I wrote this piece awhile back when I was working overnights at Walgreens (partly the inspiration for this story) and submitted it to the local writer’s group of which I am a member. This piece was meant to be dark and humorous, but one of the other members had this to say about it (from behind her keyboard, of course): I must admit I was captivated to keep reading to the end. However the piece is so depressingly biased I wonder about the mental health of the writer.
I had meant each stanza (resembling a haiku) to be a true haiku, but I’m more of a limerick girl (it’s the Irish in me, I suppose).
One could say that this not-so-purple prose juxtaposes with the photograph at the end.
Emerald Coast Blues
Ghetto and white trash,
salt and pepper the city,
like dross and refuse.
Strings of chain restaurants line the streets like dirty laundry on a clothesline, and trash from the transients collect like fermented sewage.
Everywhere, letters are burned out in signs. The affle Houses are open, the dingy windows emitting a pallid, yellow light onto the roads where roadkill might bake for days in the scorching sun. The overnight cashier at CVS harmacy stands like a sentinel as a couple of pot-heads run in, their graffiti-like tattoos streaking past like a Van Gogh painting. They are thieves. One loses a nose ring on the way out.
It is the wee hour, when half the populace are red-eyed zombies and the other half are just going through the motions of life in a dying town, a town that only manages to stay alive by sucking the life out of everything and everyone.
The purple shadows cast under the streetlights are like the half-moons that appear below one’s eyes.
mores in fifty shades of grey,
ever blackening to ashes.
The days are so hot and humid, one feels like they’re walking into a sauna. A chocolate candy bar on break is goo by the time one gets to their car. The blacktop shimmers in the boiling heat.
The sand on the Bay Bluffs beach below, right past the railroad tracks, where a motley collection of litter is strewn about, is yellow, as if urine from a Mountain Dew drinker saturated it. The water past it is murky, almost as if sewage has seeped in.
The tower on Scenic Highway, where the homosexuals go to congregate, stands like a Phallic symbol, a giant middle finger to the place that has more churches than any other county in the state; inasmuch as there is a softening of morals here, there is a coarsening of the culture.
The counterculture is becoming the culture.
This cesspool is like a whirlpool, making one dizzy with despair.
Lower Alabama by day,
post-Apocalyptic by night–
the colliding of hells.
The homeless on the corners look like refugees from Manila as the preachers in white shirts, waving Bibles, scream hellfire on the opposite corners, sweat running in rivulets down their red faces.
The ECAT (Escambia County Area Transit) bus rumbles past them. The interior smells like sweat. Someone runs over one of the many potholes that cover the streets of the city like old acne scars. A copy of the Pensacola News Journal lies abandoned on one of the cracked vinyl seats. Shooting in Brownsville is the lead story.
A McDonald’s sign is advertising the McRib Sanwich. Spelling is optional here, because after all, who would notice?
Our cashier, one of the many drones that populate this place, rides this bus daily. What would take twenty minutes by car takes an hour by bus. She lives in the Warrington area, where the military live. It looks like Detroit. Many buildings are abandoned, ready to be condemned. There are no trees.
The ValuePlace across town on Pine Forest Road, one of those pay by the week lodges, has been evacuated, for a couple of meth-heads have just blown up a lab.
It has started to rain. Hurricanes visit like an annoying relative, leaving a horrendous mess in their wake, except the mess is cleaned up just enough to get by. Tree limbs are left to rot, like human limbs on the battlefield.
She opens a dirt-streaked window. Sometimes when the wind blows, she can smell the foul odor emanating off the paper plant out in Cantonment. She clutches her plastic gallon jug of water, as the water in Escambia County is the worst in the country.
The sun goes down, but the heat remains.
No, one has to die to go to hell if they live in Pensacola, and if they go into the Ensley Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, they’re in the hottest part of it.
Armpit of the South;
a prideless anthem I sing,
and elsewhere I dream.