Time always seemed to stand still on Hoover Street. The houses slouched and leaned on each other in the lazy fashion of a drunk. Each one had three concrete steps outside leading up to wood and metal mesh netting that covered the front door of the house. The street was long and wide with sidewalks that were rather narrow. People would often be stood out in the street talking and handling business. The telephone lines had last month’s sneakers hanging off them by their laces, almost like swaying wind chimes.
A group of young men and women stood at the porch of an abandoned house. The door had been completely torn off its hinges and lay on its side on the floor to the left. They laughed and talked shit as they passed around a fat joint. All of the neighbours had grown accustomed to the gang of youths and found them to be quite friendly, most of the time. They would help the elderly residents of the street home with their groceries, maybe wash an old guy’s car for him on a summer’s day like this one. Although they were getting older now, and sometimes they could be heard fighting in the street. The cars and motorbikes were up and down at all hours, meaning that most residents had to use ear plugs to get to sleep.
Suddenly, without warning, two heavy jeeps screeched around the corner and the laughing and joking abruptly stopped. Panic and frenzy took its place. The group seemed to scatter in all directions but not in retreat; they were heading to where their heat was stashed, ready to bang off at the approaching enemy. The attackers flew up on them with the speed of a four by four engine, the black tinted windows sank down and the barrels of Kalashnikov assault rifles emerged clapping, slamming and snapping, the whole scene being peppered with bullets. The dull thuds and sharp whistles rose and fell like the thumping of a samba band. The Malteasers of lead that were whacking against brick, wood and flesh were lost in a rush of the noise the men made.
Just as quickly as it had started, the battle was over as the two four by fours screamed off and turned left at the bottom junction. The street was back to its former tranquil flow. Except it was deserted. All that could be heard was the continuous rhythm, the frantic honk of a disgruntled car alarm. And the despairing, grating, hair-raising screams of a mother who found her infant son in a puddle of his own blood next to the front door. A bullet hole the size of a quarter allowed the rays of the summer morning in, to turn the dark red blood into a pool of cloudy crimson that would have left you baffled by its agonising beauty.
Time stood still again and the street was a sarcophagus and the crime and death faded and the screams and cries drowned out to a sweet silence that could be only interrupted by the sweet, hysterically beatiful rhythms of a singing bird in a tree to the left of a house.