I had a bad fire in my apartment way back, and it left me in a bad way. I lived in about the cheapest non-subsidized housing you could find. My apartment complex’s front yard was essentially the alley behind a 7-11 and Taco Bell, and there was almost always some kind of activity going on.
If you’ve seen Fight Club, and understand the “Letter Apartments” part, you and I share something. My place, Apt. P was a shitty shankhole of a place. During bad storms, I’d fight off a small flood. Every window was barred, the door was had (an illegal) double key dead-bolt (so that someone couldn’t smash the glass and turn the lock manually (they’re also fire hazards). There are a lot of stories from that place, and I’ll get to them in time. There was the shooting, tear gas at the 7-11 incident, and race riot. For my first months there, if I was coming home from work alone, I carried my knife in my hand until my neighbors and I got to know each other.
One night there stands out from all the others. During most of all that craziness, I’d duck into the apartment, turn off the lights, and thank God for that double dead bolt. I don’t think any real threat of robbery existed. It was possibly the worst unit in a group of bad units. A peek in would reveal the luxuries of my bed: US Army surplus field cot. US Army surplus wool blanket. My roommate helped us out by getting a shelf to put things on…. it was a Frito-Lays display that the 7-11 had junked in the alley… our front yard. Thanks M. One coat, one pair of boots, one knit cap… all donations from the American Red Cross (bless them, truly). We did have a number of weapons around, a couple were placed by the front door – something lethal and something non lethal.