Hull Street Blues…

I live in a rough part of town, in an old school bus, in-between two shipping containers. I had previously lived across the alley from an abandoned slave cemetery, and recently moved about a mile away. Before this, I had lived in a more traditional dwelling, when I had a successful career, living paycheck to paycheck, that all changed when I started going broke, but I was lucky enough to be able to convert our old tour bus into a tiny home, and find a sound place to park it.

The alleyways throughout the neighborhood are like tiny veins, in a lively area, connecting the streets to the avenues, people to their vices, and leave footprints and finger prints of all the above. The part of town where you can scan the ground to see the DNA of depravity and despair, or maybe just litter. Old car tires, kitchen sinks, hair weaves…

The drains are filled with rain debris which clog and flood the intersections, and the side streets are too, gravel wash from the alley ways connecting the dots between busted curbs and pot hole rubble. The walkways around and between the neighborhood haunts are littered with empty beer cans, empty cigarette packs, discarded butts and scratch off lottery tickets. Hope…

My neighbors are hookers and roofers, junkies, would be gangsters, ex-cons, a prison queen, drug dealers, a generous enterprising couple, and Charles, who lives across the alley, who randomly fires off guns into the air, wears a pistol on his waist and refuses to hurry when crossing the street to the Jack Rabbit to get a beer.

People sleep on bus stop benches or use them as home base in-between sex transactions. The Johns pick up tricks who are on their way back from the mini mart, or on their way to get their medicine, sometimes they park right behind my car, or sometimes they drive off to a darker alleyway. People shuffle past, walking down the middle of the street, either real slow or way too hurried. Rarely in-between.

Summer was hot. From Juneteenth until independence day during months of social unrest, fireworks went off every single night like some kind of psychological operation experiment. The locals seem largely unaware that riots and protests occupy the city on the other side of the river, dumpsters and police cars on fires, as the cops spray civilians with tear gas and rubber bullets, a stark contrast to late model american sedans idling quietly in the shadows, as high rollers monitor local commerce.

In the morning I look at the corrugated sunlight on the con-ex box I live next to, angled shadows from the fence and the silhouette of the barbed wire dancing in the morning breeze. There is always someone revving an engine on some kind of motor vehicle that doesn’t run properly, sitting next to another on blocks, doing some kind of hood mechanic wishful thinking to get it to idle properly or simply just to keep it running! Hot rods and motorbikes, and bootleg metal recycling trucks, slowly creeping through the alley, to the tune of crushing gravel, and bad exhaust.

Winter was cold and dark. Pandemic solitude in the bus, like a run- on sentence describing a really long year during strange times. The floor is always cold, and my typical snowbird travels have been thwarted by a public health crisis and hard times, the exclamation point. Icy rain and short days, and if I am being honest, none of it made me feel really good.

In the evening, when it gets dark, the plastic wrappers littered, stuck in the wind, flickers like the start of a tiny fire as it reflects the orange glow of the street light above. Drunken hollars and drug addled screams, drifting somewhere between jubilation and blood curdling violence, its often hard to tell which is which. The last two nights I heard 4 gunshots, rapid-fire in close proximity, followed by people running through alley ways, it seems more like teenagers that happened upon a handgun than acts of violence or self defense. No sirens follow.

Once it thawed out, the neighborhood came back to life, and sounded like an after hours bar, all hours of the day, with sounds of revving engines of various sorts, and some occasional gunfire peppered in. On Sunday someone was shot and killed a few doors down, no one would really say what happened.

It’s spring time now, I left the doors open in the bus, eventually it got quiet, birds chirping at dusk, It was the best night sleep I’d had in a while…

Additional Dwellings…

The Forgotten side of town

Another alleyway

Motor Hotel

Steve Crandall

Coffee sipping pilot of a red FBM frame and a Nikon camera.