As far as apartment complexes go it was unremarkable. A plain cement square set next to the base of a sharp incline of a street in the middle of the city. Enclosed by a high chain link fence the only way to enter was a single latch gate, like the building had been built on top of an old basketball court. Or a prison.
Really a boring sight save its sign. In vibrant painted hues of blue, red, greens, and others, it was expertly written on the side of the building in a wide, sweeping style reminisce of Old English. Blink and you’d miss it.
It struck me at first, but was of course told to stay away. Hushed whispers and shaking heads served as my only warning. Walking by, my vantage point the sidewalk, it seemed everything they said. A unkempt, dangerous community—the sidewalk worn with weeds poking through cracks like the wrinkles on a bus driver. Two men stood by the fence to conduct business despite the beating sun, unrelenting in its battle to drive life away. Only the graffiti sign seemed to contradict its image, always so vibrant, never faded or worn by the elements.
One day I walked down the slope and through the unlocked gate, lifting the heavy metal latch holding the outside out and the inside in. It clanked closed behind me as I stepped inside, feeling like I could leap over the high fence like a cat at the slightest ill sound. The building was square as first observed, plain to the point of maddening. But human—humanity infused into every inch of the property by those who lived there. A small garden grew hardy against the summer sun, well maintained. Two men leaned against the fence chatting about the sports. A makeshift wind chime of old pipes played in the breeze of passing cars, too busy to stop to appreciate what they helped create. And the sign, larger and more impressive up close than ever imagined. If felt small, but instead of small, close.
It was unremarkable, but intentionally so. Blink and you’d miss it.
*NOTE: Hey guys, long time no see. I’d like to think of “Bad News Block” as a work in progress, but I feel bad for not posting anything in such a long time so here ya’ go. Enjoy!