A societal underbelly whose flesh we ate and regurgitated over the grey of the inner-city, while wearing its flayed off skin like some Lecter-esque visors of apathy.
Cinematic perhaps, but quite the reality.
We were boys in a world reduced to a few block’s radii of dense, cultural diversity (long before it became a hip keyword) edged by racism, family feuds, shawarma, Donell Jones and the odd hand grenade explosion or shooting.
It was an urban free-for-all; a cluster of clashing cultures amid which we formed a camaraderie based on class and attitudes. Iraqis, Iranians, Somalians, Kosovo-Albanians, the list goes…
There I was, an eleven-year-old, stuck between a block of abandoned offices and a defunct parking lot with a screwdriver pressed against my ribcage. He demanded what was mine with eyes that spoke a language of their own. I was told to either hand over one of my cigarettes — our currency at the time, back in the nineties — or he would push the sharp object into my lung. My friend did not help me nor did he run. We froze, as did time.
It taught me three things: (1) taking seemed easier than earning, (2) life was cruel…
Nonconformist. Acculturated Viking — I replaced my axe with a pen, and now my bloodstained sneakers smell of lingonberry jam.