Look, I’m old. I know very well how grumpy old men like me sound when they speak of such things. And I know that this stuff is written and talked about almost daily these days. So – you younger readers, please forgive me for rehashing the same old complaints against such stuff and generalizing about you younger generations.
But, damn, y’all.
A generation of youngsters who care so little about the safety of their fellow humans, about the sanctity of one’s home and personal property and who care so damned much about gun play, danger and terrorizing their very friends with potentially deadly gun play?
Look, I recently moved from a very rural area in Orange County, North Carolina to a very urban one in our state’s largest city – Charlotte. Every day on the newscasts in my new city, I see and hear stories of shootings – random shootings where bullets penetrate the walls of the homes where innocent residents and friends are merely gathering for a good time. This is normal here these days.
I know how terrorizing this can be to the innocents. I live in Charlotte now, but I lived through that very same terror – with an old friend and a sickly dog – in Orange County.
I met my friend, Kathy, one Saturday night at a place called, “The Trailer.” A bunch of us had planned to gather at that party place. It was sort of a Saturday ritual to meet there, but for a while that one night, it was just Kathy, me and Chuck’s mangy little mutt named Hazel, waiting for the others to arrive. It was Chuck’s trailer. Kathy is a great friend, and I loved Hazel, too. But, I swear, Hazel was so mangy. Sweet, but hairless and odor-full. If you sat down in “The Trailer,” Hazel would beg you to pet her. So, Kathy and I mostly stood up and walked around while waiting for the others to arrive that night.
About and hour or so after sunset and after Kathy and I arrived to avoid Hazel, a car I had never before seen drove down the driveway and parked just in front of “The Trailer.” I thought it was the next wave of friends showing up for a simple Saturday night get-together.
I peeled open the brown curtains from the window on the front wall of the single-wide to peak outside. I didn’t recognize the car at all. But I saw the figures of three men silhouetted against the light of the single street lamp next to the highway. I opened the curtains wider and squinted my eyes, trying to make out who was getting out of that strange car. Suddenly, one of the men knelt down and reached beneath the front seat of the car. After he pulled out of that car what he did, they all three burst into laughter as they each wrestled for possession of the object.
I knew very well what was going on.
“Kathy!” I screamed. “Take Hazel to the back bedroom! Get on the floor!”
Kathy was startled and afraid. But she did what I told her to do. I dropped the curtains and ran after her and Hazel. We all fell to the floor in that room, covering each other and just waiting for what was to happen next.
“BAM! BAM! BAM!”
Gunfire! We could hear it penetrate the main living area, near the kitchen, where we had just moments before been standing.
“BAM! CLANK! BAM! CLANK!”
I gathered enough courage to raise myself from the Kathy-Hazel pile and to peak outside through the brown back bedroom window curtains. There they were. The three men pointing the gun and shooting into “The Trailer!”
Kathy was afraid. I was afraid! And poor Hazel lost a chunk of hair she didn’t even have!
And those three guys just kept shooting – and laughing!
I rejoined Kathy and Hazel on the floor and we cowered together until after the gunfire ended. A few moments later Mike, the other owner of “The Trailer,” walked in. He was laughing. So was the leader of a major gang from the coastal town of Elizabeth City – Mike’s friend, Tim, who walked in with him. Bill, a strong and forceful guy who lived in a near-by town, walked in as well, laughing the entire time. He owned the gun.
Kathy and I heaved dryly from the stress and from the stench of Hazel. Hazel kind of loved the attention. Kathy and I were just happy to be alive.
Those damned kids didn’t care at all about the safety of those inside “The Trailer.” They didn’t even care about Mike’s own stuff! They shot out his very own refrigerator! All they cared about was the thrill of the gun play. And the terror they caused. And they laughed. They each laughed.
What the hell is wrong with the kids of today? In wonderful cities like Charlotte? At friendly gathering places like “The Trailer?” I mean, really?
But then again, how the hell could I know about today’s youngsters in this city? I am old here on earth and new here in The Queen City.
And “The Trailer” shooting took place in Orange County on North Carolina Highway 54, about five miles west of the campus of the University Of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where Kathy, Mike, Tim and I were attending school, and where Bill, a cop from a nearby town, was dating Kathy’s roommate. The year was 1975!
What I mean to say here is, “Just be careful, children – children of all ages! You mangy dogs, too. With any luck, you will survive such nonsense.”
Kathy, Hazel and I did.
You know… Chuck never thanked Kathy and me for saving Hazel’s life that night. What the hell do you suppose that means?