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Street Hustles
Rain on my head
Steffon Haaby, Aug 04, 2005

I was sixteen the first time I rode a freight train to Portland, OR. It was also the first time I saw a man nearly killed. I went to Portland in hopes of finding some sort of punk rock mecca. I had a young, naive impression that I would get there and find mohicans and skins getting drunk on every corner of pioneer square downtown. Of course I was wrong, but I did find one corner where this was taking place. The punks on that corner accepted me right away and I continued to fulfill my dream of being on my own...keeping it on the street, keeping it real. The kids I ran with were a nice mix of individuals. Spikey hair, shaved heads, tight pants and steel caps. It was beautiful. The kid who seemed to have the most clout was a mohican named �asshole eric�. He was tough as nails - scary in a way � I was thankful he was on my side. I spent most of my time talking and drinking with him. What�s weird, though, is I never really got to know him. He never got personal; I liked it. Cheers and beers, nothing else mattered.

One early afternoon in the wet Portland fall, eric and I had finished a bottle of cheap whiskey and were heading back to the corner. Nasty shit - oh God, I can taste it now. Anyone knows that whiskey makes you crazy but a drunk knows nasty whiskey makes you mean. And how. So we were stomping the cold concrete pretty hard on our way back. As we got to our last crosswalk, I heard eric mumble harshly, "What the fuck is this?�

He was referring to a group of dirty train hoppers (or so I assumed by the looks of them) sitting on "our" corner. Normally, anywhere but here, it would be cool. More people to drink with and shoot the shit with. This was one of my favorite past times and still is - meeting kids on the street, exchanging stories. But here in this part of PDX, it wasn�t cool. At the time there was a lot of tension between crusty kids and spikey punks. A separation I was once very keen on, but could never-then or now-explain the fine line differences and why they were reasonable cause for separation and fighting.

Anyway, there were like six or seven kids and eric decided to start talking smack to all of them. Fuck. What brought up this much anger? I still don�t know. After a short couple of minutes of back-and-forth shouts, he turns to me and says to stay right there. �yeah okay, uhhh, where the hell are you going� being the most coherent thought in my head at that moment, oh yeah and the phrase, �oh shit�.

He disappeared. I�m looking around, but he�s out of sight. fuck fuck fuck. I turn back to the crusties when a question is yelled my way - "What�s his problem?� I couldn�t say anything. In fact I doubt if Sigmund Freud would have any insights, eric was simply a loose fucking cannon, stay out of the way. I was at a great loss for words, and thoughts�and I was almost out of beer. I stared blankly at the kid who asked me the question, as I downed the last little bit, so if I had to fight him, I didn�t have to waste or neglect my 40. The kid rose to his feet and made his way towards me. It all seemed kinda fake, you know like one of those really shitty TV fights with the corny fucking sound affects. Dare I say it was rather surreal. By this point, The whiskey was burning in my guts and making an awesome mix of gas and acid reflux with the malt liquor.
He gets about three feet from me and BAM!!! I guess I smashed him in the face with the bottle, I could have sworn I�d gotten rid of before moving toward him. It all kinda blanks in and out from there but so does most of my entire life story so I can work around it.

Evidently eric came back to join the brawl he had started. Turns out, he went to the store and swiped a bar of soap and threw it right in this kids face. From the sound of it, he threw it real damn hard. The kid who got the fastball to the nose just fell to his knees holding his face. neato. good swing, bro.

Jesse slowly but dominantly walked up to him and just started belting this guy with his fists. I instinctively looked to the other crusties, with the remainder of my bottle still clenched, and a rabid look in my eyes. They were in as much shock as I was. They did nothing, much to my disappointment so I kinda backed off sheepishly and took a look around for at least on person to fight. So I wouldn�t feel like a complete fucking idiot. When I looked back at eric, he was now on top of this kid bashing his head in. Then he stops, but he doesn�t get off the kid, just waits for him to somewhat come to and open his eyes (if he still had them). Slowly but surely his eyes open only to see a middle finger on display from his mohican "enemy". fucking kudos kid. touch� and then some.

Then, out of nowhere, eric takes his fingers and fishhooks the kid by the nostrils and screams, "This is our corner, you dirty bastard!�. "Our corner" echoed disturbingly through my head. I couldn�t control myself any longer. I grabbed eric and pulled him off this bloody pile of flesh that was once a great kid with a heart of gold and balls (not to mention middle finger) of fucking solid steel. As I�m pulling him back across that damn crosswalk he is still screaming at the kids. There was another scream, much louder than his, a loud cry of confusion coming from behind me. I turn and see what I assume to be the guy�s girlfriend holding her used-to-be.

We connected eyes and I froze, standing in the middle of the crosswalk. I couldn�t move. By then eric was long gone, probably to rework his buzz and go start more shit. Suddenly, I felt more alone then I�d ever been. I never saw him again, not that I am complaining mind you, I think I would have been good friends with that crusty kid, had I not smashed him with PBR 40 oz. As for the girl whose stare froze me in that epitome of reality, honestly, I hope I never see her again either.

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