Trucks at a construction site beeping as they back up into the street. Garbage collectors driving down alleys. Cops cruising side streets. Last week a boy was shot on the corner at the stop sign. Nobody saw a thing.

He watched it all unfold from his rented sleeping room above Calhoun. Trash in the street; a constant reminder of where he lived. Whores walking around at midnight. Junkies howeling like dogs at a silver moon. Drunks arguing over the last drop. The taco stand where a gringo got slit last week closed upon further investigation. Untrimmed shrubs growing in front of condemned houses on Dewald. Things get worse before they get better.

And down in the street the old man saw a black kid kicking a can between cars. Running back and forth on Harrison behind Saint Patrick’s. He drank coffee and watched the child play. Maybe he was pretending to be an athlete. A soccer star. Maybe he was just bored on a summer’s afternoon. The old man said a short prayer for the kid. He said, Lord get him out of here. May he leave this place some day for a better life, the old man crossed himself. Kissed the crucifix around his neck.

He never saw the boy again.

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