I live in an area of Los Angeles where trashcans urge us to love one
another, obituaries are scrawled in spraypaint on the steps of public
stairways, and every sidewalk stain has a sad story left untold.

I walk with my dog Shadow along the seemingly peaceful streets
around my Silver Lake neighborhood and I’m shown danger all along our
two-mile route that takes us from Occidental below Sunset down to
Bellevue over to Silver Lake Boulevard up to Vendome and the Music Box
Steps to Descanso to Micheltorena and then her long stairway back down
to Sunset and eastward back across Parkman and home. I find that danger
in the smashed window of a Honda down the block from my house,
shattered glass on the curb and a gaping hole in the dash where its
stereo used to sit. I see it in the fresh gang tags applied to the
days-old city paint that covered up the old ones. And I learn about it
with the cautionary news delivered by a dog-walking neighbor that a
woman was vicously attacked by a roaming pitbull near Vendome and
Marathon last fall. A day later I confront two loose beasts who advance
full of wicked territorial intent out of a yard toward me and Shadow
with heads low and ears back, yet somehow they halt when I put myself between
them and mine, raise my hand and scold them for being away from home.
Miraculously when I tell them to get going they turn tail and trot back
up the sidewalk, stopping once to look back at us with tongues lolling
in their massive open jaws. "Go on!" I command, and they do through an
open gate into their yard. I don’t dwell on the little victory and turn
tail as well to detour a block around them.

By Will Campbell

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