Semi-workie/neighborhood weird occurence alert. This is creepy shit.
I lived in a building in South Dallas for about 6 years in my early to late twenties. I loved the building and only moved when I was about to get married and had some hare-brained notion that I wanted to check out neighborhood living. Eleven years later and I'm back in a loft in South Dallas. *ahem*
anyway. The building had 13 units and was about 100 years old with giant sliding freight doors that residents would padlock from the inside or outside. There were weird acoustics in the building and sometimes inside my loft you could hear a cute girl up the hall named Ginger having knock-down drag-outs with her girlfriend. Sometimes the girlfriend would take all the telephones from the apartment and padlock the door from the outside and leave Ginger locked up for a cooling-off period. Sometimes the police came. It was very strange. I'm sure this acoustic phenomenon must have worked in reverse, although I'm sure I never gave anything so interesting to listen to as pugilistic lesbian antics.
The apartment I lived in last was #13. It was a strange apartment, but had a large basement room that stayed cool in summer and warm in winter. I think of golden times in that space--my sister and I lived there together-- I would get home from the graveyard tour at work as the sun was coming up, and we'd space out and watch the light shift and warm the space while we listened to gorgeous music--the splendors of the new day dawning and anticipating the languorous naps that lay ahead. The upstairs space was painted a wonderful mottled olive-to-dark green color by the previous occupant, and I loved the feel of the room--its high ceilings and tall windows. The basement antechamber was a boiler room(my sister's bedroom), but had some windows and natural light. The main basement room(my bedroom), however, was a concrete bunker and had the makings (unrealized during my occupancy) of a bona fide sex pit. Very dungeons & dragoons. Meow.
I remained loosely in touch with two neighbors from the building - one who is in Houston now and another who manages a restaurant in London. I knew from them that an architect moved into my space when I moved out, and years later someone told me the architect still occupied that space.
Flash forward these eleven years, and the little job I am working has put me in close proximity with that architect. His name is Larry. Larry has been doing some work for my boss, who is planning some townhomes in the neighborhood. I began seeing his name in paperwork early in the days I began working this job, and someone mentioned he lived on Harwood street, and I finally realized that he was the man living in my old space. I was eager to know of the old place and if any of the old-timers were still around there, and though he was generally not talkative to me (more on that in a second), one day he was waiting for the company head to arrive and I asked about the apartment. He told me a Cliff notes version of how the building's community had evolved, and I was pleased to hear news of it. Still, even after that conversation Larry never seemed to warm up to me, which was a trifle offputting. I did admire Larry's energy and passion for Dallas - he was very involved in local urban planning, and maybe his veneer of arrogance sprang from a feeling of self-importance--moving all the little people around like pieces on a chess board. Nice of us all to show up and give him an occupation.
I didn't look at Larry and immediately think he was a gay man, but I came to recognize he had a certain air of a very loathesome stripe of man: The flip side of the coin that says "women are only for fucking" which is the side that says "women only exist to make more gay men for me to fuck." He wasn't a snide or preening ponce in that way--just icily indifferent--no use for women, really, and no need to stoop to petty niceties such as greeting the other human in the room you have just entered if that human is female. He may have been a great guy, but I never saw that. Oddly enough, icily indifferent is how the company head could be described 4 out of 5 days, I'd say. I saw Larry at the office on Friday and it was as if we had never spoken--as if he were following the golden rule of subways the world over: "thou shalt not make eye contact." I shrugged it off, as ever, not taking it personally. After all--was I given the opportunity to choose my gender?
Sunday night my dad called me up and asked if I knew a guy named Wheat from my old building. I said yes, and he said he was talking on the phone when he saw my old building on the news, and that some guy named Wheat was beaten to death in his apartment late Saturday night. Dad said he knew that was our old space they were talking about. Neighbors saw Larry enter the apartment with another man, apparently calmly as if nothing untoward was going on. Then they heard a commotion from within the space and Larry screaming for help. The visitor left the apartment smoking a cigarette, and the neighbors had called police already. Apparently Larry was dying of a head wound even as the ambulance arrived.
There is talk and speculation, gossip and paranoia. Nests of yupstarts and artists dotted about this rough transitional tract of town are roiling with the intrigue and despair of tragedy our gated communities always seemed to insulate us from. Sure, people are living and dying of drugs and cruelty just beyond our cloistered existence, but our usefulness to society is an insulating factor. Having escorted the man into his home, the obvious thing to think is that Larry picked the guy up for a quick piece of tail, and things went horribly awry, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, etc. It's a tough old world to be a horny single person on the make. Neighbors got a good gander at the murderer, and hopefully that will be his undoing.
Monday at work I came across an invoice from Larry to my company, and thought of the nearness of it all. I thought of that beautiful place so dear to my heart and the unspeakable horror that happened there. I thought again of the warm glorious mornings there, of the concrete floor where my doggie puked up the half-pound of butter she gobbled while I was bringing in the rest of the groceries (butter puddles are a bitch to clean). I thought of evenings sitting on the sofa or in the courtyard talking to my beau - now husband - and thinking I could move on in the world and move forward with him. I thought of guests and dinner parties and sparkling moments that in no way foreshadowed what would happen there.
It's chilling to think of the murderer going about his life--be it in a home or on the street--inwardly giddy from the shocking thrill of killing someone. It's difficult to conceive of how someone can commit such an act to begin with, let alone stand himself after the fact. In his heart bloom the flowers of evil, fragrant with the stench of a powerful secret. I'm abivalent about the death penalty, but in cases like this, I'll be ok with the chair. I hope they catch the bastard and make him a crispy critter.
The composite sketch of the perp shows a bowl-cut time-warped from a Three Stooges film, rendering a sublimely ridiculous aspect to the unbelieveably tragic. Imagine the bizarre breach of taste that wrought this double-standard: He couldn't deign to talk to females, but would take his chances with a Moe Howard-pated homicidal maniac. But that is unfair of me, isn't it? Larry probably only wanted to show the guy his etchings...