... always keep it loaded... - "Glorified G" Pearl Jam
At three thirty this morning I was awakened by seven gunshots. The first broke me out of sleep, and then I counted them, wishing for them to be less regular, and perhaps just a leftover Chinese New Year noise maker. Somewhere within a block or two from my house, someone was firing a weapon.
How you gonna come? With your hands on your head Or on the trigger of your gun? "Guns of Brixton" The Clash
I remembered something my older brother had told me about the sound of gunfire. He said it sounds more like fireworks than most fireworks. It's more of a popping sound. I tried to imagine the firework that could make such a methodical rhythm. Whatever made this sound didn't have a fuse. It had a trigger.
Nothing touched the trigger but the devil's right hand ... "The Devil's Right Hand" Steve Earle
I got out of bed and listened for the roar of engines and the squeal of tires. I listened for voices crying out into the night. There was only the hum of the refrigerator and the sleeping sounds of my family. I walked into our front room and looked out on the street. Nothing moved.
Little people, with tiny brains Little bullets flowing, in their veins... "Little Guns" Oingo Boingo
As I stood shivering in the dark, the mental image of myself in underwear staring out into the dark came to me from the street. If someone was outside with a gun, and I'm standing there as a great big pasty target, would I be worth a shot? I took a step back into the shadows and soothed my own paranoia.
Check out my new weapon, weapon of choice... "Weapon of Choice" Fatboy Slim
I live in Oakland, where one hundred and fifty people were shot last year. This year, that trend is down slightly, but the sound of a gun in the middle of the night is still something short of a novelty in my world. The odd coincidence is that the five songs that are excerpted above were all selected by me as part of a themed set played earlier in the day, based in part on my son's fascination with guns and ammo. As I went back to bed in the wee hours of the night, I wondered about my own feelings. Was I out of bed hoping for some vicarious thrill, or was I merely the concerned citizen? What had I hoped to see? If a gun shot in a forest doesn't hit anything, does it make a sound? It took me some time to get back to sleep.