And so I walked through the alley of the shadow of death. Life on one side, and pain corruption and a pizza shop-front for drug deals on the other. A cop car parks on the corner every night, and you wonder if the cop lives upstairs and turns his head to cough every morning, or if he’s in the middle of the deal, giving a sense of security when it’s really just a loan. The interest is accumulating and it’s sucking the neighborhood dry like the grass in July. The kids play in the side streets and the puddles, thumping basketballs up and down the sidewalk for want of a hoop.
The detached garages are depressed, houses for cars in need of a boost. The windows are broken and the kids know what’s there. Anything worth taking has long since been pawned at the gawdy shop with the neon lighting around the corner. Block by block the neighborhood changes, from the upstart Ethiopian eatery that serves Corona, to the upscale coffee shop with college art work gracing the walls. From the three-quarters empty, obscure denominational tree branch church with the hokey signs out front, to the new and sharp looking Episcopalian church on the corner that had a rummage sale in the basement last week. If you go far enough down the block you hit a park and you know you’ve run the gamut.
The cats and dogs and joggers of the early morning hours know what’s really going on. The buses that rumble through and the high school kids strolling to the bus stop, trying to decide if today’s a day worth skipping. Some days you wonder if we’re all too caught up in our eaves and lawns, our front rooms and our Cadillacs. Some days you wonder if the kids roam free and the parents work late because they really love to feel like their neighborhood, sloping down like the hill, melting slowly like the school yard ice rink, drooping like the front porch or the discarded sleeper-sofa.