Wednesday, September 26, 2012
During the last year that I was living in the old house on the west side of Phoenix, soon after the housing collapse, a lot of my neighbors fell into serious poverty. One of them, though I didn't know it until later, was a fellow whom I'll call Mike. He'd had a small cabinet-making company which went broke, after which he lost his savings and his house, and took to sleeping in his truck, which he often parked in front of my house.
Another bunch of neighbors down the street hosted a gang of teenage punks. I'd tangled with the punks a few times before -- when I chased them out of my yard for trying to shoot one of my cats, when I chased them out of my driveway after they threw rocks through the front window, and so on -- and there was no love lost between us. The punks also made a big claim of "getting their own back" because, they claimed, they were "oppressed" because they were Mexican. Uhuh.
One night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard a lot of thumping and shouting right outside my house, where Mike usually parked his truck. Making a good guess, I grabbed up my pistol and went running out the front door. Out by the curb I saw two of the punks with short clubs, near the open back of the truck, fighting with Mike, who was empty-handed but had big fists. They stopped to gawk as I came marching toward them, which made me recall that I was wearing nothing but my underwear -- and, of course, the gun.
It was the gun that decided them. The punks turned and ran off down the sidewalk toward their lair. One of them, once he was a safe (he thought) 20 yards away (I usually shoot within the 7-ring at 25 yards), he stopped to turn and yell defiantly: "You're a Racist!"
Rrrrright. I snapped back: "You're not a race; you're a punk" -- and I raised the pistol into aiming position. The punk sensibly turned around and resumed running. Afterward, of course, I realized that what I should have said was: "Gee, I didn't know that @sshole was a race."
Anyway, I went to see if Mike was all right -- which he was, except for bruised knuckles -- had a brief talk with him, and ended by inviting him to come move into my house. He had no money, but he traded me a giant-sized television (which I still have, in storage) in exchange for three months' rent. The punks didn't bother us again.
Eventually, after searching and failing to find work in Phoenix, he moved up to Flagstaff where he had family. The landlord was obliged to sell the house, and I moved out to Mesa. I have no idea what happened to the punks, but I suspect that they finally wound up in the Graybar Hotel.
What I particularly remember about the whole incident is the punks using "racism" as a handy excuse for being punks. I can't help but wonder how many other young punks -- and older ones -- do the same.
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(