It’s not just an ordinary day in the ‘hood. Today is the First Annual Race-o-Rama on Washington St., in a neighborhood of single, and mostly, multifamily homes. Their peeling paint and chipped shingles, a consequence of the past rough winter and general lack of funds, do not faze the merriment of the ragtag bunch. The kids range in age from nine to fourteen. There are about a dozen of them, half in the audience, while the others are getting ready to motor up in their unique makeshift racers.
Lamont “LeMans” revs up his mini-roadster, powered by his short legs. Ramon “The Main Rain Man” can barely keep still, poised to pedal his trike. “Cuz” Chondelle is riding high on his pogo stick. Their older siblings are lined alongside them; one on a bike, another on a unicycle and a third on a skateboard. They all eye the finish line ahead.
“You getting this on tape, Clarice?” Delroy asks. “It’s for pos-ter-ee-tee.” He calls out to the girl holding up a smartphone with a cracked screen.
“You been reading again, Del-boy?” Royale chortles.
Delroy shoots him an “eat my shorts” look and hunches down to get set as Sharlayne primes the group, “When you see my gun go off, that means go.” She is holding up an orange-colored water blaster, which she squirts at the group.
The kids watching laugh as the group, poised to race, are momentarily startled as water sprays them. “You’re supposed to aim it up in the air, wonder brain,” Royale yells as he wipes off the water from his face. He gets soaked the most because he is the closest to Sharlayne.
“Well, you sure aren’t ‘cuz you’re still crying about a little water. Get going.”
Now Lamont is head to head with Ramon, while Delroy whizzes past them. But Chondelle surprises all as he overtakes them.
“Whoa, there goes Chondelle almost lick the dust, but now he’s ahead on a stick . . . yeah . . .” one of the kids watching starts to rap out a song in honor of the frontrunner. Suddenly, two cars seeming to race with each other careen by them. A gun shot in the air. Chondelle in the lead crashes to the ground. The kids scream as the two cars speed away, long gone.
It turns out to be just another ordinary day in the ‘hood.
©2015 Karina Pinella