The Engineer was off to a hockey game the other night, and I was quite happy to cozy in for the evening with the dogs, a steaming mug of tea and my latest pick from Netflix. I was just beginning to truly enjoy season four, disc three of The Office when I hear a strange noise outside: gunshots. At first I thought (or hoped) that it was a car backfiring, but when I heard the car backfire eight more times I was pretty convinced it was a gun.
Not one to panic, I merely continued to laugh at Steve Carell’s antics thinking that the gunshots had happened far away. I also suspected that my overactive imagination had merely made up the gunshots because I am in Brooklyn and that is what happens here.
Then I heard one round of sirens.
Text the Engineer.
Second round of sirens.
Call best friend.
Third round of sirens.
Call my parents.
At this point I am still pretty calm, thinking that the shooting was at least ten blocks over. So I start washing my dishes while talking to my best friend on the phone. We are sort of laughing about the ‘shooting’ when I hear the fourth round of sirens accompanied by the sound of a helicopter. I shut the tap off, stand up a bit straighter and tell my friend I will call her back. The boys are afraid of the helicopter and are running around the apartment jumping and barking, making me even more nervous.
I open the window in front of my desk and crawl out onto the fire escape to find that the helicopter is directly above my street, shining its’ light brightly on my block. The street is crawling with New York’s finest, both in uniform and in suits. My next-door neighbor is being questioned by one of the boys in blue. I call the Engineer and tell him that the eight to ten ‘backfires’ I heard, were, in fact, gunshots.
I decide this is the safest time to walk the boys, as my street is full of NYPD. Okay, that may not be the complete truth. I was nosey.
Outside we went, where to one end of my street there were cop cars and that yellow homicide tape that you see in cop shows and to the other, life as normal. My neighbor (in her leopard print flannel PJ’s) filled me in on the situation by holding up her hand in a gun gesture and shooting her index finger. I told her I thought it had been gunfire but really far away. Nope, she said, at the end of the street.
So we walked to that end of the street. All the while me telling the boys to poop so it looked like I was out for a real reason. I ran into a cop who was flashing his light under cars. He smiled and said everything was all right but had I heard anything? I told him I had and that the gunshots seemed to be in two different sections – as if the shooter and stopped and ran a bit further. He then asked what caliber of gun I thought it was, how high pitched each shot was and some other gun gibberish. Confused and slightly taken aback, I told him that they sounded like gunshots. He gave me a bemused smiled and asked me if I had ever heard gunshots before. I shook my head. He seemed to think this was sweet.
Another neighbor of mine came walking down the street and asked the cop what had happened. He told her and then informed her that the body ‘fell’ right at the end of my street. She too was in shock, and whispered ‘did he D-I-E?’ The cop shook his head and said that he only had a couple of bullet wounds (only a couple! Well, I suppose I heard 8-10 shots, clearly the shooter was lousy) but that they had ‘spent a lot of money on him’. To which, again confused, I asked ‘Why? Are bullets expensive?”
The cop and my neighbor slowly turned their attention to me and informed me (as if I was an idiot) that this phrase means there were drugs involved. Oh.
Here are some things that New York has taught me. One: I live near a gang. Two: They live in a thing called ‘The Projects’ (Wow, so Jenny from the block really does exist). And Three: There is such a thing as a ‘gunshot virgin’ to which I am no more.