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‘What’s That?’
A Suburban Cul-de-Sac Cherub Explores the Harm City DMZ: 6/25/2022
© 2022 James LaFond
DEC/13/22
We walk four blocks to Eastern Avenue from MumMum’s place at 9:00 A.M., crossing three streets and four alleys.
Emma: What’s these bees doing in the bush?
Jim: They’re flies. There are so many of them that they sound like bees buzzing.
Emma: What’s this little white street where no one parks but in their yard? It’s white, not dark.
Jim: That’s an alley, paved with concrete instead of asphalt. They used to be called service streets, a place where trash trucks come down to pick up garbage and recycle, and things like washers and dryers and hot water heaters can be delivered. We used to play in them a lot when I was little.
Emma: What about those trash cans that are upside down and aren’t plastic like mine?
Jim: Those are old style aluminum cans. Before I was born they were made of tin. That’s all we used to have. The cans and the lids get bent easy and the lids don’t fit or get lost.
Emma: So they turn them upside down to keep the bugs out! My trashcans have lids, so I don’t have to flip them over, which is nice because they are so big.
Jim: Look both ways.
Emma: Always. But here, I think the cars come from up there [right] because most of the houses are there where the people live and they have to get in and out.
Jim: Look, that’s the bus up there, the bus I take to get here.
Emma: That is so cool, because gas is so expensive now, why we are sharing Mommy’s car with Emmy and her Mom going to Nationals. You’re a train person, so taking the bus makes sense. Is it Convenient for you?
Jim: Yes it is. The busses run better now then they used to.
[We wait for a car to turn left at the intersection and it does not, so we cross and Emma runs from halfway for the safety of the sidewalk. The car then drives straight and past us as we pass a car that is parked and running with a person in it.]
Emma: Why did that car stop when it wasn’t turning, in case we were crossing the other way?
Jim: No. You see that red sign with six sides. There is another one over there. That is a two way stop. Any driver is supposed to stop when going both ways on this street.
Emma: To keep from running us over?
Jim: Mostly to keep from bumping into cars coming on the cross street that we just crossed. If it were a busier intersection it would be a four-way stop, busier than that, a traffic light.
Emma: Look at that, a yard sale with a tent. Mommy says we don’t have to go to yard sales because we have Unx, her husband. He’s my step father now and I have a big sister—she’s very pretty, like a barbie doll.
Jim: Yes, Unx is a good provider.
Emma: Look, we are at Dunkin’ already! That is a quick trip.
Jim: Hold my hand, the cars drive around here.
Emma: I know, Mommy usually drives around our Dunkin’.
[Black lady holds open door for us.]
Jim: Thank you, miss.
Emma: Thank you too! Oh, look at all these tables—look at all the doughnuts and your coffee, lots of your coffee!
[Petite clerk asks my what I would like.]
Jim: Two strawberry doughnuts and a jelly doughnut and a large cup of coffee, black.
Emma: Is that jelly doughnut for you?
Jim: No, for Miss Georgia.
Emma: Oh, so you don’t eat any carbs? Why not?
Jim: Rick says not to.
Emma: Who is Rick—oh, never mind, I don’t like him already, carbs are the best, all my favorite foods are carbs: rice, doughnuts, cereal, waffles, coffee cake—noddles and sauce, mac en cheese! Rick is mean—is he your boss?
Jim: When it comes to food, yes.
Emma: Oh, I’ll go down here and wait for your coffee while you pay—she’ll give you the doughnuts. I know, I’m a Dunkin’ person. But I don’t eat my doughnuts until we get home. Because our Dunkin is in Dundalk by my dance studio and we have to drive by the poop plant and it smells nasty, especially when they’re cooking up the poop! I bring my blankie to put over my nose when we drive by the poop plant!
[We exit and walk towards the empty bus stop at Eastern Avenue and 54th Street.]
Jim: Hold my hand, Emma. Let’s go the long way around here.
Emma: Why? This is so nasty. Look at this, trash everywhere, people chalking on those things—what are those things? They look busted and ugly, and there are beer cans on them. There is an empty trash can right there! Why do they throw their trash on the ground with this big trash can right here?
Jim: Those are pay phones. They has been broken and taken out of service. Back before smart phones, if you were away from your home phone, you could put quarters in one of these and make a phone call.
Emma: Like a talking robot? Oh, neat. They look so sad, all broken like that—and this trash, why all of the trash? This is asgusting!!
Jim: This is why I took you here, so you can see how disgusting bus people are, so that you make sure you do good in school, get a good job and drive a car. A lady should never walk anywhere without a man to protect her, and should never take the bus—
Emma: Unless she has a Jim, right?
Jim: Right.
[We walk back and pass the man still sleeping in his economy car, the car running and the air conditioner whining in the increasing heat of late morning.]
Emma: Why is that man still in the car...is he sleeping?
Jim: Because he is either homeless, or he got his wife mad and she told him to go sleep in the car.
Emma: Oh, Mommy would never tell Unx to go sleep in the car! That’s not right. I would not tell my husband to go sleep in a car!
Jim: Unx makes a lot of money. Maybe this guy lost his job.
Emma: What a poopy deal, loose a job and get kicked out?
Jim: Yep.
Emma: The narrow sidewalk again! Lady coming, single file, Man in front!
Jim: Good girl.
“Good morning,” says the Latina lady.
Emma: Look, Jim, look, we are back already! That is our street!
Among The Innocent, simple times can be grand pleasures.
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