Downtown memories: A legless old guy in a wheelchair selling crack in front of the LAPD station on Skid Row. This was back in the early 90’s, in the middle of the afternoon. There is no circadian rhythm on crack; night time, day time, it’s all one hustle. When the traffic light turned red all the walking skeleton crackheads rushed up to the car with the filthy bags of crack they’d hold in their mouths, and he came wheeling up with them, spitting the bag into his hand and holding it up to the car window. His bloodshot eyes were frantic, pleading. I politely declined. A police car rolled by and all the crack baggies disappeared back into their mouths and the crackheads began spare changing. A guy behind me dropped a dollar into a hand sticky with saliva. The crackheads converged on him like it was Night of the Living Dead but the light changed and he zoomed way. In my rear view mirror I caught a final glimpse of the guy in the wheelchair looking hopefully at the oncoming traffic. There was a pathos there that seemed to elevate him above the garden variety skid row crack head. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad shtick after all, selling crack with no legs. After all, I remember him all these years later, remember his face, his eyes, his humanity, while the others seemed no more alive than zombies in a horror movie.
It’s very nice down there now.