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To the Water’s Edge
A Trek Back into Community: Friday, 6/8/2018, 11:15-2:53
© 2018 James LaFond
Walking through the park I was stricken by the scent of suntan lotion on a white woman, and then, as I walked up the slope and through the playground, three breeding paleface women, about 35 winters old, were standing their pushing their babies and toddlers on the swings, one with an infant strapped to her chest, reproducing at a relatively heroic rate.
Passing over the natural slop of the hill I enter the path between the ballfield, where I stood on the sidelines in little league football as a suited but unassigned player. Then, passing the very spot where the First baseman used to beat me up after baseball practice, the exact spot where I recently found six .45 APC casings, I walked by two ebony savages, about 35 summers old, were squatting on their haunches eying the women and children from a distance absently. Without intent, as they discussed, “Offin’ dat snitchin’ muvafuca,” and I walked on.
To my left is a concealed streambed, encased in a concrete tube and an artificial field levelled and grassed above it. Ahead of me, as I climb the steps out of the half-maimed vale, two ebony entertainers stand on the sidewalk, one dancing and gyrating suggestively in metrosexual abandon and the other holding raffle tickets and attempting to get motorists to stop.
I stood at the bus stop at the defunct daycare center which once serviced a hundred-plus children and now stands abandoned, just over the hill from where I used to rent a room from Ajay, before crime drove her southward and away, reading The Worm Ouroboros and annotating the text in the margins.
Some few minutes later the two warriors, done with their ebon conclave, walk by me in return to their haunts up and over Hillsway, to the same subsidized housing project where the two Puerto Rican kids lived that set their dog on me and kicked me after baseball practice one day in the time after the First baseman had grown weary of punishing me after practice. One was cussing and the other was quoting scripture about “an eye-fo-an-eye, en a ass-fo-an-ass,” upward and onward into an evermore rarified understanding of the cosmos.
I boarded the #36 bus, which used to be the #55, the bus I took to work for 8 years of mild and usually therapeutic toil, to find that the bus was surprisingly full, with almost as many riders at noon Friday as it used to have at 10 P.M. Tuesday, whence it is now nearly empty. The driver, who knew me of old, a young light-skinned fellow who once implored me not to get off at a stop where two thugs waited for me, zipping up their hooded mugging attire, waived my fair.
I returned to my reading, interrupted for 20 minutes by Little Dave, who boarded the bus at Harford and Northern, gave me the ever-increasing crime and violence update and went on about his new hobby, helping an older man catch fish, a kind of fish he explained like so, “It a perch but not a perch. Ta swim on da bottom, ged so big [two feet] en only da Chinese people buy it, ten dolla’ a fish. Dey know how ta clean it, take da vein out da back or it ruin da whole fish.”
Dave went on to question me about my coaching, writing and work activity, told me that he missed seeing me on the bus in the morning… It then came time for Little Dave to continue his week-long conversation with his friend the driver and he rose and said, “Ya know its Father Day commin, next week. Hope I see ya. Maybe I’ll ged you a card. I look up ta you, en I neva had no dad no how. Take care.”
Little Dave never has learned my name.
After a 1 mile walk, an 8 mile ride, a half hour wait and another 8 mile ride, I offloaded at Pop’s Tavern on Northpoint Road and Wise Avenue and walked 3 miles into Sparrows Point and came to a land where the men greeted me with a “hello,” the drivers would wave you across the street and there are fire departments: the Baltimore County Station, with three vehicles and the Edgemere Volunteer Fire Department with 5 better-maintained vehicles, including three engines. The men out front said hello and I was reminded that a volunteer fire department, whether it can be maintained or not, is probably the best sign that you are in a community or in a post-community government matrix. The next sign was a snowball stand with a pavilion where teenagers and adults can gather for miniature concerts and events after dark.
It had taken three hours to travel back in time 40 years.
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broken dance
logic of steel
fiction anthology one
taboo you
america the brutal
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Manny     Jun 16, 2018

I often feel like a time traveler. I was alive and can remember when this was a good country.
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