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'The Changing of the Guard'
Nero the Pict Recalls a Reluctant Safari on 7/25/21
© 2021 James LaFond
Things that ghosts like yet abound in Fell's Point, Baltimore.
But the dark shadows that hunt ghosts by night gather for the recovery of reparations.
Nero's Princess, Cutie Homesteader, was invited by her Baltimore found friends to revel at a Fell's Point bar & grill from 1 until 6 on Saturday the 18thof July.
Nero, well aware of how Fell's Point has gotten so bad that the local merchants are withholding tax payments to the City unless they get a special protection detail, objected.
Cutie, full of wisdom, told him that she was going into harm's way regardless, keeping solidarity with her friends.
As he related, “Okay, back in the day, when I was working as a bartender in Baltimore, clueless out-of-town people could come into Fell's Point 20 times before they got mugged. But now, you're rolling a dice and if you roll a '1' you're fucked. Sure, chances are nothing is going to happen. But if it does, its going to be bad. A clutch of cute white women getting drunk in the middle of a Bantu war zone—what could go wrong? They might as well go to Liberia and try this shit.
“So, I go, and I'm not happy. I wanted to strangle the faɡɡot that planned this whole thing. There was another guy, Grant, a former college lacrosse player who is still fit and definitely knows what's up. He was pissed too, and came along as a bodyguard like yours truly. I guess this is how the new urban paradigm effects the mated man—he becomes the father of his wife overnight as she insists on toddling into trouble.
“Cutie keeps on going outside to smoke and I follow her out each time. Shit, a musician going out to smoke three years ago down there got beaten almost to death by teenagers. She's saying, 'You don't have to follow me out,' but I do. I don't have that feminine right to be stupid in the city. I mean, she knows all of this shit, but sets it aside for her delusional friends.
“There are tactical cops patrolling like its a middle eastern colony for the western media. It does not occur to these people that those cops are more a danger to me and Grant, then to the people that will prey on these women.
“There are jersey walls set up at key locations, staggered to prevent ramming.
“The waterfront street [writer forgets its name] has been made one way.
“They, [the hoodrats] can still walk up into canton past the Mexicans across Alicanna. It's not a wall yet—but it is amazing how many Mexicans are over there further out on the East Side where you're staying. Gotta say that's a good thing.
“As a former barkeep, the thing that was most glaring was that business is at about 20-30%. If it wasn't for our party, this place would have been empty. Back in the day, in 2014, there'd be no seats after 2 and standing room only after dinner. The rail [liquor selection] has slid down three income levels, one step from what you'll find in a ghetto bar. There is no confidence in future business demonstrated by the inventory level or quality.
“The place is on life support. It's a mixed race crowd, a lot of intact black families, middle class, with kids alongside the sterile hipsters—a nice mix actually. But its just a window, a brief time in which white standards have not yet been completely destroyed so that black families can have a brief civil experience before the ghetto sweeps all of that aside.
“Then comes the changing of the guard. Cutie goes out to smoke and I go with her despite her assertion that she's got a force field of gender-based civility keeping her from harm, and two knuckle draggers come skulking up, just full of menace and predatory curiosity.
“Of course, I'm dressed like shit, dressed like this, like you to the point where I'm obviously not a local [hipster]. Before this phase this way of dressing got you and me harassed by the cops. Now the cops are out of the equation until shit kicks off. These guys actually come up to us and start asking us questions about what is going on in the bar, like 'What's in there?' like trying to decide if they should go in.
“These guys were sketchy as shit, maybe 75 IQ, sniffing around, looking for trouble, hyenas at the watering hole. They were not the only ones. By five you could see the changing of the guard, the families and hipsters leaving and the knuckle-draggers taking over.
So, I'm basically blocking the door to this half-empty soft target like an unpaid doorman and I told these guys, “Nothing going on in here. You should leave.”
“And they went. Cutie couldn't believe it, but it just felt right, like they were worried enough about me not being the typical apologetic white pussy, that they just drifted off.”
“Then that horrible thunderstorm hit and we cleared out, hopefully never to be involved in something that goddamned stupid again.
“Bro, Baltimore is bad. Look how empty this place is [the Raven Inn] and how empty the streets are on a Saturday afternoon with these fat people waddling around like hippos with masks on. This is such a watering hole situation—fifteen dudes drinking on a staircase across from an empty shopping center—what the fuck! There is nothing good coming for our old town. I'll miss you but I'm glad you're clearing out again.”
As our conversation was drowned out by the drummer setting up for the band, we left the dining room and went to the bar. There one of the regulars smiled, “So the drummer drove you out?”
Nero sighed, “Guess you could say that—it's cool.”
This woke devil then patted the regular on the shoulder and said, “Well, at least it wasn't a dark naked hand beating a log drum in April of 2015,” and we three unguilty ghosts laughed with an uneasy harshness.
Bruce's Tree
harm city to chicongo
'The Wife'
by the wine dark sea
your trojan whorse
the lesser angels of our nature
when you're food
the greatest lie ever sold
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