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‘Yo Gotz da Monay—Notz Me!’
Part 1 of 2: Three Days on Baltimore Buses: May 8-10, 2023
© 2023 James LaFond
JAN/24/24
Monday
My sister works next to the doctor’s office I was scheduled to visit at 10:10 AM. After sparring with Nero and Erique in PA on Sunday, Uber Joe came to get me and bring me down into the Catholic Plantation. We had dinner and played a family game of rummy. My Brother in law and sister retired and I stayed up for three games with the Matriarch.
Entering the building I saw two, rather than the single security guard on duty, up from zero in 2019. The guard was helpful as I hauled my rucksack to internal medicine and then to diagnostics.
Emerging from the building I was gawked at by motorists who would not have blinked at an old runt packing a puck in The West. Arriving at the bus stop in time to board, I asked the driver if a $5 would get me a day pass and he cheerily said, “Yes, sir, come aboard,” an older black fellow seemingly happy in his work.
The bus, I forget the color or number, tracked south from hite Marsh to Franklin Square, where I offloaded and got right on the #36 to Towson. These buses are rarely half full and run much more often than when I lived in Baltimore. The system is up to national grade for the first time in my life. 5% to 10% of the riders, mostly women, wear masks. Some of the female drivers wear masks.
Offloading at Harford and Northern Parkway, it is a short hike to The Brickmouse House. It takes 2 hours to unpack my storage tote and my ruck, charge the Brickmouse Gift Laptop and take a nap.
Rising at 4 my host takes me to the basement gym for conversation and exercise, me hitting the snake and he using his weights and doing floor exercises. After hydration he runs me through a knee rehabilitation session. I pack my ruck with his fencing mask and gloves and mine, fill the canteen and hike the three miles gently up hill towards Jim Frederick’s Kempo school, which Morgan, his black belt, keeps running. It is 3 miles uphill and it is 7:18, my appointment with the operator at 8:30.
At 8:10, with the sun low in the west as I walk through The Oaks, where numerous packs of hoodrats congregate to the east, two Groes look my way, speak to each other, and then begin to follow me. I pushed up the flat polypropylene club from the base of my slot pocket so that I could draw the weapon from between my belt and the waist strap of the ruck and made a right up the alley behind the car wash.
As I come out of the alley across from the side street liquor store on Lakwanna, they are rounding the bend too late to cut me off and I walk through the gas station to the karate school. The Oaks Boys don’t pursue civilian targets past the liquor store out onto Loch Raven.
Morgan and I caught up until The Operator came in. The Operator showed up at 8:30 with a check for me for a commitment to train him as long as I’m back east. He is a generous man with a quirky competitive edge. He has the best mentality for knife that I have encountered. I convince him to give up on the FMA and Silat and simply adopt his Kenpo and experience tot he sparring and self defense scenarios we work. He is as old as I and there is no sense in trying to unwire his defensive hand work and guard, developed over some 5 decades.
He drops me off at The Brickmouse House where I visit with my Host’s bride, speaking of travel observations and the knew challenges of her changing work place. She hugs a stuffed critter as she winds down from an extended work day. The notion then strikes that I have added one more person to the list of people I’d intercede for beyond my normal insular code.
Tuesday
I sleep late and miss my Host for coffee, he and his wife already pursuing their 12 hour work days. I do not have change for the bus and need to take the Orange to the Inner Harbor and then the Yellow to Halethorpe where I used to coach at Damien Kestle’s MMA school some 18 years ago.
The 24/7 Food Mart at the gas station on the corner of Harford and Northern is a potroled by a young, mentally deranged, ashy, dreadlocked, hungry looking hoodrat who ask me if I can spare any change. I nod, ‘No,” and enter. The man behind the counter is African and polite. For $7.25 I buy a bang energy drink and 4 packs of peanuts. I go outside, set the 3 quarters and a pack of peanuts on the corner of the building and nod to the beggar that it is his. He thanks me and hurries over to his prize.
I take a drink of bang at the bus stop and it rolls up. I throw the full can in the trash and wait for last, since I have to ask after the fair, as I do not know what it was. The bus driver only charges me $2 for a day pass, which seems odd. He is a big, big whigger, 320 lbs, 6’ 5” and 30 years old.
At Echodale a perpetual disruption vector, a clean, hip hop kang stands in the door holding up the bus while he argues with a woman on the bust stop about money and with a woman on his phone, about money:
“Yo, gotz da monay—notz me!”
He never pays for his fare. The driver does not push it. The repairs on the bridge over Herring Run are finally done after 4 years.
As the bus descends into the ghetto half empty the urban blight is slightly worse than ever, though with so many store fronts boarded up across the country, the plywood front row houses and long ago abandoned businesses do not loom so starkly as they once did. The Hip Hop Kang saunters to the front door and demand to be let off at Asquith and North and the driver informs him that the next stop is down town, that this is express. The 140 pound Kang threatens and challenges and demands that the big driver get off at the bus stop and fight him.
The whigger driver says, “Ain’t my fault you haven’ a bad day. I’m on the bus. You see me on the street, then we can fight.”
The wolfing continues until we are past juvenile hall and the kang gets off. I think I understand the discount, though I would not have helped the driver.
Boarding the Yellow minutes later I end up seated between two homeless young addicts, paleface scum, and move as soon as a seat opens ahead. They gripe with each other constantly. An insane black woman cackles and screeches to her self across the aisle form me.
A light skinned man with a cup of coffee boards and sits next to the crazy bitch and answers her insane queries with kindness. She is having hard time deciding what stop is hers so I scoot to the window. The man takes my cue and slides across the aisle to sit with me and thanks me. He is my age and as light as I am.
The woman gets off near Lexington market as I note an increase of white homeless down in this black ghetto. A cryptic acronym facility, which aside form the 4 letters of the wordless name, proclaims BEHAVIORAL HEALTH is bustling like an LDS church on Sunday, though the churchgoers have not driven, but walk eagerly into their temple to partake of whatever beneficence awaits.
Concluded in ‘They Belong to the Concrete.’
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‘They Belong to the Concrete’
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