The Combat Zone–Boston

                        The Combat Zone  “You want to come to Chinatown with me?”“Sure”            We started off down Boylston, Emerson on our right, the old burying ground on our left, and the grand imposing Masonic lodge directly ahead, not noticeable when not looking directly at it.            One block down and into what was once Jack’s joke shop only to be told by a decidedly unjokemanlike salesperson that Jack has hung up his whoopee cushion. Looking at the shelter across the street I became a tour guide to what once existed and remain only in my memories, residing in parts of my development that few know about.            Taking a right at the DMV I stop and stare at the former combat zone of Boston.  A skyscraper spouting condos and office space, complete with doorman and underground garage and once again I am a visiting tour guide.              There was a five story slanted building, the top floors of which being The Royal Hotel and the bottom being a sidewalk brimming with pimps and streetwalkers, addicts and dealers, and it saddens me to see a well kept granite sidewalk where they used to chill.  Why it should make me sad is a mystery because they were dangerous criminals in this red light district, violence was endemic and dried blood told gruesome stories. Perhaps it is nostalgia for a reckless youth, though I was just a witness and not a participant in that world. Maybe because I am leaving this town soon, I don’t want t to change for the better, I want to walk down the streets and see the same old things when I come back to visit.            Whatever the good, it is now an empty corner occupied by tall stones and a vacant lot destined for another skyscraper, not a hooker in sight.            I shouldn’t say the corner was unoccupied because I had a conversation with a hustler on the corner. He wasn’t out on the edge like the owner of a corner should be, he leans against the recessed corner of the condo building and as we passed so did a conversation in our eyes. He offered and I declined, I inquired as to his crew and he sadly indicated the vacuumed area.            The gangster speakeasy is now the tourist restaurant as the package store is now away from the playground and children dance on dried pools of rotgut, a policeman strolling nearby.  


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