Scenes from Midtown Detroit

Mr. Du Rag leans over a garbage can on Second Avenue. Except, to him, it’s not a garbage can. It’s a lectern, a podium. He’s an actor, and Detroit is his stage.

“Oh, look at you. See, I need to get myself a white boyfriend.”

He pauses, takes a theatrical sip of his malt liquor.

“All my black boyfriends take all my money. I can’t be havin’ that. I need me a white boyfriend.”

A family exiting an SUV outside Tom Boy Supermarket pretends not to see or hear him.

“I can’t have that. I’m a WORKIN’ GIRL!”

He laughs and cracks a wide, toothy grin.

“I said, I’M A WORKIN’ GIRL!”

A rusty fixed gear bike with a flat metal wagon hooked up to the back ambles down Second Avenue. Supremes hits blast from the passenger’s boombox.

Stop! In the name of love!
Before you brrreaaaakkk my heart!

The rider stops and asks a man on the patio outside of Bronx Bar for a cigarette. Guess he didn’t have a square, because the makeshift rickshaw heads off into the sunset sans smokes, exiting as mysteriously as it entered.

She stumbles up and down West Willis, drunk, doped up.  You can see the drizzle, illuminated in the halo of a distant streetlight. She’s screaming at an apartment, a pretty brick building with a regal arched entrance.

“Why did you knock that cup out of my hand? Why won’t you let me take what I want?”

From the darkness, an ethereal, God-like voice cuts through the night.

“Come back inside. Please, just come back inside!”

“No. You’re gonna call the cops. Someone’s gonna call the cops. I’m leaving. I’m not comin’ back here!”

No one calls the cops.

“You got change? I gotta catch the bus.”

We’re inside Go! Sy Thai, a restaurant on Cass. Three sad, cold people are standing stone-faced in the corner, waiting silently for the bus. Their coats, dark and grimy, clash with the brightly painted walls.

“I said, you got change?”

His breath is rank.

“Uh…”

“Jesus lady, IT WAS A YES OR NO QUESTION!

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5 thoughts on “Scenes from Midtown Detroit

  1. Always will be the Cass Corridor to me,,, man this be great,, not head on down to the Barrio SW Detroit and catch the same shit happen,,,, Life in THE D the way it be.

  2. Thank you. It’s always tough to know where to stop with details. In this case, I was counting on readers to have a prior image of Detroit, or at least an image of an older urban city. I figured that image would be more realistic and appropriate than whatever I could write.

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