|The Ghetto Lullabies:The first signs of decay
Author: OutKastPoet PM
The story of how a neighborhood deteriorates into a broken and dangerous place to live.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Words: 1,877 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 10-29-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2268372
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Brian K. Aybinder
The Ghetto Lullabies; The first signs of decay
Looking at my old neighborhood I can barely remember when the Bronx was a safe place to live. My father moved my mom, sister, and I to the Bronx when I was just a month old. At the time is seemed like a nice place to live, there were friendly neighbors sitting outside chatting away about how beautiful the day was. My friends and I were able to play past sunset hitting a blue rubber ball with one of our mother's broom stick. But soon enough it was corrupted by gangs throwing their weight around crushing the bright neighborhood to a dismal abyss. Thunder claps in the middle of the night when the sky was clear, at first I had no idea what those sounds were and unfortunately I became too familiar with them. It was the thunder claps mixed with car alarms, and it felt like a really bad rap song with an even worse beat, the gun shots being the bass and the car alarms or police siren, given the night, was the rhythm. That beat was the ghetto lullaby that I fell asleep to every night, the Bronx rotted away and all that was left was the violent decay of a thunder storm.
According to the chattering ladies, who later on met in their own apartments since the neighborhood was deteriorating, they said that it was going to get dangerous to be outside sooner or later where bullets chased fear into every innocent heart. The other boroughs were already in the gutter barely able to live in the suffocating thunder clouds. Walking around the cloudy streets there were hooded purse snatchers running from an old lady, cops chasing the rats of the hood, shady deals on street corners under the streetlight, and battered women walking around with hidden eyes.
When I was eight years old I witnessed my first crime, felt my first real fear, and my first hate. Waiting for my ghetto lullaby to put me to sleep, as usual I was lying in bed my cover over my head so that I didn't see the passing lights of cars driving down the street. It was a cool summer night just around one in the morning; the salsa music had finally died out from the grocery store down the street. I started to hear faint sounds of a dog barking, so I took the covers off and no longer was the sound muffled, for I realized the sound was close to me. I jumped out of my bed and across the street from my second story window through the window bars and the fire escape I saw the dog. It was on a leash trying to run away, or so I thought. The woman was holding onto the gate trying to hold her dog back from attacking a man attacking a girl. The girl started yelling for help as he was ripping off her clothes, stripping her naked. Right by him was a black shadow that resembled a cannon, a gun I thought could rip a hole as big as a basketball into ones stomach. I was in complete shock, frozen in the sight of fear in the girl's, the woman holding her dog, and my wide eyes, which witnessed the entire thing. Finally I awoke from my frozen keep and kept my lights off so that I wouldn't be seen, picked up the phone and called the cops.
"911, what's your emergency?" the calm operator said.
"A women is under attack across the street from my room." I said franticly.
"Where do you live?"
"1475 Theriot Avenue, but the woman is being attacked in front of the school on Archer Street, please hurry."
"A cruiser is on its way, which apartment do you live in and what's
"Brian Aybinder and I live in apartment 2D."
"Ok thank you Brian…" I hung up the phone not wanting to listen to her calm tone anymore. At first I wasn't sure what was going on and what he was doing to this poor woman. By the time the cops got there the woman ran home with her dog, the guy ran off with his cannon, and the girl was unfortunately raped. She just sat on the curb waiting for the cops arms wrapped around herself and tears pouring out onto the river leading to the sewer.
That was the first time I had ever seen such horror happen right in front of my eyes, and it put a huge fear in me. After that night I was always paranoid of what was lurking in the shadows of the rotted Bronx, I was drowning in fear trying to gasp for air but couldn't. It was a struggle just to breathe a single moment of relief. The next day the cops were waiting for me by my apartment building just standing in front of the entrance. I was coming home from the park.
As soon as I put the key into the lock they spoke, "Hey kid, you live in apartment 2D?"
"Did you call 911 last night about an attack?"
"What did the guy look like?"
"I'm not sure, he was wearing black clothing with a hood covering his face."
"Was there anyone else around to see this?"
"An old lady and her dog."
"What kind of dog, do you know the old lady, did you ever see her before?"
"I don't know"
"You don't who she is or you don't know what kind of dog it was?"
"If you saw her again would you be able to recognize her?"
"I don't think I could, maybe the dog."
"What were you doing up so late anyways?"
"The dog barking kept me up."
"Not used dogs barking?"
"No, I have a cat."
"Do you like cats?"
"Nothing, well we will be in touch."
"You know if you guys showed up quicker the woman wouldn't be raped. It took a long time for someone to show up."
"Watch it kid, keep that kind of attitude away from me or any other cop."
That day has never left my mind, stuck in the recesses of past fears only to awake when my eyes close. It was the first time I ever saw crime, after that I saw it all the time and didn't bother calling the cops, I thought by the time they asked me who I was and where I live and what was happening the crime would have been done. The decay grew over my neighborhood, I started hearing different beats, louder and in abundance. Automatics that shot out a clip of thirty bullets in just a few seconds mixed with screams that echoed off the five story buildings. I lived my first crime as well as my first real fear, which ended up being the first sign of decay in my eyes. I was never really able to let go of it. How could I? It happened so close to where I slept. The ghetto lullabies were my fear and it was what I fell asleep to every night. I was constantly in fear of what was going to wake me up or keep me sleeping, I dreamt the worst. My nightmares brought Poe out of the grave just to tell me how twisted my imagination was. The decay grew and grew just because the cops were crippled enough to let things get that bad in my neighborhood, once a safe place to breathe, now a dreadful place that I couldn't bear to call home. I felt I had to stay since my friends were there but it got difficult to stay once the violence came knocking on my own door. After the rape I was robbed three times, once at gunpoint and the other two by a switchblade. I developed a fear of guns, knives, and the Bronx. One day when I was walking home from school I walked pass a gang of five guys sitting on a bench.
"Hey shorty, you got a quarter?"
"No." I kept on walking as they continued calling out to me. When I got further out I heard their steps chasing after mine. They caught up to me they pushed me against a tall metal fence surrounding me.
"If you don't have a quarter, maybe you have somethin' else."
"I don't have anything for you." The guy talking pulled out a knife and started feeling my pockets and then found my gold necklace hidden behind my shirt, a necklace given to me by my grandfather. He pulled down my shirt and ripped off my necklace. He stuck the knife to my lower stomach with anger in his eyes as if I had hurt him by lying to him.
"Yo Manny leave him alone, you got the necklace, lets go see what we can get fo' it." One of the other guys got Manny off me before anything happened. When they left I dropped to the ground and surrounded myself in a pool of tears. I feared what would have happened if I tried to fight back, if my anger and fear grew over me; when I came home I told my father what happened. There was no reaction of worry, but anger over the fact that I wore the necklace. He just stormed off, cursing to himself in Russian. That night he wouldn't talk to me, he just kept giving me these cold looks.
Gangs were the corrupting factor as well as another threat and fear. I tried to stay away, but it was hard once my friend joined them. Growing up in the Bronx, watching a lively place turn grim was strange. It was like watching a boy grow to be an adult, then to an old decrepit man in a matter of a few years.
My fear has stayed with me and has never left till this day, but the severity of the fear has drastically changed. I'm not sure how they changed, or if those fears were knocked out by new ones. Seeing what I saw that night changed me, I felt that I had matured a little that day. When seeing something so traumatic, it's kind of hard to play in the sun when you know there is a storm heading your way. Being able to survive the Bronx was an accomplishment, it was hard for me to leave the Bronx. When I was 15 my parents decided to leave the Bronx and move to the quite suburbs of Jersey. I missed my friends and I felt like I betrayed them by leaving, even though I had no choice I still felt like I hurt them by moving away. A lot of people died around me, people I knew and loved and people I had no idea who they were. I survived and I feel it's a gift. So I take this life and breathe in all the sun showers I can not worrying about that thunder storm over the horizon.