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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Thursday, November 09, 2006

fresh concrete

The weather has turned cooler again, and dry after the torrents of the weekend. I wore sweatpants, sweatshirt, and gloves on my run--and earplugs to keep my ears warm. I felt heavy and sluggish, still carrying my lunch of navy-bean soup, pita, and an apple.

After I'd walked off the run I chatted with the city crew at the intersection nearby. They'd spent the last two days tearing up ground and pouring concrete for a new crosswalk on the east side of Keith Road. The city has decided to turn it into a four-way stop with zebra crosswalks on three sides.

"Can you believe it?" said the Italian guy in his orange safety vest. "A four-way stop with zebras. They're already backed up at Keith and Lonsdale. What's it gonna be like here?"

"They've got a stop sign there already," I said, pointing at the southbound side of St. Georges, which runs downhill to the west of our building. "People usually don't stop there anyway."

"Yeah, people in a rush. Like this idiot--" He indicated a red coupe stopped northbound on St. Georges behind two other cars stopped at the upper stop sign across the boulevard that divides Keith Road. "People can't even turn left around him."

With a loud burst of smoky acceleration, the coupe was up and across the north lane of Keith road, speeding up St. Georges. The worker shook his head.

"Where's a cop when you need him?"

I looked over their handiwork.

"When will this concrete set?" I said.

"We should be back taking the stuff down tomorrow afternoon," said a younger guy who was picking up tools. "You'll be able to walk on it tomorrow."

"I'm thinking about tonight," I said. "Kids might write graffiti in it if it's still soft enough."

"Oh!" said the young guy. "Well, we put up the tape around it. I mean, what can you do?"

"We should put some poly over it," said the Italian guy.

"Naw," said the young guy doubtfully. "It's not going to rain."

"No--because the kids are too lazy to lift the poly," said the Italian guy.

But the idea died out quickly. I looked over the smooth wet concrete--maybe the last time it will ever appear that way--and came inside.


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