The house across the street from us, well kind of diagonally across the street and a few houses down so I think that’s called kitty-corner +10, is grey with white trim and 4000 feet tall. 4000 feet.
It used to be dumpy and brown and a recluse-type person lived there. The house right next door to it was red at the time and had a carport. Carports are an anomaly in Seattle and generally seem to be a throwback to 1977. I half expect them to be carpeted.
Eventually we figured out that some ne’er-do-wells lived in the carport house and they sold drugs.
Seattle’s real estate market is expensive. So are the groceries. Maybe that’s why the carport people sold drugs. We bought our house in 200-can’t remember and it wasn’t the crappiest house on the block but it wasn’t the nicest and I wouldn’t call it affordable so certainly I sort of reluctantly accepted the recluse and the carport drug dealers, with more sympathy falling towards the recluse. Who I never actually saw, which isn’t surprising.
Eventually the drug dealers moved away, and with them so went the smell of barbecue. NOT grilling. Grilling is when you cook beef on a grill and blue smoke comes out and things splatter and smell delicious with cheese. Barbecue is when you cook meat at extremely low temperatures for pretty much all day in a “smoker” which has a place for you to throw in wood chips so they ignite, infusing your delicious meats with smoke from say oh pecan wood is my favorite.
Don’t feel bad for being so ignorant you frequently say “barbecue” when you mean “grill.” I was once ignorant too until my Kansan father-in-law smacked me when it became apparent my marriage to his daughter was perfectly legal and binding yet I didn’t know the difference between barbecuing and grilling.
Okay, he didn’t actually smack me, but I know he wanted to.
Oh, crack smells like barbecue when you smoke it.
So no drug dealers equals no crack smokers equals no barbecue smell. Except when you’re grilling, er, smoking meat. As long as you’re not also smoking crack. But you wouldn’t do that because you’d end up getting all tweaked out and rushing the barbecuing process which is a bad idea.
So the 4000-foot Tall House With The Recluse housed a type of recluse who decided one day to answer his front door with a very rifle-looking BB-gun. It was either in response to the postal worker or social worker knocking on his door, I can’t remember which.
This created a situation.
One we didn’t know was transpiring while having dinner at home with my brother and sister in-law.
Why does “eating” dinner sound so crude, but “having” dinner apropos? If someone used “apropos” in a real out-loud sentence I’d probably punch them. Forget I even used that word. To be honest, I had to look up what exactly it meant. And worse, I used Google to do so (sob).
As we stood on our porch saying our farewells post consumption that fateful summer night I noticed an untoward amount of police people, complete with Hill Street Blues-style pointy cop hats, sort of swarming all over our intersection. As my in-laws reached their white Volkswagen Jetta they suggested we retreat inside, as indicated by their frantic hand gesticulations that seemed to mimic the universally accepted “back up”, “retreat,” or “run from tiger” signal.” You know, kind of a cupped hand, fingers splayed, snapping at the wrist, high-paced wave. But more stressed out.
After hurriedly shoving my wife aside and diving into our foyer for cover (same thing, if someone said “foyer” out loud I’d hit them), I begrudgingly decided the Internet was required to determine our best next steps as I was very concerned for her safety.
I visited the mildly pornographic neighborhood site myballard.com. After navigating past a bunch of truly weird stuff I found the police blotter/911 feed which indicated SWAT had just arrived to cordon off the streets in front of my house and trample through peoples’ rose bushes. And possibly shoot the recluse.
In 2020 Seattle passed a big defund the police initiative so the police are being defunded with the defunds supposedly being reappropriated to mental health and other unarmed interventionists to better serve the community. Maybe that would have been good to have this night. Or bad, I can’t say. I’m all for providing more resources to the community, particularly non-violent resources. But defunding the police seems like a bad way to grow a program of unarmed interventionalists.
Like most normal people facing mortal danger, my wife and I decided to go to bed. I tried to get her to sleep on the high-likelihood-of-crossfire side of the mattress, but she wouldn’t bite. She fell blissfully asleep on the safe side. I just kind of laid there, listening to various official police yellings, including several through a megaphone, as the red and blue flashing lights from the cop cars bounced off my ceiling and I wondered if my property tax would go up or down as a result of these happenings.
Eventually some flash bang grenades went off someplace. I could tell by the very bright flashes that cascaded through my window, and the loud explosive bang-type noises that accompanied them.
Then I heard a few pops. And went to sleep.
I was young then, young and vibrant and full of life, no real anxieties, which I think is why I went to sleep. Now I sleep with an eye mask ala Dick Van Dyke because our front porch light is too bright but I don’t want to turn it off out of fear some teenagers will show up and ransack my living room. I also frequently wonder if our room is too hot and thus how much money we could save by leaving the thermostat at 67-degrees. And I often need to take Tums if I have a rich meal. So now I doubt I could sleep through a neighborhood gunfight. Youth is truly wasted on the young, as it were.
The next morning as I walked around the neighborhood looking for crack cocaine I noticed the property of interest hadn’t been burned down and the cops were gone, yet they decided to leave a bullet-sized hole in what appeared to be the upper bedroom window of this poor man’s home.
The neighbor across the street (from both the super tall, newly bullet-holed house and my house…it’s hard to explain…I guess kitty corner +5) later told me they arrived home from a nice meal that night (this neighbor scores films for a living, his first film was Die Hard 3, which is an interesting first film to score but he’s not complaining given his house is 5000 square-feet with a roof deck) only to find SWAT snipers stationed in their really nice, kind of romantic to my understanding master bedroom. Which the cops who allowed them to re-enter their house in the first place sort of forgot to mention.
Which created a uniquely awkward moment where upon entering their bedroom they had to kind of tip-toe-back-peddle downstairs to their expansive living room (complete with a $30,000 Italian cello on a pedestal under a museum-like spotlight, I guess he’s a classically trained cellist which explains his action movie-scoring acumen, sort of) until the shooting stopped.
Well, started. Then stopped.
This rich neighbor said the SWAT guys took a shot at the recluse but missed, then decided to use non-lethal ouchie heavy bean-bag rounds, which encouraged this poor fellow to surrender. Well, that and the real bullet whizzing by his head.
The 4000-foot Tall House sat vacant for many years after this incident, complete with bullet-hole-in-bedroom-window. Then some enterprising bottom-feeder came and remodeled it into the beautiful grey-stucco-with-white-trim urban mansion that it is. I wonder if this house flipper had to disclose the whole gunplay thing to the buyer. Is there a line item for that kind of thing on all those forms you sign when you buy a house? Is understanding the forms the only thing that makes a Realtor® a Realtor®? Is it that simple and we’re all easily capable of being Realtors® but don’t know it, just like my American Government teacher said we could all do just as good of a job as any politician if we were Congresspeople or Senators or Presidents or the Wealthy Agents of Multinational Corporations who pay their salaries?
There was a point when a sinkhole erupted right in front of this cursed property during the “flip.” It didn’t swallow anything or anyone, and I got some good mileage out of the backhoe loaders and excavators that subsequently lived there for several months (my son was three at the time and heavy construction equipment is like Turkish delight to little kids). But I couldn’t help but think the cosmos was suggesting maybe this place should be left alone for a while or turned into a park or something. And maybe the new owner shouldn’t park his Tesla there. And maybe we don’t know as much about what’s going on around us as we think.