Let the sun set over the city. Let the lights bounce off the window panes and reflect off the still water in the habour. Let the people gather, their hums echoing through the narrow streets and cobble stoned alleys. Let the sound of soft steel drum music serenade man, animal and fish. Its dusk, and the assemble of merriment is a mystery to those who refuse to succumb to enjoying life one moment at a time.
Anyway, The Melting Pot City was day as much as The Blue Grass City was night. It was The Coal Miner’s Daughter’s turn to face some culture shock. She was the only white person for blocks. Now let’s take into consideration that I was the first black person she had ever spoken to. Luckily for us, the people on our block thought she was Puerto Rican. She was tanned and had dark hair and eyes. That was fine with me because at the time, racial tensions were running a little high in the city. To my surprise, this great melting pot city was segmented into different ethnicities. I remember one night we got lost. Believe me, when you are new to the city, it’s no fun. The way we found out we were going in the wrong direction was when we saw a white kid walking down the street holding a boom box, his baseball hat backwards and his head bobbing awkwardly. We turned around right away and drove for a few blocks until we saw black faces.
Andre ran down Eastern Parkway, he ran until none of the buildings looked familiar to him, and then he stopped and stooped over breathing hard.
“Boi, you run fas for so,” The shadow said. Andre looked around; there was a bodega on the corner of the street. Some older boys were standing at the door. They looked over at Andre and started walking towards him. Andre looked at the shadow; its eyes were suddenly bright red. The boys walked up to Andre,
“You lost little man?” One of them asked. Andre did not respond.
“Whats wrong homeboy can’t you talk?” The grease from the boy’s hair ran down his forehead leaving dark spots on his denim shirt.
“Why are you in our hood, you trying to move in on our turf?” the boy said advancing,
“I is just teking a walk,” Andre said, The boy looked at his friends.
“You one of them island boys?”
Where do you live young blood?”
“On Eastern Parkway,”
“You want to have some fun?”
“Don interfere wid me, I is a good fighter,” Andre said as he stepped back and raised his fists. The boys laughed,
“Come on little man, you can hang with us,” the boy said and put his hands on Andre’s shoulder. They walked past the bodega and down a side street.
They arrived at an abandoned apartment building and went inside. As they walked by open doors Andre saw people lying on broken beds or mattresses on the floor. A young man sat scratching himself as if a colony of ants were crawling all over him. Some shook violently, cursing as they did,
“Wah wrong wid dem?” Andre asked
“They want the white ghost,”
“Eh?” Andre asked,
“They want crack,” the boy said. Andre followed them into an empty apartment with other boys and girls walking around aimlessly. They stopped and looked at him. .
“Who dat?” one of the girls asked,
“This here is island boy,”
“He cute,” the girl said,
“Back off crack whore,” The boy said pushing the girl away, she fell to the ground,
“Screw you G-money,” the girl said,
“Want to have some fun island boy?’ He asked as they sat down in a corner. G-money opened a cooler, dug around in it, then handed Andre a forty ounce beer bottle. Andre hesitated. The shadow eyes appeared next to him,
“Go on me boi, tek it, me, I is a rum man meself, but tek it, it go make you feel real good” Amdre took the bottle and took a drink,
“Ewww, dats nasty, Andre said, The Shadow snickered, its red eyes bounced up ands down. ”
“Keep drinking shorty, it will make you feel nice,” G Money said and tilted the bottle up towards Andre’s mouth. Andre coughs,
“Don want anymore,”
“Come on bro drink up,” G-Money insisted, as his friends laughed and chorused his encouragement.
“Yeah man live a little,” one of the girls said
“Like dey say, live a liccle,” the shadow said. Andre closed his eyes and tilted the bottle,
“Chug chug chug,” the boys and girls shouted.
As always I can find the good in everything. Like this city, this haven for politricksters, this bastion of ideology and pretentiousness. Where men believe they own the world, and they make decisions that can change lives drastically. I walk among the buildings , their majestic architecture, those hollow walls with souls enslaved in the system. Pride and prejudice, hate and love, all trapped In the concrete walls. Men with lofty ideas that has nothing to do with the people they claim to respect. The political Titanic that floats with holes everywhere, on the dreams of egotistical men. The beauty of those who struggle to survive under the politricking, the people, their smiling faces, their hopes still alive, independent self-assured yet apathetic in their own way. I love this city even when it rains, and the streets are wet, and the sky is grey. There is a beauty that one can find if he or she pays close attention
Ohhhh from thousands of mile away, tucked in a small city between Ashland Kentucky and Proctorville Ohio, I can smell it bubbling on the island. Ahhhh yes, what a lunch it would be.
What a massive frog, we used to call them Crapo, in the country side people eat them and call them Mountain Chicken, me I just called them big and scary. When we lived in the city, on Lucas street, for some reason those bloody things loved to come into our house. One morning I heard Mommy Charles shouting so me and Raphie went to see what was going on. There standing in the back room was Mommy Charles and one hell of a big frog, staring each other down, as if deciding a next move. The second me and Raphie entered the room Mommy Charles suggested that we get rid of it. Well we did not want to kill it so Raphie got a broom and began to gentle nudge the monster towards the do. That bloody beast had some powerful legs, all it took was three nudges to get it to the front door. It jumped over a table, a chair, and at one point over me. We finally got it out the front door, closed the door and went about our business. Mommy Charles needed something from a neighbor, so she asked Raphie to go get it. He opened the door and I heard him scream, then he stumbled back into the house, the from sitting on his chest. All hell broke lose, the damn beast was looking form revenge. It jumped on the dining room table, surveyed the room them jumped at me, I ducked and all I saw was the damn beast’s butt floating by me. I darted in the opposite direction. Raphie was still a little shocked, standing there eyes wide open, mouth hanging down. The monster frog hit the ground then was airborne again, went straight through the from door and we heard it land in the mud outside. Raphie rushed to shut the door. Mommy Charles came out of the her room. “Boi you get me ting for me?” She asked, me and Raphie just stood there, not saying a word.
By the end of the summer she was so homesick she started singing country music and no she was not singing the song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” either. Keep in mind that this is that woman who hated country music. Ironic since I was the one who grew up listening to my mom sing country songs all the time. The one incident that pushed us out of The Melting Pot City was the day one of the stores was almost robbed. Both stores were on the same block, one an everyday retail store, and the other a Victoria’s Secret-like store: expensive as hell. Why they would put such a store in the ghetto baffled me. These people could not afford a bloody nightie for one hundred dollars. I was working in the retail store one day when the Colombian worker at the pantry store called me.
“The cat is having its kittens – come over here right away.” I was confused. Hell, I had not seen one bloody cat in this city since I moved there; just rats as big as cats. She finally broke down and told me to get over there, so I hurried and went.
As soon as I got to the door I realized what was going on. I stuck my hand in my shirt like I was packing a pistol. My heart was pounding hard, my head spinning. Hell, I thought I was going to faint for sure. I heard about the crime in The Melting Pot City, but damn, the thought of guns took me back to a place in my head that I thought I left on the island. There were three teenagers in the store. One stood at the cash register: bloody kid did not look more than seventeen. A girl was in the middle of the store, her handbag open and her hand in it. Another boy stood at the door to the storeroom, peeping in.
I walked behind the counter and stood there, my skin tingling with fear. I had no gun, no knife, nothing to defend myself. That same helpless feeling as when the fighter jets were bombing the island engulfed me. After about ten minutes, they came up to the counter and bought some items. As they were leaving, the kid that stood at the door to the storeroom stopped and looked at me and opened a small sack revealing a pearl handled pistol. I looked at him; his eyes looked dead. “They lucky you came in bro or we would have jacked this bitch up.”
After they left I half expected a volley of gunfire to erupt around me. There was no marijuana to calm my fears here. I guess it was time for me to go back to good old Blue Grass city. Great; I can give the bible bangers another chance to convert me.
There was one statement that solidified my decision to leave The Melting Pot City. One of the ladies informed me that I should wait until the new semester for the high school started. She said the students had no regard for life. I thought, hell no. I did not survive all that I had just to end up dead in some rat infested store. Despite this, let me add this tidbit: some of the shoplifters did not steal from the store as they said they could not in good conscience rob from another brother. It seems they thought I owned the stores so they felt it was their civic duty not to rob from one of the only black-owned businesses on the block. Funny thing; I used to stand at the door and watch them steal from the stores owned by Koreans, Jews and other ethnicities.
Pic of the day early morning brightness.
Because it is soooo peaceful.
In the fall, an incident transpired that totally turned me off from playing ball. I was walking to the dorm when two school buses drove by and all the kids screamed at me. Their voices echoed through the small city as the busses rounded a corner just down the road. I thought nothing of it until the busses came back, stopped and all these kids ran up to me. I was a little unnerved and almost took off running. This one red headed kid frightened me so bad, all I thought was “Children of the Corn”. Bloody kids were like vultures, jumping and screaming, pushing notepads and pencils at me and basically treating me like I was a big star or something. You would have thought that I had just stopped a hurricane, or brought peace to the Middle East or something. Their faces were red from the cold. Yeah that is something I noticed: lots of red faces, their little eyes wide with excitement. Hell, I had not even played a game yet.