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Vacating the Purge Zone
Two Hours Across Eastern Baltimore County: May 6, 2016, 12-2:00 P.M.
I was lone on the bus for the first few miles of its leg, scanning the horizon near and far as the crowning clouds scudded along above the trees and clustered into realms that men once imagined as habitations of superior beings.
Rolling through Rosedale beneath the towering clouds, eateries come and go, professional buildings go barren, retail lots struggle to grow in must-grow context, even as criminals have made public transportation into game of death and parking lots into carjacking zones.
The female voice over the sound system keeps me company:
“We all like the feeling of being good neighbors. But don’t lend your cell phone or tablet to strangers when riding public transportation.”
I am alone until the State Police Barracks, the District Court of Maryland and the methadone clinic come into view and seven junkies board, speaking in their catatonic yawn.
The bus winds through the flat, overgrown expanse of the Middle River Plain, past semi-isolated single homes with bars on their windows and front doors to defend against the subsidized criminals that spawn in the cheap townhouses that always seem to pop up to bedevil the traditional single family home neighborhoods that make up Middle River. Slowly, paying customers board, but the meter is out of commission and no one can pay. As well, the bus driver’s shield-latch is broken, and she holds it closed with one thin hand as she drives with the other.
By the time we are in Essex, employed and retired and legitimate handicapped person begin to board. One brain-damaged woman who used to be attractive before alcohol embalmed her is greeted by a man she once knew, who kindly engages her in convesation and says to her simple questions:
“Five years in the Hole and my family all dies on me. It costs a near fortune to die these days. I have two psychotic sisters and a little brother who don’t keep in touch—a new phone number every month. Mom’s in hospice—four weeks they say…
“I’m half-past a hundred, all downhill from here. Jeese, can you believe they tried to break me in that hole thirty-five years ago [points at the high school in the distance on Stemmers run as we turn onto it] and the shame is they’re still shutting kids in there today. One hole prepares you for another…
“I’m not exactly homeless. With summer coming on I’ve got four good months outside. Everybody was being carted off when I got out of the hole. No place for me to lay my head but the park. My pitbull ate my toothbrush today. You know, they are supposed to be intelligent creatures, but when you beat them they don’t even know why. I bred her, hopefully sell her and the pups for a security deposit—jobs are coming slim. Now God bless and you have a nice day darlin’”
She smiles vacantly as he offloads, with a kind of crumbling joy that hints at a time when she was cute, or perhaps even pretty.
Three female families load at the health and welfare building.
A black grandmother about 50, with a two-year-old and three-year-old girl each held by the hand, her pregnant daughter handling the stroller and the one-year-old boy, line the right side of the bus front.
Married to The Man.
A white junkie with a one your old blonde girl with one wandering eye and a four-year-old brunette fascinated by the children across the aisle.
Married to The Man.
A pretty redhead, fit, pierced too much for my taste, and leading a four-year-old daughter suffering from severe retardation boards the bus.
Married to The Man
At East Point, handicapped adults load and I wander to the back, looking away from the genetic wreckage over the soot-stained house tops.
Finally, at North Point and Wise, at Pops Tavern, I offload and began my one hour trek into Edgemere. 17 years ago, when first I walked these roads as a resident of Dundalk, I was regularly heckled and threatened and challenged by pairs and trios of men in pickup trucks. Then I was in my late 30s and looked like my late 20s due to my extreme fitness. Now, I walk into Edgemere with my cane, at 54, looking like 64, and am struck by the respect I am shown. No fewer than 11 pickup trucks stop or slow to permit me to cross the various streets.
I stop at the liquor store and buy Megan some whiskey and me a six pack of beer. This is wind down night, twice a month, watching documentaries and drinking on a rural waterfront.
Megan’s a proud Pollack, so when I saw that Pollack Johnny’s had an outlet and it was open, I stepped in and bought a box of smoked ball park sausages. The woman noted the practicality of my gear and the capacity of the pack and asked how far I had come. I told her, “I live in Hamilton, in the city.”
She smiled with some pain in her cheeks and said, “I was a Hamilton girl, and here I am, safe and sound. God bless you, sir.”
I walked out with the box under my arm and a muscular young man in a monstrous extended pickup truck held up traffic and waved me on. By the time I hobbled across that side street 200 yards from the Chesapeake Bay shore, I felt like a human being again, visiting friends, rather than that ghost of animus haunting a dying city as the subhuman enemy pick and nest in its bones.
But sadness follows those who vacate the dying city, as I find when the woman in the apartment above Megan is wheeled away for the last time, having over-dosed and made her final escape.
The Mind of Mescaline Franklin
The Awakening of a Paleface Ethnocist
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MescFranklinMay 8, 2017

Its interesting to actually feel like a human being again. A hauntingly beautiful last paragraph, I can't begrudge people who want to escape this barren rock of unnecessary emptiness and malevolent stupidity we live on.
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