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The Ghost of Inchon John
Three Minutes in a Baltimore City Liquor Store, Friday, 2:15, December 1

Inchon John and his helper, a former boxer, were unable to properly defend the establishment he owned at the base of an old row of Baltimore store front housing. I was in his store during the start of the Baltimore Riots of 2015 when we saw all of the district cops fly down to Riot Central and saw him shrink, knowing that the police had just thrown him to the wolves. He was out of business within months.

An Indian couple now manage this store for a Sikh owner. The lady is behind the counter when I come past a large dindu buck exiting with no purchase in his hands.

As I look for the pegboard tree nut snacks I notice that all of the food articles, all of his impulse sale opportunities, are gone.

The small Indian man came out of the back of the store and asked me if he could help me.

I asked him about the food and he said he was having the place exterminated, but then thought better of that face-saving lie, and said, “It is the theft. I cannot afford to display food anymore.”

“I managed a supermarket in this area. I know what you are going through. I had to hire a store detective on guard the place.”

He looked at me, not comforted, but giving a sigh of relief that I at least—whoever I was in my ragged clothing—understood, and then said, “Will you be here for a few minutes?”

“Yes, sir,” I said.

I shopped around for a bottle of wine to go with my six-pack and bottle of cheap rum. Standing at the counter chatting with his wife, she asked me about spicing the rum and I told her I preferred the plain Puerto Rican Castillo rum in glass, and dunking a few cinnamon sticks in it for a week or two.

She then told me of using fresh coconut water to mix with her rum in India.

I asked her, “What part of India are you from?”


“From the north?”

She smiled, “Yes. You have been to India?”

“Only in books and on maps.”

She smiled nicely and her eyes went to her husband as he came back with his newspaper, and they both thanked me as I left, having lightened the circumstances of their life under siege for three minutes.

I give Mister and Mrs. Undersiege a year before they box themselves in behind bullet proof glass.

Another chilling marker in the winter of a dying city.

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Tag: Winter in a Dying City

Add Comment
markoDecember 29, 2017 9:15 PM UTC

the main effect of that plexiglass law will be the end of most of those businesses especially after the first shopowner killing which should occur in the first 5 minutes after removal.

the animals will be ordering groceries off the home shopping network.
Sam J.December 28, 2017 9:19 PM UTC

I think the way you could make a go at this is have a big screen where they select stuff outside the building and then pay. It's delivered in a huge chute. Don't let them anywhere inside at all. The screen would be a area with electronic door locks so if they try to destroy it it locks them in until the police come. Of course the screen would have a thick plexiglass cover to protect it. The selection buttons could be a big trackball like on video games and a big push button to select.
responds:December 29, 2017 9:21 AM UTC

I expect to see this implemented. With rulings like they just had in Philly for the taking down of plexiglass, remote shopping will become the go to method or ghetto retail.