The Son of the Cockroach Lady

February 1, 2012

Caterpillar stairway leads me to the basement so I can hide from the monsters called reality. Comfort in the dark corner with worn warped plywood Grandpop set up as my office years ago complete with a make shift desk to draw on and read comic books. 1002 Niagara Rd. The invisible dog Grandpop warned me about never came to me. Was he teasing or crazy? I’ll never know. I liked it there hiding from hippies of my dreams that were going to hurt me somehow. My dreams, visions and creativity flourished, as an 8-year-old’s should.

It was much less scary than the House on Haunted Hill, The House by the Cemetery, The House by the park, The Last House on the Left, The Last House on a Dead End Street, The House that Jack Built and my former house on Monitor rd where I lived with my paranoid schizophrenic mother. The House of Cockroaches. The neighbors called her cockroach lady. I was the Son of the Cockroach Lady.

It was (is) a small part of Camden NJ. A village they called it. Fairview Village. Nice enough to my childhood nightmarish recollections. It was a big wonderland filled with talking gray trees, shimmering golden green grass, and dirty shirtless white kids that called my name and eventually called me names.

Daddy gone, mommy in crazy hospital, I moved on Niagara Rd with Grandmom and Grandpop. I got fat and didn’t like school. Too many children. Too many rules. Too many teachers. I made fun of myself after being made fun of for being fat. I wore pants that were labeled Husky. Kids called me Husky. I went to the basement or sat in front of the TV and I would draw and draw and draw.

The neighborhood worsened as I got older. I got worse as the neighborhood got older. I escaped when I was 11-years-old.

Now I am back. I feel more afraid than I did as child. I took a walk yesterday to see the 2 houses I lived in and they were different, smaller, odd. The entire neighborhood shrunk in size, grew in population and crime. I was almost the scared scarred little white boy being stared at and made fun of once again. I wore levis instead of Huskys.

Monitor Road House -in the middle


Mugged

December 7, 2011

I got mugged. Mugged in my own town just because I ventured out of the house at night in Camden, NJ. Since I haven’t had a car for the last few months I’ve had to walk to the stores. I used to only venture out in the day but things seemed ok at night after a while. As a matter of a fact I’ve been feeling safe in my neighborhood for weeks. It only took me a year.

I was walking to the store in the main square in Fairview village section of Camden and I had a guy start talking to me like he knew me. He mentioned something about quitting drinking and I thought he knew me. It’s a little blurry right now. He followed me talking to me and had my hand in my pocket clutching my money out of habit. He reached in my pocket pulling my hand and the money out. He told me he had a gun so I better give it up. I wouldn’t let go of my money as he pulled it from my hand. We struggled. It was all I had and I tried. I got hit and thrown to the ground and banged my head on the ground and my glasses bounced off and I didn’t even realize it. I still tried to get my money back. He finally got away and wanted me to follow him to give me some money back.  I walked off and realized I lost my glasses. Luckily, I found them intact. Unlike my sense of security in my own neighborhood.

Just when I was getting used to not driving and walking the neighborhood and felt safe after living here over a year. It only took 2 months to get mugged and fear my own street. I’m lucky to be alive. He could have had the gun he threatened me with. I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack. I’m lucky I didn’t get hurt besides a cut on my hand.

I’m a lover not a fighter. At this point I’m not either but you get it. I got it. I don’t have it. I’m not a violent person. I fear it. I’m rarely an angry person. I don’t fear it. I have been pissed off since the shock and fear subsided. Anger whenever I think about it. You know how it goes. I replay the event in my head and think I should have done this and could have done that. If only I didn’t go out.

When I moved in my landlord (also my friend and next door neighbor) warned me not to walk the neighborhood at night. He said he doesn’t go anywhere without a car. “Stay on the road. Stay off the moors” like David and Jack were warned in the movie An American Werewolf in London. Instead of a werewolf  it was another type of animal that preys on anyone that looks off guard. I was off guard. I was comfortable in my own neighborhood. It doesn’t sit right that I have to keep my guard up all of the time now. I thought about buying a gun (if I could afford it) but I’ll stick with pepper spray.

Life goes on and I’ll deal with it one day at a time. I’m sure the fear and anger will pass. As long as I try and learn from it and move on. I can take comfort in knowing that the mugger’s life is worse than anything I could wish on him.


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