Difficult Denial

The news in Boston today has shaken even the Parent Imperfect out of his consultancy cocoon. According to the Boston Globe, very early yesterday morning, someone (or someones) shot and killed four people in the neighborhood of Mattapan. The dead included a young woman holding her two-year-old boy, both shot in cold blood so that there would be no witnesses. A fifth person is on life support and not expected to live. The males in the group were all found naked in the street. To one witness, this suggested they were all rousted out of bed, but The Globe quotes an investigator saying that this, in fact, suggests a drug deal gone very, very bad. Those who know aren’t talking…or are they?

The killing of three young men in this way is shocking, in its own right. But the deaths of the mother and child bring the horror to another place in the public mind. A local resident suggests that back in the day there were rules about these kinds of things. You didn’t touch women and children. But, says he, with the youth of today, there are no rules.

No rules. The PI listened to this story on the radio as he took Connie to school this AM. When he realized that he was, in fact, not alone, he immediately turned off the radio and asked what she thought of this. At first, she acted as if she hadn’t been listening, but eventually got around to, “Why did they have to kill the little baby?” The PI, of course, had no answer to this question, but did manage to mumble something like, “No vamos a saber hasta que se dan cuenta realmente que pasó.” This is a girl who doesn’t like to sleep with the window open on the hottest night of the year. How does she hear these stories?

According to the all-knowing Google Maps, the house at 40 Woolson Street is 8 minutes,by car, from the one that Connie lives in, and that’s taking the long way around on Morton Street. The Globe reports that one-third of the murders in the City of Boston this year have occurred in a tiny section of Mattapan that is not much bigger than the property that Fenway Park sits on near Kenmore Square. 40 Woolson Street sits right in the center of that section of town.

Pre-parenthood, it was easy for the PI to live in a certain kind of denial about this sort of violence in his adopted city. It happened to other people in other places. By staying out of certain situations, one could limit the chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. After all, he made it through a civil war in El Salvador, didn’t he?

But now the danger has a different texture. He has a little girl that sits in the back seat and wonders. She then goes to school with other kids who live the reality of Woolson Street every day…and talk about it. He also lives with a 13-year-old boy who, resisting house arrest,  is spreading his wings and moving across an ever wider arc of this same city.  Denial, in this context, becomes more difficult.

The police promise arrests, and arrests there will probably be. But arresting two or three seriously damaged men will be a lot easier than arresting the deep social problems that continue to change so many rules.

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