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Boston Commons

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There is a distinctly unpleasant odor only slightly diluted by the breeze carried in from the north end. This scent of garbage trucks and abandoned street meat from baseball games swirls around the above ground entrance to the boston commons, an unceremonious opening onto a cement patch packed with toothless old women on their garbage bag thrones, and street venders selling trans-fats deep fried in oil and the american dream. Next to the fried dough stand there is a rumpled pile of goodwill clothing with a equally rumpled head of grey hair popping out of the top, holding a sign that reads “Droids can’t love.” She is accompanied by five men on the brink of middle aged and old, all bone and sinew and turkey necks drowning in handmade anti-war shirts underneath their red sox caps. Their fragile necks strain as they preach against the war, which war is not said, but it is definitely a bad one, one in which limbs and childhoods were lost. There was blood and taxes and mama’s boys became killing machines, (and also taxes) and those killing machines are droids, droids cannot love, they are not human, did I forget taxes? Stop the war, any war, every war, start a war just so you can end it. Taxes. the group of protestors become increasingly heated when a herd of students from the naval academy walks into the commons. But the starch uniforms stroll leisurely by, the droid killing machines chat with the vender at the stall where they buy fried dough and laugh, embarrassed, when they return to purchase a gatorade, because even droids have thirst.

Beyond the dizzying sounds and hot asphalt there are carefully manicured fields, where young “alternative” couples lie in the grass and recite poetry to one another and periodically participate in romantic activities that a wrinkled man mutters “Aren’t decent in public”. There is a wrinkled woman on a bench underneath a tree, and it is hard to tell what is older, the woman, the tree, or the moth bitten mink coat swallowing her hunched form. Her face is pinched in a sour expression as she watches a happy couple swap spit, not because they are both women but because one of them is sporting a yankees t shirt. the old bird seems like she is about to saying something about the wildly inappropriate attire, but she is distracted by the man walking by in a banana hammock and a rubber mouse mask. She seems unable to decide whether to be indignant or amused and so she settles for shuffling away and murmuring something about “The way young folk have been acting since that Bill Clinton fellow was president.”, or maybe she decided to leave him be because she knew that he may be just as sane as she is.

In the grass by the children’s playground three little girl’s are planning worldly adventures. the one with the red hair has informed the blondes that she is leaving on a trip and will never be coming back. “Ever.” She sticks her nose in the air and moves forward a few paces, before noticing that her peers have completely failed to elicit the correct response. She tries again. “Did you hear me? I am travelling the world and I’m never gonna come back.” Her friends don’t even look from their mud piles to reply. “Ok we’ll be here. See ya.” “ Oh, what? yeah. Bye.” The redhead’s face scrunches, then rapidly resets itself in a mask of superior disnterest. “You know what, I change my mind. I’m just gonna stay here. Except I’m from Australia now.” This finally catches one of the other girls attention. “Hannah, you can’t be from Australia, I’m from Australia.” a dirt covered hand waves condescendingly in the little redhead’s direction. “You can be from.... Thailand.” Hannah never had a chance to retort, because she and her friends are soon in screaming fits of tears, when they notice a rat. It’s lower half is gone and it’s torso is still being gnawed on by maggots, the weakening from legs dragging itself into view. A concerned mother quickly rushes the shaken girls away. A group of cosplayers stop to watch the spectacle. Homemade horns and snap in fangs, gray face paint barely covering pimpled skin, they looked on the rat with a mix of fear and empathy. Sympathising with it because of the yelps of horror rising up in it’s wake, they form a clump protecting they dying creature from frightened eyes until it drags itself back into the flowerbed from whence it had came.

Away from the chaos a young woman is perched nervously on a bench near a gaggle of geese. Everytime the geese squawk or rustle their wings she jumps, every time someone walks by she casts her eyes down. She is there for the better part of an hour, picking at her nail polish and jerking her foot in indecisive rhythms. She is waiting for someone. Her skirt is tight across her hips and her lips are painted red, but the boy who was supposed to kiss them isn’t going to come. There is a man in a flower crown carrying a boombox around the park,around and around. Everytime the strains of the bollywood music he is playing come into earshot she turns pink, embarrassed that he knows she has nowhere to be, no one to see. The ninth time he comes round he stops in front of her, winks, and hands her a sticker. When he dances away she looks down at the little gift and the worried notch in her brow is smoothed by the quick flash of a smile before she drops it in her purse. The sticker reads “Welcome to Boston: This is our f***ing city.”



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