Foreclosures, abandonment, tear at Detroit neighborhood
The first thing I noticed was that irritating, jarring, hammering noise. It sounded like somebody was pounding the same nail into the same board for more than 20 minutes straight. Not that I’ve got anything against home improvement, because there are definitely a few homes in the neighborhood that could use some fix-up, but it seemed to me that pounding nails into boards at around 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night was, well, excessive. Besides, I was trying to watch one of my shows on TV, and this shit was starting to get on my nerves. I don’t ask for much in this life, man. Really. I don’t.
BAM. BAM. BAM.
I usually try to refrain from yanking back the shades and sticking my mad-as-hell face in the window, especially if it’s late at night. If somebody’s up to something, I don’t want them zeroing in on my address as their next target. But I figured if this somebody were actually serious about breaking and entering, chances are they’d be taking a few more precautions to prevent detection. Precautions like not keeping the whole damned neighborhood awake with that damned hammering.
So I yank back the shades, and there’s this young girl out in the street pounding this board with something that may or may not have been a hammer. I recognized her as one of the kids who had just moved into the long-abandoned raggedy house across the street that had been put up for rent early last summer. My first memory of the kid was of her riding up and down the street on a beat-up bicycle that didn’t even have a tire on the back rim. I wondered what was it like for your life to be in such a state that this is the kind of bike you have to ride. Her brothers regularly played around in the street with the other neighborhood kids, and they almost never wore shirts. The three adult women who lived in the house with the kids were Muslims, judging by their apparel. I doubted they were with the Nation though because, well, from what I know about members of the Nation they would never let their property be littered with that much trash. Plus, I never saw one of the Nation’s brothers come to check on them, and for a house full of women I found that odd. The Nation always looks after their own.
BAM. BAM. BAM.
The girl, who looked to be around 12, banged her piece of wood for about 10 more minutes, then was all done and dragged herself slowly back into the house. No child should ever look that depressed, I thought.
The next morning they were all gone. Vanished. By early evening the whole house was boarded up, although it was a pretty shoddy job. Any crack addict with an ounce of determination could yank any one of those boards off of there. But the family hadn’t lived in the place more than three months, and already they had been evicted. My guess? The landlord didn’t much give a damn who he rented the place to, and the tenants knew they weren’t going to have the money for rent from day one. They just used it as a place to crash and to plan their next move until that move couldn’t be postponed any longer.
This is what it’s coming to out here.