The last time I talked to my neighbor was last weekend. He had some rap music blasting its way through my thin apartment walls. The music was so awful to listen to, and this guy was turning it up. Now I’m the kind of guy who’s not going to run to the police over something that can be settled between two private citizens. Pounding on his door, it took me four times before he came. After the music stopped and the door opened, I was face-to-face with a glare that could have boiled me where I stood. In what would have taken me four words, he used one. “Whatchuwant?”
I tried to be nice. I tried to be politically-correct. I tried not to let the long day of tech support poke its ugly head through. It didn’t work though. In my head I had wanted to say something like ‘Please turn it down’ and ended up raising my voice and yelling ‘TURN THAT SHIT DOWN, YA FUCKING CREEP! NOT EVERYBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT, ESPECIALLY ME!’ this outburst was immediately followed by a silence that seemed to last forever. The look on his face turned from one of anger to what appeared to be hurt and then once again it went back to anger. He said, ‘Fuck you dude’ and slammed the door in my face. The music started up again. I raised my hand to knock that damn door down, then thought better of it. It seems that nowadays nobody ever fights fair anymore and I didn’t feel like getting shot over something as trivial as some crappy music. I stormed back down the hall to my own apartment, feeling that nothing had been accomplished other than a new enemy made. And that was the last time we’d spoken, if that’s what it could be called.
Anyway, I opened the door. Aluminum bat at the ready, the door slowly swung open to reveal my neighbor. I think his name was actually Antonio but I’d overheard him in the hall many times insisting to friends that they refer to him as “Eight Ball”. After all that had happened in just a few days time, it seemed oddly humorous that he would greet me with the monosyllabic ‘sup’ and a head nod. What was even odder was my response. “Uh, nothin”.
He asked to come in and I told him sure. He was actually carrying a tire iron. As I looked closer, I could see that it was wet. He didn’t wait for me to ask what had happened. He just launched into it.
He told me that he’d been driving home from work when he had blown a tire about half a mile away, in an abandoned industrial park. As he got out of the car and headed to the trunk to get his iron, he noticed a group of people milling about at the opposite end of what was otherwise a desolate street. He wasn’t looking around, just changing his tire. As pissed off as he was, the moaning that seemed to be coming closer didn’t help matters much. Exasperated and ready to blow up on somebody, he turned to see the group of people walking, or rather limping, his way slowly. There was a total of 5 people in this group. Consisting of what appeared to be an elderly married couple, two teenage girls, and a young boy, they all had massive wounds over their bodies. As they got closer Antonio said ‘Damn y’all, what happened’? After no response, they continued to moan and bump into each other. Antonio tried to make conversation by blurting out ‘Sup gang? Any of y’all have a quicker way to swap out a tire?’ to which he received no response other than more moaning and five pairs of hands raised towards him. After a few seconds, he realized that something was seriously wrong with these folks and they weren’t stopping.
The first one to make it into his personal space was the elderly gentleman. As the man shambling towards him, he yelled ‘What, man? Whatchuwant? Why don’t you fuck off and take off’? Luckily, Antonio had the tire iron in his hand. As the old man continued forward, arms raised as if to grab him, Antonio swung the iron. One good hit spun him around and the man dropped like a sack of potatoes onto the concrete.
Breathing heavily, Antonio turned to the other four. Even after dropping the old man, the other remaining people had no visible reaction. Feeling a bit freaked out, Antonio raised the iron again and brought it down on the old woman’s head. His actions were more fearful than hateful and he really had no animosity towards the group. You’d never be able to tell though, from the ferocity with which he wielded the tire iron. After dropping the old woman, he focused on the two teenage girls. Using a methodology something akin to a pinball machine, he brought the tire iron down between the heads of the two, moving it back and forth rapidly. Both girls dropped to the ground and Antonio wiped his brow. That’s when he felt the young boy grab his leg and sink his teeth into his flesh, just below the kneecap.