Sometimes this street gets curiously quiet and still. All the action moves to the rooftops and the windows. Not only is there iron gates opposite, there is also netting over the top, so that no one can even climb over the gate or the fence. People cage themselves for safety as I wave down to them in their enclosures. They fucked up paradise and p-p-p-p-put up with a lot.
Cars do the slot puzzle polka, north to south, east to west, not a space to waste.
I watch a man unwisely kick a neon bag of the kind they give street people to poop in, as he waits for the walking green. His foot hits sticky and he flinches in a rapid series of revulsion jerks. What on earth possessed him to do that, I wonder. I think he is wondering the same thing as he stares at this shoe. The shoe is gone, man, the shoe is gone. Bye shoe, nice to know you. Just throw it man. You might need to throw your foot away too. I’d consider at least an extreme decontamination. I wretch slightly, revolted. Dude, I seriously can’t believe you did that, I shake my head at him. Where is he from, I wonder? I decide it is not here, it is somewhere you can kick a bag and not immediately regret all your life choices.
People have different ways of navigating the streets of the ‘Loin.
Meet Chad: the confident strider. Chad is tall, blonde, white, young and healthy. He wears a sensible sweater in navy not black, and wierdly, black jeans with sharp creases ironed into them. He looks preppy. I wonder why he is down this road, and decide he is lost. I think Chad decides the same thing, as he swings his arms left and right, and walks entirely from the hip, like the good ole steak fed all American boy he is. He leaks testosterone and semen. He revolts me more than that bag the curly haired man kicked. I realize how vaguely ludicrous it was that I ever thought I might be bi or straight. Or perhaps I got beaten so much that men make me want to puke, thus destroying any attraction men once held for me. Yeah, Chad is a real straight shooter, a total clean machine, yet his walk has a tiny hint of hesitancy within it. It faintly reeks of nerves controlled. I decide he is a dangerous man if cornered, especially if he is armed. Nervous college boys with guns. It’s almost a band name. I change my mind and decide he would freeze and get a cap in his ass, ‘Loin style, shot by his own 9mm machine of destruction. I almost pity him. He stalks away up the hill, each step a choice. Each breath his own. I would wonder what it is like to be Chad, except I don’t really desire to know what it is to be such a specimen of superiority. I am happier with my self loathing and extensive apologies.
I’ve lost faith in the walkers when suddenly a woman wearing addidas from head to foot jogs into view. Ponytail swinging, fists clenched. Teeth gritted. She is determined not to be a victim. It is a shame it is not that easy. She and Chad would make a great couple. She could wear the tightly creased pants. She moves quickly and with great determination, her head down, her shoulders rounded. She is a champ. She is also headed into trouble, not away from it. I would yell at her that she doesn’t want to go down that road, but she is off already. She is gone. Forget her. Lost cause.
A turn signal missed. A no hitter destroyed. A taxi numbered in the lower thousands. A fire hydrant stands solemnly waiting for it’s time to shine – today is too cold for that good stuff.
My walking double, hands in pockets, half disappeared into her jacket, trips carefully down the shit-obstacled street. She is trying not to notice anything, or at least trying not to be noticed noticing. A man walks towards her and she flinches. I watch her hand twitch. She clearly has a little something something in her deep pocket. I’m thinking a pepper spray or a taser. Good for her. May all her days be free of assholes and all her shots land fairly in painful places if she ever needs to draw it down on a motherfucker.
The intense sadness of the man with his life in his backpack as he passes her, is transmitted through his shoulders and his bent neck. Something tells me he is no threat, he is broken, not psychotic, still take no chances. She speeds up and they are both gone on their shattered ways.
A cab waits outside while a guy in an A’s hat tries to run without paying. There is a small confrontation before the taxi driver (all 3’s) decides it is not worth the trouble and heads off up the hill.
A girl in unwise headphones walks to an invisible beat down the street and runs on the don’t walk sign. I wouldn’t stop on that corner at this time either. A car alarm sounds angrily on the off beat. I hope somebody shuts it off soon. It is breaking my last nerve.
After a sleepy foggy day the city has woken up.
French Laundry trucks and taxi cabs, nondescript honda civics and assertively successful teslas, sirens and shouts, a dog barks set off by the car alarm. A woman screams and begs somewhere up river in tent city. Please no. I shut the curtains.
Everyone on foot seems to be running from something. My wings clipped, my highway boots exchanged for white sneakers, my camper for my on top of the world perch. The highway that contained me not so long ago has spread out before me like a goose chasing me away from her eggs.
A cleanish looking man dragging a suitcase walks by slowly looking down side streets. He’s looking for a spot to rest. I pity him. He looks ill equipped for the night outside. A sign reading Advance Your Career From Howard and Spear mocks him from above. SFU? More SF fuck you. This young man has no opportunity, no chance, no hope, no future. He doesn’t even look high or drunk, just down and out. Sometimes we all just feel like motherless children, sometimes we all need some real love not pretend. Sometimes the city screams out fuck you as car alarms compete with sirens and gun shots and engines being revved up.
Yes, sometimes we are all just motherless children with nowhere left to go.
Something or someone help us all, cause I don’t think G-d is listening any more.
You are too kind, David. Thank you.
Hi! How are you?
I love, LOVE how you wrote this. So vivid! I can picture these people, thanks to your descriptions, and you’ve made it look so easy.
Thank you for the praise. I love to write and am glad you were able to take a walk with me.