He can tell they are arguing from a hundred yards away. The man is gesticulating, his arm punctuating sentences with open fisted punches, a one armed prayer. She is pushing a pushchair at near glacial speed. Her bottom rises and rolls, encased in a thin layer of denim. He is wearing leather and anger. The argument appears well worn, neither party as enthusiastically vehement as when they first had it. He’d be hoping for recognition, she’d be hoping for peace. It was a domestic drama, literally a pedestrian affair. The child, trapped in the pushchair between the walls of sound and silence, sat chewing on a beaker. Learn the lesson early, my son, the only escape is in a bottle.
Across the street is the local gang of the awkward squad. Too young to be up to anything serious, too old not to keep a discreet eye on. They dressed alike. Urban shadows wreathed in flannel and towelling. Sneakers and caps aping a culture that they found easier to define than their own. He wondered where the pride had gone. The sharpness. The joy in difference. Why were these kids wearing overalls in their spare time. They were little better than rats. Human rats. Feasting on fries and grease encrusted chicken, the perfect precursor to another evening of existential nihilism.
And then it rained.