Letter from an ANGRY Reader by Chip Elliott, Esquire Magazine, September
The text that follows deserves wide
and repeated redistribution, anywhere a semi- or fully-thoughtful anti-gunner
can be found and cornered long enough to read it. Chip Elliott, author of
a novel entitled Tomorrow Come Sunrise, published in 1970, wrote the
below letter in response to an April 1981 article in Esquire Magazine entitled
"Fifty Million Handguns." It so impressed the editors that it was
published in the September 1981 issue as the cover story. Mr. Elliot's comments
are just as relevant to the gun issue as they were the day they were written —
and his effervescent authenticity is indeed deeply appreciated. Esquire Magazine
did a great service by running this letter —
do your part by making sure someone else reads it.
Letter from an ANGRY
A Letter to the
Editor of Esquire
from Chip Elliott
The streets of America...are as
dangerous as the roads and alleys of an earlier century. But before we resign
ourselves to helplessness, this reader urges us to listen to the story of how he
took up arms in defense of his life and property.
In regard to Adam Smith's April column,
"Fifty Million Handguns," come off it. Smith laments the fact that
large numbers of people are prepared to defend themselves with handguns. He
can't really accept the fact that we are living in a world where personal
self-defense is a necessity. Didn't he read the article in the February Esquire
called "Shooting to Kill"—about middle class citizens who are
determined to shoot to defend their lives? Did he or you think that was a
joke? That it was made up?
I went from being where both of you
seem to be at this point to carrying a 9mm Smith & Wesson automatic in ten
weeks. My wife is a psychiatrist. Very attractive, very easy to intimidate, very
abstracted, a likely target for muggers both outside, because she's lost in her
thoughts, and at home, because punks think doctors keep drugs in their houses
(they don't). She has a gun, too, a .38, and she knows how to use it. We are not
hillbillies: we are people who went to Radcliffe and Stanford, respectively.
Appalling, huh? It used to appall us too, until we were forced to realize that
our lives, both as a married couple with a deep commitment and as individuals
doing important and meaningful work, were worth protecting.
In the spring of 1976 we were living in
the San Francisco Bay area. My wife was doing her psychiatric residency. I had
just walked out on the advertising business and was working on a novel. That
spring, Peter Brook directed a play called The Ik, a hair-raising piece
created by the troupe of the International Center for Turnbull's anthropological
study called The Mountain People. Sponsored by the French government,
Brook and his gang made a six-week American tour and played Berkeley.
The play cast in theatrical bronze the
lives of a tribe of hunters in Uganda who had been displaced from their
centuries old hunting grounds by the creation of a national park and a game
reserve. What followed was an utter disintegration of their social structure,
and it turned everybody—including members of the same family—into mortal
enemies seeking, each alone, food.
The play's premise is that what we call
human values are actually luxuries qualities that only emerge and exist under
the best and calmest of conditions. It was a spooky production and great
theater, but I did not see how it could possibly relate to America in the late
Two years later, we moved to Los
Angeles. We did not move to the glamorous, movie-struck Los Angeles of The
Ginger Man and the Beverly Hills Hotel—though I would be lying if I said the
thought had never crossed our minds. We moved to the Los Angeles of the Nuart
theater, the Fox Venice, the Jung Institute, a city with the sense of being in
another country with American hamburger overtones. And, of course, the sea. Not
the beach, the sea.
Our friends Boris and Ute—a Yugoslav
sculptor and a German painter—had just bought a house in Venice, and we
quickly rented a house nearby on Electric Avenue. Electric Avenue yet! Whooee!
It was dirty pink with a gray-green roof, and its outstanding feature was an
eight-by-thirty glassed-in porch. A grown man in good condition could have torn
this house down with his hands, but I loved it because it swayed when you walked
through it. It was like being on a weather-beaten but seaworthy closed cabin
Venice at that time seemed like
Sleeping Beauty after a century of trance: musty, dusty, and long stagnant, but
with the promise of awakening magic. On that porch I intended to write a new Threepenny
Opera, to invent at least two or three new Sally Bowleses. I would knock the
world on its ear.
More friends quickly turned up—Rene
and Renata, European graphic wizards; Carolyn and Chris, a mime and an actor who
wanted to get away from off-Broadway and into movies and television; a
middle-aged Australian writer and adventurer and his half-Irish-half-Mexican
wife with her wall-to-wall cheekbones and her head full of D. H. Lawrence and
Denise Levertov...and many others.
My beloved French Lop rabbit, Nicole,
had a yard to romp in. We quickly discovered a sensational wine from a local
vineyard, a county fair prizewinner that sold for $3.38 a gallon at the
Our days quickly became ordered: group
breakfasts, work all day, talk all evening, lights out by ten p.m. My wife took
a job as staff psychiatrist for a county mental health clinic in downtown Los
Angeles. We settled in in a hurry. There was no time to lose. We were going to
recreate the world not of the Sixties but of F. Scott Fitzgerald's friends
Gerald and Sara Murphy in the years 1922 and 1923. We would throw a
two-year-long working party.
But it quickly became apparent that all
was not as it seemed in Venice. For starters, we had moved to the intersection
of turfs of two rival Mexican gangs. We got along with them. When they shot at
each other—as they did less than a week after we had moved in—they shouted
to us in Spanish to get out of the way. We did.
There were other clues. Walking, I
would occasionally see brown spots on the sidewalk that, from my experience as a
police reporter, I could recognize as bloodstains. I would notice this the way
you might notice a scruff of feathers where something has gotten a small bird: a
tiny memorial to violence.
One morning, as I was sitting on the
wobbly glassed-in porch, I watched a gang of black teenagers pour gasoline all
over a parked car and set it on fire. This was at ten o'clock in the morning.
A few days later, I heard of a robbery
two blocks from where we lived: A woman came to the door of a house and asked to
use the telephone, said it was an emergency. When the man opened the door, her
henchmen came in right behind her. The three of them stabbed the man to death
and left his wife barely alive. In the next block a woman was raped twice after
her nose and jaw were broken.
Just to be on the safe side, after a
kitchen table powwow, we went to a gun shop on Pico Boulevard one Saturday
morning and bought a 38 snub-nosed revolver. After all, this was Los Angeles,
land of Joe Friday. Strange things had happened here. Sharon Tate had once had a
very bad evening here. But a gun! Who had ever owned a gun? I picked the
revolver up after the normal fifteen-day waiting period and wrote the guy a
check from the Santa Monica Bank. It cost $160. It seemed like a lot for a silly
object. I would rather have bought a painting. We put the revolver under the
corner of our mattress and there it stayed. For ten days.
One night we went to the Fox Venice to
see Forbidden Planet, you know, the movie about monsters from the id.
When we returned, the door had been broken in. The stereo was gone, the
television was gone, the paintings and cameras and typewriters were gone. The
dressers had been turned over and ransacked, the bed had been torn up and the
revolver taken; the birdcage had been torn off the wall and the parakeet set
free for a while until the cat got it and ate it, leaving the remains on the
floor where a rug had been. All the jewelry was gone, such as it was. Including
my Cartier watch. I had earned that watch, you know? I had saved for it just as
surely as I had saved the money for a house or a car or a couple of new suits.
That ended my romance with Cartier watches. There is an enormous black
market for them in Los Angeles, but I don't want one now. I wear a Thirties
Gruen Curvex now, a sister to the watch Bogart wore in Casablanca. It's
worth about the same as a tank watch but very few people know what it is.
Three thousand in after-tax dollars. It
took the police two hours and forty-five minutes to show up.
Our revolver, which had begun as a
museum piece, a curio, as far as we were concerned, had now entered the
underworld. We were unprotected now, and we felt so. We reported the gun stolen,
of course. Serial number and all that. Big deal. Five months later, it was used
in an assault against a Los Angeles woman. I made up my mind that the way to
handle a gun in a dangerous situation was to never let it out of my sight.
Our friends were robbed, burglarized.
Carolyn, of her sewing machine, her typewriter, her clothes. Another couple, of
all their photographic equipment, used not for a hobby but for their livelihood.
Easygoing Boris bought a twelve-gauge riot gun and hid it in a trunk with his
sixteen millimeter movie equipment so no one would steal it. And a huge black
shepherd dog to protect the trunk. Someone broke in anyway and slit the dog's
Boris bought a twelve-gauge riot gun and hid it in a trunk with his
sixteen millimeter movie equipment so no one would steal it. And a huge
black shepherd dog to protect the trunk. Someone broke in anyway and
slit the dog's throat.
We bought a new revolver, a. 38 Special
Smith & Wesson, and had the handgrips filed down so my wife could hold it
easily. The two weeks while we waited for the permit to go through were the most
terrifying of my fife.
It turned out that my wife's work for
Los Angeles County was more like a Clint Eastwood movie than a medical practice.
One of her street patients quickly fastened on her and began writing her death
threats with sexual overtones. There was no place to put him away because there
was no money for any serious treatment, and there were no available psychiatric
beds in any of the local hospitals. She began carrying the .38 in her briefcase
along with her patient case load progress notes.
We quickly developed a pattern: when
she came home at night she would park her car and blow the horn; I would go
outside and escort her into the house. It dawned on me for the first time that
we might be killed. That it was possible we would die here.
I bought a second handgun, a 9mm
automatic that would fire as fast as lightning. I phoned around, discovered
where to go to practice with it. And I practiced.
A word about revolvers versus
automatics: If you don't know much about all this, a revolver is better because
it is a simple mechanism. You can see if there are cartridges in it.
I also went to the police and got a
carry permit. A carry permit is not as difficult to obtain as a lot of people
would have you believe. You have to give a good reason for wanting the permit
You have to not be a felon and not have, for example, eleven hundred outstanding
parking tickets. If you are a crackpot, someone will sniff it out and you will
not be issued the permit.
One night I was awakened by a noise
outside on the street. I got up, peeped through the dining room curtains and saw
a gang of teenagers taking the fog lights off my car. I raised the curtains and
knocked on the window. The sight of a thirty-three year-old naked guy is not
going to frighten very many people anymore, but the sight of a
thirty-three-year-old naked guy with an automatic did the trick. They fled.
Our lives settled down again. We cut a
safe into the floor of our dining room and hid our remaining valuables in it. It
was never discovered, even though they took the Oriental rug that covered it.
We went to a wedding in San Francisco
on a Friday night. The week before, I had prepped the house as you might prepare
for medieval warfare: two-by-six boards bolted into doorframes with lag bolts
six inches long and a socket wrench. That sort of thing. Anything we had left
that was slightly portable—my wife's doctor bag, a pair of binoculars, our
passports and checkbooks—I threw into two suitcases, which I put into storage.
When we returned from the wedding there
was no back door and no doorframe, only an enormous hole with smashed edges
leading into a set of empty rooms. We were left with a bed, some pots and pans,
and a bookcase. It was one of our more memorable Thanksgivings.
On the seventeenth of December in 1978,
I saw a woman mugged for her purse—and I watched her run screaming after her
assailant until she collapsed, crying in the street.
On the eighteenth or nineteenth of
December, my wife was at a meeting, everybody else was busy doing something, and
I walked alone to the Venice Sidewalk Cafe for some dinner. It occurred to me
that it was silly to put on a shoulder holster just to go out for a beer and a
sandwich, but I did it anyway, although I had never been threatened physically, ever,
except in foreign countries.
Walking home about six-thirty at night,
just off the corner of West Washington Boulevard and Westminster Avenue, I was
confronted by five young, well-dressed uptown brothers. Black. Okay. Let's get
that right out front. They could just as easily have been white. We were
directly under a streetlight and less than fifty feet from an intersection thick
I was not dressed as a high roller. I
am not a high roller. I don't look like a robber baron or a rich dentist. I look
like exactly what I am, a middle-aged guy who's seen a little more than he needs
to see. I thought, what are these guys doing?
Their leader pulled a kitchen knife out
of his two-hundred-dollar leather jacket. His mistake was that he wasn't close
enough to me to use it, only to threaten me. He smiled at me and said,
"Just the wallet, man. Won't be no trouble."
That was a very long moment for me. I
remember it just as it happened. I remember thinking at the time that it was one
of those moments that are supposed to be charged with electricity. It wasn't. It
was hollow, silent, and chilly.
I looked at this guy and at his
companions and at his knife, and I thought: Don't you see how you're
misreading me? I am not a victim. I used to be a victim, but now I'm not. Can't
you see the difference?
I pulled the automatic, leveled it at
them and said very clearly, "You must be dreaming."
The guy smiled at me and said, "Sheeeit,"
and his buddies laughed, and he began to move toward me with the knife. I
thought, this guy is willing to kill me for thirty-five dollars. I aimed the
automatic at the outer edge of his left thigh and shot him.
He dropped like a high jumper hitting
the bar and yelled "Goddamn!" three times, the first one from
amazement, I guess, and the second two higher pitched and from pain.
He yelled at his buddies, "Ain't
you gonna do nothing?" They did do nothing.
smiled at me and said, "Sheeeit," and his buddies
laughed, and he began to move toward me with the knife. I thought, this
guy is willing to kill me for thirty-five dollars. I aimed the automatic
at the outer edge of his left thigh and shot him.
I backed off and walked away, right
across busy West Washington Boulevard, with the gun still in my hand. I remember
thinking, shouldn't I call a doctor? And then I thought, would he have called a
doctor for me? And I kept right on walking.
I am not a macho guy. White water to me
is club soda. I haven't been skiing in ten years. Anything I order from L.L.
Bean ends up on the dining room table and then in a box in the basement. I'm
never going to shoot a zebra and have it made into a rug, okay?
I was not coming on like James Bond,
and I was not being territorial or aggressive. I was simply protecting my right
to walk around town with a lousy thirty-five dollars in my pocket and not be
afraid for my life.
I walked home. I felt terribly strange,
but it was a strangeness that I could identify. I realized that what I was
doing—in our current state of affairs—was a cultural procedure no different
from going to the grocery or getting a haircut or buying a shirt. And that I had
balked over it and felt strange because it was a new procedure, something I was
doing for the first time, not unlike dealing with one of those twenty-four-hour
banking devices with the code numbers and the buttons—and that if I wanted to
stay alive, it was possible I would have to get used to it.
I am not proud of this. I did not
swallow it easily, either. More than a year passed before I talked about it with
anybody, not even my wife. But I did it. And I could do it again if I had to.
What happened to us, of course, is that
we got hit in the face with time's swinging door. My world changed sometime
between 1975 and 1980, and we had a couple of tough years getting from one
Pullman car to another. We were lucky. We lost more than eleven thousand dollars
of what we owned, but we weren't killed. We adapted. Now the guns are a normal
part of our lives. We accept them, just as we accept the seven motors of
suburbia. They are a necessary convenience, like the washing machine or
refrigerator or one of those devices that zaps mosquitoes with electricity.
Sometimes I think, this is a stupid,
abhorrent, exasperating situation. And it is. But we've adapted to other stupid,
abhorrent, exasperating situations: 20 percent interest rates. Iran. And now
we've adapted to this one.
Let me tell you how we've adapted. We
dress low key, we don't flaunt anything, we keep loaded guns in the house, and
we don't keep them stashed in some drawer where we can't find them if we need
them. We keep them right out in the open, and we always know exactly where they
are. The difference is in that exterior framework of protection and in our
attitudes toward it: it is something that was not necessary when we were
younger, and it is something which most of us, Adam Smith included, still carry
on about. We don't even think it's too bad anymore; we're beyond that. We accept
it as a fact of life and go right on. And it will stay a fact of life until our
fellow countrymen get it out of their heads that they can do as they please,
that there is no such thing as social responsibility, that they have a right not
to behave. Because the way we see it, if they have the right to mug us, we have
the right to shoot them.
I used to believe that these people had
some justifications on their side. I used to feel that I ought to have some
compassion for them, and I did. I used to believe that a job and some credit
would put them on the right path. It isn't true. I also used to believe that
much of the human wreckage—the millions upon millions of people with emotional
damage—could be repaired. That isn't true either. They can't be, for the most
part, because the effort necessary to straighten out a single one of them is
enormous: four or five years perhaps of therapy, in an age when there is no time
for anything but emergency medicine.
Let's face it. Some of these people are
poor Some of them are driven crazy with desire for stuff they will never be able
to afford. But not all of them are poor, not by a long shot. A lot of them make
as much money, or a great deal more, than you or I do. They do it because it's
easy. They do it because they believe no one will stop them. And they're right.
Let's talk for a moment about John
Lennon. Adam Smith brought him up. I'm particularly interested in this one
because John and Yoko had something very similar to what my wife and I have: two
equal people who happened to be able to witness each other's life to the fullest
possible extent. The grand passion. The real thing. Now it's gone.
When all is said and done, the real
tragedy of John Lennon is that he dinosaured out. He ought to have known better.
He stayed in the house for four or five years, and when he came out again, the
world had changed. He could have had a bodyguard, for Christ's sake. He could
have lived in the country. He did not have to stay in New York City and rub
people's noses in it with his $150 million and his blue jeans. The clown who
killed him did it for fame, not money, obviously. But if someone is willing to
stick a knife in me for thirty-five dollars and not bother to find out what
blood type I am, you can just imagine what they are willing to do to someone who
has real money.
I think a lot about John Lennon. You
know what I think? I think, Jesus Christ, if it's this bad for my wife and me
now, what will it be like if either of us ever becomes well known?
More to the point, let's talk about
Adam Smith's friend Michael Halberstam. I did not know Halberstam, but I liked
his work. He surprised a burglar in his Washington, D.C., home and was shot.
Halberstam figured all of this out in
the very last seconds of his life. He didn't like being killed. He must have
thought it was pretty damned unfair. He was furious. In his last few moments,
rushing adrenaline and pouring blood, he got in his car and ran down his
You know what? If he had made this
discovery even slightly earlier—long enough to buy a weapon and wait for the
permit to go through—he would very likely be alive right now.
Now listen to me a minute. The guns
themselves don't cause all this. What causes it is that people think they can
have the American dream by sticking someone up for it. They think that there
ought to be a huge equal society out there. Equal shares for everybody. Forced
equal shares if necessary.
|Now listen to
me a minute. The guns themselves don't cause all this. What causes it is
that people think they can have the American dream by sticking someone
up for it. They think that there ought to be a huge equal society out
there. Equal shares for everybody. Forced equal shares if necessary.
What is true is that we are entering a
time of vast restratification. The United States is becoming more European...but
it is a Europe of a different century. We are moving toward a culture in which
we'll have cooks, chauffeurs, maids, carpenters, brewmasters, vintners,
industrialists, bankers, machinists, hat makers, shopkeepers, and kings and
queens of a sort. And, of course, we'll also have highwaymen, cutthroats, and
thieves. Think of it in terms of a vast panorama, a huge cross section much like
the—world Balzac,, Hugo, and Dumas described. Think about Dickens. Read
Weber's The City. Read Pirenne's The Economic and Social History of
Medieval Europe. None of this is new. What is new is that we're experiencing
it. What was new was the social structure in America of the past three or four
decades, which has collapsed.
To have any kind of culture or
civilization in a world like this, it is going to be necessary to stop talking
about things like prisoners' unions and start talking about the concept of crime
and the definition of the word "criminal."
It would be nice also to talk about
police. But if you'll read these books, you'll find very little mention of
police. What you will find are numerous references to people who wore swords and
pistols whenever they went anywhere.
People now fashionably put down the
Seventies, but it was a time when many people reached a level of personal
success and satisfaction that may not be achieved again in our lifetimes. By
comparison, we are in the pit, and I don't mean the floor of the commodities
exchange. In many ways the Seventies gave us a glimpse of what life may be like
in 125 years.
But it's like the Dark Ages now. Each
time there is a major change, it is necessary to gain a clear understanding of
what the changes are, what skills still hold, which ones need to be discarded,
which new ones need to be developed.
Now, about those fifty million
handguns: taking them away will not automatically give us a society like
England's or Holland's. We are just not like that. It would be nice if we were.
That's why Americans run away to Europe. What might help is a good set of disk
brakes on people's behavior here. But anything that might put such desperately
needed stops on people's personal "freedoms" is perceived out there in
the streets as a violation of civil liberties, of constitutional rights. That
is, it is a "right" to mug, rape, burglarize, murder, and commit arson
for the insurance money. So there you are: a nation of pirates.
I would like to see impossibly tight
gun registration laws, but I secretly scoff. Anyone who's honest can get through
any registration process we can come up with. Anyone, who's not honest won't
bother. The way guns get into the criminal underworld is that they are stolen.
That makes registration a useless exercise.
As for the manufacture of all those
devices and all those bullets, during World War II the United States became
"the great arsenal of democracy." It is a damned good thing for the
English that we were, too, or they would be holding Oktoberfests right now.
Do you really think the rest of the
world sees us as insane because we bear arms? Try going to one of the South
American countries. Try going into a country in which only the government has
weapons. Try watching armed soldiers carrying their semiautomatic carbines
around the airport gates and the customs offices, while the people have none.
You want the wealth redistributed? Try it under those circumstances.
Don't talk to me about the saintly
Japanese either. Everyone says they have a very low crime rate. No one really
knows. It could be, because they are very big on making each person responsible
for himself and also to his fellow countrymen—a sort of "One for all, all
for one" attitude. They are sublimated like mad and they are rich because
of it. It looks good on the surface, but just below that surface is a caldron;
and if you look close you can see it. They have a history of barbarism that goes
back for centuries and that we could never hope to match.
When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan,
the first thing I thought was, now I'll never get to go there. Try putting
yourself in Afghan shoes: no matter what you think, from your current vantage
point, with a cellarful of good vintage wines and a wallful of Wittgenstein, if
you lived there and the Soviets came trucking in with tanks and occupational
forces, I am willing to bet you would hock your house, your automobile your
Baume & Mercier watch, or your ass on the street for a good gun and the
bullets to put in it.
So much for international relations; on
the home front, suffice it to say that as long as we live in a society in which
a large constituency thinks it can do whatever it damn pleases—no sense of
morality asked for or required—then those of us who have the middle-class work
ethic, those of us who believe the Freudian epithets of work and love, will be
seen as potential victims by the flocks of hustlers and lurkers who are out
there. It is sometimes tough to get a job. It is also, right now, easier to rob
people than it is to work for money. It's easier because it can be gotten away
with. These people believe no one will stop them. They're right. No one will.
Not the police, not the courts, not the penal system. No one but the growing
number of us who have decided we will not be victimized again, ever.
We moved from Venice in 1979. Our old
friends blew away to various other places. Their dreams, like ours, blew away
We moved to a condominium in Culver
City. Very uptown. Top floor, surrounded by Russian olive trees and flaming
bougainvillea. Three swimming pools, Jacuzzis at every turn, an underground
parking lot, and a tennis court. We didn't have anything to put in our place,
but still it was pretty.
People were robbed in the parking lot.
People were mugged on the tennis court. There was a rape nearby and then
another. My wife began carrying her .38 again when she walked from our place to
the car. We were burglarized again. We didn't even call the police.
One night we went to West Hollywood to
see the movie Watership Down. We sat through it twice and couldn't
understand why neither of us could stop crying. Sometime after that, we packed
up—a simple matter, believe me—and drove east. We parked my rabbit,
Nicole—who had survived Venice by digging a hole and hiding in it—in a
picnic basket so we could sneak her into motels.
While we were looking for a house and
staying in a motel, a white teenage boy and his girlfriend knocked on the door
of a nearby room and asked to use the telephone. Inside, they held the couple at
gunpoint; tied them to chairs with wire rope; took their wallets, clothes,
luggage, traveler's checks, and car. We slept peacefully that night. If they had
come to our door, they would have been surprised.
Now we live in a big old house out in
the Midwest, big enough for each of us to have a studio. Huge yard, ravine, et
cetera. The neighbors are friendly. A lot more friendly than we are, because
we have memories we're trying to forget. It's not completely safe here, but it
is a notch or so better than other places we've lived. We keep the guns, loaded,
in the house, but we don't have carry permits anymore and we don't carry them
around as though it were 1880...or 1980.
I've stopped going to target ranges to
practice. But I still keep my hand in, as they say. Because every time we leave
this relatively sublime neighborhood and enter the world of hotels and airports,
we enter into a world of imminent danger—an area where the law is no recourse.
So we remember how to use the guns, and try to forget that we have had to use
them or ever will again.
When President Reagan was shot, I was
outside painting a trellis. Some neighborhood children told me. At first I
thought they had just seen a documentary on JFK. It seemed as far away to me as
the moon...or the "forbidden planet." But it isn't.
Are human values luxuries? Could be,
right now. If so, I lead a pretty luxurious life. I've paid for it, though, and
the price was too goddamned high, because those human values used to come free.
Part of the American package. Although sometimes I wonder if something so
precious could ever have been, or be, free.
So you can fuss and bitch, Adam Smith,
all you like, and you can rail at the hillbillies in the NRA, but the next time
someone breaks into your house or your apartment, the next time someone busts
the window of your car and rips off your FM radio and your thirty-five
millimeter camera, the next time some woman you know gets raped and busted up
and you have to visit her in the hospital and try to cheer her up, the next time
you are totally freaked out after coming up against a gang halfway between the
restaurant and the car, sit yourself down and do some serious considering about
who has the right to do what to whom. Often this stuff has to touch people
personally before they think about self-protection, and often by then a tragedy
of far more epic proportions than getting knocked off for a Sony stereo receiver
has occurred. I hope that doesn't happen to you. You have a right to
carry on merrily with what you're doing.
Whenever I'm perplexed, upset, need
some stillness, you'll find me out in the yard somewhere, pulling thistles out
of my rosebushes, digging in the dirt. That's where I am today.
Let us know, you guys, when you figure
out that sociopaths may be worthy of your concern, but not your life. The rest
of us would like to come out of hiding.