She still feels the blade at her waist: Steve Duin’s review
Like many of their neighbors, Nik and Susie Park haven’t been a gala year.
For months, the pandemic has put a vicious drag on business at Peacock Cleaners, the two dry cleaners the couple own at Lake Oswego. Boones Ferry Road was demolished for months right outside their Lake Grove store door, and three weeks ago their steam boiler stopped working, requiring a $ 26,000 replacement.
So, no, these are not the best times for the parks. And we didn’t even hit the masked man with the machete.
On the night of October 20, Nik came home early to cook dinner for the Parks’ three sons – “Worst spaghetti in the world,” he assures me – and Susie was alone in the store. With the boiler off, she was loading washed shirts into the van so that Nik could haul them to her mother’s store in John’s Landing for pressing the next morning.
“We have alternate personalities. Once Nik leaves work, he doesn’t think about it anymore, ”says Susie. “But when something isn’t done for the day, I get stressed out. I want everything to be done perfectly. There are so many dry cleaners.
As she loaded the van, Susie noticed a guy in a red hoodie, his face covered, to the side. She wasn’t that indifferent. People often linger on the promenade, waiting for their take out order from Malee’s Thai Kitchen next door.
He was missing by 7:30 p.m. when she grabbed her purse and turned off the store lights. But when Susie locked the door and turned around, a little guy in a gray sweatshirt was parked right in front of her.
His first thought? A desperate last minute customer. It happens all the time, even when you are open 70 hours a week.
“He said, ‘Give me your purse,’” Susie said. “But he was wearing a mask and I couldn’t understand him. Then he said, ‘Give me your purse’ again, and looked down. I looked down and he was holding the knife straight over. my stomach.
“He knew I had no idea what was going on because of the look on my face. Or I thought I didn’t speak English, ”says Susie. “I think he was waving to me that I was being robbed.”
Point taken. Susie handed over the purse. The masked man asked him for his keys, which he threw in the street. He then hopped into a silver Mercedes sedan, where his red sweater pal was riding a shotgun, and took off.
Susie couldn’t focus on the license plate, “But I was like, ‘He’s driving a Benz. Why is he stealing from me? That’s when I had a nervous breakdown.
She called Nik from Malee’s. She could barely pronounce the words and Nik was beside himself. He grew up on the streets of New York, angry and aggressive, and thinks he’s still in one piece only because he met Susie 20 years ago when she was a student in the State of Portland.
“I’m angry that I wasn’t there to protect her,” he says. “It’s the only thing I could think of. I felt like a worthless human being.
Nik and the Lake Oswego Police were there within minutes. At Nik’s request and on her husband’s phone, Susie logged into her online account and discovered that her credit card had already been used in downtown Portland.
Portland police reached the store quickly enough to arrest 24-year-old Steve Christopher Salmon. He was then jailed in Clackamas County and charged with theft, illegal use of a weapon and identity theft.
His partner, Shaquille Lamar Brown, the guy who threatened Susie, is still at large, but the machete, he was told, was recovered from the backseat of the Mercedes.
For 10 days, the Parks customers have been rallying around them. As the thieves sped up Twin Firs Road, they threw away the contents of Susie’s purse, which was found by neighbors on their morning walks and returned to her.
“The people grabbed it all and said, ‘Hey, I know these people!’ Suzie says. “So many customers have brought me flowers, cookies and cards.”
Thursday, finally, the new boiler arrived. The old normal? It’s long gone. Susie still feels the blade at her waist. She doesn’t know what to say to her parents. She wonders what would have happened that night if her youngest son Oscar had been with her, as he so often is.
And too often, when the store bell announces a customer, Susie looks up to find another guy in a mask.
“It scares me,” Susie admits. “People say, ‘Why are you here? If it was me, I would be hiding in the house. But even when I’m at home, I don’t feel safe.