Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven and Flash Bang

My sleepy pot-holed private lane is five miles from Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland where last night a man was murdered by gunfire adjacent to the Occupy Oakland encampment. On the lane nest seven older homes, mostly well maintained. Things are usually serene, if not boring. My '46 rancher fronts beautiful San Francisco bay and I have views of three bridges. Wildcats, great horned owls and turkey vultures hold claim to most of my 3.25 acres. My own home is cuddled at the foot of the curving driveway. The property snuggles a level plateau surrounded by canyons on three sides. A fairly narrow steep driveway is the only access or egress. The west side of the property abuts a creek and regional park. An aging but strong cyclone fence surrounds the immediate yard, orchard and mature rose garden. In my almost fifty years at this address I only began locking my doors and gates four years ago, an acknowledgement to the troubling times, my aging bones and my new aloneness.
The time was last Tuesday night about 9:15. An exceedingly brilliant full moon lit the patio as if by laser light. The reflection on the white plastic roof of the greenhouse was so intense I double checked to see if all the outside lights were accidently left on.
Only one gutteral bark coming from my dozing dog's throat alerted me that my tranquility was about to end. Throughout the ordeal Kodi never moved from his reclining posture on the modern Chinese rug a few feet from my recliner, that is except when trailing me as I walked to various windows trying to determine what in the hell was going on. His head and jaws seemed frozen in alert mode. To his sensitive ears the continued explosions coming from the house next door (about fifteen of them over a fifteen minute period) must have sounded like a herd of wild elephants. But of course the likelihood of wild elephants on sleepy Cathy Lane is ridiculous. But then so is a helicopter circling my home for forty minutes while a federal marshall swat team in full camouflage gear backed up by the Oakland police and highway patrol search the premises of the house next door for drugs, weapons and fugitives from justice. I was not to learn all these details till the next day for my call to 911 only confirmed a major police action was going on and I was advised I should use my best judgement as to what to do to guard my safety. What help is that? No explanation was given of the the booming sounds, nor of what actions I should take. My greatest fear was fire, for if ammunition were exploding it could cause an inferno in the dry shrubbery. Could the booming be guns? In my concentration to remain calm I completely forgot that I suffer from atrial fib and the one thing I am not supposed to do is get frightened. I was doing fairly well until the two gay men in the house up the hill called. The terror in their voices unsettled me. I called the president of the neighborhood watch who lives on the corner. No answer. I called other neighbors who were equally scared. I called my family in Washington state and I called surrogate daughter Catherine in San Francisco. They soothed me. It was an hour before quiet descended again and many hours before I slept.
Later the next day I learned the extent of the raid, for the house next door was suspected to be housing squatters, stolen vehicles, ammunition, illegal weapons and fugitives from justice. I had learned a few days earlier from a realtor that the house had been sold in a short sale and the insides were trashed. So sad. Just now I am learning more about the terrifying booms. They turned out to be what is called Flash Bangs and have the decibels of dynamite exploding. They were used to search the bushes around the property for fugitives in hiding. I will never forget that sound. I am clearly out of the loop in understanding weaponry. Last night when I attended the scheduled neighborhood watch meeting I was horrified to hear of close neighbors planning to purchase guns.
In this country we celebrate this day as Veteran's Day, though I grew up calling it Armistice Day. How unique that it comes on the triple calendar confluence of eleven-eleven-eleven. My maternal grandfather serving in France as a member of the Canadian Princess Pat regiment in the First World War survived mustard gas thrown by a grenade. He suffered all his life from the effects. Now I feel like I should get a ribbon for surviving the grenades next door! Doesn't armistice mean putting down your arms and negotiating a truce? Life goes on. Will it ever be tranquil again?

No comments: