Fiction in a minute: North Hollywood Park

Urban Camping

Urban camping along Tujunga Blvd.

The normals abandoned the park to the squirrels and the homeless that white hot afternoon. They retreated to air-conditioned hinterlands with their fancy red headphones and silly dogs and trilling smart phones and neon sneakers, and left in their wake an easy and welcome camaraderie among the urban campers who called this patch of city land home.

Squinting in the sun on the doorstep of his shabby RV, James was relieved to be free of the ever-present normals. Their sidelong glances barely masked their quick judgments about people who lived in vehicles parked along Tujunga Boulevard. And their whispers were so easy to overhear. I can’t imagine living like that, can you? Where do you think they shower?

James wanted to tell them he’s between jobs. That this was better than sleeping on concrete or in a shelter. But he doubted they would listen.

They would not want to hear that he’s just like them. Nor would they believe it.

Shaded by the weeping branches of a eucalyptus tree, James smoked marijuana and drank warm beers with his neighbors. They swapped made-up stories about where they came from and let the sun and the drugs and the laughter convince them they’d get back there someday.

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