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Bitch’s Hill
Living on Butcher’s Hill in East Baltimore

I call Butchers Hill Bitch’s Hill because so many dykes lived up there. The vestiges of the Lumbees were still living up there. I was still working for the same people. They had different spots, thematically different, but the same people working them. At this point I’m working in Mount Vernon. I’d ride my bicycle past the jail every day to get to work in Mount Vernon. My roommate was Jay, a complete book worm, who had moved to Baltimore from San Francisco because they had a needle exchange program here—that’s why he moved to Baltimore. One of the coolest people I had ever met in my life. He worked close by and would come in and grab coffee. That’s how we met and then I would see him in the used book stores around town and he’d give me the magazines at the end of the month with the cover ripped off. When he found out I was looking for a place to live he said, “Hey, move in with me.”

My rent was almost constantly steady about $300 to 350 from 1998 through 2005.

Jay was half-Jewish with a white boy afro. I was 20 and he was in his mid-thirties.

From the outside it looked awesome, some old banker’s row house mansion from the 1800s. It had been made into apartments as early as the 40s, during the war. It was lofted even though it was on the first floor. The bedrooms would be on a platform up a set of steps. They had really high ceilings. It was all carpeted. The bathroom was a piece of crap, grungy as fuck. It was terrible. The kitchen was terrible. He had nothing to sit on. I made a kitchen table out of cinder blocks that I found in the alley and one of them was so infested with mice that I grabbed a box of spaghetti and all these mouse heads popped out and I set the box down and it started to move and I grabbed a hammer and beat it bloody. That was the last time I ate there.

I remember hearing about the rat fishing behind the bars north of Patterson Park. [Butcher’s Hill is southwest of Patterson Park] They hadn’t blown up the projects yet and it could get scary late at night. I knew guys who owned bars up there and held all night crap games, and I’d go to some of them. Walking through there, on the edge of this fucking jungle, waiting to get jumped, everything black, no street lights and it was the most evil experience, with that still, stale summer air.

I started dating that chick Buffy, half polish, half black. She was girl I got hooked up with because the cleaning lady at the place I worked said, “You see that girl over there, she likes you,” and I was like, “No way,” you’re shitting me. She’s hot.” So I actually asked her out. She was a good little catholic schoolgirl. She didn’t know anything about the black side of her family.

I took her and her blonde friend to see this chiropractor and he looked at her and looked at me and gave me this look like, “How the hell did you score these bitches, how are they talking to your mangy ass?”

I’d walk through Patterson Park at four in the morning to go and see her—about as dumb as it gets, fucking stupid. She broke up with me and then wanted to get back with me. As stupid as I was, I knew that it wasn’t going to work and I knew that if I ended up with her and I saw how her grandparents were and I thought, “Oh no, this wasn’t going to be me. I was going to do more than just knock some bitch up and be that nine to five guy.”

There were things I wanted to do and I was very wary, for many many years, of being tied down, because it seemed like it wouldn’t end up good. I pretty much knew that most women were good for essentially keeping you a slave somehow. It had been pretty serious and I just realized that I would never seen anything I wanted to see or do anything I wanted to do and I’d be stuck in some weird Venus fly trap in Baltimore and would rather not follow that path.

How the Ghetto Got My Soul

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