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The Generals
Ten-and-More Miles By Day Under the Ghetto Hawk
[written 12/5/19]
I decided to walk from the County into the City, taking the steepest hill in these parts for exercise and satisfying my curiosity about the day-life of my current environs. Below I will detail every soul I came close enough to, to determine gender and ethnicity. I will seek to do Ten-mile walks in other American cities in future volumes of the American Decline project as a comparative measure of Urban Blight. My progress begins and ends in Baltimore County, entering and exiting Baltimore City.
Mile 2, side-street
-An older, slight African American man, smoking a cigarette on his front porch, under a hood against the gray, spitting skies.
Mile 3, side-street
-An elegant and pretty mulattress, carrying a one-year old all a bundle, with a three-year-old girl and a five-year old girl skipping out in front of her. I stepped into the street and walked by in the gutter as the girls greeted me with “high” and “hello” and their ,other said, “Good morning, sir. Thank you,” and I raised my open right hand to her and kept walking by.
Mile 4, primary-street
-See the first Baltimore County Police cruiser in two months. A large African American man of about 30 waits on a bus and boards as I walk by him.
Mile 5, primary-street
-An indistinct and veiled blind woman feeling her way with her walking stick.
-An elderly African American man walking with a 2-wheeled shopping cart towards the market hears me walking up behind him with my creaking boots, stiffens, and then turns with a kind of resigned fatalism, seeming to will himself to face his doom. He sees my face and relief crosses his, in front of the Fenwick Apartments where my grandparents and Aunt lived for 30 years, now a gated fortress. I showed him my open hand and said, “Good morning,” and he sighed in relief and said, “Good morning to you, Sir,” and watched me pass with the attitude of a civilian watching some cavalier riding to war.
Mile 6
“Why good morning, Mister LaFond!” said the little ebony angel who takes appointments for my dentist as I brought in her mail and said, “Mornin’ darlin’” and she beamed, “It is so nice to see you—we have missed you so much—what’s the matter with your eye?”
I love going to the dentist, a woman named Hyacinth from Trinidad and Tobago.
Mile 6.5
-On my way out of town a white sissy and white frail, both seemingly college students offloading from a bus early in the afternoon walk towards me. The sissy looks up at me, visibly shivers, steps off the sidewalk with eyes cast downward as I pass. The frail never sees me as she looks into her smart phone and is then startled, after I step aside to prevent her crashing into my chest and she catches my shadow and stutter steps, looks up at me with rabbit eyes, and staggers onward, re-achieving her trance in 2 seconds.
Mile 7
-A hip hop hero, dressed in 1-k of finery, rapping imperiously under his headset, offloads from another bus and walks on by me, puffing out his chest and carving a frown across his beige countenance to impress.
Mile 8
-An frail old ghost woman with cane and grocery bag walks with brittle indecision down the sidewalk towards me as I step off into the grass to let her pass and she glances at me with a mixture of fear and disgust.
Mile 9
-The crying, sniffling ghost stoner, reeking of weed, sits the stairs, his feet on the wet alley floor in the cut as I walk past him and say, “Excuse me,” and he responds, “I’m so sorrary, sir.”
I say, “Have a good night man,” as the sun is long lost behind the clouds at 3:45 PM and the streetlights clip on.
Mile 10
-Walking up alleys through the cut, without my staff, only a small knife, I look up to see a huddle of hoodrats, ten large, older teens, including two who have tried to waylay me, the night walker in his blue-grey hoody, and a stern leader type his back to me, in grey hoody. Except for the night walker, all are dressed in either black of grey hoodies, the average age being 18 and average size six feet and 190 pounds.
This is an obvious planning session. If I divert I show fear. If I speak I pry into criminal activity. These guys—three of them-have all given me a pass recently. So I manage to walk by the huddle without turning shoulder, bumping shoulder to back or scrapping the fence as the leader, halts his briefing and turns to look at me, all other eyes down, covering their faces like ghouls in conclave, and I show him my open right hand and walk on past, not looking back.
I am impressed. Only three of these guys lived or hunted here three years ago. The rest are all new muscle. It makes sense now, why the younger teens gather here at this every spot, after dark and flip coins and talk. They are imbibing the presence of the warrior cult they aspire to. When I come back through here a half hour later, only three 12-year-olds stand here, riding their bikes in circles, smiling and joking, their role models having dispersed to the nine-corners of their realm to do the Grey Hood’s bidding.
The Grey Hood’s set have tested me four times now, and have left me alone. The paleface traitor and the 2 mulatto raiders that came after me near here a week ago were interlopers. I understand now why such as they do not hunt here after dark. When the sun sinks, the generals of the hood gather in conclave and plan their night.
I have already walked through their social space and will avoid it now out of respect, using other alleys. Ultimately, I think they understand that we have the same enemies, the PIGs and the Latinos and I sense an uneasy truce which I will seek not to breach. I never walk by night here without a club cane or with a full pack without being like–armed. I go through the motions of using the cane on main streets where PIGs might be hunting palefaces, looking every bit the homeless trashian. But on the side streets and alleys I grip it like a war club and give a wide birth to the night walker and the little messenger boys with their bikes and flipping coins, wanting no misunderstandings with the 25-year-old elder statesmen of this nocturnal warrior tribe or the 12-year-old aspirants to his towering height of achievement.
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