Events on what may be the city's worst block provide a stark glimpse into a Philly many Philadelphians never see. One former resident survived to tell the tale.
The crowd peels away. Lamar's on the ground, shot twice in the back. The cops break away from their idle talk to scoop up Spike and Ramon.
Shawn, Hakeem and the children watch as they're driven off in the back of police cruisers before hightailing it to a relative's house.
Up next: retaliation.
With Shawn gone, the angry mob descends on her house. Lamar's younger brother kicks the back door off its hinges, then unlocks the front. Neighbors stream in. Furniture is upended, cushions torn open. Big holes are punched in the walls, revealing wooden slats behind the plaster. All the windows in the house are shattered, showering more glass on the sidewalk. The refrigerator is bashed in; its shelves dangle at odd angles. The doors to the new kitchen cabinets have been ripped off.
Upstairs, it's worse. Someone takes a sledgehammer to the toilet. Huge holes are put in the walls. A TV is thrown through a second-story window in the rear of the house, landing in a cascade of glass on top of the kiddie pool. The children's clothes follow. The computer Hakeem used to obsessively check his MySpace page gets carted out and relocated across the street.
The next morning the shooting is on the news.
No details are given about the buildup to the shooting or the carnage that ensued. Just another teenager shot on Allegheny Avenue. In the morning newspaper the story takes up all of 10 lines.
The following day Hurley Street is triumphant. The neighbors congratulate each other on Ramon's arrest and the house getting fucked up real proper. They still vow to hunt down Hakeem, who's hiding.
Shawn's landlord arrives on the scene to survey the damage, and is brought to tears by what he finds. During the night someone smeared shit over the living room walls.
The landlord can't process what he sees. His contractors board up every possible entrance to the house before they leave. It doesn't really matter much. There's no more window glass to break, and nothing left in the house worth stealing.
Later that afternoon Hakeem and Shawn surreptitiously cruise the neighborhood. They stay off Hurley Street but get close enough. They've come to check on their mother's house, which is nearby. They're worried the Hurley Street folks know where she lives. Shawn's mother's house is untouched. Shawn and Hakeem stay crouched low in their seats, worried they might be spotted.
Soon afterward Shawn's landlord says he's suffering from depression. He calls on his faith, asking the Lord why evil people do what they do. He prays that Jesus will help him understand, and restore his hope for humanity.
Two weeks later Shawn wants to go back to Hurley to open the house up and claim what's left of her meager life.
There are two cruisers parked in front of the house when Shawn and Hakeem arrive. Crowds gather to watch. Mona is sitting two stoops down, having a sober moment. Her eyes are clear, their whites restored.
"I'll be off this block soon," she says. "I won't be around here too much longer."
She's not serving lunches today. There isn't even a cooler with ice and juice boxes.
She looks at the surrounding houses, and shakes her head.
PW's 2015 Gift Guide
Dinner with Luke Palladino