He Starts to Roam the Streets at Night

There was only one customer in the bar. Short and heavy; a washing machine with a moustache. ‘You ever listen to that song?’ he said. ‘I mean, to the words?’

Elvis Presley was fading out on the radio. The bartender shrugged. ‘It’s a-’

‘Listen hard next time it comes on. “If there’s one thing that she don’t need, it’s another hungry mouth to feed in the ghetto.” If she’s so broke, I’m saying, this bitch, then why don’t she keep her fucking legs closed? She’s starving as it is, Jesus Christ.’ He paused, but not for long. ‘Then this brat she spawns, he “needs a helping hand or he’ll grow up to be an angry young man”. Where was my helping hand? Where were these bleeding hearts when my old man was hitting me with a fucking whisky bottle? “He learns how to steal and he learns how to fight”, this delinquent. You following? He learns how to steal and he learns how to fight. What, does he take a class? No one’s making him do shit. Personal responsibility, I’m talking about. Choices. The choices of the individual. “He buys a gun, steals a car”, this nigger prick. He “tries to run but he don’t get far”. Well, boo fucking hoo.’

The bartender swallowed hard. There was no mention of race in the lyrics. He wondered if he should say something.

‘Choices of the individual,’ the customer said again and shook his head at the sad state of the world.

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