|Andrew Steele, Luis Alvarado and Alex Jordan flock to columnist Pollo Del Mar in the V.I.P. section of The Crib, the Thursday night party for LGBT youth 18-25. Photo by Marques Daniels.
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
â€śAs soon as I heard the gunshots, I hit the ground!â€ť Linda told us.
Generally speaking, I try to avoid my upstairs neighbor with the gift for one-upmanship and drawn-out stories about everyone in the neighborhood. However, this night, there was no stopping her. From beneath a halo of gray hair pulled tight in curlers, her blue eyes opened wide. Linda glanced quickly from face-to-face in the small circle of people gathered under the streetlight outside our home and, once she seemed convinced we were paying proper attention, continued her story.
â€śSometimes I have a few â€” you know â€“ and then I fall asleep in my chair,â€ť Linda explained. She raised hand to her mouth, her index finger and thumb touching, apparently to indicate a marijuana cigarette between them. A split-second pause followed, allowing us time to catch her meaning.
â€śAs soon as I heard those shots, though,â€ť she told us, â€śI woke right up and threw myself on the floor for protection!â€ť
Under different circumstances, I might have laughed out loud. The thought of this stoned 60-something-year-old woman, who has lived in the home above my apartment since well before I moved into the place six years ago, doing a belly-flop in her housecoat, with those soup cans on her head was amusing. Unfortunately, what had drawn us into the street that night was anything but.
Six houses away, on the opposite side, two men had just been shot â€“ one, police said, a possible fatality. Though the ambulances were gone, SFPD still combed the scene for evidence. Our generally quiet little corner of the Excelsior District was blocked by flares and yellow police tape. The whole damn place was a bona fide crime scene!
For Linda, who spends most of her time babysitting children and obviously craves adult interaction, the commotion provided a perfect opportunity to hold court with the neighbors. Inside, Iâ€™m sure it was eating her alive that an officer had pulled me, not her, aside to ask what I had seen as the first person to arrive.
Having just returned home from a series of voting night parties, I was awake and startled when a barrage of gunfire broke the 1 a.m. silence on late Tuesday/Wednesday morning. In retrospect, of course, it wasnâ€™t very smart to go outside in the midst of it all. However, the loud POP-POP-POP â€“ about ten shots total, which the police later confirmed were likely from some kind of semi-automatic weapon â€“ sounded so close, I wanted to make sure nobody was hurt.
As I emerged, a man ran past in apparent pursuit of the shooter. From up the street, I could hear a guy shouting for help. Fumbling to call 9-1-1, I headed toward him. Before I arrived, he collapsed between a house and parked car. Almost immediately several others emerged from the home to assist him.
Since my Jack Russell Terrier Piggy Del Mar had trailed me out of our yard, I hung back and spoke to the emergency operator. Within seconds, police and paramedics arrived. It was chaotic, for sure, so I took the dog home.
After decompressing for a few minutes â€“ OK, I posted something on Facebook and Tweeted it as well â€“ I went back outside for an update. About that time, a car zipped around the corner, saw the police lights and screeched to a halt. The driver seemed in such a hurry to escape, he backed into two parked cars, ripping his license plate and bumper off in the process. As this happened, I flagged down a police officer, who immediately raced off in hot pursuit.
It was about that time that Linda appeared in all her glory. Wearing a robe and house slippers, she walked about, surveying the scene, making clucking noises and talking under her breath. She compared notes with the neighbor who lives across the street.
â€śYou were out here really fast,â€ť he told me, â€śBy the time I came out, I saw you already on the phone with 9-1-1.â€ť
â€śOh, I was too afraid to get off the floor!â€ť Linda chimed in before I could respond. â€śI waited until it seemed safe to get up. Itâ€™s like that time the SWAT team came to raid that house down the street.â€ť
As we stood huddled, listening to Linda recount how scary that particular incident was, a second police officer arrived. Apparently itâ€™s standard to double-check some of the facts I provided the first woman, though I wouldnâ€™t know since Iâ€™ve never contributed to a possible murder investigation.
â€śYou said youâ€™ve seen trouble on that area of the street before?â€ť the cop asked me. Iâ€™d barely started to answer, when Linda cut me off.
â€śOh, yes!â€ť she told the officer. â€śWeâ€™ve reported several incidences in the houses up in that area before, but the police have never really responded.â€ť
â€śMy wife had to intervene in a domestic dispute between a man and a woman up there just a few weeks ago,â€ť the guy next door offered. That seemed of interest to the police officer, but even moreso to Linda.
â€śOh, dear! That reminds me of my daughter,â€ť she said, â€śYou know, she finally left that no-good drunk husband of hers â€“ but it took her so damn long, now weâ€™re all kind of attached to him!â€ť
I think the look on my face told one police officer Iâ€™d had enough. â€śWe have your number if we need anything else,â€ť she said. â€śAnd you have the case number if you remember anything.â€ť
With Linda continuing her rundown of the neighborhoodâ€™s comings and goings, I slipped into my apartment and locked the door. Iâ€™m not sure how things worked out with her daughter, and to be honest, I didnâ€™t care.
Iâ€™m sure to hear the dramatic details next time something traumatic draws the block together. And, of course, so will our neighbors.
Follow â€śThe Glamazonâ€ť on Twitter.com/TheGlamazonPDM or email her directly at Pollo_DelMar@Yahoo.com.