. I called my friend Keke to make sure she wasn’t there that night because when bad things happen at that bar, sometimes she’s witnessed them firsthand. Thankfully, she was home babysitting that night.
We never told anyone that we witnessed a shooting. We were so scared and we didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t on the news the next morning so did it happen? Were we just imagining it? I don’t think we did, but talking about this has been a giant load off of my chest.