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Set in Steel

By , Shoreline, WA
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9 Next »

Chapter 3

We came to the stop and just in time too, the steam-operated cable car squealed to a stop in front of us and the large crowd of people.   Everyone rushed to get on, with few people exiting from the cable car and suddenly I lost sight of Larry.  Panicked, I quickly shouted out, “Larry!  Where are you?” with urgency.
My hat box and work bag which were cracked from age fell from my arms and onto the ground.  A  hand found my shoulder and swiftly turned me around while sweeping up my things. 
“Please, don’t call me Larry.  You are to call me Mr. Baker.” He breathed sharply.
“Oh, I’m sorry, thank you.” I said with my head down.
“I forgot that you aren’t used to the quick, crowded pace of city life yet.  You’ll adjust soon.  Take a seat next to me.”
I grabbed the rest of my belongings and sat next to him and the cable car took off.  We passed through even more of the city, with each block more crowded and with taller buildings than the last.  The ride was comfortable, but slightly longer than I expected. 
Finally, the cable car pulled into the stop in a very crowded area and what hit me first was the stench.  It was like the pig yard at home, emanating from all over yet seemingly coming from nowhere.
After descending the cable car’s steps, along with a cluster of other passengers, it quickly became clear that this neighborhood wasn’t like the last we were in. Mr. Baker guided me away from the bustling crowd and towards the cracked sidewalk.  As we walked, he started to talk about the neighborhoods, saying,
  “The neighborhood we’re passing through now is the Lower East Side.  As you can see, it’s a place that you don’t want to stay a while in.”
With a brief nod, not giving way to my side on the new surroundings, I took a moment to look around as he continued to jabber on about the nobility of his neighborhood compared to mine.
Gazing ahead, I counted twelve large, seven-story buildings stacked squarely side-by-side on either end of the road.  The faded red brick created a brash contrast against the plain, flat dirt lining the sides and front of the buildings.  Webs of clotheslines  weaved between rails and buildings with scraps of clothing strewn across, creating a sea of dull cotton.  Frail metal balconies supported multiple children and American flags.  From inside the open windows, people sat staring, gazing down and making direct eye contact comfortably.   Up and down the front of every building people were gathered around the steps. They stood with their heads low, hands fanning themselves as they laughed and chattered.  Several women with small children on their hips strolled down the middle of the road, fanning their struggling young ones. 
It seemed as if time was frozen.  We walked for twenty more minutes through more neighborhoods, each looking the same as the last.  Finally,  I had to break the silence,
   “This is all so… different.  I’ve never seen so many people in one place before. “
  “Well, welcome to your new residency for as long as you’ll be here in the city.  They’re called tenements.  The place I’ve found for you is on the nicer side, it’s calmer, but what you get in environment you lack in space.  We’re just arriving now.”
I wanted to ask him where he lived.  I’m sure he must’ve lived in a tenement at one point, but I feared that my questions would be too personal and invasive.  At this moment I realized that city life wasn’t as glamorous as I dreamt it would be.  With all of the skyscrapers and convenient transportation aside, it was just as dirty and broken down as home.

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 9 Next »

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