[This piece was written after a weekday night bus trip that saw Saturday night levels of bus use and insanity. It was also, honestly, wrongly categorized as a blog piece. 6/1/15]
This could have been a Harm City piece. However, there is no actual violence in it, and I would like the general reader that comes to this site to gain some insight into this nation’s burgeoning drug culture. This article concerns primarily my experiences of the night of Monday, August 12, 2013 into the early morning hours of the 13th. It is firmly in the vein of my opening Narco-state News piece. It is, however, modeled on—and may be regarded as a sequel to—Harm City Holdout, an article I did early last winter, concerning another insane trip through Baltimore City by night.
I waited in line to purchase my beverage at the food market where I am employed as a night clerk. I stood behind a mated pair of whitetrashians [perhaps the two that a later day Noah might take off in his Ark to reseed the post-delluvian world with drug addicts] who were having a hard time getting their transaction to go through. They had two ‘food stamp’ or EBT cards, on this, the second day of distribution. Both cards had insufficient funds. These cards are recharged with between $30 and $1,800 per month, so I assume they had not yet gotten their various infusions of government largess.
The bill was $26.32. What then occurred has often happened while I was manning the checkout; the male of the pair pulled out a knot-roll of twenties so thick it barely fit in his pocket, peeled off two, made the purchase, and left.
The cashier was bemused, and, after they left, looked at me and said, “What the fuck?”
Another customer chimed in, “He sells pills. I know him from back in the neighborhood. You don’t make money on weed anymore. Everybody is a junky on pills in this neighborhood.”
Late that morning, tired from my shift working frozen food, I walked a little over a mile to a bus stop. I stood off by fifty yards as many of these bus stop patrons use the two lines I use to get to hospital and community center drug treatment programs. They are still practicing addicts though: taking methadone, smoking vast quantities of cigarettes, and eating as many prescription pain pills and antipsychotics as they can get their hands on. Such smokers, having always waited impatiently for some other dope fiend to blow free smoke in their face, do not comprehend that cigarette smoke literally makes me sick, and get angry when I do not enjoy their exhalations. I therefore remove myself up wind. The males get it, the females do not.
On this particular morning there was a formerly attractive female begging to share cigarettes with strange men and women, and trying to sell bus tickets that she had gotten with some older dope fiend’s senior discount card. She had a nice figure at about forty, though her skin screamed sixty, her posture twisted to seventy, and her voice was a halting crone-like ninety. She spotted me, and placing confidence in her still perky B-cups, croaked, “Hey hon? Hey Hon?!”
A man I would have glared at; warned off with a narrow gaze. With women I look away. She croaked her soot-clogged siren’s call again and then limped over to me in a once perfect stripper-quality body, now apparently bent with agonizing constipation. She came up to me and I sneered and turned away as the ashcan scent wafted off of her toxic hair, “Hey hon, I have a bus ticket. You need a bus ticket? Two dollars for a bus ticket. You are goin’ to pay three-fifty. Save a dollar-fifty and help me out, please?”
I snarled, “I’m good”, and looked away, never even seeing her face, refusing to acknowledge her humanity. If this were a male I would already be edging him toward the busy street for a push. But she was once female, maybe even a person, so I just erased her vile smell, her gnarled image from my mind as I open my Solomon Kane book and read about ‘black fiends rising up from hell!’
She finally gets it, “Yer lyin’. You don’ have a ticket. Yer mean.”
Off she teetered toward the bus. She waited to watch me pay my $3.50, out of my last five for the week. I even let her see how thin my wallet was, that I would rather forgo lunch tomorrow, than to profit her a dime, parasite that she was. I soon found myself surrounded by working thirty-something and twenty-something blacks headed to low-paying jobs, seated alongside stoner forty-something whites headed to the government drug dispensaries, where your tax money is used to finance the suicides of my irritating co-commuters, and enrich the drug-dealers that serve them.
I woke an hour late for work as the power had cut out and disabled my clock. I had missed the last bus across town to Whitetrashistan. I got dressed and considered the recent drive-up attacks in my neighborhood as I stood over my footlocker. All of these attacks have been occurring in this time slot with the epicenter being the very bus stop I would be walking to. I pocketed a small pocketknife with a flip-posted two-inch blade.
As I walked west on the secondary road I live on, just past the spot where one of my neighbors was recently run down by a group of men, I spotted a young mohawked white-boy [18-19] on a BMX bike, checking his smart phone, and waiting beneath the ‘Lawbreaker beware!’ neighborhood watch sign.
Walking towards him from the west, across the main drag, was a tall black youth without a shirt [unarmed, a cash or drug currier who would have muscle nearby]. As I emerged from the secondary street and crossed, I saw the white-boy dart from the alley that intersected the main and secondary streets on his BMX, peddling north into Whitebreadistan faster than anyone could run. It occurred to me that this boy was a mule—and a good one.
As I turned to check the ATM zone down the street for any raiders or drive-up bankers I noticed a large black man in his late twenties, dressed in cargo pants and double white T-shirts turning into the secondary street from the south. Soon the shirtless mover crossed the street to the western enclave. Seconds later the hitter emerged and headed south where he had come from, where the Pakistani farm store serves as a drug depot.
I take a seat at the bus stop on the west side of the main drag as another cargo pants wearing double T-shirt uniformed thug struts toward me, slows as he measures me—my hand under the flannel shirt that is draped on my lap—and continues on by with a nod, down south toward the pizzeria, bar, ATM, and farm store; the only businesses now open.
A cop drives by, and slows to look at me, continuing south.
A wiry black man in his twenties sees me from the east side of the street and crosses the street obliquely in front of me as he heads south. He asks me for a cigarette, and I say, “I don’t smoke” and he continues on down the west side of the street.
The cop drives back north, slowing to observe me, and continues out of sight over the hill.
The bus comes, and I get up to board. It is ending at North Avenue and Asquith, one of the deadliest areas in town, right next to the Eastern District Courthouse. I need to get all the way downtown. I understand that the cop will be back and he—having never taken a bus—pussy mamma’s boy whitebread bitch that he is, will not believe that I am still legitimately waiting for the bus. I take my pocket knife and drop it into the bottom of my man-purse.
Just then, coming up the street, is the thug returning, with no carry out items. He is either returning from the ATM, or a drug buy, or is going to give me trouble. I have no weapon. I focus on his neck, just staring at it, visualizing my leap for his throat with my teeth, the only weapon left to me thanks to my fear of the cop. He pats his side nervously with his right hand and eases on by as we glare at each other. He passes and then picks up his stride.
I then look to the south again and see a giant: a six-and-a-half-foot tall, muscular black man with a go-tee. He is in his mid-twenties and uniformed like the rest, his hand in his right side pocket, eyeing me intensely but not confrontationally. ‘Shit’, I think, ‘I can’t even get to his throat unless I knock him down and that’s not happening. I’ll shove my hand down his pants and tear his junk off.’
He has now slowed and is nervously moving something in his pocket. I’m thinking knife or .25 auto. He then glances ahead past me and nods respectfully to me and walks on by. I follow him up the sidewalk with my eyes and see him meet and greet a stoner white-boy in his forties. He takes his hand out of his pocket and uses that hand to shake hands with the wiry white-boy in his ball cap. They part, him continuing north as the white-boy passes me and nods as he pockets something.
I think these three actors comprise another drug deal, one for a personal quantity; again, two black customer-service providers and one white customer, just like Taco Bell.
The cop is now cruising south again. When he sees me still sitting at the bus he does a U-turn back north, and begins another U-turn on the west side. I just know he is going to be harassing me and am hoping that my cousin Cheri will be on duty at Central Booking so I didn’t get thrown in with a bunch of gangbangers to be beaten and raped. Just then the bus that I need comes over the hill and I board in a hurry as the cop U-turns up behind it.
‘Fuck you White Pig!” I thought, as I thanked the elderly black driver, nodded to the elderly Church Lady, and went back to sit three seats forward of the young stoner white-boy, in his late twenties, who sat nervously on the edge of his seat, not relishing the trip into the deep ghetto below.
It occurs to me as I sit that the driver and I are two rare surviving versions of 1970s black men. It is nights like this that I realize that I am far, far ‘blacker’ as the term was used in my youth, than any of the modern hood-rats that now make that cultural claim. I am blacker even than this black bus driver who has basically become like a 1970s white man; a subspecies that is culturally all but extinct. No wonder BASH [Baltimore Area Skin Heads] employed that stoner white trash gang, the Wasted Youth, to assassinate me in the late 1980s.
The young man moves up to sit across from me obliquely, him facing forward, me towards the back door, and asks, “How long for this bus to get downtown sir?”
“It’s empty. We’re on The Block in twenty. But those buses are headed out of town and will be packed.”
“You catching the twenty-three home?”
“Yeah, but headed in—overslept.”
We then continued with a bus route navigation discussion, comparing our longest walks, etc. Before the buses reached the condemned housing area being bought up by Johns Hopkins Hospital a ghetto lesbian gang-banger got on, uniformed like the thugs out the road: cargo shorts, double white T-shirts, scowl, shoulders threateningly sloped…
The Church Lady was now deep in a conversation with the driver from the ‘rap seat’. I did not get his statements, only hers, “I feel so good after service—feel the Spirit of The Lord Jesus moving in me. It makes me wonder though about the world, when I meet people who fail to see the Spirit of The Lord in me. Does that mean I don’t have enough faith, have not taken enough of The Lord in me? Sorry about running on but I’m high—high on church! What is up with this wiped out neighborhood? What happened here?”
The driver speaks, “Drugs, overrun with drugs!”
The lady then gets more animated, “You know what my pastor said the cure is, drug-testing for food stamps!”
The man across from me and the lesbo gangbanger up front both groaned out-loud. The Church Lady then turned her accusatory finger on the gang girl, “You know it’s true girl—yer mamma on that drug stuff, her man on that drug stuff—en look at you!”
The gang girl turned all the way around and leaned away facing me across the back of her seat with anger in her face and tears in her eyes, as the Church Lady went on about drugs and parents.
I have a pretty good sense of what food stamps meant to this young thug girl when she was a child. If she was provided for by her mother in the same way as 7 out of 10 black children in Baltimore, this is how it went for her, and well explains the pain that soon sent her off the bus in tears, I believe before her destination…
As a supermarket manager I can attest to the following sequence of subsidy: the food stamp money hits town between the 6th and the 16th. Mamma then comes shopping with her children and her ‘man’. The man generally has plenty of cash but spends it on liquor, dope and prostitutes, who spend it on dope. Mamma spends her money, first and foremost, on shrimp, snow crab leg clusters, steaks, and decorated cakes; the former for her and her man, and the latter for her and her lady friends’ get together. What is left of her money is used to purchase soft drinks, Kool-aid, sugar, prepackaged snack cakes, salty snack foods, hotdogs, frozen french-fries, and dried instant noodles. This child was most likely nutrient-starved her entire childhood, despite eating massive calories.
As the ghetto girl bailed off the bus the young man spoke up, “I’m on food stamps and methadone. I’m an Iraqi War veteran—three years protecting you in the Marine Corp—I have shrapnel in my legs from an IED!”
Church Lady: “Baby, you don’t need that methadone, you need Jesus.”
Marine: “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Church Lady: “Oh, you jus’ hear what you wanna hear!”
Marine: “I was protecting you—thank you very much.”
Church Lady: “You weren’t protecting me, you was killin’ blacks.”
Marine: “Are you fuckin’ retarded bitch!”
It is now our stop and we are getting off at The Block. As we do the Church Lady yells, “Come here and say that en I will slap the shit outa a yer ass white-boy!”
We are now laughing on the sidewalk heading to the transfer point, and he is fired up and rambling, “White-boy, white-boy! Hear that?”
“It didn’t take long for you to scrape the church off of her.”
“It doesn’t take much to bring out the animal in people. These blacks crack me up. [We are now crossing to the bum-strewn south side of The Block looking for our bus.] They’re the first ones to go Moslem and they think that’s being ‘black’ that Moslems are black. I killed Moslems as white as you over there. Fuckin’ bitch isn’t speaking Arabic is she? How would she feel if I shattered her face! I’m headed to Royal Farms for some cigarettes. I’ll meet you at the stop.”
The strippers, barkers, gangsters and cops are back to my left. Ahead is the transfer point and the army of sprawled homeless men living on the sidewalk.
I pass more heavily laden bums stretched out on the sidewalk. Black children and youths are walking all over the place in groups, peacefully having a good time. At the transfer point is a shapely lady in black spandex shorts and a low cut T-shirt, dancing to her head set. She lives in a world without fear, as there is only one thing that men want from her, and she is obviously willing to give that away.
A grungy white trash alcoholic about my age approaches me, fouling my view of the rotating hips, “Got a cigarette you can spare boss?”
“I don’t smoke man.”
“Good for you brother.”
He then steps back to get a better view of our dancer, nods approvingly, and then leans on the fencing to relax until the bus rolls up. We are all—except the bike boy—obviously Eastside people waiting on the #23.
There is also a young go-tee boy with a bike, who is on call to provide some kind of service for someone, as he keeps checking his smart phone, as we three take turns checking her out. I have fallen back into the shadows so no one can get behind me, and so that the other young lady—a retail employee—will not feel uncomfortable about me being so close. Bike boy and I are both keeping our distance from the women.
A group of youths come by and proposition the dancer and she moves more seductively, but looks away with her chin up, indicating that they are inadequate. Her dance, however, did not fail to educate. As a dedicated man of science I forced myself, despite the insult to my puritanical ethos, to count her wiggles. Keep in mind that she was built more for roller derby than the dance floor, with a striking structural similarity to tennis star Sarenna Williams. I discovered, through diligent scientific analysis, that every 4.5 rotations of her ample hips required the manipulation of her constricting shorts, less they eventually bunch up into an unseemly G-string. The lady did, after all, have her dignity to maintain.
The #23 is packed with 49 people, 4 more than it seats. I get the post stand by the back door and observe. The gangbangers crowding the back deck of the bus are discussing, ‘Lowdown chumpass niggas’, ‘hot hos’, ‘babyback bitchez’ ‘crushin dat piss-test’ ‘smokin’ blunts’ ‘drinkan liquor’ ‘beatin chargez’ and other such philosophic topics of the day.
In another block, 7 board, including the Marine, who stays up front. A family of six, including an infant, toddler, and two young children are to the right. To the left is a mamma and her two older children, one of whom befriends the Marine.
We roll for a half mile, stop and let 1 off and take on 6, including a hot little girl in almost nothing and her huge cock-blocker wearing a tent-like pink dress, who is holding out her middle finger to a group of teenage boys on the sidewalk. The hottie sits on her cock-blocker’s lap and the drones up behind me begin a chorus, of ‘Yo babbay—I got yo lap right hea’, and other such chivalrous talk. One of the leaders of this clique is a small mouthy dread-locked scumudgeon who tries to hit on her.
More people load. This is tough in the ghetto where bumping a shoe can get you shot. So there is many a needless apology. Saturation-level survival courtesy is practiced by all but myself, as I don’t buy into apologizing for incidental human contact in order to avoid being shot.
We are now headed up the Eastside and ‘Minze’, the dread-locked thirty-something featherweight stooge who wants to mate with this 15-year-old girl, is becoming the center of attention. He is utterly drunk out of his mind and desperately hanging onto his last full-sized cigarette, which alternately finds purchase behind his greasy locks, in his mouth, and between his dirty fingers. He drops the cigarette no fewer than three times while standing next to me. Each time he is unable to reach it and pleads pathetically with good cancer-promoting Samaritans, “Dat be minze yo—please yo, fish dat shit up!”
Eventually we swing into Highlandtown and he rings the bell, breaking his savory cig in half. The driver—unable to hear in the 70-person din—misses the stop and he begins to yell, “Yo, yo. Wo, yo yo—Minze, babbay Minze!”
He now wants to get off between stops and she says, “Baby, I will hook you up in a moment.”
“Oh, I’m not havin’ dat disrespect yo!”
Our heroic mating drone now decides to challenge the ruling matriarchy and worms his way up through the standing passengers, holding up our progress as he heads to the captain’s chair to protest. Just as he turns toward her rather than exiting I and others groan. His revolution is short-lived, as her hand, the girth of his scrawny head, waives in his face and she directs him, “I said have a safe trip baby—don’t make me say it again.”
He did his best Snoop Dog imitation as he strutted out into the world and we pulled off toward Greek Town and the hospital. More and more people board and offload, and I begin to hear the bus driver giving specific security instructions for those who offload.
The Harm City Police Department has, instead of alarming the public through the media, been notifying the pedestrians that have borne the brunt of our recent wave of violent crime, through bus operators. She reminds everyone: “Look out for suspicious people; do not give out change or cigarettes, conceal your smart phone, do not speak on your cell phone, and do not listen to your head set while walking. Be careful and have a safe night.”
This is all good Harm City advice.
As people offload I move to a central seat and catch a snippet of the nine-year-old boy’s conversation with the Marine. He turns and tells his mamma, “He was a Marine Mamma, served in Iraq—in the war!”
The lady waved to him, “Thank you sir, thank you!”
The Marine beamed and shook hands with the boy before getting off at the famous Broadway Diner at Kane Street.
At East Point Mall a squishy egg-shaped white male in his early twenties boards with a bag. He is doing the ‘dope-fiend lean’, an obvious opiate user. He sits down across from me, behind the family of six. He begins to nod, then produces one of those mechanical tobacco oil cigarettes and takes a drag. I hate that these things are legal because something in the oil, some chemical in the tobacco extract, makes me nauseous, just like the actual burned pollutant. I brace for the reek as the smoke streams up on either side of his head and the family members in front of him cover their mouths and the baby’s mouth with shirts.
But it is not that tobacco oil. It is something vaguely sweet I remember smelling three decades ago when I was drinking with a biker who was helping four strippers fire heroin. One of the girls was afraid of the needle and he had her smoke the heroin from a hash pipe. This smelled like that, and Humpty Junky nodded immediately off into oblivion.
I offload with two youths, a tough looking bald dude, and Serena, who struts her substantial stuff westward as the bald dude and I walk northeast and the youths head east, with warnings to safeguard our person and hide our valuables still ringing in our ears.
I lose track of the bald dude so fish out my knife and pocket it, worried that I’m too old to handle him with my hands. He has disappeared and the park soon looms on my left. I catch movement to my left and duck noise to my right. To my left, across the street, is Clown Face and her three drones, who follow her about with their gothic makeup, ‘I’m not completely gay yet yellow backpacks’ and skateboards. Clown Face is in her teens, has a sad clown tattooed on her face, and has well over fifty facial piercings. She looks revolting and is rather shapeless, but attracts a steady stream of worshippers. One can only imagine what vile things she does to achieve this cult like status. Her lips and eyebrows are so pierced they look like zippers.
I pass a handful of punks smoking reefer outside the 7-ll. The cops usually hit this place for free food and drink at midnight, and it is well past that; a cop-free drug den once again.
I pass through the mini-park near the riverbank where the local homeless retarded lady camps out. I am fast closing in on the two I suspect provided the drugs now being enjoyed by Clown Face and her southbound company, and the suburban stoners at the 7-11. This pair is ambling slowly, as the big muscular black one is so wide he cannot progress forward easily. His companion is a tiny bald white-boy with a disgustingly moist smoker’s cough. I call these fellows Muscle & Mucus.
I am two hours late for work. If I waltz at their pace I will lose another quarter hour of wages. They are crossing the bridge and I will not step off into the road so overtake them. They narrow up and make way for me and I pass on the bridge, making my way to work at Mister John’s Market.
I punch in just in time to see two late teenage junkies making love in the meat aisle. The female is so stoned out of her mind that she is drooling on the floor, long strings of saliva yo-yoing from her mouth as the tattooed freak who is kissing her is holding his head between her hands and saying, “I love you baby; love…Remember that baby, love!”
She lets out this barely audible canine-like whimper and gurgles on her pooling saliva as they hug and she blows a spit bubble on his shoulder, the T-bone steaks [which sell good at food stamp time] they were selecting forgotten behind them, dropped in the intake slot where they tumbled when this postmodern Romeo and Juliette fell into their touching embrace.
There you go: a Monday night in Harm City. Tours are twenty dollars an hour, and may be booked by leaving a request below using the comment feature, and making a deposit next to that picture of my faithful assistant Charles at the top right of this blog page.
This article and dozens of others are collected in my book by the same title, Narco Night Train