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Close Encounter

I had just dropped Xy & Persephone off at the house of some friends and run a few errands. I stopped back at the house to take care of a few things. I was surprised to find a cop car parked in the middle of the street and an officer standing nearby.

I parked my car, a little further from the house than usual because the cop was blocking the way. As I walked past, I asked, “You looking for someone?” He replied in the affirmative and waved me on.

I went inside and checked my e-mail. Read a few, sent a few. I was feeling like lying down in bed and having a good cry, finding the revelations of the past few days somewhat overwhelming, but first I decided to go out back and take care of a chore, namely bagging up some old screen frames with peeling paint.

I opened the back door and started to step outside when I saw something that made me freeze in my tracks.

It was somebody’s shoulder, in a black tee shirt.

That was all I saw, but it was enough. I retreated into the house and locked the door and went back upstairs. By the time I got to the front of the house to confirm the cops were no longer there (they weren’t) I had already dialed 911.

Soon the cops were back. I was sitting on the front steps. The cops had their guns drawn. I told them where the guy was. Peeking around the corner I could see he was still there. He must have either jumped our gate or climbed over the neighbor’s fence.

Our gate was locked, with the key inside the house. I explained that to one of the cops, and he asked, “Could you expedite that, please?” So I got the key and unlocked the gate and the cops went through.

Next thing they’ve got the guy with his hands in the air, and then in cuffs.

I kept my distance, not particularly interested in letting this guy see me, but that meant I couldn’t see him too well either. He was a black male with a fauxhawk haircut, wearing a black tee shirt that said “Bienville” on the back. When I described him to Debra later she said, “Oh yeah, he’s one of the guys who hangs around on the corner, meaning Bienville and Gayoso, I think.

When I asked one of the cops what it was all about, I was told, “He beat somebody up.” And since he trespassed on my property, would I be interested in pressing charges? I said I didn’t think so.

After that I went over to our friends’ house and had a good stiff drink.

Perhaps it is time to move.

Published inNeighborsNew Orleans


  1. I had that happen back in ’02 while I was away. Cops nabbed 6 with guns. It really ratlled me, but I keep living in that old house.

    If you are seriously thinking about moving, come and look at our area- quiet and safe.

  2. Alexis Alexis

    Bart, that is so awful. I’m glad your family is safe and that you are an naturally observant person. Hopefully it was just a couple of kids fighting. It’s minor enough that he’s not likely to think twice about your involvement.

  3. Kami Kami

    I’m glad you are ok and your family was away during the incident. It does sound like he’s not likely to connect you with any of it, but that had to be unnerving.

  4. I’d echo the above – particularly the bit about relief that Xy and P were not at home at the time. between that and the lead levels, I understand your musing about finding a new home.

    Any point to testing you and Xy for lead levels? I don’t know much about this, except what I’ve seen on ER.

  5. Garvey Garvey

    “Perhaps it is time to move.”

    Stick with that feeling. Your family will be better off for it.

  6. Sean Sean

    Damn that’s scary! In 30 years (born and raised here) I haven’t had someone jump in my backyard. I’ve lived in mid-city, uptown, the east and lakeview. I think you just had some bad luck there, brother. You’re doing the right thing for sure by getting to know your neighbors.

    Also, for the people suggesting a move to various states… I got curious and looked at the lead statistics:

    Of children tested the % of elevated lead blood levels:
    Indiana: (2006) 1.22%, (2005) 1.41%
    Oregon: (2006) .49%, (2005) .52%
    Louisiana: (2006) .48%, (2005) 1.01%

    I’m sure you will, but if you move you’re definitely gonna still need to do the same precautionary stuff you’re doing now. Take some more time to relax, and I wish for your luck to turn next week!

  7. Thanx y’all — point of clarification — when I spoke of moving, I meant moving within NOLA. And it’s not just this incident, but the general deterioration of community on our block since Katrina, of which this latest incident is just a symptomatic culmination. As we all know things vary quite a bit from block to block here. That, plus the lead issue may be a decisive factor. We are still waiting to get the results of the test.

  8. Jules Jules

    I hated reading of your situation. Chilling to say the least. But I’m glad to read of a peaceful outcome.

    C’mon over to Lakeview, Bart… great schools, good neighbors, lower crime and affordable housing.

  9. Frank Schiavo Frank Schiavo

    Scary stuff indeed. And I sort of understand.
    Last year we had the cops come by the house at about 1 AM looking to see if we had seen any one run through our yard. We had not seen/heard anyone, but it turns out a robber/car jacker had done just that and thrown a gun under the house. It wasn’t loaded, but it was still pretty scary. Julie and I talked about it for a few weeks and decided we love our little hood and while we live in Lakeview too, no place is 100% safe and sometimes it happens. We invested in one of those security systems for the house- gets us an insurance discount, BTW– got to know our neighboors a bit more–which you gave us the idea to do–talked them more to try to watch out for each other and moved on.

  10. […] learned our daughter had lead poisoning and then a few days later I had a close encounter with one of the guys from the corner. Ordinarily I would have laughed off the latter, but the news […]

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