I put on my shoes and started south down my block, blasting “Enema of the State” to drown out the lull of helicopters and sirens. I sprinted and let it all out of me. I ran from my pitchless stories, my guilt and fears. I ran from my indecisiveness, my apathy and self-inflicted wounds. I ran until my back ached and my legs couldn’t take it anymore, then I stopped. The forgotten on Jefferson, packing their carts with bottles from the lavanderia. Two gordidos, no older than 7, scooting down Raymond on skateboards, their mothers watching from inside barricades of chicken wire. A rooster screeching from inside its cage, waiting to realize an unkind fate.
I ran again. A day laborer, broken front teeth and a ratty Dodgers hat. I stopped as he pulled ahead of me on his bicycle, turning north next to the 10 offramp. ¿Quiere rosas? I drifted behind him as he lit his joint, catching the fumes that lingered in the air. I started again, waved and he sent back a smile from a face to which time has shown no mercy.
I turned the corner onto Vermont, and I stopped. $4.01 for unleaded. Buried beneath cushions and nestled amongst the rats, a homeless man slipped into the cracks of concrete. A tattered American flag waving from his basket. ¡Gloria a Dios! The markets and pupuserias hiding between churches, their hand-painted signs bleeding with the stain of poverty.
I started again, and couldn’t stop smiling. The church that stole my soul and gave it to the addicts and vagrants of South LA’s ring of hell mocked me with tolling bells. Excuse me sir, do you have a dollar? My smile grew wider. The taco stand billowed its beauty into the air, but I kept going. What the fuck are you gonna do, call the police on me? I kicked a child’s shoe strewn next to a pile of shit on the sidewalk. I opened my fence and collapsed on my chair, busting open with laughter. Here I am, whisky in hand.