Midnight in the projects. She’s scurrying along the stucco walls of apartment buildings nestling a guitar case like it’s cocaine. Maybe it’s got cocaine in it, I don’t know. I’m probably the only guy in this place who doesn’t care. I feel like I ought to tell her that as she’s shooting sideways glances at me but I’ll let a girl live in fear. She’s always walking home with a guitar case, this girl. Always passing by and always scared I might chase her down the street with my erection. I wish she’d stop and ask if I would but she’s probably smart not to. It’s better this way – if she stopped being scared of guys like me one day she’ll get caught by guys unlike me. Don’t feed the wildlife, they say. Dependence. Trust. Those things don’t belong in the wild, and out on these streets, the city is the wildest. She escapes me around the bend and all I see of her is the growing shadow under the yellow streetlight.
I don’t know what I am in this place, but I know what I do. The men who trace her steps like wolves on a scent – these are the men who give me purpose. Slouched over with hats hiding their eyes from the moon, ghouls in tracksuits, their pale skin a bright contrast against their black clothes. These men are a product and this city its manufacturer. Theirs is a presence I stand up against, from my seat on the curb with my fingernails digging into my palms. They won’t make it to the bend. They’ll barely even catch her shadow.
Midnight in the projects. Cold blooded murder in bold fonts on newspapers at doorsteps of rich people in Hightown. Wild deaths scare people. They’ll never see it like I do squatted over marble toilets getting their assholes bidet’ed. They think safety is something civilized people do; they don’t realize it’s their money that gave them the fence around their sty. But in this city, there’s no way to escape the fact that if you’re too focused on the butchers you forget the wolves crawling at your heels.
Artwork by Sam Weber