The Good Ones in Bad Places

A Prose Piece by Brian Barbeito

We were in a seedy part of a city, and it was amazingly and sadly plain how low the vibrations seemed to be. I was talking with this lady, a trustworthy soul named Carlene, though I could never for some strange reason remember her name while I knew her. She was worrying about bills, and how, if she thought about it too much, the idea of her bills would get her down. Outside, beyond the house we were in, the subway had a part where it went outside and you could hear its rumble and sort of thunder when it went past. To me, the place, filled as it was with strange people walking around, seemed old and sinister, or else young and sinister, was kind of like a light living hell. In fact, the first time I ever met Carlene, she shook my hand- with a firm handshake, not the flimsy untrustworthy handshake of some women- and said, “Welcome to hell.” Sometimes we were down by the local 7-11, sometimes other places–and even the parks and regular places were seedy, spent, devoid of light. I also met this born-again Christian there, and he was fearless- and I asked him how it was that he was fearless–and he said God protected him–and that is the only thing he ever feared–God. I dropped him off near the subway once. Someone was throwing glass down from a building near us. Glass smashing right there near the car. He looked at me and said, “Hey, we should go up there and see what is going on. They could hurt someone.” But I felt it would be like walking into a field in the middle of an infantry war and lecturing the soldiers on the dangers of guns. I convinced him to head to the subway and get the hell out of there. Then I left, drove away from that wretched place–to other places less wretched but still wretched. I lost touch with Carlene, and with the Christian. I remember that I had liked them, and that they had also liked me. But it was a terrible way–those streets and corners, those houses and the people around them, everything giving a feeling of dread, and just when you were a bit panicked and shaky trying to survive through the day or night, the subway train would come crashing through the world along the tracks, shake and rumble like the heart of the devil waking up, getting ready to devour the world some more.

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