Friday, December 08, 2006

Sometimes I Get Tired ...

I write about dead people.

Some years back my boss did an investigative piece on the most likely people to be "murdered" in San Antonio. As you might expect, we were able to show that if you weren't on drugs, hadn't been drinking, weren't at a bar at 1 or 2 in the morning, your odds of being "murdered" were minimal. People who lead "normal" lives, who are in bed at a decent hour, who aren't on drugs/selling drugs, and remain sober...don't tend to get murdered.

So most dead people I write about make the "news" due to the circumstances of their demise.

If this type of thing were measured in quantity, today's been a good day for people who write about dead people...not such a good day for the people they write about of course.

One guy I wrote about this morning got shot in the back of the head at a pool tournament where folks were drinking a lot. Someone starting shoving someone else...someone had a gun. Someone's the "Happy Hut." I wrote the story in 40 seconds...I've written the same story with different players so many times in nearly 30 years that it's almost become mechanical.

And miserable.

I try not to become immune to those type of stories. Someone is dead...someone is grieving, no matter the circumstance. However in truth, I don't delve deep enough to care, I can't allow happens too often. Here are the facts: booze, guns, bars, drugs, death. Stack 'em up as you please.

Last night's murder was at "Happy's Hut" - the victim: 28 years old. Earlier this week, it was "Santa's Place," another bar, another argument, another dead man in his 20's. The irony of the names of the murder locations already outweighs the memories of the victims.

But there are the other dead people I write about too...the even more senseless dead.

Getting shot in the head at "Happy's Hut" during an argument over pool is, of course, senseless, but these other dead people died for no reason except for the failure to take basic precautions and I don't mean avoiding drugs, booze, and bars...

Around 4:30 this morning, I was finishing up the various versions of the stories I was writing about the Happy Hut murder, along with a plethora of other stupid acts of violent crime which occurred overnight, some of which may eventually become stories of dead people, but so far those "victims" are hanging on. Then I heard the words.

It was the fire department scanner: "Fire...House in 'full bloom'...six people may be inside."

In San Antonio this year at least 16 people have died in house fires...nearly half of those have been in the past few weeks.

I've written stories about most of them...I write about dead people.

Several of these dead people were children, including a five year old girl killed in that fire this morning, along with at least two adults...another adult "had a pulse" when they pulled her out of the house guarded by burglar bars which was engulfed in flames by the time firefighters got there.

Another little girl died two weeks ago in a house fire, the granddaughter of a former State Senator I knew. He died with her. Her Great-Grandma died too.

Those 16 people who have died this year weren't in bars...they weren't carrying guns, on drugs or drunk...most were sleeping. Almost all of them did share one thing though...they lived in homes without smoke detectors.

Last week a fire official told a reporter I work with, "In the years I've been doing this job, I've never been to a fire where someone died if their home had a working smoke detector."

You can buy a smoke detector for five dollars.

In San Antonio, you can walk into any fire station and say, "I don't have a smoke detector and I don't even have five dollars to buy one." They'll give you one...firefighters may even come to your house and install it for you. No charge.

Do me a favor, make sure you have working smoke detectors.

Sometimes I get tired...of writing about dead people.