I took this picture yesterday. It’s one of those impossible coincidences that happen to me all the time. I knew the people involved, that is, if they are same ones I had talked with quite a number of times over the space of months a while back. I guess these kind of coincidences make things come full circle, maybe so that I can pray for them, maybe to teach me that everyday interactions with people can be important because you don’t know when life is going to radically change or be finished in this world.
There are four or five cruisers at the top of the far hill and another half dozen in front of a residence with all sorts of ambulances and law enforcement vehicles frantically moving to diverse staging areas all around, sirens blaring and blue lights alerting.
The offending residence is catty-corner from Sharing House and behind The Haven homeless hostel and the Bread of Life soup kitchen where I would volunteer for years.
I was interested in buying a woods-trailer that was out on their side yard with a For Sale sign slapped on it. Knocking on the door… Nothing… Knocking… Voices inside… Nothing… This went on for some weeks when I would be at the soup kitchen and when I would want to bother about the trailer again. Finally, a twenty-something kid cracked the door and asked what I wanted. I expressed interest in the trailer. He came out and we discussed through his broken English the shape it was in, with me wanting it to actually work with real tires and working lights in the back so that it was roadworthy enough to get to the hermitage. This conversation took some months, with me checking on the progress of any work on the trailer. I was in no rush.
During this time we also talked about life in Honduras, where they were all from, and life in this house. We talked about their crossing the border, blah blah blah. We talked about the soup kitchen (which detectives would visit now and again, so they avoided that), and going to church. He knew I was a priest. The very distinct impression I was getting in the midst of all this is that this was not a family house, nor were the other guys in this packed house even his friends. It seemed instead to be a safe house for a gang, a gang from Honduras. Lemme see…. that would be…. MS-13? I don’t know. What do I know? Nothing. But I do know that you never have friends in gangs, ever. Impossible. There’s always a threat of death over you.
This guy was filled with fear. But he wanted money for the trailer. I was about ready to sign the papers (I wanted it to be official as it was something that would travel on the road with a licence plate on the back, with inspections, etc.), and said that when I came back with a notarized statement I would just knock at the door again.
“No!” he said, alarmed. “Don’t come to the door. If I’m outside, then I’m outside.” As he said this he half looked at the house. I knew that whatever it was that was going on inside wasn’t good and the situation was deteriorating. I gave up when he said he wasn’t going to attempt to make the trailer any more roadworthy and when the “Tag Office” as they call it here in N.C., said that the name wasn’t matching the trailer. That was a while back.
That was it with me and them, until I now pass by, my attention taken by fired bullets. Of course, maybe they had moved out and nothing was wrong except someone with a bunch of firecrackers. But someone running from the scene spoke of a shoot out and Latinos in that house. But it could be anything, right? Sigh. Hail Mary…