Column: Behind the Deans

Column: Behind the Deans




Definitely not fireworks.

I was paranoid enough before the gunshots rang out somewhere in the Roxbury night outside my second-floor window. My body is stapled to the brand new, full-size bed purchased for this apartment on Mission Hill. I won’t move, not even to get water, which my cotton mouth desperately needs.

I call my friend who just left, walking more or less toward the several sirens I now hear. It goes straight to voicemail – which fits into the awful scene playing out in my head – and I leave him a message that includes the phrase “lying in a ditch somewhere.”

He calls back in five minutes to tell me he’s filled with bullets and bleeding in the gutter. Hilarious. To him, anyway, because for some reason that thing – the size and shape and most shockingly the girth of a cigar – didn’t affect him the same way it did me, and he’s rather merrily on his way home, after just finding a box of sheet music on someone’s porch and ransacking it for tuba solos.

But I’m alone in my sprawling apartment, one roommate still out for the night (it’s only 1 a.m.) and the other still in Long Island even though our lease started a month and a half ago. There’s a deadbolt on the apartment door and I’ve locked the little slide lock on my bedroom door, but for a moment I consider barring the door completely.

Let me explain: the girl who lived here before was a bit nervous. She screwed industrial steel brackets into both sides of the doorframe to hold a long wooden pole. The effect is extreme. (There are also a couple of locks on the outside of my door. Why? I don’t know, but it seems sinister. I’ll take them down before I get locked in by a drunken friend or, you know, a crackhead in a ski mask.) Not that this neighborhood, where the Hill first starts climbing away from Brigham Circle, is all that shady.

Sure, the NUPD has warned students about recent robberies in the area, but it’s nothing to worry about. (On a side note, I’d like to commend those officers for jumping into action after a slew of knife-point muggings by telling us not to walk around alone at night. It’s not every university police force that can protect its students so thoroughly, despite its busy schedule of towing cars and confiscating 30-racks outside Huntington Wine ‘ Spirits.) It’s a nice place, actually, with lots of students – from Northeastern, MassArt, Wentworth, various med schools – and immigrants from, well, everywhere, judging by the cacophany of languages I don’t understand. Over the past few years, I hear, it’s been cleaned up and gentrified enough to shed its Mission Kill nickname.

There’s the big fancy Stop ‘ Shop plaza, with a brand new (and mildly disgusting with its we’re-not-corporate-we’re-hip d

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