Parkamo Ave. Hamilton, OH
(I wrote this story while working in an office several months ago. I’d get bored, ignore my duties, and secretly pull up a micro sized Notepad window in the bottom corner of my screen. I just wanted to clarify that I wrote this story out of an exercise of boredom. It wasn’t originally meant to be seen by anybody; but, with the evolving content on the site, I thought, why not? So, it’s certainly not one of my better pieces of prose, but it is something uniquely different. The story is an ode to the neighborhood I grew up in, called by most “The Knob.” It’s got a bad reputation, but I still think back upon it fondly. All of the incidents and observations are based upon real life, and happened or were experienced by friends or myself in my neighborhood. Without further adieu… enjoy!)
I walked out my front door, locked it behind me, and down the concrete steps that lead from my porch to front gate. It was late August, but it felt more like autumn than summer. I looked in both directions before opening the gate and stepping out onto the sidewalk. When I was growing up in this neighborhood, I often ran down these streets barefoot; I was reminded then, of that feeling of warm concrete and blades of grass underneath my toes. It wasn't exactly ideal suburbia, in all honestly a more lower-middle class version of it. There were rows of houses, none of them too special, with little front lawns, but generally more spacious backyards. It had its own charm, though – even if outsiders considered it a rough section. I looked left and right, before deciding to start walking left. I'd got up that particular summer afternoon with the desire to get out, but little other actual plans. I crossed Grand Blvd. and entered the parking lot of Circle K. When I was growing up it was called Stop 'N Go, later for a long stint Dairy Mart, and now Circle K, even if little had changed inside through its name changes. I entered the building and my eyes got adjusted to the lighting, much dimmer than that outside. The person at the counter, a middle-aged man, barely bothered to acknowledge my existence so I began my trek around the store. I went through the chips, candy, and canned food aisles. I made my way over to the far side of the store, and was temporarily distracted by the hotdogs rolling around. I've been getting fountain sodas from here since I was a kid. Back in the early 90's they had what was called a Bad Bull, which was the largest size cup. All my friends and I would always grab a Bad Bull, but, one day this kid Daryl only had enough change to get the size down from it, titled a Classy Cow. It was a purple cup, depicting a feminine cow on the side, wearing lipstick, pearls, and a dress. You can imagine how ridiculed he was for this. I got a 7-Up, went to the counter, had a quick and emotionless exchange with the fellow working there, and then went outside where I stood in front of the building sipping my soft drink.
I heard a voice from my right.
"Oh, hello--wait, hey Rebecca!"
It was a girl I knew from junior high school.
"What are you doing Mark?"
"What is this, the Spanish Inquisition? I'm killing a 7-Up."
"Some things never change. What have you been doing with yourself, Mark?"
"Oh, yeah? What's it about?"
"It's kind of a suspense/mystery/comedy hybrid. It's about a legless detective who meets a professor who gives him artificial legs, but not for free. Throw in some rabid dogs, the FBI, and Russian mafia and you've got the first act."
"You make me feel lazy. I've just been doing doubles at K-Mart and Taco Bell on Route 4. Trying to pay the bills. There's a party tonight, on the North End, want to come?"
"Sure, why the hell out. With you?"
"No, I'm going with this guy Daryl."
"Daryl? Daryl "Classy Cow" Hensley? You've got to be kidding me."
"You know Daryl? Wait, classy what? Shit, that's my cell, I've got to run Mark. The party's at Mongo's house. Later!"
I watched Rebecca walk off wondering how a nice and smart girl like her is stuck working at two dead end jobs. Then, I can't really criticize, as my security job is a joke itself. I patrol a deserted paper factory at night, but it pays the bills. I'm hoping I can sell my novel when it's finished, but who knows when that'll be. I take a few more swigs from my drink and toss it in a trashcan. What do I do next? I start walking down the block towards East View swimming pool. It's already closed for the season, but I figure someone would be nearby, and sure enough, I see Eric, Fuller, Ben, and a few other kids I don't recognize skateboarding and eating junk food in the parking lot.
"Hey, you cod fishing eating hooligan. What's the scoop?"
"We're just killing time until tonight. Going to a show in the nasty 'Nati."
"How are you guys getting to Cincinnati?"
"Gives great head. Now, back to my question, if you don't mind?"
Eric chucked a half-eaten Twinkie at me, I dodged it and chuckled. This kids shoes were practically falling apart, and everyone made fun of his trashy mom. One night Eric was having a sleepover, and she was drunk and attempted to persuade some of his guests to join her in her room for a gangbang. I shit you not.
"Well, there's supposedly a party tonight at Mongo's house on the North End. If you guys get back and feel like doing shots and listening to people talk about themselves far too much, drop by. I'll be the one breakdancing on the pool table. Outtie. And by the way, Fuller, your fucking fly is down, man--you sick, sick, monster."
Fuller never ever speaks, so I like to give him a hard time. I walked off, thinking that thus far, the day has been interesting if nothing else. I hadn't expected to party, and I don't think I'll get too wild, and maybe I'll see some cool people I haven't spoken to in ages.
On the way home, I saw a domestic dispute get physical. A man was arguing with a woman, and he grabbed her arm and started shaking her. People on the street, and on front porches, were also watching. She slapped him across the face, and he responded with an unbelievably sloppy attempt at a spinkick. His foot didn't even nail its intended spot, it was more his thigh that connected and pushed her over the porch railing into some bushes a few feet below. The impact sent him spilling back onto his back, too. He then rushed inside, and came out shirtless carrying a samurai sword. At this point, the girl had hopped the fence, and was taking off towards a car that pulled up in the nick of time. He screamed loudly as she fled the scene. He then walked back to his front porch, the scene of the melee, bowed to the viewing public, and quietly entered his house
Back in elementary school they used to sell bags of popcorn on Fridays for a quarter. This one Friday right as school let out a fight broke out about 100-feet from the building, and these two kids were rolling around on the ground grappling and ended up in this little ditch where a sewer hole was. All of us kids that had bought popcorn started pouring it on the fighting kids in the hole, showering them in kernels and laughing hysterically at it all. I thought about that moment as I walked back to my house.