The cart people are loudest in the morning, when the city suffers in pre-dawn silence. The cheap wheels of their contraptions scrape the shoddy sidewalks and clatter through the cracked concrete.
The rickety symphony drives insomniacs tossing away in the apartments above the street to make bleak daylight decisions. They’ll spend recklessly, commit fierce adulteries.
Exhaustion is the hungriest enabler of all.
Back below, the cart people greet each other as they cross paths. Not friendly, exactly, but purposeful. Slim George, that’s what the neighborhood calls him, his shopping cart stocked with blankets and beer cans, hollers across the street to the guy I call Joe Foxtrot. Foxtrot’s walker is the thing of legend on Riverside Ave. Not only does he have the tennis balls on the bottom, but he manages to find the loudest neon balls – yellows bigger than sun, purples deep as planets. I swear I once saw the balls of Joe Foxtrot’s walker from the rooftop of the Paulson building, where I wrestled with an ancient HVAC.
Foxtrot calls back to Slim George. Later, he’ll whisper a hello to the Smoke Lady, who sits all day on a chair/walker outside the Catholic charities building and sucks down cigarettes. Smoke Lady likes to push her equipment back and forth over the cracks to get her screeching wheels going. I’ve seen her out as early as 4 am.
Think of the insomniacs.
After the Smoke Lady, there’s another cart guy, but I don’t see him much. He’ll post up on the corner of Riverside and Browne sometimes and hold signs that say things like -
“RAPE BANKS: GOD IS YOUR CONDOM”
This cart guy also coos like a pigeon. Police chase him away often, I think.
Around 7am, traffic begins to trickle like an old man’s piss and the clatters and coos of the cart people fade into rush hour.
But those insomniacs, they’re just getting dressed. They’ll adulter you something fierce.
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Tags: short fiction, Spokane