After a slow, lazy Sunday morning, I finally was dressed about 10:30 a.m., and went outside to work on my winter project—taking down a 10’ tall bushy cedar, one yard-waste container at a time. These are things I do in lieu of living a life. The yard-waste container is only picked up every other week, so of necessity, I can only do a bit at a time.
I live near McChord AFB, and often hear aircraft overhead and I’m used to that. However, there were two helicopters constantly circling overhead and I guessed that they were hunting for a criminal. No other neighbors were outside—my closest ones had gone to church as usual. And it’s not unusual that I seldom see anyone else outside their homes. The helicopters were obviously scanning over my immediate neighborhood so I considered going back inside, but once I start on a path, I’m not easily dissuaded, so I just continued.
I worked out there for about two hours, raking some leaves and sweeping my front deck. When I finally went inside both my cell phone and landline showed waiting messages and it was my daughter checking to see if I was alright because just the distance of six city blocks from me, four police officers had been shot dead in a coffee shop—shooter unknown and on the loose. This happened about 8:30 a.m., on Sunday morning. Now, on Monday evening, there is a suspect, but he is on the loose but thought to be moving north above Seattle.
The normal people around here are devastated and fearful. Heartsick. This follows by four weeks a shooting of a Seattle policeman and his rookie female partner on Halloween—they were in their car and a car with the shooter in it pulled up alongside, and just opened fire. The suspect in that case was wounded and is still hospitalized. But he will live to testify or be tried at least. The male policeman died instantly in that case—his partner got off a couple of shots but it was not until a few days later that suspect was found and he ran and was shot by the police. He was found after someone called in a tip that a vehicle matching the description was in their apartment parking lot, under a tarp.
Before Tacoma earned the reputation of a gang-infested city, it was just Seattle’s ugly sister. When I was a kid, there was a paper mill here which stunk up the entire town and several miles around it. Its downtown area was populated by bums and hobos and one just never went there. At some time though during the many years I was gone from this area, Tacoma cleaned up its act, getting rid of the paper mill and another factory that contributed to the stink and dirtied the atmosphere (I think it was a smelter, whatever that is).
The downtown has been very gentrified and it is now beautiful as it lies on a Puget Sound waterfront. There is a beautiful train station there, built probably in the 1800s, which is still used for lawyers’ offices and such, and the main lobby is decorated with Chihuly glass sculptures. Still almost deserted though—the only people who go there are those who work in that area in county government buildings, a couple of museums and fancy-looking banks.
And of course, Tacoma has many, many upper class neighborhoods—they are so classy and exclusive that little people like me didn’t even know they were there until one of the residents (Linda Evans) got talked about in the tabloids when her lover Yanni moved in with her there.
When I returned to this area after my divorce I moved to Tacoma only because it was near my Army job. Although the smell was long gone, it took me awhile to love this city, but after wearing out a dozen or so walking shoes enjoying its downtown thrift stores, parks, and waterfront, I do love it now to the point when someone asks me “What—why do you live in Tacoma!”, I ask back “What’s wrong with Tacoma?, in all innocence.
Of course, this is not really about Tacoma. It’s about people turning into monsters for whatever reason—drugs, the economy, mental illness, the war, hopelessness and loss. They leave so much grief behind and the misery spreads to include their victims. The normal people, and I’m including myself as weird as I am—we are so sad.