I got off work at 5:30 PM, after a bit of forced unpaid overtime. I went home, gulped a sleeping pill and went right to bed. I got some five hours sleep, until my alarm woke me at eleven PM. I got up, got prepared and went for a walk.
I walked from my low-rent apartment into what the locals call Bum Town. Bum Town is a good area to avoid, especially at night. However, I spent my younger years in Bum Town and I know how to survive in Bum Town.
I walk the Bum Town back streets. Ground floor living units show only dark windows. A lit ground floor living unit is an invitation for armed invasion. Those who live in ground-floor living units black out the windows and live in black hell, at night. There are no homeless littering the filthy sidewalks. To try to live on a Bum Town back street sidewalk is to die.
I encounter a few small groups of young boys. I don’t show fear. I keep my hand near the left back bottom of my shabby dark coat. I show ready to fight, to preserve my miserable life. The young boys could attack, but what for? I show the will to defend and likely offer little or nothing of value to an attacker. My walk is steady and purposeful. I probably go to buy a carton of milk or a loaf of bread, that sort of thing. The risk of death, for a young boy, outweighs any likely gain.
I endure verbal abuse and sort of slide past a real physical encounter.
One of the young boys sums it up. “He got no shooter. He got a knife. No way do I get cut for pocket change.”
I don’t answer. I just show the desperate courage of one who must risk his life for enough food to stuff into a hungry belly.
The young boys snarl their way past me.
I say nothing and walk on.
I have been evaluated as a vato, a creature of the Bum Town dark streets. I am a bit dangerous and a lot poor. To molest me means danger and risk, for little or no gain.
I am passed by a few groups of young boys and dismissed as not worth the time and effort to show that I should not walk the streets patrolled by the young boys.
If I am spotted a few times, by the same young boys, I will need to explain why I walk where I should not. However, a one-time encounter with a vato is no big thing.
I avoid the lit streets where there are bars, shops or whorehouses. To walk such a street is to show possible possession of money. To show possible possession of money in dark Bum Town is to invite death.
As I walk, I avoid the mouths of dark alleyways or the corners that might hide those who are even more desperate than a stinking vato.
My walk is strong and purposeful, not the stumbling shamble of a drug addict.. Since I show ready to defend, I don’t have to physically defend. Since I don’t show gang colors, but only dark shabby clothing, I present no threat to the pride of those who have only a bit of misplaced pride in their ‘home turf.’
I make my wary way to the back streets of a Bum Town gambling establishment. The front of the gambling place is patrolled by hoodlums who make sure that only those who have money to spend are allowed access.
I walk to an unlittered alleyway at the back of a gambling establishment. The alleyway is not patrolled by hoodlums, but rather by electronic means.
I switch on the electronic device that I wear and I enter the alleyway.