Friday, June 17, 2005

nothing's changed

I've been spending more time with my sister as she undergoes her second round of chemo. She only lives a few blocks away, but by the time I get home at night, all I feel like doing is sitting down in front of the television and zoning out. I have a stack of things to read, I still have to make notes on a screenplay I read last week, laundry to wash/fold/hang, groceries to shop for, all manner of errands to run and I can't bring myself to do any of it.

After spending the day at my sister's loft, I roamed downtown in search of a decent meal and saw the oddest streetfight on my way home.

I'm walking east on 4th Street, just approaching Spring Street. Two guys are punching each other on the crosswalk, the shorter one yelling, "Stop following me!"

"I ain't following you," said the taller, lanky guy. "I walk wherever I want. Ain't your damn street."

They move onto the sidewalk, southwest corner of 4th and Spring and directly in my path. They've stopped throwing punches, but they're bumping chests, staring each other down and making it difficult for me to decide which side of the sidewalk I'll commit to walking.

"I said stop following me!"

They continue to walk down Spring Street, stopping every few minutes to launch a few punches, push each other, bump chests and yell. They're taking up all of the sidewalk and even if I follow behind them, I eventually catch up to them and am forced to watch as they commandeer the entire sidewalk with their streetfight, unable to move past them.

I consider walking in the street and take a look behind me to gauge oncoming street traffic. Although it is almost sunset, there is too much street traffic, but not enough pedestrian traffic for me to feel comfortable walking alongside a traveling streetfight. I stop at a cluster of newspaper dispensaries and read the headlines, waiting until they take their streetfight past me and my destination.

Looking down the street at the corner of 5th and Spring, I scan the block, noting all the construction at the El Dorado and Rowan buildings. The neighborhood is changing, but the characters on the street aren't cooperating. At the end of the street, I see the voodoo woman on the corner of 6th and Spring, sitting on the curb, cursing the cars driving by. Closer to me, Preacher Man is folding up his Bible, getting ready to call it a day.

The light changes as I approach the corner of 5th and Spring and from out of nowhere, they appear - the two streetfighters. From around the corner on 5th, the short one barrels past me and onto the crosswalk, heading east on 5th, yelling over his shoulder, "Stop following me, motherfucker!"

The tall one is on his heels, pushing up against his back, "I ain't following you."

They continue pushing, shoving, yelling, and punching as they walk. I can't stop watching as they make their way halfway down the block and away from me. The security guard on duty in front of Charley O's watches the drama along with me and everyone else on the street corner. I say hi as I walk past and gesturing to the streetfighters, he offers, "They were having the same exact argument last week."

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