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Day 166 (#3): Community Spirits!

Talk about DIY: Defend It Yourself! Three bandits tried to steal the food and medical stuff at Ric’s restaurant. Bruno and two other volunteers were in the kitchen when a guy waving an automatic walked in and told them to put down those carving knives and pack up the goodies. (Fortunately the clinic was closed.) A second robber stood by in the front room. Neither spotted Anna in Ric’s basement office, calling people with landlines. (She keeps a list.) Everyone responded fast ... except the cops.

RIC WAS THEREBy the time I arrived, breathless, about a dozen men and women had gathered on the sidewalk, next to where flowers and religious and cultural artifacts commemorate the deceased patron. The partisans were yelling through their masks and throwing street trash at the driver of the getaway SUV. The third guy had just locked himself in the restaurant with boxes of food and wine he was supposed to be carrying to the car. The driver was craning his fat neck to figure out what the kids huddling behind his car might be doing. He never saw the little ones in front.

As neighbors, members, and passersby turned up or paused out of curiosity and respect for the LES DIY, the throng grew to number about 30 people. Once four kids were in place, the SUV began to sway and settle, its tires deflating simultaneously. The driver started honking and waving at the restaurant door. No sign of his partner. We considered smashing the windows and dragging him out, but he likely had a gun. None of us were armed. He was sweating lead pellets until Vanquisha, the LES DIY’s transsexual Amazon, arrived with keys. When she unlocked Ric’s front door, the crowd streamed inside, eager to free Anna and Bruno and company.

It all ended in seconds. The driver burst out and ran east as little kids called him politically incorrect names and pelted him with my Village’s bounteous refuse. The robbers in the kitchen bolted for the back garden and climbed over a wall. Ric would have been in stitches. Purposeful chaos was his M.O.

I was a lesser performer. All that running inflamed my injuries. I yelled myself hoarse to psych-out the getaway man who got away. It felt great to vent after all these fearful months. Those guys feared they’d get ripped to pieces. They’re accustomed to respect, not contempt. I think I tore my lungs.

In the end, a few of us toasted Ric with his cognac. It was a hyperactive dream, a happy hallucination. Bruno and Anna and the others showed great courage. You could tell they’d been very scared. Anna was drenched in sweat, nearly shivering. When the cops showed up, they seemed excited about the SUV vehicle check, said it wasn’t stolen, vowed to find “the skells.” (I looked it up. It seems inaccurate: Skells don’t carry Glocks.)

Hearty thanks to any readers who came. Imagine how many would have turned out if Anna could have texted and called all the supporters’ cell phones!

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