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‘Dat Shit is Mines!’
African American and Menacingly Articulate at 4:24 A.M., 6/29/17, Harm County, U.S.A.

I walked east out of Middle River, the Morning Star glowing mistily alone above me to my back, the sliver of the moon long since fallen behind the rounded horizon a mere mile ahead.

Crazy Woman was sitting in the park mumbling to the night birds.

The breeze was cool and northerly, blowing in off the bay and tugging at the tufts of yeti hair on the back of my neck.

The muted sky was darkly streaked with incoming clouds, offering rain.

I wanted to close my eyes and sleep walk home like I did when I was young and pliant.

But in these brittle years, with a 2.5 inch blade on my belt rather than a foot of steel, I remained alert with yawning diligence.

I passed the 7-11 and crossed at the light. A white man sat patiently there in his pickup, sipping coffee, perhaps on his way to work.

I picked up my pace, the unneeded umbrella, which had helped ward off a feral hoodrat buck the night before, rocking in my left hand, my Gatorade in a grocery bag swinging slightly in my right hand.

Another vehicle came driving hard for Middle River, most doubling the speed limit at this hour. It slowed as it passed me on the right, rap beats thudding from the interior, and one of the shadow-form passengers [one in the front, one or two in the back] yelled, “Dat shit is mines.”

Anger fleshed across my brow and I considered raising and flipping the finger as the car slowed some more and banked around the bend, putting them on course [possibly] to circle the block and cut me off in two minutes.

I hustled across the four lanes and the wide median of Eastern Boulevard and walked along the westbound lane.

Just after I made the crossing a car did turn right out of the side street across the way, but was it them? I am terrible at identifying vehicles. They fail to leave an imprint on my pedestrian mind’s eye. There was no loud yelling, no thudding rap, probably not them.

I marched, pumped up, getting myself prepared to fight, rolling my shoulders, loosening my ankles, but it was a false alarm. I would not be punished for taking that man’s Gatorade.

Once at the bus stop—forever deserted at dark, night and day—I was still amped up and decided to train, shadowboxing with real shadows and palm-jabbing and power hitting the bus shelter uprights, enjoying the feeling of the vibrations resonating in my variously worn and practiced parts, such as they are.

The bus driver is an older, lean, bearded, dark-skinned man who greets me with an honest nod of respect.

“God morning, Sir,” we echoed to each other, and I noticed in an instant that the average age of these working people, these pedestrians at the end of the American arc, is 40, and that our young hunters prowl on wheels.

Thriving in Bad Places

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