An hour away, a city erupts in violence, yet another weekend of shooting after shooting, while the unarmed stay at home, the only place they are allowed to defend. Outside, the streets are handed over by the State lawmakers to the predators, those whose absolute rapport of blood knows no recognition of any law. I can only pray that it will change, the doom of the gun laws being their own longevity in the face of mounting deaths, their abject failure their own reproach. Till then, the good stay behind barred doors, peeking out, faces not tragic or even doomed, just damned in their bound helplessness.
I've been on duty, working many a night out in the country, outdoors under light, the darkness a warm blanket around where I toil, keeping those at bay that bear no respect for what fate, greed or stupidity has rendered, only thirsting after the blood to be laid at a table of evening news. I work well there, the darkness to me both impending and remote, the time I spend there, threat and redemption both.
But darkness in a city is different, even if it's not a city known for high crime. But when on call, I need to be close to work, and that makes for living during the work week in an urban area, close to the city, in an area that has expensive condo's for rent one block, and rent assist welfare housing the next. I do what I can. Shrubbery is kept trimmed away from the windows, motion sensors turn lights on and when I'm gone for more than a couple of days, someone house sits.
But moving from the truck to my little unit, shadows mutter in the embrace of the dim light, urging me to get into the house as soon as possible, the silent eaves standing guard over areas the moonlight won't reach. At my "crash pad" as I call it, I often roll in quite late, happy to note my neighbor's police car in the drive if he is home. Otherwise the place is deep gloom, small pieces of cement, dark as dead pools between the treelike forms of sparse street lights, their presence not offering well lit comfort, but only a smug paradox of safety.
I move easier knowing I am armed.
But self sufficient, independent or not, I am still aware every day of what it means to be afraid. For I knew that well, before I learned to defend myself, young, unarmed, naive, literally stiff with fear, listening as a footstep on the porch, listening to the minute seeping of hot blood through veins constricted, as everything was going to the the muscles, fight or flight.
I never want to feel that again, helpless in my disarming, innocence tearing like silk beneath angry hands.
I've carried concealed in the States that allow me for the last 10 years. In my home, always, for the protection of my Castle. In the pocket of my shirt, housecoat or sweater, a small .380, Smith and Wesson or .40. In another drawer, perhaps on a shelf within reach but out of sight when I am home, a 1911. The sound of a break in at the house as I sleep would not be met by a intake of breath or a cry for help but rather that sober resonance of a pump action firearm chambering a round, an echo of the few liberties that remain.
They are my firearms. They are legally obtained and I train to safe proficiency with them. They are cared for and respected. They are my tools, they are my protection. They are not instruments of death, but only of safety, the flesh and bone that directs them principaled by order rather than calculated violence, their possession inherent with the capacity to maintain the law, not break it.
Out in the garage, in view of the covered porch, someone equally minded works away late in the evening, moon blanched wood dust gathering underneath a saw, tiny remnants of something that once could not be felled, til man and a tool took claim to them. Hands move back and forth, absorbed in the deliberate but tedious movements of the task, hands that can equally create as well as destroy, bound only by the mind that instructs their movements. He'll work until total darkness sets in, doing what he can to make this place ordered and safe, to keep me safe, even though he knows I could do it on my own, if I so chose.
Off in the dream of blackened night a faint sound, like thunder sounds, then ceases. There is no rain, the night soaks invisible and soundless into my skin as I gently touch the form of freedom at my side.