Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Questions, Questions, Questions.

"What's the news doing here?"  Asks a slightly curved older man, as the phlegm rattles deep in his chest and he begins to cough a wet, violent hack.  "Oh," I say, a bit rushed, "just got some questions for someone in here."  "Well," he clears his throat as he climbs off of his well-worn purple bike, "someone's always got questions for folks in here," he drags his green, fatigue colored sleeve across his nose, and gathers up his plastic grocery bags, weary of more questions about the place he calls home.

Park Place Apartment 
People are asked a lot of questions at the Park Place Apartments at 350 East 700 South in Salt Lake City.  Police, and by default, the media, find themselves here regularly.

Over my 15 year in Utah, I've steadied  myself and entered the grey brick structure perhaps, 10 times.  The first time being the most memorable, when a man woke up one morning, snatched up a decorative sword, and began swinging it at people in his apartment.  The violence spilled into the street as the man, latched onto that blade, began chasing people around the neighborhood.

Kilmainham Jail
There are countless cases similar to that one, and it has cast a ghost of sadness that permeates and haunts this place.  You can see it in the tired faces and suspicious body language of the people who live here.  They are weary.  Most are simply trying to survive, and this campus of apartments reminds me of the now shuttered, Kilmainham Jail in Dublin.  My wife Amanda and I spent a couple a weeks there last year, and we toured the place.  Kilmainham, is a notorious "gaol", where Irish freedom fighters, were jailed, and executed on a regular basis.  Prison guards, would house men and children together inside the sickly, unheated halls of the wretched jail.  The corridors where long, and the cells small.

Kilmainham Jail
The halls of the Park Place are equally as long, and illuminated by cheap, incandescent bulbs that give the place an otherworldly glow.  As I roamed the long, lonely halls, lighted in puke green, the hue reminds me of a a woman on a flight I once took to my hometown of Dallas. Our plane was forging it's way into destabilizing turbulence.  As the jet jostled and rocked, I glanced over to the nice little lady next to me.  Her face was putrid with fear and nausea.

I'm here today because a man nicknamed "Ramen Noodle," used to date a woman who lives at the Park Place. She filed for a protective order against Noodle, back in 2009.  I was hoping she might be able to shed some light on the alleged crime spree for which Noodle had been recently arrested.
Park Place Apartments

The door opens slowly, and the small woman on the other side, only allows the flimsy door to reveal a sliver of her face.  "Hi, I'm Chris Jones, from 2News," she is unimpressed as she scans my clothing from top to bottom she's likely suspicious of my tie, and perhaps searching for a badge, or maybe a gun.  She takes a drag from her cigarette, "and?" she responds, as smoke unfolds out of her small apartment.  "I'm looking for Antoinette," I say as I hear the blast of children unleashing holy-hell in an apartment around the bend of the hall. "I told you to be quiet!" bellows the deep howl of a man who has had enough.

The woman, stares into my eyes, "I don't know."  She says, again pulling from her cigarette.  "Does she live here?" I ask.  "Why?" She retorts after a few seconds, and I explain the reason for my visit. "She's not here."  She deadpans.  "Is she working?"  I ask.  "I don't know."  She responds.  "She's at work?" I press, "yeah," the door begins to squeeze closed, "Where does she work?" I say realizing I might be wasting her and my time.  "I don't know."  

Eventually I earn a modicum of her trust and she agrees to calls Antoinette, who explains she stopped seeing Noodle because he roughed her up, and because he "got into drugs and pills," she continues, "he's always in jail," and she says, anticipating my next words, "I don't want to be on TV answering questions."

Eventually I make my way down the sad hall passed an old tube TV resting on the tile outside one of the apartments, to the news truck.  Outside I meet a man pushing a rattling grocery cart filled with cans, he asks "what's the news doing here?"  to which I say, "just asking some questions," As the man shuffles off, pressing his cart forward likely tired of getting questions and little else from people like me, curtly adds, to no one in particular "they've always got questions for people here."


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