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It’s not just a park anymore

The shooting occurred beyond that fence. The young man who ran for his life fell at the end of the fence, just short of possible safety. The little memorial (not shown) is just this side of the end of the fence.

This weekend I found out I wasn’t as “over” our neighborhood shooting as I thought. Two days ago, for the first time in quite a while, I took my dog for a walk, and our usual route goes right through the shooting scene.

Rounding the curve, the first thing I noticed was the house there, that had just been put on the market, no longer had a sign in the yard. It would be nice if the owners really sold the house that fast, but I’m concerned they may have taken it off the market for a while until people forget about the shooting.

Just a little farther around the curve, I noticed an irregular stain on the sidewalk that could have been anything, including an old bloodstain. True, it rained the night after the shooting, but maybe not that hard. And the stain was on a direct line from where the victims’ car had been parked to the fence corner they’d been trying to reach for cover.

Then, just around that fence corner, I found a tiny little memorial. A half-deflated silver helium balloon, heart-shaped and emblazoned “Love,” was nodding in the breeze and flanking it, against the fence, were several votive candles. A young man I didn’t know died there while trying to escape a drive-by shooter. There, not 50 yards from my house, where I pass every time I go for a walk. There, at the corner of our little neighborhood park and playground. I paused for a long moment, trying to make sense of my mixed emotions, and made a silent promise to leave a little something the next time I passed.

Today I was off on an errand and passed that reminder again. A few blocks farther on, I passed a car stopped at a stop sign, waiting to pull in behind me. It looked like a black Jeep Commander, the same kind of car the shooters were reportedly driving. Unhappy coincidence, I thought.

But it pulled in behind me and I couldn’t forget about it. When I turned onto the main drag, it turned the same way, first behind me then beside me. Not black, I noticed, but very dark gray. And new. It still had the dealer’s temporary tag on it. Nice ride. One any thieves would love to have stolen (the shooters’ Jeep was the second vehicle they stole that night). I even scanned it for bullet holes, although the victims had been unarmed. A mile on down the road, the Jeep turned left when I turned left. I had just driven two miles thinking more about it than about my driving. Not good. I was relieved when I reached my destination and the Jeep kept going.

But hey, the shooting was way back on September 10th. I’m over it.

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