Monday, March 19, 2007

West Village Shooting Spree... Really?

One morning a few weeks ago, my dogs did something truly astonishing. They let me sleep late. It was very kind of them, really, remarkably generous for the two of them. Sasha usually starts yelling at me around sunrise. If that doesn’t work, she likes to hit me in the face with her stinky dog foot, possibly hoping to pry my eyelids open with her claws. When all else fails Sita, aka, “The Good One,” will get in on the action. They’ve got this whirling dervish routine they enjoy rehearsing all over the bed, preferably with me still in it. It’s an impressive performance in its own right, and just about impossible to sleep through. I try, believe me, I try, but I always fail. Every once in a while, though, they will decide to give me a break. This was one of those days.

There’s a problem even with those days, though. By the time I do wake up, they’ve all but leashed themselves up and headed off to the park without me. I keep hoping they’ll learn to do the whole thing by themselves sooner or later, but so far, they still require my assistance. So I have to scramble around for the coat, the shoes, the keys, and out the door. At best, it isn’t a pretty picture. At worst, I forget some crucial item. On this particular morning, for instance, I’d gone out without my gloves. It was really, really cold.

I know everyone always says hats are the magical things that let a person stay toasty warm, and endlessly oblivious to the coldest weather, but that magic’s never worked for me. For me, it’s always been all about gloves. And so, of course, I’m constantly losing and forgetting them.

Now, at this point, since I’d barely gotten past my building’s door, you might be thinking the sensible thing would have been for me to have turned around, gone back up to my apartment, and found one of the 5000 or so pairs of gloves I already owned. That probably would have been the sensible thing, but I am not a morning person, and I’ve rarely been called sensible, at any time of day or night. So I thought I’d just stop at the table full of fleecey scarves and gloves, and even hats, set up outside the jewelry store next door, and get pair number 5001.

Which would have been fine, if it hadn’t been so very, very cold out that a pigeon had decided to hang out underneath the table. Or maybe even if I’d seen it while it was still down there, before Sasha snatched it up, and dropped it, already dead and just slightly bloodied, on the sidewalk by my feet. The family of tourists who’d been chattering beside me were startled into silence. The guy who’d been working the table darted inside. I had no idea what to do, other than apologize repeatedly, and pull my huntresses away before they started trying to play with the poor dead pigeon. I couldn’t walk by that spot for days without apologizing to whoever happened to be manning the table. I was mortified. Mostly because I knew one of them had probably been stuck picking the pigeon up off the sidewalk, and figure out what to do with it next. It wasn’t a good morning for any of us.

My dogs love dead things, whether they’ve personally done the killing or not. A nice dead rat is their idea of an excellent toy. Last Thursday, when I started seeing pictures of an actual dead person, in very nearly that same spot, in front of my building and the jewelry store next door, all over the Internet, when I clearly read the address on my awning, and the tree where Sita likes to pee, I couldn't’t help wondering what they would have done if we’d stumbled out the front door and onto him. We very likely would have, if we’d been in town.

David Garvin was shot by police around ten on Wednesday night, after having killed three people himself. His body wasn’t moved, as far as I can tell, until something like five the next morning. It’s almost inconceivable that I wouldn’t have taken Sasha and Sita out for a walk somewhere in there.

I don’t have so much trouble imagining what I would have done. First, I’d have pulled them back. It really looks like he’d have been right there, as soon as we stepped out the door. And that’s what I always do first, pull them back. Then I’d have asked the police what had happened, and started trying to negotiate some way of walking the dogs without being exiled for the rest of the night. From the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like the whole block was cordoned off for the duration. I doubt I’d have had much luck with that, but I’d probably have given it a try. After all, you never know until you ask. Either way, once I’d gotten us all safely back inside, I’m guessing I’d have started making calls, and gone online to try to find out more about what had happened. That much, at least, would have been the same. Somewhere in there, of course, there would have been some freaking out. Shooting sprees just don’t happen in the West Village. Not usually anyway.

You’ll notice I’m assuming we wouldn’t have ventured out while any of the shooting was happening. Partly because it’s hard to imagine even me having such spectacularly bad luck, and partly because it’s a little too easy to imagine what Mr. Garvin’s reaction to us might have been, and he was right outside our door. Lots of people think my sweet Siberian Huskies look like big scary wolves. Fortunately, most of them aren’t running around with guns. .

So I keep coming back to this question of what my dogs would have done, if they’d seen a dead person on their sidewalk. My first thought is that they’d have been much more interested in all of the living people crowding around. The sights and sounds of the police officers and paramedics might have kept them occupied. They have seen people sleeping in the park, and walked on by.

They might have passed by the body itself. That’s possible. But what about the blood? There must have been blood, and maybe worse things, coming from David Garvin by that point. And this is where I start to freak out, even from so far away. Dogs like dead things, especially their odd bits and pieces. Dogs like blood. They’re predators. That’s just the way it is.

Whenever I leave the city for longer than a long weekend, I start getting antsy, wondering what big things are happening back in civilization. Usually, of course, there’s nothing much happening. At least nothing I wouldn’t have missed even if I’d been in town. I tend not to leave my neighborhood, if I can possibly avoid it.

By the time I get back, odds are it’ll look like nothing ever happened. The body is already long gone, probably the blood is too. I just hope those nice people from the jewelry store didn’t have to clean it up this time.

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