The Building Code
The decrepit buildings of Detroit whisper as I stride past, a fast jog really, you wouldn't want to linger about. They’re houses of horrors, fun houses to some, sad memories to others, of the lost souls trapped inside forever more. To the homeless, these vacant dwellings are but a fleeting claim of salvation from the elements that kill: frostbitten digits, noses blackened by gangrene, or if they're lucky, pneumonia sets in from the deluge of water wrecking fragile cardboard homes, and they’re stacked in hospitals like diseased cordwood.
The callous houses are eerily silent except to those who care to listen to the savage stories within. Graffiti speaks volumes to the hearing impaired, of the sets and crews who came before and may never have left, leaving charred, blackened shells to remain, stray dogs to roam the interiors, rabid and hungry for flesh. Blood-tipped needles pepper the rubbish swelled floor, remnants of the heroin craze that grips those who crawl through the crumbling, poverty door.
Late at night, when the clouds shroud the moon and shadowy figures, you can hear the tortured howls and thumps of bodies being dumped: whores who have enraged their pimps, leaving black and blue marks,
HIV infected, sides to hump.
I witness these untold abominations, behind closed blinds, stories rarely shared by the political/tabloid masses. Shattered streetlights, and crimson-yellow-stained mattresses lined up like a sleazy motel, garbage bag coffee tables, diapered doilies, and riven glass floors defy the chorus line of what's in store.
Bumpin’ rides streaming rap music on 24s, vibrating bass, AK-47s blindly slicing any race, déjà vu...
I don't move because I'm old, older than most, younger than some. Where would I go? To some infantile nursing home and have others tell me what to do? Here I can take my own pot shots, like Dirty Harry, but nowadays more like in Gran Torino. I’ve dragged my own bodies in and out of the cinderblock cemeteries, with newspaper epitaphs and milk-crate tombstones.
Each twilight is movie night: The OK Corral, Death Wish, Faces of Death, Crime Stoppers Matinee; don't hold your breath. Hundreds of dozens reside in these poor gated communities, where no one wants to get in and no one can get out. The barriers to destitution are portals to personal hells, either internal or external.
The dainty, yellow daffodils that filled ceramic flower boxes in the ‘60s withered into dusty fields where weeds don't dare grow 'less they get shot for being on the wrong block, a glock full of shells littered after the last one tried to run the gauntlet — not fast enough.
Does that make me a bad person, because I live by ghetto building codes? The only sirens I hear are the paramedics after the bodies are bloated sky high, smelling worse than the feces pie-lining the fractured sidewalk. Left by some junkie who shot a dose so bad that diarrhea set in before their final sigh.
The incorrigible buildings excoriate me as I passed them by: abandoned factories stripped of conscience/copper wire — stories of prohibition, World War II tanks, replaced by skanks turning tricks on former assembly line cranks.
Drug deals go bad, or good depending on the attitude and economic livelihood. Crack flakes sell like diamonds in the bush, heroin for the hardcore drinkers that crave a more degenerate thirst.
Arsonists make the Statue of Liberty proud with their torch of indifference, falling embers — comets in the sky, fragmented glass explodes like shrapnel in a war zone — hood-like — jihad.
There are times I don't go out for days, keep the lights off, trigger pulled back. Buckshot into ruby-colored trophies, walking dead insomniacs. Bam-bam, there goes a thug — thud! Two-hundred dollar Jordans, dripping, lifeless. Morgue queued up; crypts are endless: curtain, one, two, or three; Let's Make a Deal.
The intricate, Gothic architecture of Detroit’s hey-day has become mere mausoleums of noxious lead. Brick by faded brick, basements become violent urns, defaced cabinets displaying decapitated urchins.
Pay your last respects to the faded chalk lines from the last seventeen and counting. Neighborhood watch, ammunition going Mach one on the next fool that takes a walk down my block. Building code violation — urban tumbleweeds chased by emaciated, demonic pit-bulls, stained a macabre red. Shhh ... can you hear the buildings whisper their decaying despair? Unwilling accomplices who really don't care if they see your
face. Welcome to the neighborhood ... will this be your final resting place?
//Bryan Palmer is a contributor to The Periphery.