It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part LXXXV

It was Monday, July 18, 1988.

It had been scorchingly hot all summer. It was a muggy, awful night out.

We had a new roommate; Shane, a singer in a speed metal band. He was nineteen, about 5’6, wore his hair in a white trash afro (long, frizzy and all over the place) and looked every inch the metal dude. He was a nice guy, though, and paid his bills on time. This became important, later.

Shane and Wyatt both worked nights. Wyatt worked as a bouncer at “Hot Rod’s”, a dive bar on University Avenue, where he basically sold pot, pilfered free drinks, picked up an endless stream of girls or, sometimes, just had sex with them in a storage closet back by the bar’s kitchen, or, not infrequently, both. Indeed, he’d brag on occasion about “trifecta” days; bagging Teresa at home during the day, banging one of the bartenders in the storage locker during his shift, and picking up one skeeze or another to bring home at night. Sometimes, rarely, he’d even toss an old drunk or underage Hamline or Concordia dweeb out of the place.

Shane worked the night shift at a foundry out on the East Side. The hours meshed nicely with his band’s rehearsal schedule. On non-practice nights – like tonight – he took the bus around 9:30PM.

Me? I had the night off. I noodled around on guitar for a while, and then settled down with a book I’d gotten at the library over the weekend.

And I heard the front door open downstairs.

My ears perked up – but it wouldn’t have been the first time Shane missed his bus and needed to bug me for a ride to work; even more likely was Wyatt to have gotten off work early, and probably picked up some skeeze or another (or, if all else failed, called Teresa).

I heard footsteps – two sets – downstairs. Option B, I thought.

And then I heard a male voice. Not Shane’s nasal Wisconsin chatter. Not Wyatt’s affected Arklahoma drawl.

And then I heard another male voice. A different one.

These were not my roommates.

I sat, frozen in my chair, for a moment, as I heard the two sets of feet moving around downstairs, now pretty loudly. They were moving through the living room, and into the kitchen. I heard something clattering.

I had no phone – the only one was downstairs in the kitchen. All the exits to the house were downstairs. The dogs – worthless as they were under normal circumstances – were both out back. My only way out was through my second-story window.

I had one option.


Well, no. There was one other.

I got up as quietly as I could, and padded in my stocking feet over to my bed. I reached down into the gap between the wall and the mattress; I had a little box wedged in there, holding the mattress almost imperceptibly out from the wall. On it lay my pistol – an American Arms PK22. It had a magazine in it, with eight rounds (of .22 Long Rifle) loaded. (My rifles, in the closet, would have taken too long to load).

I turned, flipped the safety catch off, and started padding toward the top of the stairs. The old floor creaked loudly, and the footsteps downstairs stopped cold for a moment.

I crouched behind the thick wooden top pillar of the banister; I heard one of the voices below, sounding only slightly agitated. They started moving again – toward (I imagined, rightly or not, and I wasn’t about to ask) the stairs.

But it was all I had.

“You c*******ers come up the stairs, and I’ll f***ing blow your heads off”, I yelled – loudly, trying to will my voice not to crack.

More footsteps.

I took the slide and racked a round as loudly and ostentatiously as I could…

…which chambered with a not-very-intimidating tinny “tic-tic-schluck” sound that had me wishing for the beefy “KA-SCHLACK” of a 12 gauge shotgun, or the sharp “ksssh-LOCK” of an M1 Garand.

“Sh*t”, I heard one of them mutter. From my vantage point, I saw a pair of tennis shoes racing out the door. They left the door open.

I crouched at the top of the steps for what seemed like a couple minutes, hyperventilating as my heart pounded, watching the screen door drift aimlessly in the dank humid breeze. Then, slowly, I crept down the stairs, pistol in front of me, pointing where I was looking, making sure they were all gone. I shut and locked the door, checked the kitchen and basement, and then stopped and took stock. They’d made off with Wyatt’s boom box and some cassettes, and not much more.

My ignorant nutslap roommates had left the door unlocked.

And today, I became a big believer in self-defense shooting.

20 thoughts on “It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Part LXXXV

  1. My husband is in Germany on business, and I figure (if I had to) I could just pump the shotgun we have sitting beside the bed and that should do the trick! I have shot the .22 rifle, but that’s all (long ago killed a mink in a tree that was after the chickens-our Siberian Husky “treed” it) and a partridge, but am woefully unprepared for self-defense against humans. I know if I were a criminal and heard a gun, that would be enough for me….but then I’m not a desperate meth-head.

  2. It is far better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.

    And the gun you have with you is far better when you need it than anything that you wish you had with you.

    Your .22 was thankfully more than good enough.

  3. jpmn disappointed: “It is far better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.”

    Dude, I can’t believe you missed the classic rock ref after your “Won’t Get Fooled Again” quote on the Hillary thread. Alas, Angryclown will give you a hand.

    What jpmn meant to say, Mitch:

    If you can’t be with the gun you love, love the gun you’re with.

  4. Colleen asserted “….but then I’m not a desperate meth-head.”

    Congratulations, Colleen! Remember: one day at a time.

  5. Hey Mitch, did you report the break-in to the police? Cause it sure would be a kick to see the police report!

    Or, you know, any independent corroboration of your story.

  6. Hey Mitch, did you report the break-in to the police? Cause it sure would be a kick to see the police report!

    Nope. Never did. Didn’t figure it’d be worth it (I ddin’t see anyone; couldn’t describe anyone; knew only that there were two guys in tennis shoes, which doesn’t narrow things down much), or that I’d need to.

    Or, you know, any independent corroboration of your story

    There is none.

    But I’m glad to see it’s that important to you!

  7. Clown is a hoot. When apparent meth-head burglars hit my place while I was at work on the night shift, about the only benefit from the sheriff’s deputy coming out was to make the insurance claim easier to file. There were clear tracks of two sets of athletic shoes in the snow (twenty below zero and they were wearing running shoes?) and the deputy refused to take photos. I couldn’t take photos because the bastards stole my cameras. The deputy also drove over and obliterated the clear tire tracks in the snow when he arrived. There were clear fingerprints on some surfaces, and he refused to have them documented. I got a fascinating explantation. He said that the burglars might not be in a fingerprint database. I was ignored when I pointed out that the fingerprints would be of invaluable use if and when they caught the burglars for other offenses. The prints would secure the prosecution. The deputy admitted that it was the worst trashing of a house that he had seen since his rookie days, nearly thirty years before, but he still yawned about it. I found out from a cop friend in our county seat that one of the main suspects in a rash of similar burglaries was the son of his police chief, and there may have been a disincentive to properly investigation. So, Clown, sometimes it doesn’t do much good to call the cops.

  8. I’ve had the cops to my house for criminal activity twice in fifteen years.

    Once – about ten years ago – there was a driveby shooting. Three shots hit the house, one just a room over from where my son was sleeping. The cops didn’t photograph anything. Didn’t ask the neighbors if they’d heard anything (it was 3AM). I had to do that myself. Actually got a description of a couple of kids and a car. Other neighbors linked the car to another shooting a few blocks away. Then the car turned up a week or two later, staking out the intended victim’s house (a kid who lived two doors down and was involved in drug dealing). At any rate, the cops didn’t do a damn thing – and this was for a driveby shooting. A burglary netting a boom box and some other crap? Whatever.

    The other time, my son got mugged for his skateboard. The cops at least went through the motions.

    In 1988, I didn’t call the cops because I figured they’d do nothing, and, indeed, that I’d likely get into more trouble; I’d drawn a gun, you see. As myopic and stupid as the Twin Cities are on the issue today, they were worse back then.

  9. I once worked with a guy from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He hated going home. The last time I talked to him, he said that he had been sleeping on his back on the living room sofa. Some morons came through in a drive-by shooting spree. Two bullets tore through the wall and the middle of the sofa back. Had he been sleeping on his side, rather than his back, the bullets would have ripped through his body, instead of the quilt covering him. He said that no one ever called the cops for such a thing, because no one gives a rip.

    You were perhaps wise not to call the cops in ’88. I almost got my butt in a sling about the same period. Kids had been stealing garden produce in the late summer and early fall. I heard a noisy engine in the middle of the night and looked out to see someone loading curing squash from one neighbor’s garden. By the time I got outside with my Iver Johnson .22 revolver, they were loading up at another garden. It was a very still and dark night. I fired one shot straight into the ground, by my feet, as a warning. The kid carrying the veggies dropped them and jumped into the back seat of the two-door car, right past the drivers head. They tore off. It made a loud report in the stillness, and the tongue of flame coming out of the muzzle was impressive in the murk. At no time was the gun pointed at the thieves, and at no time was any threat issued. But I still got a verbal warning from the authorities when they found out.

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