by Miles Rost
These streets are my home.
I know each of the houses by heart, knowing the secrets that each of them share with the rest of the world, and those they keep inside. As I lace up my shoes, I notice that Mrs. Coleman in the pink house on the corner is out with her hand-held crane. She’s going to make some apple pies today. Maybe, if things go right after this, I can go back and buy a pie from her.
I put in my earbuds and shoot down the street. The neighborhood I live in is pretty rough, but I think it’s a great place to live if you know how to survive. As I cross over Tremaine Avenue, I run past a blue two-story house where Mr. and Mrs. Parkinson argue about which one will take out the garbage. They love each other, and it’s the small arguments they have which keep them in each other’s arms. Though it only takes me about a second to blaze past their door, I already know that by the time I’m done with my work, they’ll be up in the bedroom doing what couples do best.
Many of the houses I pass in my neighborhood are abandoned, the price paid for an economy that was all eggs in one basket. The city had a thriving cardboard and paperboard mill, and that kept things afloat for nearly 110 years. I can see the former glory of the neighborhood as I cross the next avenue, Waterman Boulevard. It’s a vague memory compared to what I see now, but when I was young, this area was a big one.
After I crossed the street, I passed by Mr. Brody, the postman. He’s been around here longer than I have, and we call him “Dirty Harry”, due to his demeanor and gruff exterior. He is a Korean veteran who is still doing his job at 79. He’s the only one who is willing to actually go around these streets. Not even the drug dealers off Wilkinson Avenue will touch the man. When he goes, there will be no more postal delivery for this area.
I keep running past houses, each one telling a story about the area I live in. I focus on the music in my ears, as I pick up the speed and sprint down the street. I am able to cover 3 blocks in 30 seconds, which gets me closer to the edge of the neighborhood. I slow down and cool down with a slower run over the next two blocks. By the time I reach Townline Road, I can see the empty fields where farmers and vineyards co-mingle like folks at a movie.
I decide to take a moment while figuring out which way to go. I’ve put distance between myself and my home, for sure, and I am not sure which way to go. If I go north up Townline, I go towards more farmland. If I go south on Townline, I will reach the highway. If I continue straight across, I’ll meet up with a hill and eventually a dead end.
I look back behind me, and I can see some movement. Flashlights and chains. Not a good combination in this area. And I know why I can hear them.
I decide to head up the hill, straight ahead. I think if I sprint hard enough a couple times, I can lose them in the trees.
It’s a pain in the butt to try and leave a neighborhood that you’ve lived in all your life. Especially when it’s a prison, run by one of the worst street gangs in the world. But, I think I can get out of this place once and for all, and start my life over again.