By Coffee Adict
At age 25 I found myself out of a job, sitting in my one-bedroom apartment in San Diego, contemplating my options. I had come from Arizona five years earlier with my books and my clothes, in a beat up truck following a sales management position. The first place I landed was in Los Angeles, about five blocks from the Colosseum. It was the summer of ’84, the Olympics and traffic in full swing. I stayed for about a year until Richard Ramirez killed two people in one day . . .
The news media started calling him the “Night Stalker”, warning everyone to lock their doors and windows. It was the only thing on TV. I remember calling my dad and telling him I was buying a gun and moving to San Diego. I opted for the SIG P226, in 9mm and I packed my truck.
A couple of years went by, a couple thousand rounds went through the SIG. I did everything wrong by today’s standards; Weaver stance, tea-cupping, closing one eye…. I was cross-eye dominant so Weaver stance allowed me to cock my head over so I could sight with my left eye. I didn’t have a holster for it, just a small pistol bag with the spare mag. I loaded ball ammo for defense, not knowing the difference.
Still, I had fun and despite my numerous mistakes, I was pretty good. I practiced at “apartment distances” as my buddy suggested. I never had more than an extra box of ammo. The SIG lived under my headboard, within comforting reach of my hand. I had started waking up nights, listening to the dark and thinking about Ramirez. He was in the news again, his trial having ended with the death penalty.
It was a Wednesday, the day after I got fired. I wasn’t supposed to be home. I sat in my living room feeling sorry for myself, watching the TV on the kitchen counter. From the couch I could see past the TV into the bedroom where the curtains were blowing in the wind. I got up, irritated at myself for leaving the window open and letting the heat out.
As I came through the doorway, time slowed down to a crawl. I had time to notice the screen missing from the window. I had time to see the dirty hand prints on the sill. I saw the mess he had made from tossing my room. I wondered how he had climbed into a second story room without me hearing him.
I watched as he picked up a dumbbell from the floor and raised it over his head as he stepped towards me. I don’t remember being afraid as I charged him and hit him in the face. He must have dropped the dumbbell because we started trading blows. I gouged at his eye and kneed him in the groin. He hit me in the nose and it only made me madder.
I screamed with rage at him, head-butted him and choked him. I yelled for my neighbor to call the cops. He grabbed me by the shirt, but I couldn’t get any grip on him, he was only wearing shorts and he was bleeding from the face. I finally grabbed him by the hair and the throat and I dragged him to the front door.
But I couldn’t open the door.
I was unwilling to let go of him with either hand. He reached for the door handle about the same time as I wondered why I was letting him go. Could I get him to dial 911?
We tumbled out onto the front porch and struggled to get on top of each other. He ripped away from me and leaped over the balcony to the street below, landed running (!), leaving me with a clump of greasy black hair in my hand.
I threw up. I shook from adrenaline. I couldn’t unclench my victorious fist full of scalp. I sat slumped on the front porch, in shock, head between my knees, until the police arrived. Twenty minutes later.
I gave as good as I got. Later on I would find out he was seriously high on PCP. He never felt a thing. I don’t know how long the fight lasted, maybe three minutes, maybe less. It took everything I had just to end in a tie. It’s a fight I have seared into my memory and one I never want to have again. It’s been 26 years and I can still see the hand prints on the sill.
It was under the headboard where it always was, an angel dust junkie between it and me.