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An eerie ride through the looking-glass world of city nights
“Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But… there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a Darkside.”
— Opening narration, “Tales from the Darkside” (1983-1988)
is arms were blue up to his tiny biceps as were parts of his face, and the smell of burnt fabric and hair still hung heavy in the air. Cerulean rivulets ran down his cheeks and along the edge of his slackened jaw where they congregated and slowly dripped onto the concrete upon which he stood, and I knew…I knew that the cyanotic hues would wash away far, far sooner than the simple look on his face would.
The burning smell was from the fire he set on the construction site I was passing, which is what caught my attention in the first place; the blue was from him diving into the chemical toilet that he had set alight in the first place (and shirtsleeve along with it in the process), prompting the plunge into the deep blue poo.
“Come on, Kash,” I said. “Let’s get you cleaned up. Here…you can work the blue lights again.” He began to hoot excitedly as I covered him in a soon-to-be discarded blanket and allowed him into the front seat while Chattanooga’s Bravest ensured my fire extinguisher had done its job as they wiped the sleep from their recently rested eyes. (Kash and I had met before, it’s safe to say.)
A rookie fresh from field training stood nearby, pen and pad in hand, not sure where to start other than with his own slack-jawed expression, so I gave him something to work with.
“Welcome to midnight shift, kid.”
Third watch. Graveyard shift. Midnights. Where else could I have seen something like that during daylight hours (outside of East Lake, at least)?
Anyone who has worked night shifts for even a short amount of time knows two things: One, no matter what city you live in or near, it’s like this whole other planet at night compared to daylight hours. Everything is different.
The people you see, the cars, the businesses…it’s like the sun transports every normal human being in the world to some other place when it leaves the sky, and leaves only the freaks behind. Ever heard the phrase “It’s like night and day”?
Oh, and two: That staying up all night without being drunk and the unspoken promise of a sweet blackout to catch up on sleep and a return to a normal schedule just plain sucks. I mean, we live in an incentivized world, right?
Depending on where you work, every night is like a miniature Zombie Apocalypse. Don’t believe in zombies, you say? Let me take you on a little ride along sometime after 2 a.m. I’ll drive you down to a little unlit slice of heaven called “South Watkins Street” and I’ll show you the alternate ending to “World War Z” where Brad Pitt is nowhere to be seen, only the shambling hulks of slow-moving addicts and spaced-out hookers and you will re-think everything that’s made you scoff at George Romero’s mainstream creations.
Upset about the downtime between seasons of “The Walking Dead”? Well good news: We chill with the cast and crew every night at the intersection of 38th and Central Avenue in this town. It’s great, but you don’t want to keep any props from the set you may find. That includes ears. (No, literally. That intersection in particular is terribly uncivilized, and that’s in the daylight hours.)