“In the ghetto! The ghetto…” Sam sang out distunefully as we rounded a corner. Before us stood an arcane array of tarnished two-story homes, whose quaint porches seemed deceptively inviting. Like a lure for fools.
We’d been to Richmond many times but had never been this far north. The cities opulence, its position as headquarters for such dubious necessities as a Federal Reserve bank, stood in stark contrast to what met our eyes.
We’d heard about Oregon Hill largely through jokes in the rich sprinkling of yuppie-hipster bars, that littered the city proper like so many turds from some self-important cosmic hen. None of us were averse to the working class, because we had come from the working class but gnosis was also the reason that we avoided the area, even as we grimaced at the casual disdain of our foppish company.
I wondered why Thornton had decided to hole up here rather than the usual backroom of some shop. Apparently, he, Hoyt, and whoever else had decided to rough it had been out here during our two weeks of ‘lent.’
“Hey kid!” I heard somebody call in our direction.
I wheeled around. Standing on a porch a few paces off was a man with matted blonde hair that ran haphazardly over a pockmarked face.
“Hey, I know you’ve got a cigarette on ya.”
“Sorry don’t smoke.”
The expression fell. “Aww fuck!” He turned on his heel, walked through a door, and slammed it shut.
“In the ghetto! The ghetto!” Sam’s song resumed with even greater vigor.
I looked at the number on my cell phone screen. 286 A, we were two houses away.
As we ascended the creaky steps of 20th-century revival, a deep nostalgia, carried by the musty odor of well-used wood, overwhelmed me. I’d spent many evenings on such porches, sitting on their swings, leafing through whatever I could get my mitts on, embraced by magnolia scents, and serenaded by cicadas. That was a lifetime ago.
A brisk, broad shoulder, man with the air of a heavily armed boy scout greeted us with a business like, “Baird and company?”
“Nah, I’m Robin Hood, he’s little John, and the others are my merry band of thieves.”
“He told me you were an asshole…” The overgrown boy scout muttered as he stepped aside.
1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer
Help a Hipster