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The Tent
American Dreamboat #6
© 2022 James LaFond
Dillon had no problem with traffic, it was all automated and every single stinking car, truck and bus stopped and scolded him and the two buses he cut in front of buzzed his wristphone, but weakly, for it was pretty dead.
He didn’t like the thing creeping and peeping on him, so he left it on always especially at night, so that the solar charge would not hold. It was against the law to take them off because they housed your identification, so he didn’t dare go that defiant route. Not even any of Rico’s people took off their wristphones. Only skinnies could get away with it without cops swooping down on them.
After apparently collecting two pedestrian fines on his wristphone, Dillon broke hard up Hadith Street, which would lead to Hadith Road and eventual freedom. He paced the bus trip down and figured he could make the run back to Rico’s people to check on how he was doing in under an hour—if nothing went wrong.
He soon crested the rise where Monument Street crossed Hadith Street just before it turned into Hadith Road and looked up at the towering statue of Barack Hussein Obama on that Arabian stallion and kind of felt a thrill that he was bypassing such a place of power when a man reached out and grabbed his shoulders with greasy fingers and he turned, startled and looked into the face of a tall, dirty looking man in fine starched suit and fez, ready to fight, just like him and Rico had fought the skinny kids so many times.
The man’s eyes went wide when he looked into Dillon’s eyes and he grinned through broken teeth, “My friend, my boy, we have a tent of refreshments for the weary. Please, come, partake.”
The man said this as he motioned with an easy open hand at a big white tent, outside of which were men and boys wearing fez hats, who handed out water cups, and flavored ice cones to passers-by.
Dillon shrugged, “Okay” and began to accompany the man whose hand remained on his back, urging him on, “You must be so thirsty, young master. A boy as fair as you should not toil so under the angry sun.”
Something then changed in the urgency of the greasy hand on his wet back and he ducked, slapping the man in the balls and ran back past him as the dirty creep groaned and hit his knees and Dillon tore as fast as he could away from the tent as three men with knives gave chase. As he ran further out Hadith Street and it turned into Hadith Road, a skinny little black kid on the sidewalk cheered him on, “They fuckin’ my brutha back dare—run, whiteboy, run—stay in da street dey gotz skulkers creepin’!”
Dillon looked over his shoulder and saw the men divert towards that same skinny kid who threw something at them and then began talking into their wristphones. Knowing that there would be skulkers up ahead, Dillon powered down to a quick jog and stayed on the center line, stopping oncoming traffic, collecting pedestrian violations from buses, until finally the thing died on his wrist and went cold.
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