02 June 2008

Met My Baby At The Cheap Store

If you want to buy it cheap, you have to go to the Cheap Store. But the Cheap Store, the neighborhood barber shop, and the decaying building whose first floor they occupied, are now rubble and splinters. A string of brick, 19th century buildings were razed this week at the corner of Elm and West 12th Street . Did anyone call historians or archeologists to examine the buildings? Were these structures built atop tunnels used by the Underground Railroad? Was bootleg whiskey distilled in their dank basements during Prohibition? Homeless people sit in Washington Park and watch, some so exhausted from walking that they are spellbound. A hot dog vendor sits next to her cart, watching the cranes, eyeing the construction guys, listening to music so distorted by her cheap radio speaker that it is almost unlistenable. She sits in the rain, in the scorching "climate change" heat, waiting for the next shift change to bring her customers. A section of cast iron fire escape is especially fiesty and confounds the crane operator. The business end of the crane has ahold of the fire escape, but clearance has become an issue. A foreman walks over and hand-signals the operator to help ease the fire escape between the utility lines and what remains of the first story. It's a tight fit, but several minutes of arm waving and jerky stop and starts with the jaws attachment on the crane get things cleared up. Relationships, marriages even, have commenced here. Babies have been conceived within these walls. Indeed, some of you who read this might have been conceived in one of the little apartments in he second or third floors. Homeless people have slept in the doorways, drug dealers have transacted business. People have been shot here. Thousands of haircuts have taken place. And the barbers have listened to thousands of hours of testimony on the state of the world from those customers who enjoy holding forth while being groomed. These expletive Reds. This no good expletive woman I been seein'. This goddam expletive city. This man seen Bigfoot over in Indiana. The pavers, the landscapers will cover this quotidian history with their art. And their hearts will be in it; they will leave their best work behind. A century of idle talk must be laid to rest gently.

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All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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