they head south into a whirl of a million knees feets hands they find a curb cut across a small dirt lawn into a bubble of empty space still within the crowd holding hands tight the kids look into each other's scared teary faces while knees continue to push westward to lakeside drinks to be soaked up in celebration hamburgers towards a sprawl of lawn chaired crowds watching fireworks blot out moonbeams unaware of the two children one standing watching nothing stunned scratching his stomach lazily the other in a squat his eyes mashed and crying terrified of the heavy blue dusk the hostile streetlights the crowd of animated strangers holding onto six-packs with hooves dragging Weber barbecues laughing marching towards the beach two yards from the children a man pushes his way through the crowd huddled near the portable blue toilets my brothers he pleads some people part out of reflex others move out of eternal love but at the back of the toilet line a suspicious onlooker shouts an obscenity towards the toilet bound man just before the formaldehyde shuts out all senses but smell the door snaps shut the din of the crowd drops away in the dark box he gathers damp toilet paper wipes the seat before sitting after two seconds of peaceful bowel release the taller man outside begins pounding on the door the pooping man is trapped pants around his ankles inside a plastic drum while an invisible lunatic pounds on about fairness a bare bum hanging cool over chemical waste the man hopes the crowd will intervene but when the pounding stops it is because the outside man's drunk wife returns with two new bottles of water grabs a hold of her husband's T-shirt pulls him around he looks down on his squat wife slings his arm around her as they move off to rejoin the beachward march he quickly forgets the confrontation kisses her soon they are standing lapping at each other the dense crowd which gladly skipped over dog piles or vomit parts around the grotesqueries of the drunken kissers who have dropped their water bottles his hand is up her jean skirt squeezing hard on her bum cheek like his fingers might burst through the skin into five ready vaginas instead of leaving five yellow bruises but as fingers begin creeping under she regains her senses pushes him back turns her head around into the mass of faces watching her him them in the crowd all of them laughing she remembers the calls from seconds before the get a rooms the more cushion for the pushins she feels ashamed sits down in the parade right there on the closed off street he sits with her and the crowd that had witnessed their affection moves on a new crowd of knees surges forward happily skiping over them one woman sees the couple only in periphery her saloned head tilted towards a bare shoulder cradling a thin phone she raises a leg to avoid the drunk couple while she chews a small piece of startlingly refreshing gum while she pushes the straw in and out of the plastic top of a nearly empty coke slushy the four fragile triangles alternating between above and below the lid but mid pull for reasons hard to believe she says one sec to her friend litters then takes the phone from her ear turns 180 degrees eastward looks up over the crowd below the stars towards a balcony where she is being watched through binoculars initially meant for firework viewing but which now frame the parade’s beautiful women in unsteady circles the drunken voyeur who is nineteen has been benign since the day he was born obedient at three braces with headgear at twelve always going by Timothy he watches the girl’s sudden stop and turn to let him know to shoot her mind from her eyes through the air through his lenses through his pupils making him a spy or pervert he shudders looks away for a moment but when he looks back she is on the phone pushing her way through the crowd looking up at a man a father with his pink little girl sitting on his shoulders he sees the child coo with delight try and fail to clap her hands together her chubby face half hidden by shadow half lit by the sideways light of store windows the father holds tight onto the little legs when people stop to offer him compliments on his daughter’s soft blonde hair he imitates graciousness while trying to keep an eye on his eldest daughter who is also tired who also just wants to forget the fireworks just get to the car head home beat the traffic so she can go watch television in her room so he can get off his feet both enjoy some peace and quiet away from the chaotic music that has blared at every intersection they’ve passed music cranked out of the open doors or trunks of cars parked along side avenues dancehall reggae house hip hop all collide in car stereo soundclashes somehow many find a common backbeat to dance to some b-girls stand in a circle juggling leers and weighing smiles a car stereo DJ sits in a darkness broken only by the indigo lights of his dashboard the music he plays is full of obscenity with promises to incite revolution the car DJ looks out his front window at two mounted police officers wearing helmets with reflective facemasks slowly trotting down the center of the street towards his car the fifteen or so people standing around smoking marijuana drinking from paper bags the DJ is suddenly hyper aware of the lyrical content of the current song how it ends in 50 seconds with the line “It don’t mean shit to me to cut a fucking cop’s throat” he sees people throwing away joints but before he can stop the song someone has started talking to him distracting him now two police officers are addressing him from their horses saying something which he can’t hear he wants to hit the power button on the stereo but is torn between a fear of the police hearing the lyrics and a fear of them thinking he is reaching for a gun he turns the song off right after the words “cut a fucking cops” words which transform the psychiatric countenance of the mounted officers from one that is fair and surely correct to one of disbelief and anger the man gets out of the car stands up and faces the officers in the silence he has cast the situation soon gets out of control with the police goading him to replay the last part of the song something he refuses to do an officer dismounts walks towards the DJ some of his friends instinctively move forward the mounted officer screams at them to move back talks into her chest radio takes a canister of pepper spray from her belt a water bottle thrown from far off lands near her horse she depresses the button the crowd instantly disperses while with tears streaming down both their faces the officer handcuffs the DJ on the hood of his car indignant gawkers move away from the poisoned intersection from the thrill of violence towards the free beach firework show a fresh crowd who did not witness the side street action soon replaces them rubbing itchy eyes and coughing confused by the break in the crowd wondering about the air when a loud but distant pop is followed by a bright white shower all attention is drawn to the lit sky the professional spectacles begin and the crowd moves towards the beach at a faster pace determined not to miss out on the show before long the main street is empty except for a trail of garbage of briefly examined flyers and styrofoam food containers small groups of people stand in circles smoking cigarettes and discussing matters amongst themselves. A shop owner stands in his doorway and watches the light show, and when he hears the two children crying, sees them sitting huddled together on a curb, he walks over and invites them into his store.

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