I’m listening to Evanescence. Is this a new low? Amy sings out my adolescence, my early adulthood. Times past of cruising around the town of M—– with Wendigo, Ethos, and the lost ones. How long ago that seems. Another us. Other hopes. Shitty cars.
Behind me snoozes my new alarm system.
The Friday before last I returned to my humble abode at one in the morning. It is a usual time for my return; I work at a bar. With thoughts of my last Short’s Soft Parade in my head, I checked my mailbox, and, finding nothing, as expected, (never change your address to Detroit; car insurance skyrockets.) I strolled up my one flight of stairs, pulling my keys out as I went.
But I didn’t need them. The door was open.
I stopped dead, keys in hand, frozen expression. Cautiously, stupidly, I threw the door open. There, with the light on, stood my cat, crying for food. I ignored her and looked at my door. The dead bolt, last seen firmly bolted, was sticking out. The female part was splintered and hanging limply, loosely, defiled. I numbly walked to my cupboard and scooped up a half cup of food, and dropped it in my cat’s dish. Then I drifted around my apartment, into the bedroom, behind my dressing screen, into the bathroom, behind the shower curtain. There was no one there. Nothing was taken, nothing disturbed except my peace, although at the moment I felt completely calm. Next I did what any helpless girl in Detroit would do. I called my Papa.
My mother answered on the third ring, groggy,
“Hello?” She crocked.
“Hey… Mom?” I answered.
“Yea?” Her voice was no longer groggy, but alert; in that one word I heard all the dread and pounding hearts parents feel at a 1 am phone call. I was happy I had nothing worse to tell her. I told her my apartment had been broken into; next to her I heard the awakening bear, my father, and I heard a few muffled expletives. She advised me to call the police, while my father prepared to drive the hour over from M—- to Detroit. I called Wayne State Police.
In the mean time, I started a encounter which, although I didn’t know at the time, would have a huge impact on my future decisions. As I stood in my broken doorway, I heard my neighbors across the hall talking and shuffling about. I walked over and knocked on the door. After a moment, I heard a male voice call out:
“Hi… I live across the hall, and my apartment has been broken into.” I replied.
“Ok.” The door said. There was an awkward silence on their end, a increasingly steaming one on my side.
“Well, did you see anything, did you hear anything?” I asked the door.
“There was a guy knocking on the door earlier.”
“The one across the hall. He was bearded. I think he lives here.” My conversation with the door was clearly at an end. I told it I had called the Police, and walked back to my living room, where I picked up a hammer, numb to my anger and freight, although I knew it was there, like watching TV with the mute on. The cop was soon there, filling out a report with every implication that he believed this to be the work of some scorned man, ( I have none,) then I sat playing cards until my sixty-three year old father showed up, who told me he would stay the night in my unsecured apartment, while I went home to M—–.
“I have a hammer, if you need it.” I told him, half serious.
“I have something better.” He replied. I had always known my father had a gun, although I had never seen it. I nervously joked about his old Detroit-self coming out. He told me to wear a jacket on my way out to the car.
“Why? It is cold? It was around 80 last I was out.”
“Well— it—- never mind, text me when you get to your car.”
As I was leaving, I realized my tank top showed plenty of cleavage. My father has never been comfortable with the idea of his girls being women.
That next Monday, I was at D—— animal shelter. Shelters are always hard to visit. Although I didn’t know it at the time, Ethos had wandered away to silently cry. Zompie later informed me, always aware of her sister’s emotions, like a worried mother bird. Having arrived there, I had fully intended to adopt a large, scary-looking, black dog. But then—
“This is Chevy.” The shelter girl said. “She’s apartment sized, she’s good with cats. She was shoved out of a car and left.” It’s easy to see where she got her name from.
How could I turn away from such a story? Instead of a guard dog, I adopted a floppy eared, long-tongued terrier with abandonment issues. But as everyone at the shelter cheered as we left with the clear favorite, I found it impossible to be disappointed.
Later, I told my sister C of the whole adventure, she exclaimed, “Our poor old father, holding vigilance alone with his gun in Detroit!”
It is his city, his birthplace, his childhood; His memories, his resentment. The place he worked so hard to get me and my sisters out of. I thought of my grandpa in his bar, with his army issue revolver, during the riots of 1967. I live on my own; I pay my own bills. I’m resistant to any financial help from my parents. I want them to have money for vacations, for nice things. I want them to enjoy, finally, each other’s company, alone with out the burden of the children. However, with my sister’s comment, I realized I was not unburdening them, because I live in the city they hate and regret. They feel, everyday, dread; that the city would take me away, as it took so much else away. If there is anything I wish to accomplish in this life, it’s to give my parents peace.
Nothing was taken; I don’t believe it was a burglary; I think someone was looking for the previous occupants, (I’ve been in this suit for only two months), and, knocking so hard the door burst open, they realized their mistake and left. But it’s the door across the hall that I talked to that worries me. The door which wouldn’t open to me in my time of need.
I don’t know about reviving a city long dead. It’s like those movies or shows, where a heart defibrillator falsely revives someone after their heart has stopped; defibrillators merely stop erratic hearts, to regulate the pattern again. They can not restart a dead heart. Maybe Detroit is a dead heart. Maybe it’s an erratic one, which can be saved. I don’t know.
I only live here.