I walked home from downtown. A bit of reclaiming my honour after being a literary fool. Michelle gave me a Chapters Giftcard for my birthday and I decided I was finally going to reclaim House Of Leaves. Black covers enfolding hot, sweaty intellect. Letting a copy of Witpunk catch my eye and softly seduce me into carrying it from the shop wasn’t so wise, nor was letting the teller get away with not using the giftcard. No deadline on the sliver of plastic though, joy. More opportunities to crash into the rocks at a bookstore. Text siren calling.
Walking my route entails striding through the very worst part of town. I know people who quail at simply taking the bus through Crackton, but I don’t worry. I’ve lived there. I dress eccentric enough to not quite have money and I walk confidently enough to never have problems. Ten long blocks of addicts jonesing, the streets a smear of hard-luck. I got the average two streets in before I was propositioned. A man in army fatigues, explaining carefully how he was available. I smile and keep walking. He brought to mind a girl I’d seen earlier on Robson. Someone I could imagine him having better luck with. She had dead eyes, dolls eyes. Made up so heavily her lashes looked like a brush. Glass eyes that would roll back into her head when you laid her down. She spooked me. For a moment I imagined her saying mommy in a small innocent voice when she finally sat up afterwards.
Myself though, I had a hand tight on my bag of books. Just a little swing and I would be free. Gravity working in my favour. Instead, I touch a gloved hand to my hat and don’t say a word. Why bother? Across the street is a knot of people, better to look through them. Tight mini skirts yelling at scruffy men who looked like they walked out of a bad comic book. Some holding eachother, crying. A bottle of liqueur’s been smashed on the cement, there must have been a fight. Calmed now. Walking through, I wasn’t paying much attention. Minimum thirty of them, but harmless if you know what’s what. Ahead is what concerns me. Someone washing the sidewalk with a hose. We all know that scum is death. Watch that man there drive his bicycle into oncoming traffic rather than into the spray of water. Who knows what might be alive in the gritty spray?
That’s when it happens.
Someone says in a broken jaw slur, “Watch your step, bitch, or we give you to Danny Holmes. Let the crazy fucker kill you.”
Mid-step, I can’t flinch. To look around is to die. They know he has a daughter. I want to pin point who spoke, but in the messy crowd I don’t have a hope in hell.
What sort of man is my father now, that he is a threat to throw? I can imagine him cornering someone in a dark alley and kicking them with metal toed boots until all thier bones are shattered. He’d spit on them, he’d grab hair and smash thier face into brick. He’s that kind of guy. I want to ask questions. I want to go down and scour the streets, drawing myself a picture of his reputation, but I don’t dare. It’s sobering. It’s painful.
He’s one of the last things to scare me. I walked home shaking.