Two Months of Residential Hell on N.W. 15th

It was a little after 1 a.m. or so when the screaming started.

A shirtless man who I had never seen around the backyard before was holding a woman on the ground as some of the other women who lived upstairs ran down and began whipping her with extension cords. Crying for them to stop, suddenly another woman comes rolling down with a clothes iron and slams her right in the Goddamned face with it.

This was a typical Friday night. This was a typical every night on N.W. 15th.

After getting out of the hospital, I spent a short time at my mother’s house, deep in the dark and desolate Oklahoma countryside, where everything seems to be about an hour and a half away. But I’m a city boy see, so smart and so savvy, wanting to be closer to my numerous doctors and physical therapy, all only a few minutes away on Reno Ave.

Having spent a couple of days looking, I quickly found this garage apartment down on N.W. 15th. Sure, it seemed a little rough around the edges, but it’ll do, I thought. A ground-floor studio with plenty of room, all for only a few bucks a month, all bills paid. It would be a great little bungalow to write and, most importantly, heal. You can’t beat that, but, as I would soon learn, it can sure beat the Hell out of you.

As soon as I signed the lease, that first night there, it became apparent that the upstairs apartment was not only a busy crank-house, but something of a brothel as well. With a parade of broken people coming through, this was something I felt I could handle. Sure, it sucked to have rank dudes or scorched women knocking on your windows at 4 a.m., always looking for “Sean,” but I was free from the loneliness and isolation of the country, right?

A few days later, I was sitting on the bench outside my house reading—I can’t remember what—when an angry couple pulled up into the driveway; soon, however, they got out of the car and it got physical, a nasty brawl with the man pulling a 9mm strap out of his shorts and cocking it directly in front of her face.

Standing by the gate, open mouthed, I was advised not to call the cops and just go inside like you didn’t see nothing.

Broken glass and burnt tubes sliced the bare feet of the numerous homeless that showed up in the backyard for a quick bicycle fix, leaving empty bottles of Sprite mixed with codeine littered across the stoop, never picked up. Stoned men with a wide variety of impromptu weapons from nun chucks to machetes hung out in front of my door, kicking their distended pit-bulls to the side as track-marked teens—some scary young girls—often drunkenly stripped for their carnal amusement in the parking lot.

It was pointless to tell anyone. The original owner sure didn’t care—they had sold the place without telling any tenants who lived there, and God only knew which hands across the city was holding the deed now.

Still, I had made it a month and I was kind of proud about that; it was bound to get better—it had to—I told myself as the power went off again, for the fourth time that week. It was a dead night like that when a feening woman, upset that she was denied the drug she needed so badly, started trudging around the yard, grabbing the useless car batteries that polluted the area, smashing the broken-down car windows in.

Someone called the cops, but the next-day I had to swear I didn’t. And even though I didn’t, it didn’t matter—I couldn’t be trusted now.

Even worse, my body was still having a hard time healing fully, and I was using a walker for many long distances, trying to get some exercise there. I was actually getting ready for one of these walks when I opened the door to have the Oklahoma City Police shoving a couple of greasy black guns in my face.

As I was told to put my hands calmly behind my head, I was led out to a police car situated by the front house for my “safety.” Eavesdropping on the po-po, I overheard that I was in the middle of a tense standoff situation that could lead to a shootout at any minute; the officer that stuffed me into the back of a police car said that this man they were looking for had “stabbed a bunch of people in the face.”

The guy wasn’t found, but after about three or so hours, they arrested everyone else in there anyway. I guess it really didn’t matter though—they were out in a few hours and ready to seek revenge on every motherfucker that wandered into this concrete backyard that wasn’t part of their street crew; you’ve seen them before too, if you live around here—they cruise the neighborhoods with full backpacks, a mismatched bike and a loud portable radio, all looking for anything they can carry and steal.

After all that, the Oklahoma City Police had to of known as well—they just had to. Walking through, how they could have ignored the shards of copper-cable covers that littered the driveway, the strange deliveries of plastic crates at two in the morning and, everyone’s personal favorite, the constant stench of the drug-addled oral-fumbling off to the side of the building.

Or, even worse, maybe the cops didn’t care…

It doesn’t matter anyway now. That night when the woman was whipped with cords and even an iron, I finally knew I had to get out of there. Kevo Properties were the latest landlords, but it was usually impossible to reach them. I knew I wasn’t going to get my deposit back anyway—breaking a lease, for sure—so that morning, in the span of two or three hours, I looked around and had a new place, only a couple of blocks away. My boxes were packed and ready to go.

I was gone that afternoon.

The house on N.W. 15th is now mostly boarded up with a big “no trespassing” sign, but I doubt it matters; the homeless and the hookers still hang out there, walking up and down the street. All about a block away from an elementary school, the drugs will still flow and the sex will still be cheap there and, you know, probably will be for quite a while.

I still have nightmares of those two months living there. I have dreams of a gun in my face, the cops throwing me on the ground and a woman bashing me in the head with an iron. But at least those are just dreams—I got out. For far too many people here, that just isn’t an option; that’s just living and dying in the struggling part of Oklahoma City.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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54 Responses

  1. I usually have something juvenile and sophmoric to say….just glad you got out.

  2. Glad that you escaped that nightmare. OKC has some sketchy areas in all regions of the city. ( We live in one that pales in comparison, but plenty of shenanigans anyway). My co-workers who live in gated communities just cannot believe that this stuff happens. They are shocked and appalled.

  3. Tell me again why gentrification is bad?

    1. Where would like those people to go once Kalidy puts a modern door on those cheap rentals and starts charging $1,000 a month? Gentrification causes housing that was once affordable to low income tenants prohibitive. These areas are a necessary evil until America becomes the sort of place that values humans over corporations.

      1. Sounds like a socialist utopia, but the reality is these people should be either in jail, rehab or sober living until they get jobs and can responsible people. Having a crack house available so they can afford it only enables this ghetto living. But I’m sure you’ll just end up blaming old rich whitey up in Nichols Hills for their plight.

        1. What are the odds that every house in that area is filled with drug addicts and criminals? My bet would be that there are a couple and the vast majority are lower class people who are just trying to make the best of a bad situation. The problem with not looking at problems from different viewpoints is that it makes you stupid. The kind of stupid that considers caring about other people a socialist utopia.

        2. Two concepts you clearly don’t understand…

          1. Socialism
          2. Utopia

          Also, poor people need a place to live asshole..

  4. I too am glad you got out. Not everyone knows they have that option and are stuck there. I say “option” knowing fully well that making those changes would go against everything a person has ever known, and it ain’t easy. I work with people who continue to live like that— specifically their kids. It’s awful to feel that hopeless I’d imagine. The kids are in constant survival mode and their behavioral responses get them into trouble, and the cycle continues. Phyllis is right, many in Oklahoma don’t believe this is a true everyday situation for many. Thank you for shedding light on it. Sad and scary.

  5. What’s the nearest cross street for this place? I live on NW 15th. My section is pretty great but that can change drastically in a block or two. Plus I run a lot in the area and I’d prefer to keep my face stab free.

    1. I’m also wondering, which cross streets?

      1. Just east of Villa

        1. I’m thinking several blocks east.

          1. that…. isn’t that bad of an area? that’s like walking distance to the plaza…

            1. It’s the multi-unit triplex in the back that makes it “unique”

  6. But by the grace of God goes I. Thank you for writing this. It needs to be said. I feel so bad for kids stuck in these conditions. There are no winners. Thankful for a safe place to rest my head at night.

  7. OMG – what a sad and depressing way to start my day!

    But of course not nearly as sad and depressing as it must have been for someone watching from the sidelines while trying to heal from a life-threatening condition.

    Not to mention what it must be like to be a participant in that awful subculture.

    Of course I “Imagine” that there is “no hell below us,” because surely for too many of our fellow human beings it exists right here on the planet’s surface.

    It’s probably unfair to conclude that the police don’t care. More likely they care a lot, but are powerless to do anything. What to do with all the junkies? Lock them up? Society could try to force them into treatment programs, but where?

    On the bright side, read Louis’ first line in this essay one more time. Isn’t that the greatest opening ever? And that’s a nice pic of the insulation stripped from stolen copper, meaningful only after having read the post.

    1. Yes, a fine piece of writing about a sad, scary deal. Sorry you had to go through it, Louis. I’ve lived in and dealt with similar situations several times I’m my long life, but I wasn’t dealing with severe health problems when I did. Many years ago, while hitch-hiking in Mississippi, I was picked up by a couple of guys who transported heroin from Miami to Dallas, who needed a driver so that they could get even more fucked up as we rolled merrily along. That was a miserable couple of hours with that automatic on the bench seat beside me, and the two guys talking increasingly irrationally. When we stopped for one of them to take a leak, I popped out the door and fled into a corn field, with them right behind. I was pretty fast in those days.
      There’s lots of homeless and near homeless in this neighborhood, and there is also a long-running meth house, with much the same kind of activities as described here, and I have done everything I can to interfere with it, legal and otherwise. I know those folks were all sweet little babies at some point, and I also know they aren’t all evil s.o.b.’s. But I don’t care, I want them gone, I want them to be somebody else’s problem.
      Even so, I would rather live right here, in this colorful, polyglot, messed up world, than in the sterile environs of a gated community. I know folks that get the willies when they venture below 63rd. Security becomes a fetish to them. That’s a sad world, too, to me.

    2. I think we are missing the most important thing here. Louis is a damn good journalist & it doesn’t always have to be about food.

      1. Agreed.

      2. True. Are employers needing a great reporter or excellent storyteller taking note? I mean this is a man who sold me on truck stop pizza!

  8. Thank God your TLO salary allowed you to get a much nicer place.

  9. I grew up on 16th, 1957 -1963. A little closer to that school that these houses. I can tell you it was a bit rough even back then. But I could still ride my bike to my best friend’s house on 14th and walk the half block to the May theater.

  10. No offense, but there are good people there. We have to stop being afraid of someone due to where they may have no other choice to reside. Bad folks live all over the place – just like good folks. Broad brush strokes cause problems.

  11. But lets keep pouring money into downtown to benefit corporations and give them tax incentives. They’ll eventually come around to helping the community…..right?

    1. Who/what are the corporations supposed to be helping? How and why?

      1. By paying taxes instead of fighting them every step of the way?


        2. Do you ever have an answer that doesn’t include more taxes?

          1. We call our system capitalism for a reason. It’s impossible to do much of anything without capital, i.e. money.

        3. And increased tax revenue is going to convince the dregs of humanity to shape-up and stop being scumbags……

  12. Let’s see- -crime, poverty, rampant drug abuse and hopelessness vs. a $136,000,000 useless and dangerous streetcar system.

    Sure glad to see OKC still has its priorities straight.

    1. The city is currently taking suggestion for the next round of MAPS initiatives. Go ahead and throw that idea out there, see where it lands.
      You can throw tax $’s at societal problems, as we have been since the “War on Poverty” in the ’60’s, and it’s only gotten worse. More taxes and more government aren’t always the answer.

      1. You realize you’re preaching to the Lost Ogle crowd, right?

      2. There will always be crappy people, addicted people, violent people, and poor people. I agree that you’re not going to eliminate them with more taxes.

        That said, Oklahoma’s strategy of “Let’s cut taxes all the time and pretend that we will eliminate enough waste to offset it” doesn’t exactly seem to be doing a bang-up job of helping the situation either. Because when the tax cuts inevitably fail to pay for themselves, which happens every single time taxes are cut, the services that suffer the most tend to be the exact ones that exist to help these people. So our only options are to throw them in an underfunded, overly crowded prison, or just do nothing.

        1. Where in my post is there ANYTHING about raising taxes?? But if you’re not willing to devote public resources to address these serious issues, how would you suggest they be handled?

    2. Don’t have kids before you’re ready. Don’t go into debt unnecessarily. Don’t do drugs. Attain work experience and learn a job skill of some kind.

      You don’t need government assistance to do any of those things if you’re willing to work and sacrifice.

      1. Don’t be born into poverty-stricken neighborhoods..don’t be a child of a dope addicted mother…don’t get passed to the next grade in school so you’re someone else’s problem…don’t watch the only successful people around you sell drugs…such good advice Dax 74, you should get a job working for the Stitt admin with those pearls of wisdom.

      2. 100% this dude never pulled themselves up by their bootstraps…..

        1. If you’re talking about me, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve been working since about age 14, paid my own way thru undergrad and graduate school. I’ve always worked for everything I’ve got so don’t generalize based on one online comment I made. In other words, you don’t know shit about me so STFU.

          1. Comment was not about you. Was about the person that poster was replying to. If you’re looking at these comments on a phone, I suggest checking it out on a desktop so you can see who is replying to who.

          2. No offense to you olefart…it sounds like you’ve made something from nothing. That said there are some generational trends that are hard for even a person who works hard to overcome.

        2. Dax 74 was likely born to a middle class family that lives in Yukon and probably uses the term colored.

          1. Lol! You couldn’t be more wrong.

            Born and raised near the Paseo District. Raised by my maternal grandparents. Grandad was a self-employed mechanic. Both were products of the Great Depression. I attended NW Classen HS. No money for college so I joined the military from which I’m now retired.

            You and your fellow posters on here are straight-up pathetic and should be ashamed of yourselves for wallowing in self-pity as you do!

            Go down to the Asian District and ask the business owners how they became successful in Oklahoma after coming here with nothing but the clothes on their back from war-torn Vietnam. I mean, you’re always screaming about how racist this state is and how no one of color can make it here and such.

  13. Kevo Properties is THE WORST. Where else would Hipster BooBoo hang her real estate license? They are as crooked as they come.

  14. Sounds like Reno needs tax cuts and a five billion dollar steel slat fence to keep those bad hombres from Edmond out.
    They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

  15. Tell me what’s so good about “city life” again, please? (avocado sammiches don’t count) Been there, done that. Lived near OCU once, where some junkies were gold mining during the night and having their fear and loathing trips during the day, while beating on their girlfriends every once in a while…

    1. Tell me what’s so good about “suburban life” again, please (less minorities doesn’t count). Been there, done that.. Lived near UCO once, where some jog in yoga pants and were gold mining for rich husbands during the night and having their BMW X5 serviced at Jackie Cooper during the day, while beating their kids for listening to the rap music every once and a while…

  16. Reminds me of the time I was at a slumber party at a house near downtown. Shots were fired in the neighborhood, and the sound of a young man could be heard screaming for help in the dark for what seemed like an eternity before the cops showed up. My parents never let me spend the night at that house again.

    It was an interesting story to tell though… but there’s a whole other world out there that some people have no clue about. You just gotta know what part of town you’re in, and abide by their rules!

  17. Savages…

  18. This sort of thing is a by product of the “War On Drugs”. European and Scandinavian countries figured this out a long time ago. Treating drug addiction as a medical problem instead of a crime problem will drastically reduce this kind of squalid ugliness.

  19. nice work, Ptolemy. xx08 & xx12 are the homes. xx08 is owned by a LLC, which is owned by some folks north of 63rd st lol All of this is public info, in case anyone gets their panties in a bunch.

  20. This is some Bukowski-level shit right here, man.

    “It began as a mistake. I’d almost died. By some miracle I didn’t, I lived, and after a couple of months in the hospital the Gods found me a place on NW 15th. I though, OK, this will do. Then the real fun began.”

    Bukowski wrote, “Humanity, you never had it from the beginning.” I think he was writing about NW 15th.

  21. Thanks, Louis Fowler…Glad you are ok…

  22. To Live and Die in OKC

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