For once, on Sunday night Liz was the first one to get the e-mail. “There’s been a shooting at The Same Old Place. Boston.com says that one person was killed and several people were injured.”
The mild euphoria resulting from the Patriots’ dramatic victory over the Colts drained quickly out of the Parent Imperfect. “Who? How? Why???”
“According to Chuck, an argument inside turned into a gunfight, but no one knows what really happens.”
The Same Old Place is just that. It is one of the few eating establishments (as opposed to bars that serve food) that has survived the waves of commercial gentrification that have turned Jamaica Plain center into a trendy shopping area. It was there when the PI moved to the neighborhood in the mid-1970’s, and nothing much has changed. The food is still OK, the workers are still friendly and the owner, Fred, remains as ornery as they come.
Fred apparently wasn’t in his shop when the shooting started and was probably still in shock when the newspaper asked him for a comment. “Nothing like that ever happened before.” Miraculously, although the place was riddled with bullet holes, none of Fred’s employees or any of the other Sunday evening patrons were hit.
It wasn’t until the next evening that the PI found out that three young men were dead and a female passerby was wounded, Three stories that could have gone so many different ways ended in a moment. Police sources immediately suggested that this was a gang-related conflict, but no one could know that quickly what really happened. With his mouth open to inhale his breakfast quesadilla, Vince paused at the Metro section on his way to the comics. Attracted by the headline, “Man held after 4 shot in pizzeria,” he carefully read the entire article about the pizza place he passes every day on his way to school and, again, on his way back home. The article didn’t mention any fatalities.
Waiting for some deep reaction, all the PI got was, “That’s crazy. They even shot a lady that was walking by on the street.” And then he was on to the comics.
“So what do you think about all these people getting shot in a place we go all the time?”
“I said…it’s crazy. What do you think about it?”
The PI would up for a long one about “the two Jamaica Plains” and “no jobs” and “the homicide rate among young African-American men,” but he could see that Vince was already onto the the next thing.
“It means that no matter where you are you need to pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
As if to comment on the profundity of his father’s comment, Vince let go a massive yawn (it was, after all, 6:15AM. The PI pulled himself off the stool and headed back to Vince’s turkey sandwich for lunch.
To no one but the cat, he said, “Are we really so used to living in the middle of all this that four people get shot down the street and we barely pay attention?”
That night, the PI took Vince to soccer practice just before 7:30PM, almost exactly 24 hours after the shootings. As they approached the Same Old Place, the PI noticed that the sign was turned off.
“Wow…he’s closed. He never closes.”
But when they got to the store, they saw that someone had just forgotten to turn on the sign. The place was open and quite busy.
After remarking that they had replaced the front window that had been shattered by bullets, Vince had the explanation for the decision to not miss a beat. “He probably knows he’s going to get more business now.”