“ Consequences “                 by Vernon Wilmer


Of the 50 row houses on the left side of Fulton Avenue, only one was occupied. 

That pretty much summed up what was happening all over Baltimore, Md.;
block after block of abandoned houses. 

Well, they weren’t completely abandoned; drug addicts, alcoholic and homeless
people found refuge in most of the row houses. When one house became unlivable,
filled with trash and human waste, they moved to another.

Many people had tried to rebuild Baltimore over the years. The problem
was that most people didn't really love Baltimore. You loved D.C.,
Philly, New York, but you tolerated Baltimore. Every Mayor, except,
Schaffer, used the city as a stepping stone to another position.
Mayor O'Malley was so bold that he didn’t even finish out his term
before running for and becoming Governor of Maryland.

Baltimore was notorious for heroine and that century old aura hung over
it no matter how many times it was renovated. Baltimore
produced some great people like Billy Holliday but that city messed
her up too.

I was in a 'Check Cashing' store one day and I couldn’t believe the
conversation taking place between the cashier and a customer. 

“Naw it ain’t like it use to be. I could come to you, get my shit
and know it’s good. Now days, these young bucks will beat you
as to look at you!“

“And we didn’t have all this killing neither. I‘m glad I got out in time!“

“Nah it ain’t like it use to be!“

The lady in front of me turned around, looked at me and we both
just shook our head in disbelief. A heroine addict and her dealer
were actually reminiscing about the ‘good ole days‘.

Anyway, only one of the row houses on that part of Fulton Avenue
was occupied. A man in his late 70’s had lived there for over 30 years.
His home was paid for and he didn’t have the money to relocate,
so he stayed.

The man still worked part time to keep busy and to supplement his
pension. That area was really bad, so he was trying to save up to
move to a nursing home or senior citizens building. Life was suppose
to be good for him once he retired, but it wasn’t. His wife had died
a few years ago, they never had kids, so he lived there alone.

Most of the people living across the street from him, were there illegally.
That side was filled with children of all ages and the loud noise went
on night and day. Even in the winter with snow on the ground, those
kids would break out windows, play loud music and fight all the time.

The worse part was that he became a target. They knew he was
in his 70’s, but they hadn’t been taught to respect anybody, so they
didn’t respect him either. In fact, their mothers encouraged them to
torment the old man! Some of those women had approached him,
offering him sex and home cooked meals in exchange for his money 
and to ride in his car. He declined the offers and those women were
angry about being rejected.  

His car was the only real thing of value that he had left. It was an old
Cadillac, but he kept it clean and well cared for. It was his ride to work,
to the store and out of that neighborhood when things got  unbearable
in the summer time. He'd drive to the park and stay there for hours,
just to have some peace and quiet.

Since he wouldn’t give those women any of his money, they encouraged
their kids to vandalize his house and torment the old man. It seemed like
he was calling the police every week cause of something those
teenagers did to him. The police would talk to the mothers but it
didn’t do any good.

Kids broke into his house. They stole his refrigerator, stove, washer,
dryer, TV, radio, couch, dishes and clothes! Cleaned him out! All he
had left was a large cooler, a hot plate to cook on, his bed and 2 chairs.
He got a small TV and took it to work with him to prevent them from
stealing that. One day he forgot and left it in his car, while he fell asleep
inside. When he woke up, he went outside to get it and saw that his car 
window was broken. They had cut up his car seats, stole his tv, tape player,
and slashed all his tires! 

The teenagers across the street started laughing at him. Their mothers
were watching him too, saying he got what he  deserved for thinking
he was better than everybody else! If you minded your business and
wasn't like the rif-raf, you got accused of being better than everyone
else. And they didn't mean that in a good way either.

The old man was devastated. He called the police again. They took
a report, talked to the families across the street, who claimed they
didn’t know who did it..... and left.

As soon as the police left, some kids ran across the street and throw
bottles at his windows.

The old man got his gun, went outside and told them to leave him alone.
Instead of being scared, one teenage boy threw a rock and hit him up side his head.
Then all the kids took off running.

“All I knows is that he started running after them kids! He’s 70 
yrs old. Ain’t no way he could run that fast, but he did. He caught up
with that boy, lifted the boy in the air and shot him in the chest!
Then he threw the boy down and went after the other kids. He was shooting
the whole time. I took my ass inside cause I knew he was coming over here next. ”

That’s how one of the mothers described what happened, on the
6 o’clock news that night. By the time the old man stopped shooting,
a 14 year old boy was dead, 4 other teens had been hit, but were in
stable condition and there were bullets holes in the houses across the

When the reporter asked the mothers if they knew their children
were harassing the man, they said they knew.

“But he acting like he better than us, so I turned my head.”

“How did he act like he was better?” the reporter asked.

“Well you know, he wouldn’t ride no body in his car or help no body out.”

“So you let your children vandalize his car and home?”

“ I ain’t say all that.”

“Didn’t you know he was in his late 70’s?”

This time the woman got up and went inside. I guess she finally realized
how insane she sounded.

The news showed the old man being handcuffed and put in a police
cruiser. He was crying so hard that they had to help him in the car.
He had his head down and kept saying how sorry he was. At one point
you could hear him praying, “Dear God please don't that boy die. Please!”.

But the boy was dead.  

The reporters also talked to the mother of the teenager that was killed.
She was trying to raise money for his funeral. She said she wished she
had told her son to stop bothering that old man now! For a moment,
the camera lingered on the mother's grief, before the reporter said,
"Back to you Stan." 

One of the best lawyers in the city, volunteered to represent the old
man, for free. When asked why he was handling the case for free,
the lawyer said, “What if that were you, in your 70’s, with no money
to move and a bunch of teenagers terrorizing you, destroying your property?"

"He called the police over 20 times in 2 years, begging for help, but the
police couldn’t help him. He went to the mothers, asking them to stop
their children from bothering him. The mothers made fun of him, right in his face.
You saw the news where they admitted they knew what their children were doing. 
Those mothers should be on trial too for causing this tragedy and certainly for
not trying to prevent it! “

The judge ordered a mental evaluation of the old man. Since several
witnesses verified that the boy had hit him in the head with a rock,
after they destroyed his car, it was determined that he was temporarily
insane when he shot the teenager. He didn't go to jail, but he had lost

 From what I heard, the elderly man spent his last days in a nursing
home, muttering to himself. He never recovered from shooting that boy

Life was suppose to be good for him once he retired, but it wasn’t.