After she gathered them they all stormed over to my apartment building. I’ve heard tell they were non-stop buzzing my apartment to have me buzz them in. I wasn’t home. I worked nights. My kids weren’t home, they must have been at Rob’s house. My neighbor in the next building, so two balconies down, shouted out to them and asked them what the hell they wanted. One of them told her that she was going to beat the shit out of me. My neighbor’s name was Cheri, she was pretty tall. Once she heard that, she walked down the stairs and outside and leaned down into the face of the woman who had spouted the beating me up part and let her know that if she wanted to take someone on, she needed to start with her.
Backing up a bit, one summer, sunny day Samantha and Bridget decided to have a freeze pop stand. Same thing as a Kool-aid stand. Set up a little table and chairs on the side walk, make a sign and sell your wares. When I was a kid, the summer they dug up our street for whatever reason, we used to go to Glen’s Valley Market and buy freeze pops for 7 cents. Then we’d run back to our street really fast (so they wouldn’t melt) and sell them to the workmen for 10 cents. The poor hot and sweaty workers appreciated something cold and we really thought we rocked making 3 cents on each freeze pop. Samantha and Bridget put freeze packs and freeze pops in a cooler and brought it out to the sidewalk with the little table and chairs and a sign. They weren’t out there very long and when they came in, they came in rather quickly and shut the door and announced that all the freeze pops were gone. Judging by their looks, this was not a good thing.
I asked a few questions and com’on, two fearful little girls are hard to understand at the same time. What I got out of what they had said was that a kid, named Jeff, had taken all of the freeze pops and they were afraid to go back out to bring in the table and chairs. I’m one of those people who may not always stick up for myself but you fuck with my kids and I will kill you type people. I also think they must have pointed out to me, who he was, either through the window or from the deck. I just know that when I went out to get the table and chairs and saw this kid and he was at least my height, I was furious! I let him know it. How dare he steal from 2 little girls like that? Blah, blah, blah, blah…I was pissed.
It was after that encounter that I was informed, by the girls, that he didn’t really steal the freeze pops. He had frightened them into giving the freeze pops to him. Yes, I understand there is a difference. Not much though. He’d gotten in their faces and asked why don’t they just give the freeze pops to him (and his mini gang). Apparently they okayed and made a bee line back to the apartment. Sorry, I was still pissed off. Who the hell was this big kid to intimidate these little girls?
That’s why the mom gathered a posse. She was Jeff’s step-mom. So anyway, Cheri informed me a few days after the event, that this had occurred. Cheri is one of those people that ya just gotta love. I kept a low profile in that neighborhood, Cheri knew everyone and everything. She informed me of the event and then let me know that this woman was Jeff’s step-mom and did her damnedest to be the sugar step-mom. She wanted to beat me up because I had yelled at the kid. Cheri told me that the dad worked all the time and step-mom let the kid run wild so the kid would love her. Cheri also told me that Jeff was 14. Jeff’s dad, per Cheri, adored his son but demanded that the kid followed rules, behave, act appropriately, etc. This is where step-mom would score with the kid. Step-mom never told the dad about Jeff’s bad behavior.
It wasn’t a week later that I went home from work one night and found a note on the inside of my door, the author of the note had threatened to kill me. At that point I called the cops. I, in no way, wanted them to confront step-mom. I just wanted them to know that if I end up dead, look to her 1st. That was all I’d wanted to tell them. I’d dialed the number that isn’t 911. They sent a squad car to my home. Really? Years earlier I had called the not 911 to ask them a question and they were able to answer it, case closed. Apparently if you want something noted, they have to send someone. So, again, kids aren’t home and I let the policeman in and we had a conversation and I just brought him up to speed on things thus far and I didn’t want to make a complaint and I didn’t him to go over there, I just want this written down somewhere. If I showed up dead, look there 1st. That’s it. Don’t talk to this woman, why add fuel to the fire? Just note it. What I got back from that statement was “ma’am, are you sure you want me to go over there and talk to her?” I repeated that I absolutely did NOT want him to go to her apartment and talk to her. His response was to let me know “do you know what will happen if I go over there and talk to her?”. I let him know that I did know, it would add fuel to the fire. I wasn’t going to instigate anything, I’d just like this to blow over. Just make a note that should I should end up dead, look in that direction. They always look at the ex-husband. “Okay, ma’am, do you know what you’re dealing with here?”. No, I guess I didn’t. Apparently, since I had moved in, the apartments had opened up to subsidized housing. To quote the police officer I was dealing with “relocated Minneapolis blacks”. Good to know but not the issue. He then informed me that if he went over this woman’s apartment and talked to her that would piss her off more. Okay, ya think? I think it may have been one of those hearing-what-you-expect-to-hear instances. He wasn’t actually listening to my actual words. I really wish I’d have kept the note. Not a word was spelled correctly and I believe “mother fucker” was one word, used as a verb and completely out of context. I know, how do you do that? Mr. Police Officer shook his head at it, but he did take it with him. He left promising me that he wouldn’t talk to the step-mom. I remember expressly that this was the same weekend as Bob’s heart attack, when he was 37. That’s another story. Nothing happened after that. I’ve gotta guess that step-mom was pacified w/ threatening, not actually preforming.
School started in the fall and one night Shannon came up from downstairs and let me know that she was stopped on the stairs and threatened my this same Jeff kid. Shannon was 12. There were only 3 other apartments in the building and I can guarantee that this kid wasn’t visiting any of them. I flew out the door and found this kid (really, no where to hide) and chased him out of the building spouting that he had no right being there and how dare he scare my daughter in her own home and this and that and whatever else came to my mind at the time. I got him outside and the door shut behind us and on my tiptoes, s0 we’d be eye to eye, and my face a quarter inch from his face, I very loudly and sternly let him know that he had better NEVER, EVER enter this building again…or… or …or else……that’s where I got stuck…or else, or else….I ended up saying that I’d call the police which sounded incredibly stupid to me at the time and I was embarrassed about that threat as soon as the words left my mouth. It seemed to me, that it carried the same weight as if I’d said “or else I’ll call you a bad name”. It wasn’t the actual threat that bothered me, it was my presentation of it, tone of voice, that type of thing just didn’t come across as scary. I had been passionately ranting and raving and then got stuck at the “or else” so when I picked it up again, it didn’t carry the same gusto. Fail. Guessing that my huff and upward eye-roll depicting my irritation with myself either went unnoticed by my threat victim or didn’t convey to him my awkward feeling that I’d just sounded like a complete dope.
Retrospectively, I wonder if maybe that was the exact threat to use. If I’d threatened to harm him he would have had step-mom come after me again. He must not have been stupid if he realized that if he got into trouble with the law that his step-mom wouldn’t be able to help him and (here’s the big one) his dad would find out. I’d have to guess that he never told her or I’d have heard from her again. I never heard from the kid again or the step-mom. Don’t know if they moved out the next day, don’t know if the step-mom died that evening, don’t know if they won the lottery…I have no idea.
I do know, however, that when it was time to renew my lease and they’d raised my rent 40 bucks and I called and asked “Are you kidding me? I actually pay you! It’s me, it’s my dollars that I’m giving you not the state’s and I work hard for a living! ” it did me no good. My rent still got raised 40 bucks. I also know that they quit with the subsidized housing. Didn’t improve the neighborhood, that I noticed, but I’m pretty sure it did some good because the neighborhood didn’t get worse. I also know that my children weren’t ever threatened in our building again. I can’t even imagine being a kid and not feeling safe on your own home front. That wasn’t how I grew up so of course I hadn’t prepared my children for the ride. Oh wait, I did have a neighbor, when I was a kid, who punched me in the eye and gave me a black eye. No reason, out of the blue, punched me in the eye and ran away. My mom didn’t gather a posse though.