My neighborhood is quiet. Couples take midnight strolls without fear of masked villains. Elementary school kids walk home unaccompanied. Our police spend most of their time supervising movie shootings rather than worrying about gun shootings. It's one of the many reasons I adore our chipper little neighborhood nestled in the middle of big, bad Los Angeles County.
I was almost home when I heard the sirens. A clump of emergency vehicles clogged the street through our historic downtown and cars were slowed for blocks. The city firemen were on the scene as well as an ambulance - its lights spiraling in the late afternoon sun. Cars filed by the scene one by one. When I finally came up to the blockade I craned my neck to see past the police cars circled protectively in front of Jake's Ice Cream Shop.
I learned soon after moving to Los Angeles not to watch the local news at night. Any gaps between the gang shootings are easily filled with images of kidnapped children, hit and run reports or warnings of renegade arsonists. It was more than my fluffy head could handle and I chose instead to blow a fantastical, rainbow colored bubble around my world. I've held my breath for three years to prevent its delicate walls from bursting and am on the verge of believing in unicorns again.
Despite my denial, I couldn't stop my mind from racing over possible scenarios. A student from the yoga studio had a mental breakdown while attempting Scorpion pose and had burst onto the street to assault children with her yoga mat. The soft, odorous owner of Attic Antiques had been crushed by the hundreds of glass chandeliers hanging from the beams in her crammed shop. An slow-footed passenger was struck by an oncoming train at the metro stop. The espresso machine at Starbucks was overtaxed with the demands for caffeine and spontaneously burst into flames, gruesomely burning the operator. Anything was possible.
As my car rolled by the stern officer directing traffic I caught a brief glimpse between the police cars.
An old gentlemen sat lazily on the curb, splay legged and smiling. A white-coated medic applied a small band aid to his knee. The patient was laughing and chatting with three attending policemen who smiled endearingly down at him.
I cleared the blockade. The man probably lost his balance and had taken a spill on the sidewalk. Two firetrucks, one ambulance and four police cars later he went home with a fresh band aid and a supportive pat on the arm. I contemplated faking a fall the next time I was out walking to see if my community would show me the same over generous response. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw something slip behind an azalea bush. I could have sworn it was a unicorn.