Life and Death on the Streets – Third in a Series.

I remember.

When I was sixteen or so, and my police file listed my residence as “NFA: NO FIXED ADDRESS”, I spent a lot of time at The Square. All of us. It was where we spent our time.

There were maybe two dozen of us there when this kid grabbed my collar, his face caked in blood.

“You gotta help me, man. Some big jock just fuckin’ decked me and took my bag. I was holding for someone else, I don’t even know who this guy is. I gotta get it back.”

That was all we needed to hear. Very few of us agreed on anything at all, and most of us had been in scraps with at least half the people there. We only knew solidarity when someone from the outside fucked with us.

There were dozens of us at the square, and then just like that, there were none.

We followed buddy (who’s name I don’t remember, if I ever knew it) down the back streets, until we found the jock. He was drunk, or high, or both. Big motherfucker, too. Bigger than any of us, at least. Nice jacket, nice shoes. He mumbled something under his breath, held buddy’s denim backpack close to him, and we circled around him.

The details are fuzzy, and largely irrelevant. I remember one of the squeegee kids broke his squeegee handle over the guys head, and someone else kicked him into a car so hard he went through the window, and the alarm went off. At no point did he fall down, he just staggered and kept swinging at us. Probably less than half of us did anymore more than watch, but it didn’t matter who did what. We were all complicit.

Ten minutes later, we’re out of the alleys and on the main street. Traffic is heavy, and he’s bleeding bad. Someone picks up an iron garbage can from the street corner and throws it at him, in the middle of the road. I don’t remember if it hit him or not.

We all know this can’t go on much longer. It’s broad daylight, and someone’s almost certainly called the cops by now.

He jumps in the back of a moving pickup truck, and then he’s gone. The backpack is in the middle of the road, and the kid with the bloody face grabs it, and takes off. The rest of us follow his example, and find other places to be for the rest of the day.

Someone went down to a few hospitals the next day, pretending to be a concerned bystander. This wasn’t uncommon when situations like this happened — it was always better to know than to not know.

He had come in for stitches, and then gone into a coma. He died due to a ‘closed head injury’. That’s what they call it when you get hit in the head hard enough to kill you, but not hard enough to actually crack your skull open.

All of this is true. This really happened.

No one needed to speak aloud what we all knew:

We are all complicit; we are all murderers here.

27 thoughts on “Life and Death on the Streets – Third in a Series.

  1. sometimes it’s easier to hurl insults or accusations of trying to ‘be cool’ or fabricate grandiose histories that are not our own…it’s as if people would prefer that all the grittiness to life be somehow ignored, that somehow you should never talk about the ‘bad’ things…repression is a dangerous thing, and many of us who try and simply tell our stories, recount the realities of life as we have lived it are often expecting attack for simply being open and honest…i wish more of us would all tell our stories, but it can be trying when the reality of them disturbs the unreality of the walls people build around themselves in so many ways.

    i think he’s a brilliant writer myself because of his ability to convey meaning, memory, emotion; reality…to convey an understanding of life as it is for someone else; foreign yet with elements that can’t help but feel so familiar, so human…i think that’s why i fell in love with him before i ever met him; his written words spoke more to me than most people do in life.

  2. i didn’t mean to suggest you were accusing jairus of fabrication or anything [he thought the way i started my comment might come off that way by accident], it was just my own ruminations on the subject peppered with my own experiences of story-telling…

  3. I read your comments out of order (the apology, then the possible insult)

    I am glad you clarified, you are right, I might have misunderstood you.

  4. *nod* i just meant to continue from where you left off as opposed to respond to it…continue on a tangent.

    i’m glad you are able to find something of worth in these life stories…

  5. This story reminds me of the time I was outside of a club like 5 years ago on Queen. Two guys were fighting, it moved on to the road. They were punching eachother in the face etc…and then one of the guys got punched really hard, his head went back and at this moment a truck passed by didn’t see them in the road and the guy got his head cracked open by the rear veiw mirror. This guy didn’t die though, I saw him the next day at the same club with his head bandaged up…drinking.

  6. Whoa.

    I never hung out at the square, for a lot of reasons. That world was never a part of my life. I do have friends that spent a lot of time there though, and the more I hear about the things that happened, the more I’m glad I never joined them.

  7. I never tell my stories from my days like that, well, I tell the stupid ones, but the others are mine to keep I think. I just don’t want people to know what I was really like back then.

  8. I don’t think I can keep these stories. I think it’s important that if I vanish tomorrow, other people will know what happened.

  9. I’m better for having spent the time I did in the square, and on the street — but it’s not something I’d recommend.

  10. I remember that summer really well. I spent it in the square as well. I still remember some of their names.
    I don’t remember that day, but you’re right. It happened a lot.

  11. What I’m about to say next:

    Are you sure it was during the day as I remember one time when it was hitting twilight… a group of people ‘closing the noose’ behind an apartment building.

    Yes my friend. That is what’s ill. The fact that things like this… things like this can happen so often that it becomes discussed in an almost casual tone.
    Some memories and experiences I would trade. Others I feel obliged to keep.

  12. Back in the heyday of Joker and shadow, when Animal was still begging in front of the McDicks. That guy we scared at Nickles one night (we made him think everyone was after him) he was there too. I remember hearing about this. This is totally true.

  13. i think anyone writing would find someone getting ‘enjoyment’ out of reading what they put out there ‘worth’ quite a lot actually :)

  14. Sucks that animal kicked off. He was supercrazy. And it dosen’t surprise me that Joker tossed the can. He’s still in the square, you know. I saw him on Canada day right there.

  15. I’m glad to hear yours, and you’ve heard a few of the dark stories of mine. If I dissapear tomorrow can you make sure they go with me though?
    Oh, and I request more sayings of your father.

  16. Dig. I totally understand that. Plus, you know…it’s like I’m a whole different person…and it’s like I don’t think anyone could understand how the person I am now could be the person I was then…if that makes any sense.

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