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Thug Night
Before and After Midnight on July 18, 2017


The sweltering mid-Atlantic night was left behind when I boarded the bus, its only passenger of the 10-mile run.

A 48-foot coach to myself, I sat opposite the driver’s side, gear tucked under an extended arm, watching the hazy night roll lazily by.

On Kenwood Avenue, on the corner loop, the Polar Bear Family: Jowl-Hung Dad, Fat Mom, and Plump Daughter, feasted under their netted tent, corn and sausage roasting on the grill.

At Kenwood Shopping Center, the nocturnal shops had closed early.

Many young men played basketball at the park off of Fontana Lane.

Even the hospital seemed to be sleeping.

As the bus hissed to a stop, I offloaded and hefted the back pack and gear on the concrete walk, the driver stayed, sentinel-like until I walked off east, and he pulled off south.

No star shone in the sky, no moon either.

Unseen mists hid the heavens, the sky a gray-smudged black.

Not a soul was about until I ran into a dozen hoodrats in two vehicles, rap music blaring, as two of the bucks hauled vodka bottles from the liquor store, and two of the three Pakistanis on duty locked and barred the door behind them.

Just as the human world locks down, the walking dead are ready to run the streets.

I walk past the 7-11—many of which have sought to close after midnight, but have been prevented from breaching the franchise contract, which stipulates 24-hour service—as Abner the Nigerian locks the door behind the large, dreadlocked man leaving, cane in hand to board his SUV. Abner now keeps his car five feet from the front door rather than in the far corner of the lot, and like many 7-11 clerks, has been locking the door and only letting in customers who check out, the only way to defend against mobs of hoodrats looting these stores by night.

Once again, Crazy Woman is not in the Park.

The feel is of a hunted-out habitat.

As I make the pizzeria, the homeless man who has been living under the awning is gone.

An SUV full of Dindu warriors screeches by, howls of threat and obscenity, waxing wroth in the sweaty dark.

With three stoner zombies staggering across the lot to my left, I pass Steevo on his smoke break and head into work, tired from hauling the stick bundle and fencing mask, but glad to be off the New Soul Food Menu.

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Sam J.July 21, 2017 8:09 PM UTC

I bet a good business would be to have pictures of what you buy in an armed store on a computer placed outdoors. They pick then they retrieve their purchases from an armored bin, after they pay. Maybe put a glass in the bin to see what's there and if they move it out of the bin it's theirs. Cut inventory space and theft. Could have a metal roll up door that delivery trucks ride into then close it to restock. It's pointless to have these people in the store with you where they can attack you or run off with the merchandise. They might not like this but they've made it so hazardous to do business that that's all they can get.

You could pack a lot of different items into a store if it was just shelves with small isles to pick stuff up.