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Tracking Whitey
Monday Night, 10-10:15, Northeast Baltimore

The bitten outline of the moon is rising in the eastern sky, behind grey-lined clouds stacked above the spreading oaks.

The overhead power cords whip in the wintry wind.

My stride has returned, but I don't push it. I walk slowly and deliberately in the middle of the nighted streets, listing for sounds and checking the cars to the side for reflected headlights coming up behind.

I stop about every 200 paces, turn around slowly with my cane in both hands, and check all 360 degrees. The back is too old and stiff to sneak a peek over my shoulder in hopes of surprising a mugger who thinks I don't know he's there. I have become blatantly suspicious of others, wary and unkind, just like the 90s when ever commute was a survival lesson.

After crossing Glenmore I thought I heard a heel scuff, and turned slowly around, allergic to quick movements in the cold as my joints catch.

I saw nothing.

Again, after feeling a shiver go up my neck when I past the spot where those big Dindus pulled over and began to bail out on me, until I filled my hand, I heard a heel, stopped, turned and looked all around.

I saw nothing.

Halfway down the hill to the cross street I heard it again, turned and saw nothing.

As I walked around the corner at the base of the hill and checked for traffic before jaywalking, I heard it again and a car alarm went off 50 yards to my rear, warning the unauthorized person, "Step away from the car! Step away from the car!"

I laughed and continued on my way as I heard sneakered feet skitter away up the asphalt hill and an adjacent porch light flicked on.

I snickered the rest of the way to the bus stop and was still grinning when I leaned on my cane to wait for the big square tube that takes me most of the way to my destination. The grin does fade some when I see that three more "for sale" signs have gone up on Northern Parkway, in a single block.

Now even the brown rabbits are running for the hills.

Run rabbits, run. I'm done.

When Your Job Sucks

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