Sunday, August 27, 2006

Close Call

I just finished reading a nonfiction book by Michael Connelly (author of the fictional Harry Bosch detective series) and it really made me think.

The novel is called Crime Beat, and is a compilation of stories Connelly wrote as a crime reporter in the years before he started successfuly writing fiction. The stories are a lot of what you would expect --murder, drugs, robbery and even a couple of serial killers thrown in.

The book was really interesting and made me think 1) How incredibly desensitized we've become to violence and 2) I bet there are thousands of "almost victims"--people who came in contact with violent people and for whatever reason didn't become victims. I don't mean they escaped or got away after being initially attacked; these would be people who might never realize what could have happened.

I think a lot of people have stories about these types of "brushes" with a person or situation where later, if they ever even think about it, they might reflect on how something was not quite right. So here's my story:

I lived in a neighborhood where everyone had garages and parked in them, so if there was a car out on the street you knew the person who lived there was having company. I noticed there had been a white junker parked in front of my neighbors house on and off for 2 days. I would see two scruffy-looking guys sitting in it. I happened to be home alone when the doorbell rang. As I turned the bottom lock I looked out the sidelight window of the door and saw the car once again parked across the street and the two scruffy guys standing on my stoop. I held up a finger to them through the window, indicating, "wait a minute," because our top lock was a deadbolt and required a key to open. As I was getting the key from the hook in the closet something stopped me from going back to the door and unlocking it. Instead, I went and hid as they continued to ring the doorbell. Finally, they stopped ringing and when I was brave enough to look out the window I saw the car was gone. They never came back and I never saw the car parked across the street again.

I didn't tell anyone about it because I felt silly, like I had overreacted. When I think about now, I feel like I really escaped from what could have been a horrible situation. How many more red flags did I need flying in my face? Obviously they meant to do some harm - rob the house, rape me, whatever. But hey, this was the late '70s; we still walked by ourselves to the bus stop, rode our bikes without helmets--gah!--and ran with scissors.

So that's my story, what's yours?


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