“The Park,” as it was known, was under the Highway of West America. This was the best place for it to be. That godless concrete rod was rammed all the way up the spine of the country to keep the people functioning. The highway was wretched in every way—clean, dull, efficient—but it was beautiful from underneath. So I thought. It was beautiful because we made it so. That high ceiling, filled by blue and charcoal shades of gray, kept the rain out, and the gossamer blanket could drift in from the sides and cloak your body like a spirit. The concrete piles that held the huge structure up zoomed left and right, framing the great space like some vision of a Greek hall. I liked those Greeks. There was a nobility to this space, even though, really, it was filled by tents and the so-called derelicts of the city who didn’t bathe and change their clothes. No, it was the people overhead who were the slaves of society, driving by in their metal, manic machines, believing day after day that there was some landing place for their pubescent dreams. Here, there was no movement—just acceptance—we were already exactly where we wanted to be. It was one of the last havens for the sane.
In the night, two shadows walked through the concrete pillars, casting their eyes over the tents and people that were standing beside them. If there was some authority in the park, (just because there had to be in order to avoid the minimum of violence) these two were it—Marcellus and Flavius. They were the ones who made sure no one caused too much trouble—this was a community after all. Sometimes desperate junkies drifted in with knives or guns. They’d steal and threaten the others even though there wasn’t too much that could be gained from it. Freedom had to be kept. Marcellus had been in the Park for seven years; he knew how bad things could get if people didn’t stay humble. All it took was one bigshot to cause a whole lot of trouble for all the vermin. You had to break in the new ones. He himself had drifted in from New Orleans, and he knew from the beginning that it was going to be his last stop, (you couldn’t go any further west) so he was very quiet that first year. Some other newbie named Diaz had tried to clear as much room for himself as he could, talking big and intimidating the others so that they stayed far away. Two weeks in, a bunch of vermin surrounded his tent at midnight, knocked down the poles, and kicked him through the tarp until he didn’t scream anymore. They carried his body to a ditch, and nobody mentioned his name “Diaz” after that. These things happened, but it was part of the process.