Fio’s Silver Hammer

Reading and writing about crime all the time has a way of making you paranoid. I know the safety odds are in my favor, but I like to hedge my bets—so I keep a hammer in my car. I bought it at a local hardware store for $2.99. It has a rubber handle and a shiny silver head. I keep it under the driver’s seat, just in case I have to fend off a crazed maniac, or help a friend hang some pictures. A hammer is also handy for smashing windows open in the off-chance you drive off a bridge and get trapped inside your car. You never know…

Sometimes I park my car in an unmanned municipal garage near the train station. The later it gets, the creepier the garage becomes. Once a guy gave me a serious case of the heebie jeebies when he appeared out of nowhere, and literally lurched toward the elevator I had just stepped into. He had a weird facial tic and smelled like roasted turkey. I thought I was a goner for sure. Fortunately, he was just a fellow parker, albeit a strange one.

Last week I left my car in that same lot. I was meeting friends for drinks and couldn’t find better parking. Knowing that it would be another late night, I decided I needed to bring some sort of protection with me. Pepper spray would have been a lot easier and lighter to tote around town, but alas, I had none. I tossed the hammer into my bag.

Hours later I returned to find the lot empty, and as shudersome as ever. But this time I had my trusty hammer to protect me. The elevator wasn’t working so I took the stairs. Two floors up, I was startled to see a rather rattled young woman descending the stairs. “I forgot where I parked my car,” she said, and then explained that being alone in the garage gave her the creeps. I offered to help her locate her car. She seemed grateful, but then suddenly changed her mind and bolted past me. “Oh, I remember now,” she called out, over her shoulder as she sped down the stairs. How odd, I thought.

When I got to my own car I realized what spooked her. I was holding a hammer in my right hand, with the claw side facing out…