Christmas Eve of the worst Christmas.  It was only right that I would be in the Detroit Kmart store that night.

We had a tank of turtles to feed.  The season had been too busy to realize we had run out of their food and as I closed up the corps building I felt guilty.  These silent turtles looking at me.  Thus my visit to Kmart.

It’s hard to find a place in any city to buy turtle food on Christmas Eve.  I knew Kmart was open.  So did hundreds of Detroiters who were there not for turtles but for their children and families, buying presents, food.  And many were at Kmart with their children.  Crying, tired, upset.  Parents frustrated, tired too, angry.  It was ghastly.  I kept my head down in the slow line and left as quickly as I could this Hieronymus Bosch hell.  Mad magazine tableaux.

Not only for the turtles’ sake.  I was angry.  Christmas Eve was near the end of the worst Christmas season ever.  Death more frequent, more tragic and more children than usual.  Our wreck of a corps building not bearing up under the heavy snow and rain.  The typical exhaustion of an urban kettle season where you are edgy and paranoid.  All in the setting of our city crumbling.

A few years later I found myself staring out of an office window at a perfectly manicured lawn.   On the street passed ascendant urban life:  Chicago.  We now were on Chicago’s North Side, only a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

Where now was the anger?  Did it go away, or was it someplace deeper inside, occasionally rising when I remembered Detroit, saw one of its relatives, injustice and pain in Chicago, in any city, in urban America?  Where now is the anger?

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