, Newburyport, MA


January 21, 2013

Long live Martin Luther King Jr.


From the blare of police radio reports, more urgent incidents elsewhere were deemed more threatening than we were. Finally, the officer in charge ordered me back in the car and barked rapid directions that none of us could understand or remember; told us to get out of Baltimore and, if found again, we would be subject to arrest.

The rest was like a movie: finding ourselves quickly lost again, we saw that the broad, empty city avenues had at every few corners a sole armed policeman with a dog. I stayed in the middle of the street while another occupant asked for the nearest highway exit. Perhaps unthinking, the policeman gave clear, concise directions while we roared off and he yelled orders for us to stop.

A couple of quick turns brought us to the interstate exit — but the “up” ramp was blocked. Terrified, we hung onto our seats as I sped up the down ramp. Then a convoy of National Guardsmen appeared and came right at us on their way into the city. Everything happened so fast: I pulled to the right side of the ramp at high speed, right-side tires off the pavement and we flew past the sleepy-eyed faces of guardsmen deployed from home in the mid of night.

On the interstate again, there were no other cars at the moment, but we were speeding south on north-bound lanes — daring not to go north and have to take an exit again — and had to cross the median before we were caught going the wrong way. In most places, the median was too deep to cross and elsewhere not shallow enough to chance a crossing. But as a few headlights appeared in the distance, we had no choice: again we held tight and went flying toward the other lanes, tires biting into whatever ground was solid enough to keep our momentum.

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