Three nights ago a woman was bound, blind-folded, assaulted, and raped in her home—a block from me as a crow would fly through our gardens. But we have no crows in Kalorama.
We have cardinals, robins, the occasional blue jay, wrens, and song birds. I once saw a hawk. Mallards have twice in two years tried to claim my pool. I made the mistake of letting the grandchildren give them breadcrumbs. Ducks are aggressive and seem to have long memories.
The woman told the police she did not know how the man got into her house. I know how one would get into my house. Over the garden gate, along the walk between my neighbor’s fence and my home, into the garden, and through the three glass French doors that open from the garden into my dining room. My dog would be confused, but he would bark if a strange man came into my bedroom—bark and attack. I hope. Though, when Fourth of July fireworks go off, he hides in corners and whimpers, so I probably should rethink my supposition.
I light my garden well at night now, and set my alarm for the first time in a couple years. I also moved the tazer—does it still work?—from the far night stand to the near night stand.
Still, there is a high-pitched screech in my cells when I think of her being bound, blindfolded, and raped. Also robbed, but that’s meaningless.
I watch carefully now when I walk my dog. The detectives at the door told me I had walked my dog at the same time the rapist was in the neighborhood—they have him on camera.
President and Michelle Obama, Malia, and Sasha live four blocks away, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared are three blocks away. Jeff Bezos is a block away if the crow flew in the opposite direction of the house of the woman who was raped, and Rex Tillerson is ½ block away, between my house and the house of the woman who was raped.
We prided ourselves on being a quiet neighborhood. Now we have one street blocked off by police cars and concrete barricades, and black Secret Service Suburbans along the street I drive to pick up my grandchildren from school. Tourists ask me directions.
It’s okay. I would sacrifice a lot to have Barack and Michelle nearby. That part feels cozy despite the concrete blocks.
But I write not out of coziness but because of the high-pitched screech in my cells—I write because I am one of three women living alone along my street. We are known as “the three graces.”
I write because assault against any woman feels like personal assault, and when it is a block away it stings your skin like an acidic breeze.
I remember “hit hard up the bridge of the nose so it jams into their head.” I remember I’ve always thought that the knee to the balls was “iffy.” The odds of getting that right seem minimal and I would be caught with one leg off the ground.
I remember that in the street you scream, you fight, you run. I remember at all costs not to get into a car.
I never learned what to do if the assailant is in your home and there are secret police out of reach just a block away.
I write because one of the detectives said “It was an assault, but no one was killed.”
She was bound, blindfolded, and raped—but no one was killed. We don’t do murders in Kalorama, evidently—only rapes.
I write because I am angry because rape is attempted murder of a woman’s—or man’s—soul. I write because people harm each other. I write in order to reach the place where I can cry.