IFN Writers–Campus Scene III: Gray Pebbles

The partly transparent yellow tape reading “CAUTION” and “CUIDADO” flutters on 34th street in Baltimore. Clouds cover the sun, painting the sky a bright gray. The characteristic murmur of a city is playing. And evidence from the disturbing clanking of a jackhammer that woke everyone up can be seen directly outside of McCoy: six uneven sidewalk blocks that at one point had the names and affiliation of many students etched into wet cement.

“You see the ‘Skins last night?” This man, the man in the green hat, looks to be in his late thirties. He is wearing dark blue jeans and has a goatee.

“Yeah, close game. Fuck the Cowboys. ‘Least the Ravens won.” This man has a blue hat, and looks to be younger than the other man, but must still be in his thirties. He is wearing light black jeans and also has a goatee, but his chin beard extends three inches down his neck. Without this nuance, the two men would be indistinguishable.

“The Rams fucking suck, though.”

Students walk around the twelve or so sidewalk squares that have been blocked off, staring intently at the work of the two culprits.

“Why do you think they are doing that?” His friend just shrugs and stares forward.

A blonde girl passes near the blocked area to go into McCoy. The man in the green hat looks at the girl, eyeing her behind, then looks at the other man and raises his eyebrows. The other man nods in approval, then looks at me catching the situation. I look down at my paper to write some more. A few minutes later the man in the blue hat lights a cigarette, and both men leave in Green Hat Man’s truck. Leaves scurry uphill 34th street to North Charles, fluttering over the broken sidewalk. Some rise over the square clefts, others not.

Other people pass, giving the sidewalk only a glance. Their names were not on that sidewalk; they are probably going to be remembered a different way. Those people whose names were on the sidewalk might not have had another way of being remembered. Now, because Hopkins sent two men to break the sidewalk, our names exist only in gray pebbles and ash.

—Nicholas Sanchez

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