He pushed down on the pedals, and the cranks turned the gears went round and round. Forward through the streets of the old neighborhood. Past the old house with the tall chain link fence, where the old man sat on his stoop all day, gospel music floating out through the front door; where his nephew stood in the street all night, drugs floating out through the front door. Once, in a bad storm, an old friend from school now a cop gave him a ride home his cruiser. As they drove the officer pointed out all the houses that were dealing, weed on this corner, cocaine on that one, crack all over. The police knew about it all, but were too busy “investigating” to make any arrests.
The cranks turned the gears went round and round. Onward still turning left down the road where the old duplex apartment sat, the garden they planted overgrown, the rosebushes turned to briers. The windows still boarded. They had such big plans, a future, a family. Making do in the meantime with what they had. Then the people in the next apartment passed out with the stove on. Every stitch of clothes, every stick of furniture gone; the fire burned through their entire lives. They were out celebrating their anniversary that night. The next morning they had to start all over again.
The gears went round and round. Farther up the playground where the bus dropped off the elementary school kids each afternoon. The slides and jungle gym covered in tags and pseudo gang signs drawn by thugs and wannabes each, depending on the time of day, claiming ownership of this insignificant corner of the world. They all had guns but were all afraid of being shot, so provided they ignored each other there was rarely a problem. In the end they could have it, the whole pile of garish plastic, cigarette buts, shredded rubber, broken crack pipes and sand.
Round and round. The new job afforded a better area of town to live in, but each evening as the sun went down he pedaled his way through the old neighborhood, and it’s ill repaired roads. Past the drunken overly friendly people he came to know over the few years they lived here. The old folks who always had the time of day, whether he did or not. Who always asked about how she was doing, and if her tomatoes had come in. The handful of neighbors that made the place tolerable. He waved to the last of them and turned up the ragged bike path towards home.