Friday, February 13, 2009

COPS in St Pete

I had decided Wednesday night to ride my bicycle all the way home and to pass out Gospel tracts along the way to the seedy businesses that line US 19. (So, if you saw my bicycle outside that strip joint, you now know why; and, no, I didn't go in: there was a patron right outside the door--an older woman, no less...ridiculous.)

As I approached the light at Fifth Avenue, I saw this man running--sprinting, full speed ahead--across the street. At first, I thought that he was just showing off or trying to make sure he didn't get hit or both. He did slow down to a walk once he got across, after a few steps, but then he sped back up again. Obviously, on a bike I am going much faster than he, but I wasn't able to make up that kind of ground. But he wasn't that far in front of me when I stopped at the same motel that he had.

The Sandman Motel apparently has a reputation, but I had no idea until this night.

The man said something to someone in the first room (101) and then ran inside the second (102). The door closed at 101 before I got around the corner, so I didn't see anyone out there, but there was a lady standing outside 103, so I gave her a tract and then went to put one in the key drop box. As I did that, the door to 101 opened and a half-dressed lady came roaring out with a metal baseball bat in her hand shouting, "Call the cops!" and she was looking at me!

Suddenly, the man from 102 called out, "Call the cops! She's been raped!"

On my way down US 19, I had stopped at 17th Ave to give a tract to a guy walking his dog (actually, walking his dog to pick up his girlfriend who works at the Publix there, but I didn't see that until later) and saw a lady standing outside Latifah's house and asked her about Latifah. Billie stays there because Latifah's son is the father of her child (and Latifah's son is in jail right now, so pray for that, too; I think his name is Deon, but I could be wrong). After I had given her the "Name Ten Beers" Gospel tract (she said that she could not only name ten, she had eight in her refridgerator at that moment) and we had talked about how Jesus has the power to deliver from any sin, she told me to be careful riding home, because this was a dangerous part of town. I almost flippantly said, "I'm not worried, I've got Jesus"--which is (obviously) true for me, but it isn't so true for others, including Sunshine (not her real name).

(We are back at the Sandman Motel) I have no idea what this poor woman was doing, but her brother was telling her that when the cops got there, she needed to tell them everything, the whole truth, no matter what. I was reeling. I actually called the cops myself, because the manager of the property (the bat-wielding, half-dressed, half-crazy woman who started to kill me) didn't have her phone in hand. (Yes, I did give her a Gospel tract; it helped to exonerate me in her mind, which needed peace, because she had had two customers robbed that day.)

As the cops responded, there was a silver car that came up to the intersection, and then backed up into the parking lot as the police cruisers pulled in. Suddenly, the car jumped the curb and peeled out onto US 19 at a very high speed. You thinking what I'm thinking?

Not likely, because you probably thought that that was "the guy," whereas I've watched Cops, the tv show, often enough to know that often criminals run--whom the cops aren't chasing--simply because of that guilty conscience (the same one that makes me cringe when I see certain people). And I was right (for once). Or, at least, that what the girl told the cops who got there too late to get in on the chase. Ha, the two cars from whom he fled were right on him, then three more came flying by with lights and sirens a-going. It was crazy. Paramedics were responding, too, but only to our situation (the guy hadn't crashed...at least, not yet, though they often do).

I ended up standing there for about 30 minutes, because the manager had taken my phone into the girl's room so that she could talk to the dispatcher herself. The manager kept trying to get the paramedics and cops to give me my phone, but I stopped her each time, because I knew that they didn't want to be interrupted (I knew that watching Cops was a good idea!) and, anyway, I wasn't in a hurry. I got my phone back when the brother suddenly remembered right before he and his sister hopped in the Ambulance.

You never know what kind of pain you will meet on the streets, I must say. I remember a 15-year-old girl at the Rock downtown walking away from me, upset that I had said that any sex outside marriage was wrong, when, in fact, she had been raped. I didn't know that, at the time, so I had said what I said rather insensitively. Seeing Sunshine crying the way she was helped me to understand Jessica's situation a little better.

I did continue to pass out tracts as I continued on home, but I was definitely rattled for the rest of the night. I think I'm still rattled.

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