Scene from the night of Saturday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m.:
Location: Main block of Main Street, Brattleboro.
I have just run a free Halloween singalong event at the Brooks House Atrium, a sweet, fun community gathering open to all, attended by children and parents and elders and everyone in between. Costumes, laughs, hugs, ukuleles.
My car is parked in Harmony Lot, but as I walk to it after the event, I see five or six shady characters just standing around in the way-underlit shadows among the parked cars and against the pay-to-park machines.
I feel unsafe being here, and I decide I will move my car to Main Street, so I can go to Echo Restaurant for a drink and light dinner.
I am by myself. I find a spot on Main Street half a block uphill from the restaurant, roughly by the Bike Shop and Brattleburger.
I notice that even on Main Street, the street lights seem remarkably dim. Is this some new energy-saving bulb? If so, I hate them. The street is barely lit, and every alleyway and doorway up and down the block is a deep, dark shadow. I can barely see the sidewalk, the cracks, the curbs.
I get out of the car, pick up my musical instrument, a small purse, a laptop in a backpack — valuables I don’t want to leave in the car — and lock it up.
Across the street, by Vermont Artisan Designs and People’s United Bank, a group of young men are frolicking, yelling, and laughing really loudly. I am guessing by their behavior that they are very high. They see me get out of my car.
A sharp bellowing yell shoots from across the street:
“Bitch! I wanna get my c—k sucked!”
The guys laugh uproariously, slap one another on the back.
Another voice: “Bitch! I wanna get my ass l—d.”
Wild-pack laughter. Stoned young men trying to outdo one another.
* * *
And on it goes as I make my way down the dark half-block to the entrance to the restaurant, tired, hungry, and terrified. I step inside, shaken, rattled, disgusted, infected.
I am greeted by friendly familiar faces of the staff — thank God — and a delicious oasis of food, drink, and comfort.
But I can’t forget: I’ll have to walk back up to my car when I’m done, and drive the few short blocks to my home. Will I be OK?
Main Street, 7 p.m. on a warm autumn Saturday night.
Violent verbal assault.
This is our Brattleboro now?