“This is how people become alcoholics,” I said to my boyfriend as he handed me a bottle of the only liquor he had in the house. The liquor I so hastily requested as we sat listening to the helicopters circling our neighborhood. Even though it tasted like cough syrup that had been sitting in someone’s medicine chest for decades and had begun the fermentation process, I couldn’t drink what was left of that Barcardi Razz fast enough. It was 3AM and I needed to drown out all the thoughts of whatever manhunt was currently going down on the eastside, the reports of gunshots downtown, and the fact that once again my car was broken into less than 24 hours prior.
I can’t find any data that confirms this, but I feel that Memorial Day is a day particularly saved for criminal activity. It’s the gateway into the summer- the time when temperatures rise and so does crime. Evil-doers are giving us just a little taste of what’s to come. Sticky and sweaty lawlessness.
Some of you know, my car had already been broken into. The window was smashed and replaced with a cardboard cut-out of The Muppets. The thief didn’t put in the Muppet window, though it was the least he could do, but my very sweet future boyfriend did. This happened back in March and unfortunately I have not had the money to replace cardboard with a luxury like glass. This is proving very inopportune in the looming Texas summer heat. I often have to take the cardboard down while driving out of fear that it will slowly peel away from the duct tape and fly onto someone’s front window. Though I’m sure a startled driver would be pleasantly pleased to see some Muppets fly onto their car, it could impair their vision and make them lurch off the road. I don’t want that sort of responsibility on my hands.
My boyfriend lives in literally the text book example of what gentrification is. From block to block in East Austin you have $300,000 house next to a shack next to a $500,000 house next to crack den. He is blocks from one of the scariest intersections in the city, but also next to some of the most unique and interesting architecture sprouting up. Because of this, crimes such as car theft and home burglary are not uncommon. People climbing into your car in your driveway and eating pork rinds and drinking Lone Star is not that uncommon either, I found out.
You never forget the moment you realize your car has been broken into. You look down to see that things have moved around in your car. Items are thrown this way and that or just simply don’t exist in your life anymore. It’s a chilling feeling. A feeling of violation. At that moment when you’re looking down into your car you feel that at any moment someone could run up and completely blindside you. This is a feeling that I felt only two months prior, but is still unnerving nonetheless. After my initial digestion of what happened to my car, I realized that the mo-fo’s had an f’ing party in my car. Crumbs and beer caps were strewn everywhere. Once that thought digested and I scrutinized any new stains on my seats, I contemplated, “What else did they do in my car?” Then after that I thought, “Oh no! I touched my car!” Then, “Dear God! AIDs!” After that moment I ran back into the house and scrubbed my hands as hard as I could. The rest of day I used my elbows to tend to any itch near my eyes or mouth.
This ended up being a semi-kill joy for the Memorial holiday, but I hunkered on. My boyfriend being a stalwart of support for the rest of the day. Just as the day was winding down and I was beginning to feel comfortable, we spotted silent police cars racing through the neighborhood. Then the familiar rumble of the police helicopter. I jumped online to find news updates to no avail. I turned to trusty ol’ Twitter where residents were reporting that sounds of gunfire near the freeway that separates downtown from East Austin were heard. Eastsiders were tweeting that road blocks had been set up around many popular streets. Tension was rising as it became apparent something bad was going down. My boyfriend and I located an online scanner for the Austin Police Department that came in garbled. Occasionally a word like, “weapon” and “shot” could be distinctly heard but we were mostly left in the dark about what was going on. I tried laying down but mostly sat there paralyzed by fear. Then began shaking and whining like a small animal. Listening to a police scanner is the worst decision anyone could ever make. It makes you believe that your city is a lawless dystopia infested with murderers, rapists, and most likely a couple of Frank Booths. While all this was going down, other local officers reported in robberies, shootings, and threats all over the city.
This morning news surfaced that two young men were breaking into cars on 8th street and I-35. When two bike cops discovered what they were doing, the perpetrators tried running them over and then fled. A shoot-out ensued and one suspect was killed while the other fled eastside on foot with a gunshot wound to the arm. Police apprehended the second suspect at UT’s Disch Falk Stadium.
I’ve written about how recently I’ve been very anxious at night. Some in part because of the recent crimes occurring in my neighborhood. This week I finally overcame my anxiety. Having slept through the night in full with no 3AM panic attacks. I was a big girl! YESTERDAY UNDID EVERYTHING I WAS WORKING SO HARD TOWARDS. NOW I’LL BE A BIG PUDDLE OF GOOOO AND HAVE TO REACH FOR A BOTTLE OF POORLY FLAVORED LIQUOR JUST TO GET THROUGH THE EVENING.