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They put temporary ‘gates’ across the alley. It’s nothing official, just some agreement between the neighbors to help keep out the unwanted. I don’t know, maybe the homeless that live in vehicles used to drive in. Whatever, I respect the gates, which are those folding barricade thingies that the city uses, white and orange striped with various agency names printed on them; the next step up from traffic cones, they also have two matching plastic ‘boards’ ten or twelve feet long that are notched at the ends to ‘hook’ the gates.

I have to stop, get out, grab one barricade and swing it/drag it out of the way; then do the other one, drive through, put them back. I don’t like touching them as the whole alley stinks like piss. I know they’re not exactly legal, it’s a public right-of-way, and they probably ‘borrowed them’ from somewhere. It’s easy; if you look around there’s cones and barricades all over that the city has left after their work is done.

I put them back anyway, how I found them, knowing that at the end of my day I’ll have to move them again to get out. I’m the outsider here, temporary; they’re the residents. The next alley over they put wrought iron gates with chains and locks. The rumour is we have a key. I haven’t seen it and I don’t bother… sliding the barricades is simple enough.


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