Monday, June 7, 2010


Since the back of my yard was basically an open field when I first bought my place, people around here had taken to liking to cutting through my lot when they pleased – making a nice – “cow path” as my grandmother would call it. A lot of heated words were said when I stopped them from trespassing. Now, some folks said I was being too picky and some just said was “bad”.

I didn’t really care which one they thought of me – I just knew it was my property and one day I had dreams of landscaping it and making it all into a nicer place that I could enjoy. As long as folks continued to make their daily trek across it to the dope house or to catch up with a “date” it would continue to look like a cattle path out in someone’s pasture.

Johnnie didn’t just cut across the pasture. After she would visit with her friend, Byrd, who lived next door, she would just ump my fence, walk across my back yard and go to wherever she chose. I had run her off at least a dozen times and it still didn’t seem to stop her. She would be so high on crack that she didn’t care. How do you deal with someone who isn’t even with you? You don’t very well.

One day, in particular, she must have been really high, because she walked right into the back door of my office. Let me explain something. Out the back door of my house about twenty feet, is the back door of my office. This layout has plusses and minuses.

I had been working that day on a wedding dress that I was trying to get done for a lady to pick up.

I didn’t hear the back door open. My back was to the door. All of a sudden, I could simply feel the presence of someone in the room. Johnnie was standing there asking me “What are you doing in my house?” I turned and around – there she was – with a knife in her hand.

Now if you have never been faced with a drug addict holding a knife pointing it at you, you have never experience the fastest adrenaline rush you could ever have.

“What do you mean your house? What are you smoking?” I asked calmly – very calmly.

“F… you get out of my house.” She was shaking the knife as she was telling me to get out.

I had a phone right behind me, but there was no way I could get to it. I just knew that I had to get that knife away from her and subdue this girl somehow.

As if talking to someone over her shoulder, I said, “Hey how are you doing?” As she turned around to see who I was talking to I lunged toward her, knocking her back against the wall with my body. My hands were trying to get the knife out of her hands.

Evidently her head banging on the wall knocked some sense into her, because she took off running out the back door. I got the phone – dialed it – 9-1-1.

“9-1-1 what is your emergency?”

“I had an intruder at 495….She had a knife that I took away from her. I believe she is still in the neighborhood.”

“Is the subject still there?”

“No, and while you are asking all these damned questions, she’s getting away.”

“Ma’am we are trying to help you. Please calm down. What was she wearing?”

“Blue jeans, red shirt and pink tennis shoes.”

“White female?”

“No, black female.”

“Do you know her?”

“No not personally. But her name is Johnnie – her street name that is.”

“Ok Ma’am we’ll get an officer out there as soon as we can.”

Some thirty minutes later an officer arrived. That poor boy in blue got a real good tongue lashing from me – I was still shaking from the idea of that girl having a knife on me in my house!

“I guess you were on a coffee break and couldn’t be disturbed? What took so long? I could have been dead by now.”

“Ma’am I was on another call. I got here as soon as I could.”

I really didn’t care at that time where he had been nor who else had a problem. I don’t think I was so much angry at him as I was angry that I had been caught off guard and let the women in my office I knew better than to leave a door unlocked. And, during the time, I sat there waiting for the officer to arrive, I was reliving the ordeal and came to realize just how close I had come to saying, “This is the big one Elizabeth” like Fred Sanford on Sanford and Sons.

After I told the officer what had happened he said, “Well ma’am there isn’t anything we can do because we didn’t see her here nor did we find her here. It is your word against her word!”

At that point – I hit my boiling point!

“So, what you are telling me is that anyone can come on my property, without my permission and not be caught by your people and there ain’t anything I can do about it?”

“Basically that’s right, Ma’am.”

“That’s some bullshit! You get me your boss. That ain’t right. That ain’t right at all!”

“I am a Sergeant.”

“I don’t care if you are the Pope, I want your boss or I am heading to IAD (Internal Affairs Division).

He walked away as if to leave and I heard him calling his commanding officer to come out to the house. It wasn’t long, til my wish was granted. I got me a commanding officer. And, it happened to be someone I knew.

“LinMarie, just calm down. The law is the law.”

“Well the law stinks.”

“Maybe but it is the law. I would advise you to get you a pistol, learn to shoot it and protect yourself. Just remember we cannot be everywhere all the time. If you have a complaint of how long it takes an officer to get here, take it up with City Hall. Tell them that we need more officers.”

That wasn’t the only incident I had with Johnnie – there were two more.

Pat with City Glass was over installing solar screens on all my windows. He had his oldest daughter with him at the time. She was “helping her dad”.

Johnnie slammed the back door to Bird’s house – I said, “Watch her Pat; she’s gonna come right across that fence and shoot me the finger.”

I wasn’t wrong – she bounced about half-way over the fence and got her “Lucy” hung – she ripped herself to kingdom come! Of all the times that girl had jumped the fence and never had a nick of any kind – this time – she ripped her “girl parts”. Blood was everywhere. I mean everywhere.

“You want me to call the ambulance?” I asked a screaming cussing Johnnie.

“No, but it hurts so bad.”

“Well don’t look like you are going to be fooling around any time soon.”

“Screw you!”

“No thanks”

Pat’s daughter was now glued to her dad’s leg. Pat has laughed, even years later and said “that traumatized my daughter and she remembers that to this day!

How Johnnie got fixed up – I won’t know – that was one chick that would never be tamed.

My final experience with Johnnie was one night I was enjoying a glass of iced tea on the back yard when I heard a loud ear-splitting wail. I could make out Stephanie’s (the neighbor next to Bird) voice screaming to me for help. I jumped the fence and asked what was wrong – I thought something was wrong with Stephanie, since she was in a wheel chair.

“It’s Bird! It’s Bird!” Johnnie was screaming “He’s dead!”

“Move,” I said with authority although my heart had begun to pound. “Let me see.” There lay Bird on his back with blood coming out of his mouth. Officers began to arrive while I was attempting to find a pulse and a heartbeat it seemed that he had died immediately.

Johnnie kept getting in the way – wanting so badly to help.

“LinMarie, get her out of her” an officer demanded. “She’s in the way.”

“Come on Johnnie; just let them do their job.” I said. “You are not going to help Bird by carrying on this way!”

“F… you! I ain’t going nowhere,” Johnnie continued to cry and scream.

Poor Stephanie was all upset and shaken. Stephanie had crippling arthritis and was in a wheelchair. I knew we had to get Johnnie out of there to keep from upsetting Stephanie more.

“LinMarie shut her up and get her out of here NOW PLEASE,” implored one of my friends on the police force.

“I’m trying,” I answered.

“Not hard enough” he snapped back.

The struggle began for real about then. She was street tough to being with and being on drugs had her adrenaline up. Johnnie was tough anyway – and any way you looked at it – my buddy was admonishing me to control her! “Not so darn easy,” I kept thinking as I gave it my best effort.

After thirty minutes of this tug of war with me shouting at her to calm down and then alternating a controlled voice to say, please calm down and be quiet,” the officer had had enough. He came over and said “SHUT YOUR MOUTH NOW and get over by my car.”

“Which one is it?” Johnnie asked as calm as could be.

“The one that spells P-O-L-I-C-E on the side.”

“Okay” and off she went – ever so meekly.

I wanted to laugh so loud and so badly. The officer was so stern and business like. Johnnie was so totally out of it. And, yet, she did exactly what he said like a school child would obey the principal. If it hadn’t all been so serious, it would have been a great comedy script. But a man we all knew and liked, lay dead on the floor.

That was about the last adventure I had with Johnnie. Though a few short months later I saw her, haggled, weary, ill. I was told she had aides, couldn’t afford any medication and was dying.

Bird had tried to help her, but he was only a stepping-stone when she needed something firm to put her foot on for the moment. The truth was Johnnie wasn’t ready to get off the crack and until she was, nothing nor anyone would have been ever to have helped her.

I heard she died within six months of Bird. She was a wild thing with a mouth that could out cuss a sailor. I hope, somehow in her last days on earth that she was able to find the peace that she wanted – or that she was yearning for – or whatever it was in life that she wanted. I don’t believe she ever found that search here on earth – so maybe – just maybe – she found it in death.

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