My eyes felt like etched glass. My skin felt as if it was being over run by insects, I could imagine them foraging through the hair on my body and digesting the not yet dead flesh.I had decided to spend some time playing video games in between the live coverage of the our newly christened war to defend christendom on CNN, the rockets red glare was pale and green under night vision goggles.
Benny tumbled out of his bedroom. He had determined it was imperative we get out of the house, something about evil emanations forming on the ceiling and a conspiracy forming between the cats and said emanations. According to the dialogue between his thumbs and his cell we had friends who were at the mall, as well as friends who would be having dinner at the newly refurbished Ruby Tuesday’s at said mall.A plan was quickly formed; we could have dinner with these friends, gorging ourselves on the establishments perverse salad bar. It was a great plan and the idea of having somewhere to go had me strangrly excited.
Benny readied himself and I decided the occasion deserved a clean freshness; I rummaged through the laundry pile for a cleaner pair of jeans and a shirt. Gathering up my things I found a beaten candy tin, it had six Adderall pills. I took two of them and saved the rest for later.
Coming out of the bathroom, steam cleaned and shaven I found Benny talking to his shoes. He was in a direct dialogue with his left sneaker and, after observing for a few seconds, it appeared the left sneaker was in a dialogue with the right. He broke out into a roaring yell when he noticed me watching and rushed his full body weight, pinning me between the wall and him. He went off chanting a tune while I slid down the wall; deflated. As I crawled myself up I could hear Benny banging the rhythm of the song on the roof of my car; it appeared that I would be driving.
It was surprisingly comfortable outside, with the windows down and a minimal amount of traffic the whole moment verged on the borders of being pleasant. The sun glasses kept my etched ridden eyes from burning in the exposure, the car was riding its own wave on the melting pavement, and I felt as if I could fly along at forty five miles an hour. It was one of those times when you could make a change in your life for the true positive path. Find a cause for living and decide to buy a new mini-van for your non-existent family. We had arrived at the commercial of our lives; cue soundtrack.
The respite from the usual bombardment of oppressive heat and choking humidity had brought all the locals to the street. Latino Couples sitting on terraced landings watching their kids play in the parking lot, old black men sitting at their front door, young black boys free-styling on their bikes with their pants around their knees, while ladies named Latisha, Teykia, Lexus and Toshiba watch the young men as they walked on by. Children of all such race and color ran around in desperate grabs for attention from those around them and themselves.
Fancy decked cars on high-rise wheels with chrome-plated rims that glow crept through, windows tinted, chassis’ polished, trembling the air. An ancient white woman all dressed in white and a decaying black man all dressed in black held hands while they pushed a shopping cart filled with their history. A Latino woman walked in the opposite direction pushing a shopping cart with bags of groceries and two kids inside it, another daughter followed behind with her own Hasbro plastic shopping cart; practicing.
A gentleman talking to himself, another paced back and forth at the bus stop also in a deep conversation, which only he hears. Boxes, bags, old furniture and other household confections littered the street on the oncoming side; some of the neighborhood scavengers rummaged through the refuse in search of treasure.
A whole row of two apartment efficiency cottages followed the path of the discarded artifacts; each building had been slashed with a spray painted fluorescent orange “X”.
“You think the plague has returned?” I asked, slowing the car to get a better look.
“Worse. Eviction. Look at those postings on the windows.” Benny pointed out that each building had a poster-sized piece of paper adhered to a window stating eviction by eminent domain.
“Not all of them have the mark of Cain on them. There are still some people living in those last two.” One had some people standing in the doorway, keeping watch. The other showed no signs of life but it was evident that it had once had a posting that had been ripped down.
“The ones with the ‘X’ are the ones that have been vacated. All that stuff on the curb is what got cleared out.” Benny sounded familiar with what was happening.
“They just threw the people out? Tossed out their stuff and sealed up the house?”
Benny pointed out a man sleeping by the front door to one of the cottages marked with an “X” to answer my question. A few feet in front of him some kids were going through a pile of boxes that might have been his.
“Them’s the breaks. Make way for the new world vision and pack up your things, the righteous are taking over. The places are probably unsuitable to live. City officials using the justification of a dangerous living condition to feel better about themselves.” Benny’s remark made my stomach feel sour.
We watched as some teenage boys and a large woman crossed the street with some boxes and a couch; one of the boxes being carried fell and a collection of dishes and cups went crashing to the ground.
“This is too much reality for right now.” I turned off the street and fled the scene like some escaping criminal. Racing down the side streets, I rolled the windows up and turned on the A.C. The air had lost its friendly demeanor and the commercial had ended. “I need sustenance and escape from this rot and decay. I need to purchase a big ticket item and celebrate the freedom were told to so carelessly spend and shop for.” The words came out of my mouth as if I were preaching from the pulpit.
“Feeling a little too close to home? Nothing like the harshness of witnessing a crime, that unending helpless feeling, that possible thought of maybe wanting to do something about it all, that realization that you’ll forget about it once those houses are down and the new corporate edifice is erected.” Benny was throwing his words at me like daggers, my suburbanite-sheltered belly was exposed for the first time in years, and I hit the gas and drove the car right into a scene from a foreign movie.
“Shut up you wicked, wicked monkey.”
He laughed, maybe at my remark, maybe at his knowledge of being right, maybe at the fact that I had nearly took out a yard gnome on the wrong side of the road.