My neighborhood has a strange, otherworldly quality that in describing it makes it seem a bit like something fictional. It is populated with yuppies, Ethiopian immigrants, working class people, university workers, students, and a group of people who have long tangled hair, ripped clothes, and look, for all purposes, like werewolves.
In this setting, there’s been an odd series of crimes. A man is attacking and robbing young women with a screwdriver. So far, he has done this eight times, all with college age women, all between a certain set of blocks, blocks which, I might add, cover my exact route to and from work. One of the attacks was a block away from my house.
The odd thing about this, for me, is the screwdriver. I mean, I can understand using it once, seeing an easy target and having the screwdriver in your hand, just going for it, spur of the moment, but repeatedly? Seven more times? What is it about the screwdriver that makes this the weapon of choice?
Maybe he thinks that carrying a screwdriver is less suspicious than carrying a knife. Or maybe a screwdriver is just what he’s got. One of my friends suggested that since a screwdriver is not a weapon, the penalty for using one in a crime might be less, though I doubt this is true.
Whatever the reason, using a screwdriver gives this man a comic book villain quality, which makes the whole thing both terrible and farcical. What is the perfect weapon to use against a screwdriver? Should we carry giant wooded boards with screws jutting out of them? Does it matter if it’s a Phillips or a Flathead?
Am I asking for trouble when I walk home alone?
After the attempted mugging two years ago, the police office who came to my house suggested that I start carrying a little knife. However, it wasn’t a weapon that got me out of the mugging last time, it was the fact that my arm can be twisted 360 degrees without breaking, it was my time in the freak show that kept me from harm, my “mutant power” as you might say.
Of course, being a contortionist is no defense against a blunt weapon.
All I can do right now is be cautious, and do what I did in middle school, which involves making a confident face by dreaming of ways to maim people I see on the street.
Edit: November 28th : In other news, writing non-fiction is dangerous, because the chance of offending someone is doubled. Write about a child molester buying dollies in your fiction, and no one has a problem. Write about something that is actually happening in your neighborhood and you run the chance of offending someone.