Big Trouble Near Little 5 Points

Hotlanta is the jam. Since I live here, I am probably a little biased yet the fact remains that if you come and visit this city, there is plenty of trouble to get into in a heartbeat. Most of the time when someone says something like that it’s taken in jest. “Oh sure, I know what you mean, man!” That type of thing. “You can get real drunk there, go to strip clubs, do drugs, blah, blah, blah”. Fuck that bullshit. I’m talking about REAL trouble. The fuckin run for your life, here come the cops type of shit. Please let me elaborate.

The other night the ol’ ball and chain wanted to go out (She loves it when I call her that). She used the kind of non-descript, “take me somewhere honey, I wanna drink” type of whine that girls are prone to do sometimes. It was a Wednesday night and I couldn’t think of an excuse not to go so, of course, I obliged. In any event, I was as hungry as a carnivorous platypus and, since there was nothing goin’ on, I thought a drink and some delicious eats would do me good. Well, we didn’t end up going to “Eats” (which is a cheap ATL staple, since forever, for food and it is delicious), but I did remember this one other delicious place called O’Terrils which is near Central Park where my friend used to live. Of course it’s an Irish pub, and they have good food like cranberry and turkey sandwiches, and all sorts of shit on rye bread. It is usually a pretty safe place to eat. As “safe” as anywhere near a Central Park (see MLK Dr.) and a methadone clinic, that is.

On the way to eat we had to pass the Methadone clinic. First, let me just say, I think that methadone clinics serve a very needed purpose to a problem that, in some ways, society and the government have created. I have friends that go to the clinic and without it they could very well be dead, instead of living normal, productive lives. That being said, for all the people that go there and pull it together, hundreds of shady no goods also frequent there and don’t leave. Due to the type of area that we are in, they also frequent the block over…and the block after that…and after that and so on.

We were about 5 minutes from the infamous neighborhood, known as “Little 5 points“. My girlfriend was in the passenger seat of my car and was looking with wide eyes over the scene that was unfolding before us. Where we were is a progressive area that melded a smattering of upper-class citizens, with an unsettling myriad of homeless, crack heads, drug dealers, and hookers. Unfortunately, this is not a generalization, nor should it be. It is not meant to call out the oppressed or less fortunate in the area. No, that is simply how it is.

My girlfriend leaned over to me and asked if this was a “safe place“. Let me preface her answer by stating that earlier during the day, the Marriot that she works at was evacuated as well as the surrounding Cumberland Mall, because of a bomb threat. Due to this fact, the potential presence of criminals and crime in the area had her a little more on edge than normal. Having driven through these “mean streets” a hundred times before, I knew it to be criminally active but generally only dangerous if you’re “stupid“. Nobody is probably going to jack you walking down the street. That being said, you shouldn’t flaunt wealth either. What I mean is, common sense should prevail. It is, as I like to say, a “know your place” kind of area. A place where, as long as you are just doin’ your thing ,you should be ok. So I leaned over to her and said, “Honey, this place is full of less fortunate people. With poor people comes crime” and left it at that. I mean, of course it’s not “safe“, but it’s not “not safe” at the same time. Bear with me.

A couple of blocks from the methadone clinic, and right across the street from Central Park, is O’Terrils. We roll in, get a parking spot, and walk on inside. We sit right by the door in a booth which, at the time, seemed like a good spot. We had a booth, an LCD TV in front of us, and a nice little window to play Spot the Crack Head which, turns out, is a real shitty game to play there unless you like to keep score. This is because every time you point your finger you win.

A half hour or so goes by and we’re about finished with our pitcher of libations, when, all of a sudden, I see this motherfucker fly up the street, open the door to the restaurant we were at, and run behind the bar. I knew instantly this was not good and not normal but, due to his out-of-nowhere poise, he kind of fooled everyone in bar for a second. You could have almost really thought that he worked there for a moment. Well, not me exactly, but some other idiots did. Two seconds later this other cat comes running in with long ass, thin dreadies, a flashy New Era cap, and a hip, splattered, neon, collared shirt. Without so much as a warning, he and the aforementioned character just start fighting. Since I happened to be positioned right next to the door, I naturally turned around. Well, if ever faced with another unfolding and confusing situation, I don’t know if I will be doing that again. I think next time I’m just going to act like nothing is happening and, the reason being, is that I turned around only to see two guys wrestling over a gun within about a foot away from me. The first guy shouted to the heavens, and to the dismay of the customers, “HE’S GOT A GUN!! HE’S GOT A GUN!!” Sure fucking enough he did have a gun, which sent this entire little bar into fucking calamity. I jumped behind a pool table, which was across from my booth, while my girlfriend ran to the other side of the bar. Countless other people ran into each other like lemmings bouncing from wall to wall.

As the blur of insanity started to paint a still picture, I realized what was actually going down. Two guys engaged in a gun wrestle, Hollywood style, possibly involving illegal substances, women, money and maybe even…. neon shirts? I’m telling you, this was an instant classic. Both guys have their hands on the gun and are trying to shoot each other with it. It is being waved in every direction around the bar. Grunts, groans and a surprisingly contained fight proceeded to develop. While always maintaining their position in front of the door that they came in through, they seemed to be in a perpetual bear hug. Wrestling with the gun, both men were looking forward; one behind the other. What I saw next would define this journey. How it escaped my initial sights I don’t know, but when I finally did focus and realize, it certainly became omnipresent in my mind. I saw that the dready dude was also holding a paper bag, which was torn during the tussle. It ripped open only to spill tens of thousands of dollars, wadded up in rubber bands, all over the floor. All over the floor but also right next to me. It was literally like a scene from Grand Theft Auto where you shoot a guy and money falls out everywhere. Yeah, that shit is dope. Anyway, the point is that this was reality but it also was entirely surreal, and my upbringing can only liken it to a video game.

As these two guys continue wrestling over this gun, there are about 10-20 wads of cash in large bills strewn on the ground from the melee. If I had to guess, and mind you I have never seen stacks of cash before, ever- no denomination or affiliation at all-for any reason- but if I did have to guess how much money was there, I would probably guesstimate …. ummm…. let’s see… about… hmmm… there was exactly $1,000 in cash wrapped tightly into each individual cash wad. If you look outside there is a literal Hansel and Gretel trail of cash wads of cash leading up to the bar that he had also dropped. I have no idea why the fuck these guys ran in the bar, or for that matter, why they were careless enough to drop dirty fucking cash money everywhere, but that is certainly what they did. The fight quickly spread back outside and down into the one-way street.

By now the scene inside has reached it’s peak. Girls are taking off their clothes, people are screaming to call the cops and to lock, get away from or stand in front of the door, and dogs and cats started living together… Obviously it is really crazy. Suddenly, the dude with the dreaddies reappears- sans his gun buddy. I don’t know if this was an emergence after a posthumous encounter- one where he shot that mofo he was with and left him for dead- or if the dude managed to run off, but this time he was alone. He starts walking down his manmade trail, collecting his cash wads of cash. Unfortunately, for him, the bar manager had already walked over and picked up all the cash wads of cash that were inside of the bar while I was contemplating, way too long, about swiping this hoods dough myself. In reality though, one you decide to live the C.R.E.A.M. lifestyle and carry a gun… Basically, I didn’t want that repercussion and I’d just as soon let the bar manager pick up that money. That, and the fact that I couldn’t seem to do it without someone seeing me.

Well, in all the haste, someone actually did manage to lock the door and call the cops, so that when this guy tries to get back in and collect his scrilla, he can’t because the door is locked. Naturally, he runs to the side door instead to try and get inside. These wonderful monumental shifts of the bar keep occurring. “He’s coming around to the other side! Go to the other end of the bar!” and people would shift. He manages to get to the other door, but he still can’t get in. Instantly panic and adrenalin is starting to set in for the patrons. “Is this motherfucker gonna shoot this glass door in or what?” I overhear one of them say.

We’re about 10 minutes into this whole ordeal now and within a known drug dealin’, crime ridden, hooker infested, hood rat of an area, and ATL’s finest have still yet to show up. It’s no surprise really except that City Hall East is only 5 fucking blocks down the road. If I was a donut eating pig, I could have walked over there faster than the real donut eating pigs did by driving over there, so it’s understandable that people are a little worried. Luckily, for the sake of the city, the gunman ran off when he couldn’t get in and no one else was hurt. Hooray! And the face of Atlanta is saved.

When the cops finally did come, the one who graced our presence inside the bar was a tuna melt cop and, by that, I mean a good ‘ol fashioned, butch female cop. A real classic, if you will. She was greeted by a sarcastic, yet welcoming, round of applause. She wobbles in with a haircut you could set your watch to, and starts asking questions. I noticed that the male cops are sitting in their, now ridiculously overly air-conditioned, police cruisers that are parked outside this corner eatery. It’s as if they sent their minion in to do all the paper work. At this point, this scene is no longer scary. The panic has all but subsided and orders can be heard from every corner of the bar from people asking for shots, as if everyone only now realizes what had just happened. The entire scene now exudes the air of a comedy; it’s fucking hilarious and people are laughing, joking, and, actually, really having a genuinely good time. People start to give the female officer all sorts of answers. Some are right and some are incredibly wrong and the bartender is the one directing the officer towards who to ask for information. Just then, I realize that this is a regulars’ bar, and that, even though I saw that shit from the get go, not even the instinct of a cop will sway this officer from the manager’s hand picked selection of witnesses. Since I became aware that nobody was ever going to ask me, the selfishness in me realized that I should have swiped that fools cash after all, just like I’m sure that the bar manager did.

I start to get pissed that I didn’t just become a thousand-aire and I feel a little lump of regret in my throat. To further complicate matters, both mentally and financially now, I was handed my bill soon after the incident. All the while, the cops are interviewing a bunch of idiots that were at the other end of the bar and didn’t even see that shit. I’m thinking, I could have gotten shot with a stray bullet, walked my ass out of the store because it was evidently very unsafe, and this sunnovabitch is giving me a check…now?! The timing certainly caught me off guard, but the surly look on his face caught me even worse. I decide that even if he doesn’t have the timing and panache of a good server, the $25 tab was definitely worth the price of admission. Well, since I’m alive that is. He probably would’ve ratted me out anyway if I had taken that dude’s cash wads of cash, because apparently no one else saw me but this lone server. This includes the cops who failed to ask the person seated closest to the action about what had actually happened. Brilliantly handled APD. Buh-rill-eant! Needless to say, both of those motherfuckers fighting over the gun got away, and I got to hand out a little street justice myself in the form of a shitty tip.

Would I have even told the cop anything? You know what, I don’t think I would have, because the only people they hurt were…well… no one I guess. So fuck it. The downside is, of course, that there is still a gun out there that could kill somebody but, if I rat that person out, my guess is that somebody would be me. Selfishness and the ineptness of a cop, win out again.

The only question that I have left is this, “Did the first dude deserve to be praised or vilified?” I mean, he did try to wrestle the gun out of this guy’s hand, and he did inform the masses that the guy had a gun. Then again, he did run into the bar in the first place and I’m pretty sure that he had something to do with the money if he was waiting on this guy to show up. Therefore, he endangered my life. Therefore, fuck that guy! He might even be more to blame than the guy with the gun.

Before we leave the bar, I notice this old lady looking in the bushes outside the restaurant, presumably for cash wads of cash. Pondering the moments before, I lean to my girlfriend again and say, “Does this answer your question about the kind of area this is?” We both laugh. Drug dealers are funny.

-Doc J