Doe-eyed prey, swimming in a sea of sharks, fangs abound, clearly unwanted guests. What’s to stop anyone? There’s no justice out here. It’s the wild west. But even those people had a certain sense of honor. Not these, no. They’re animals, look at them. Zombies, reduced to only carnal instincts. I bet they salivate as we walk by.
Don’t look at them, maybe they won’t look at you. Don’t acknowledge them. They might not acknowledge you.
It’s not by choice, no. We certainly wouldn’t have picked this route. But you have to do what you have to do. Seniority means you’re the last line of defense. Especially when the ones who really can make an actual difference aren’t there.
Scribbles underneath bridges, indecipherable words and drawings from madmen with poison in their veins and broken thoughts in their minds. What brought them here? I don’t know. I don’t care. Best to keep walking. All you’ll be met with is slurs. First confused. Then angry.
Once you get to the gas stations and liquor stores, they swarm like flies. Cluster like hornets. Poke the nest. See what happens. I wouldn’t be here if I did, nor would my sister.
Cars on stands on the side of the road, windows barred or boarded up, broken glass, the stench of regrets too numerous to even be cared about, the appearance of the word “decay”. It’s not an ideal place for the youth to grow up. Not to me. But beggars can’t be choosers, and I hold no malice for being put here. I owe it much, as much as I resent it.
Growing up, I’d hear of a place called Hell, in holy books. A place where the wretched are sent, and the worst of the worst congregate, doomed to rot there, drowning in the cesspool of their own failures. They said it was somewhere else. I’d disagree. I can point out to you where Hell was. I saw it when some freak without teeth looked in my direction. When some degenerate hobbled into view, breaking out of a drugged stupor. I experienced Hell when we crossed the street early, and when we quickened our pace a bit, and my heart would pound like a rogue jackhammer on stubborn cement.
I’m not going to Hell. I already went. I have no desire to go back.
Three miles. Three measly miles. And then, after 8 hours, you do it again. Reverse. Back home.
The parents can’t help you. They’d like to. But duty calls. But come straight home. Wouldn’t want to worry them any more than this already does. The wrath of a desperate father, frustrated by his shortcomings, and an incompetent mother, and two unruly children, well, I’d hate to see that.
You get used to it after a while. An unconscious man lying in the streets, an empty bottle lying next to him. A woman offering herself up to any and all takers. A gathering of strange characters, conversing about potentially violent hijinks.
Avoid saying “hello” to anyone. No one’s friendly here. Strangers aren’t to be trusted. Eye contact will lead to lethal consequences, I think. Just keep walking, sis.
Rinse, wash, repeat. It becomes second nature. And you start to blend in after a while. It becomes robotic.
The shock wears off.
But don’t get comfortable.