Alexis Myers inherited her father's house after his death seven years ago. She'd recently moved back into it, and was now lying in bed with a look of annoyance. Rolling onto her side to face her nightstand and alarm clock, she made note of the time.
This was the second time the noise from three houses down had woken her up. According to some of the neighborhood residents, gang members occupied one of the abandoned houses on the street. Their gatherings were always accompanied with loud music and boisterous behavior. In the past, some of the residents had collectively complained to the police, but when each of those residents were met with some type of misfortune, everyone got the message. From then on, the gang members ruled the street with a mantra: No more cops, no more problems.
But that was exactly what Alexis had now. Problems. The first time the noise woke her, it started at one in the morning and lasted until five. She'd hardly had time to rest before her alarm went off two hours later. Sitting up and throwing off the covers of her bed, she stretched a little and turned on the lamp on her nightstand.
"Do what you need to do," She told herself as she got out of bed and located a pair of tennis shoes from her closet. "Not what you want."
In the days of her father, Alexander, Alexis knew that the noise would've been stopped by a pattern of stern words followed by strong right and left hooks. But with him dead, and so many other residents unwilling to resist, Alexis could see that she would have to set an opposing example for them. She couldn't enjoy the warm, summer air or the clear, starlit sky as she walked towards the noisy house. Her initial focus was on the girls and boys littering the lawn.
Their usual chatter turned to snickers and chuckles as they watched Alexis move down the walkway towards the front door.
"Something we can help you with?"
Alexis let her eyes settle on the boy who'd spoken to her. He sat on the hood of a dark green pickup truck with a glass beer bottle in his hand. He looked to be around seventeen or eighteen, and wore a thick, silver chain around his neck. Like the four other boys sitting around him, he sported muscular arms and legs beneath his clothes.
"I hope so." Alexis replied. "What's your name?"
"Mind your business, bitch."
The boy's comment was rewarded with laughter while Alexis took a deep breath.
"Okay then, Mr. Mind-your-business-bitch. My name's Alexis. I live three houses down from here."
"So I can't sleep with this music on. Can you get it turned off?"
Everyone on the lawn laughed, and the boy slid off the hood of the truck and stepped toward her.
"You new around here or some shit?" He asked. "Somebody need to teach you the rules?"
"All I need," Alexis replied "is for the music to stop and all of you to leave."
"It don't work like that."
Gripping the beer bottle by the neck, the boy lifted his shirt to reveal the handgun he had tucked in his waistband.
"You're the one who needs to leave," he said menacingly "before I put a bullet through that hard head of yours."
Alexis was certain the boy outweighed her, but he wasn't as tall as she was yet. She met his gaze with a blank expression, then sighed.
"You can either turn the music off now," she said "or I can come back on a different night and do it for you."
Four hours later, Alexis stood in the shower after her morning run, trying to relax as she rolled her shoulders forward, then back. Her instincts rarely failed her, and she could already tell that this problem with the gang members wasn't going to end quietly. But when it came to members of any criminal organization, what problem did? As she turned off the water and stepped out the tub, she repeated her words from earlier.
"Do what you need to do, not what you want."
That afternoon, Alexis went to the police station to file a noise complaint. She noticed that the officer she spoke to changed his demeanor when she gave him her address.
"Did you just move into this house Ms. Myers?" He asked.
"Yes and no," Alexis replied. "I've owned it for years, but I've been travelling, so technically I'm just moving back."
"Are you aware that the people you're complaining about are known gang members?"
"Yes I am, Officer O'Hara."
"All due respect, ma'am," the officer said after a brief silence "you've picked a pretty bad neighborhood to move back into."
"It wasn't that bad when I was growing up there." Alexis replied.
"You're trying to turn back the clock then?"
"Right now, I just need your help solving this problem."
Officer O'Hara kept his eyes on the complaint form for another minute before looking back at the woman sitting across from him. She looked liked all the other people who'd come through his office complaining about this gang. Tired. Stressed. But still willing to fight. He'd been like them once. A rookie full of hopes and integrity. Foolish enough to believe that good would always overcome evil. But after a decade on the force, he knew better.
This wasn't going to end well.