Memorial Day

Certain holidays never held any importance to me. This isn’t out of some disrespect or apathy for the reasons they exist, it has more to do with the fact that for most of my life these celebrated three-day weekends always ended up with me going into work and getting time and a half while being partially staffed. Let’s not think that I don’t care about people who died in combat or that I have some kind of disrespect for the labor movement although I will say the crappy healthcare and meager pay, I received most of my life shouldn’t be celebrated. Where are these fighters for the common man now? Thanks for the weekend but I work most of those as well.
One of the first Memorial Days I enjoyed as a day off came a few years back when I was living my myself in my house in the ghetto. The smell of barbeque was in the air and the music was loud with windows vibrating as cars drove by and fireworks (gunshots) could be heard in the distance. This was a normal Friday night/ Saturday in the hood except it was taking place on a Monday. I was enjoying myself by either hanging out inside or sitting on the porch reading whatever book had my interest at the time.
Around noon I heard the sound of sirens a few blocks over and didn’t think anything of it. This was a common thing in the neighborhood and to not hear sirens would leave one to worry that something was happening and nobody was responding to it. Something was always happening.
An hour later I could hear a small group of guys coming around the corner from Haye’s Park and this usually meant there was going to be trouble. They were yelling things to draw attention from the neighborhood and when they appeared there were three guys and two girls walking behind them.
“These Niggas think they going to talk shit in our hood. Chicago muthafuckas don’t know who they are messing with. We gonna show these niggas what’s up!” It was the tiny guy in the middle who was doing all the talking.
Next door a party had been going on all day. The house was rented to one woman who was middle aged and back in school. A few weeks before I watch a guy leave her house during a similar party and stash something under my porch. He left and later came back looking around puzzled that the laptop I had found was gone. The next day I knocked on the door and the woman answered. She looked intimidated at the bald white guy standing on her porch. I asked about a laptop and she ran from the door upstairs and came back a minute later screaming somebody had stolen it. I went back home and brought the laptop over with the power cord that was stashed with it. Everything still worked and I suggested being picky about the people she had over. Of course, it wasn’t her fault it must have been a friend of a friend. I described the guy and she was pissed; it was her nephew. I let her know that I had lived in the neighborhood for a while and if anyone tried stuff like that at my house they were being buried in the backyard. After that comment, there were eyes watching me every time I was out back picking tomatoes and planting herbs.
I watched the guys stand out in the street and yelled at the house with a group of guys on the porch talking back. Women stood in the yard rushing the kids inside the house. After a minute the guys in the street pulled their guns. There was a submachine gun, something you might see from a WWII film, a Berretta 9mm with an extended magazine, and the third pistol being aimed at the house. There must have been 10 kids inside the house and I hoped they were in the basement. I rushed to find my phone and had trouble dialing 911. The operator answered and told them there was a group of guys in the street in front of my neighbor’s house with guns drawn. There were kids in the house. I gave descriptions of the individuals and told them about the girls standing in the street with them.
“Are you sure the Berretta has an extended magazine?” dispatch asked.
“Yes, it’s sticking out like a foot under the handle. Where are you guys? These people are going to be killed.”
‘We are on our way. Keep an eye on them but stay safe.”
I stayed on the line and with the guys on the porch not saying a word as they had guns aimed at them the men in the street had decided that they made their point. They walked down the street, turned the corner and disappeared. The police arrived 15 minutes later.
By this time the women in the house were packing up their cars and going back to Chicago, the safer city. “These mother fuckers are crazy over here. What the fuck was that. Why are you mother fuckers talking shit to these crazy people. You ain’t bad ass. You don’t have no gun. We’re getting the fuck out of here.” The guys didn’t talk to the cops but the women threw in their own two cents.
“Do you know the guys who pulled the guns on you?” an officer asked.
The man on the porch stayed silent.
“Ya he knows them. Starting shit and bringing it to my house. What the fuck did you think was going to happen?” she said tossed an arm full of clothes into the trunk of her car.
“You realize these men fit the description of the men who killed a 13-year-old boy two blocks over an hour ago?” the officer was making a point that they should be dead.
The man stayed silent and the women hurried up loading their cars and putting their kids inside. In less than an hour they had packed up and were heading back to Chicago.
“What am I supposed to do?” the man said as the woman walked to the car with her keys.
“Get a job, stop thinking you’re a thug you freeloading bitch!” she hopped into the car and drove away. The guys stood on the front lawn with no house, no cars, and no balls. This was the fastest I had ever seen anyone move out of a house.
The street was quiet. The party was over. I sat on the porch and relaxed as I watched the same three guys walk around the corner looking at my neighbor’s house from across the street. I pulled my phone out and dialed 911. I went inside and acted like I had just received a call.
“The guys who pulled guns on Clinton are back.” I told the dispatcher.
“Are you sure it’s the same men?”
“They are wearing the same clothes. The girls aren’t with them, but it’s them. They are watching the house across the street.”
“Do you see any weapons? Do they have the guns?”
“I don’t see any.”
“Can you find out?”
“I’m not going to ask them!”
“We are on our way.”
I rolled my eyes and continued giving updates as to where they were. Once they reached the intersection down the street police cars swarmed in and guns were drawn. The guys looked around surprised and were quickly cuffed and put into the back of squad cars.
It turned out they were the men that had gunned down a 13-year-old who was “talking shit” and when these guys pulled guns on the neighbor most of the police force was two blocks away securing a crime scene. The guns were found at a friend’s house, dropped off after the showdown. My nerves were shot, adrenaline was starting to subside and I found myself passing out on the couch in the middle of the afternoon. I almost watched a house filled with people be massacred over two groups of guys measuring their dicks. One person died that day, he was referred to as a good kid and didn’t deserve what had happened. A day later the public learned that he had been kicked out of school, was shot a week before during an altercation and this time the job was done right. There is a life lesson here, if you are doing something that got you shot maybe you shouldn’t do that thing again.
The house next door stayed empty for a while. The rest of the summer was quiet, no that’s a lie, who am I kidding, it was a non-stop shit show of ghetto fabulousness. That was the start of the summer and I hadn’t seen anything yet.

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