Finished up my laundry and back to my apartment. Walked out to the patio gate with the padlock and secured it on the latch and thought about what I was keeping out.
I thought about the people that I felt unsafe about having in my neighborhood. My stolen clothes and bicycle, the guy who appeared in my apartment when I first moved here. The homeless that talk to themselves, dive the dumpsters, throw up/urinate/sleep between the cars that I knew were out there and I wanted to keep them all out.
I thought about the young kid a week ago who wasn’t homeless who approached me and chatted me up, bummed a cigarette and told me about getting his GED. Then he was pulling on the front of his grey pants for a moment before he pulled out his pen*s and started to stroke it while he stared at me.
I have no hesitation in putting the padlock on the gate even though it’s not late but it is dark out. I hear people in the apartments around me making dinner, talking, TV’s and music booming, friends laughing and partying on this Saturday night.
The locked gate helps me relax and then I walk into my apartment and slide the screen door closed, slide the glass door closed and lock that also. Then I pull down 2 dowels of wood that I have cut to fit the space at the bottom of the sliding glass door as my last fortress of safety and a little more comfort.
I take off my jacket, pull the keys and the pepper spray out of the pocket tossing both into my purse.
My neighbors are good people, I think. Most people work during the days and the long parking lot empties on the weekday mornings and then fills again in the late afternoon and evenings. The schedule of working people is seen in the parking lot.
I go out the front door and check my mailbox then return inside and lean on the door to lock and turn the deadlock until it clicks. It’s winter so my windows are already locked. In for the night, I feel pretty safe.
There is a baseball bat still in the living room that my then teenage son used to pick up nightly and swing around as we chatted about his day. He felt strong as the man of the house and probably inside he was instinctively knowing this was his weapon.
These days, the kids are grown and moved out. Our loving dog of 9 years, the first line of defense, has been gone for nearly 2 years.
There’s still a pellet gun under the fold-out couch from the years when I slept there. Not sure what the heck to do with that now. But I’ll keep it cause all these things as they are just make my place feel like a home.