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The Scrounge
An Encounter with the Paleface of the Future

At the intersection of a side-street and primary road in Baltimore County my driver and I sat at a red light, when a grungy, bearded paleface, of perhaps 30 hard years, zoomed across the intersection on a BMX bike rigged with a gas motor. As Mescaline Franklin said, “Check out that bike. I wonder if he did that,” the speeding man noticed two likely customers for his ill-gotten wares.

The man, in a black ski cap and green jacket and jeans, then did a double take into the car and turned on a dime, walking his now silent bike over to us and asking, “Would you guys like to by an antique knife?”

“Nah, we’re good,” said Mescaline.

“Are you sure, it’s an authentic Boy Scout knife. You can have it for twenty bucks.”

He pulled a sheath knife out of his zipped breast pocket and showed us the knife, turning it over and said, “This is a good knife.“

Mescaline than pulled out his knife, showed it, and said, “Nah, I’m good, bro.”

The brown-bearded vagabond then pulled out a World War II era lighter in a decorative box and said, “How about this, a real antique Ronson lighter?”

“Sorry, bro, don’t smoke.”

The man then replaced the items in his breast pocket and zipped it as Mescaline asked, “Did you modify that bike yourself?”

“Yeah, I did it.”

We both said, “Good job man,” as the light changed and traffic threatened and the lean, light-fingered, dope fiend of some sort darted his head furtively around and then sped off under the gathering snow clouds of mid-April, another denizen of the ever-spreading City of the Damned that is Baltimore, motoring creatively down towards its dark heart.

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