A year ago I decided it was time to move. There had been two “shoot outs” in as many weeks, both of which involved my immediate neighbor. I had lived in that place for 9 years and while it wasn’t what I would consider an affluent neighborhood, it certainly wasn’t as bad as some of the neighborhoods in LA.
There were lots of kids, all of whom were pretty much given free reign to play anywhere in the complex. If any of them tried to venture out (as I’m sure some did), there were security guards at the gates to stop them.
But with two shoot outs and an impending rent increase, I decided it was time for me to go and set out to find a place between Long Beach and Irvine where I worked. I ended up finding this cute little place in Orange where there were lots of kids and families. It was a little suburban for my taste, but the school was good and my commute to work would be cut in half.
And I like the neighborhood for the most part. It’s been good so far. I had even gotten more comfortable with giving the boy a longer leash and letting him ride his scooter around, as long as he stayed away from the main road. He had made friends and knew to come in when it was dark.
Today though, things were terribly sullied.
The boy went out to ride his scooter as he often did when there was still light when we got home for the day. It was starting to get dark and I was watching the door for the boy to come bursting in. And he did…but without his scooter.
“Where’s your scooter?” I asked expecting him to tell me he had forgotten it at a friend’s house again.
“Someone took it,” he said.
“WHAT?!?” I was in shock.
“A kid just walked up and took it from me.”
“What kid? Do you know him? Have you seen him before?”
“I’ve seen him once, but I don’t know him.”
As I questioned him, the boy’s shoulders begin to slump and I could tell he was seriously hurt. Not physically mind you…but you know…someone had taken his shit right out of his hands!
“What happened?” I asked. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
He told me how he was riding past one of his friend’s houses and this kid he didn’t really recognize came up behind him, punched him and told him, “Gimme your scooter bitch.”
“I tried to chase him and get it back but he was on my scooter and I ran out of breath.”
I couldn’t believe it.
That’s the kind of story you expect to hear when you live in the hood not when you’re in what you thought was a safe suburban family cul-de-sac. I sat there in shock for a few minutes before telling him I was sorry he had to go through that.
And he broke down.
“It really, really sucks,” he sobbed. “I really liked that scooter.”
I held him close, told him I knew and assured him he would get another.
“Just like that one?”
“I can’t promise you that honey.”
“But that was my favorite scooter ever.”
“I know honey, I know.”
Fuck. There are assholes everywhere.