Well, after a loud and busy though otherwise uneventful night (drunken belgians, crack deals, swearing frenchmen, the usual), I managed to spot something worth reporting on. I was outside at 4:30, enjoying a cigarette with a hostel guest from Santa Cruz, remembering my old haunts and talking about how disgusting woodsies are, when the sound of crazed shouting started around the block. Now, this is a normal turn of events in the Tenderloin, as anyone who as spent any amount of time around these few blocks knows, so I didn't pay a great deal of heed. The distance-muffled sound of running became more distinct and a youth of maybe 18, short, wearing a giant black jacket, came from around the corner of Larkin. From behind him, I could hear a bellowed tirade in an elderly tenor, the sound of labored running, and as the figure came into view 25 yards behind this running kid what turned out to be the rapid tack-tack sound of a cane on the concrete. It was a withered, ancient looking man, back crooked and face weathered, his pursuit assisted by a wooden cane as he limped after the boy, actually gaining!
"You fucking bitch!" he shouted at this kid's back, "You better hope I don't catch your faggot ass!!"
The kid slowed, clearly tired, but kept his feet pounding down Ellis. The elder behind him showed no sign of slacking his pace, as he closed more of the gap. We had been joined shortly before by a dealer from the corner, trying to bum cigarettes and blasting music out of his cell phone. The tinny sounds of Solja Boy acted as soundtrack to the chase. With a solemn look, in a serious voice, the dealer says, "With the cane, ol' man's not gonna make it. That's the streets." And I suppose that is the streets.
Like a weather beaten tripod, down the street the old man chased, a perpetual stream of profane curses wishing the worst on this kid who did him wrong. Turning the corner at the end of the block the sounds faded, the dealer walked off to ply his trade, and I finished my cigarette. I'd like to think that the old man won out in the end there, but honestly there are no real good guys in situations like that. There's bad and worse. Or bad and just as bad, at best. That's the streets, I suppose. Interesting thing to see though.