I went walking on a whim late last night by mySelf. Part of downtown Tucson is incredibly dark and lifeless. I walked past a few sketchy, notably drunk individuals.
“Hi,” one said.
The other side of downtown was hopping like it was Friday night. There was a huge line at 191 Toole to see someone perform. Five-O was everywhere.
A little ways down a fire truck was pulled out in front of Maynard’s eatery. I decided to stop into Hotel Congress and grab a slice of carrot cake. There was a line going outside the Club for regular restaurant goers. I walked directly to the bar and started talking to the bartender. The atmosphere was certifiably subterranean. I loved it. The bartender was great. He brought me a slice of blissful sin out faster than the Wildcats were at the playoffs this year. I tipped the man well for his kindness. Five minutes later, I was carrying delicious cake back to my house.
An ambulance was outside Maynard’s now. EMTs were slowly pulling a stretcher out of the vehicle. They were being closely followed by three people. They looked like a family in shock. I wondered if someone had croaked. I said hello to a cop watching the EMTs drag a body back to the ambulance.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Good!” She said.
“Yeah, me too.”
We both stood and watched the scene for a moment. We were just a couple of people exchanging pleasantries in the dark. I was surrounded by red and blue lights. A rich white person had died, and the freaks across the street, a deliverer of justice and a witch, were anesthetized to the horror that unfolded before them. To us, it was just another night. We were both different and the same.
I turned around and saw some graffiti that read:
“Because of the social decay
They’ll burn the witch somewhere today and call it justice.”
There was still a line that wrapped around the block at 191 Toole. I looked the event up on my phone. A misnomer. Someone I had never even heard of before. He was important though, to all of these people waiting to get into see him on a school night. I could see parents hovering around in their vehicles with the lights on worried sick about letting their babies go inside of a loud, smoky club with strangers and potential danger. Mass killings happen in night clubs nowadays, everyone is an enemy, and we all have the same thing on our minds: Is this the last time?
Life is a game of death.
I walked past the sketchy part of downtown again. A man ran across the street. Was he coming up behind me? If he was, what was I going to do? Throw cake in his face?
A made it home a few minutes later. Warmth. Cats. Love. I sat down and opened my carrot cake. Part of it slid away from itself into a messy pile of frosting and walnuts. It looked delicious. I plunged my fork into the cake. Perfection. This was the best carrot cake Tucson had to offer.
Is this the last time?
I try not to think about it.
“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.” James Baldwin