Monday, January 12, 2015

Glen Burnie Diaries, Entry 2: The Arrival

Written Aug 8, 2013

It's been a couple weeks since I moved all my stuff down to Maryland.  Since then, I have been taking care of a few odds and ends back in Pennsylvania: cleaning, returning uniforms to work, begging landlords to reduce early termination fees, that kind of stuff.

Orientation at my new job starts on Monday, so naturally I waited until the last minute to get the last of my stuff from Pennsylvania.  And by Sunday evening, I'm still laying in bed with Jess as we cry, not wanting to say goodbye.  It's not like I am shipping off to a foreign country, not knowing when I will see her again.  We'll see each other every weekend, which is about the same amount of time we are able to see each other now.  But being two hours away definitely adds a giant void. 

It's easier for me because I am armed with the knowledge that we are going to be engaged soon.  Much sooner than she thinks.  Also, I am distracted by the nervousness and excitement of a new location and a new job -- a full-time job, something that is very hard to obtain as a poker dealer.

But it still sucks.

We finally say goodbye and I jump in the car for my two-hour commute (the first of many).  I envision my car as one of those chambers that astronauts enter after a space walk.  After sealing the airtight door behind them, they press a button and wait for the gauge to count up from 0% to 100% and then they take off their helmets and go about business in their new atmosphere.

While I am sad to be leaving Jess and sad that it adds a difficult element for us, I reassure myself that I'm doing the right thing.  The whole reason I took the job was for our future.  I'll make so much more money and have some job security for once.  Hell, two months ago I was looking to buy a house in Pennsylvania and then poof!  They cut my hours.

I think about her and how I can still taste her tears, but I shake it off.  This is the right move, long term.  I am driving towards our future, just slightly ahead of her.

My mind surges then lingers in this fashion until I pull up to my new home.  I didn't accomplish the mental reorientation that I desired.  As I get out of the car, something about the atmosphere doesn't feel completely safe, breathable.  Perhaps one of my windows hadn't been fully sealed.

My dog Sadie was somewhat relentless throughout the ride, so I decide to take her for a walk right away.  This is a strategy I employ when taking her anywhere, basically.  It lets her get her pee out before she walks into a new place and feels desire to claim territory.

We make a loop of the complex and are nearly back to my apartment when Sadie decides to take one last piss.

"Gat 'ta bag?" I hear a woman's voice ask, Jamaican-like.  I look around and see nobody.  Then, out of a parked car steps two ladies -- one tall and pencil thin, the other short and plump.  They both have huge cans of some beer I don't recognize.

"Yuh gat 'ta bag fah dat doggie poop?" the plump one clarifies.

I point to the bag canister attached to the leash.  "Yeah, but she's peeing," I say, wondering if these ladies are some sort of town watch.

"Ah know, ah'm just kiddin-roun'," she says, approaching Sadie to pet her.

Sadie wants nothing to do with this woman and flips out, trying to get away.  In her fervor, she actually gets out of her harness, except for one of her paws.  That gives me enough time to grab my terrified pup.

"It's okay, girl," I tell her, soothingly as I put her harness back on.  "They don't want to hurt you."  Though, for all I know, they want to cook her in a stew.  "She is scared of everyone," I fib further, this time for the women.

"Yuh nuffi scared'a doggie," she tells Sadie, who either doesn't understand her or doesn't believe her.  "Yuh live here doggie?"

She's still bent over my dog, but if I am reading the situation correctly, I believe this question is for me.  I look to the tall one but she is still just standing there quietly, drunkenly smiling.

"We moved in today actually!"  I say it as cheerfully as possible.

"Yuh dohn wahn 'ta live here," she tells me.  This, the first advice I am given at my new home, leased for an entire year.

"Oh, why is that?" I ask captivated, trying to seem as if these two women weren't two giant clues.

"Naht tree weeks 'go, some guy gat robbed rite ova deh," she explained, pointing.  "Nigga put a gun 'ta his head."

And there it is.  Just like that, the cat's out of the bag.

"Yeeh," the tall one confirms.  She still has that aloof smile, making the situation even more disconcerting.

"Oh Jesus," I say, trying to sound concerned, but not scared.  As if it is troubling to hear, of course, but I am a man, after all.  Certain appearances have to be upheld when meeting Jamaican strangers who are warning you for your life.

The conversation goes on a bit, but I don't understand what they are saying -- all of the attention I was paying to decipher what they were saying has been reallocated to repeating the important words I understood clearly: "Nigga put a gun 'ta his head." 

It is literally the worst thing they could tell me, aside from them telling me that they, themselves, are robbing me (which I have still not completely ruled out).  I stare at the spot she pointed to rite ova deh and imagine the scene that took place naht tree weeks 'go.  Many scenarios whiz through my head as to how it went down, but fuck if all of them include a gun pointed at a dude's head.

I tell them it is nice to meet them and I shake their hands, which I gather from their laughter is not the appropriate thing to do, but I don't care.  My head is filled with fear and unwelcoming.  I really don't want a gun to my head. 

I need to go fortify my apartment. 

I haven't yet even entered my new home as its resident, and I am already wondering what I did with the lease.  I want it in my hands so that I can verify my move-out date and to see what it says about early termination fees.

It isn't until later that night, while I am lying in bed with my baseball bat, that I think about the terrible timing in which these women entered my life.  Why did it have to be only minutes after I had arrived? 

It is like that foreboding scene that's in every horror movie ever, when the group of teens happen upon a nearly deserted gas station.  The guy who pumps their gas is a creepy dude with no teeth who says or does something strange that makes them all feel uneasy.  Most of it has to do with being covered in gas and grease and spitting inappropriately.  Nothing bad happens to the teens*, but the mood has been set nonetheless.


They drive off, laughing about their creepy shared experience, leaving the man in their dust.  He spits again, making sure not to lose his stare onward, an elongated farewell to our pubescent heroes. 

There is a chance, of course, that the main character (the plain-looking, yet sexy-as-hell girl) will see this man again at the end of the movie, as she emerges from the woods, covered in blood and dirt and desperate for help.

The difference between me and the sequel-bound heroine, however, is that I see the Jamaicans for the harbingers that they are.  I had greeted their unambiguous warning with a handshake and, armed with nothing but fear, ventured off into my horror movie called A Year in Glen Burnie.

At the end of the movie, if I am lucky enough to emerge from the woods, bloody and broken, I just hope that my Jamaican friends will be the "Told yuh so" kind, rather than the "Take dah rest of his monies an shoot him dead" kind.

-Youngman Brown


  1. my grandaughter is asking me what is so funny. you are still hilarious. ya mun

  2. Ummm. MD? Hello? To bad you don't know anyone here.... Drop a dime brother.


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