Spring Garden Elementary School

Posted: Tuesday October 1, 2013

A lone truck tire propped against a brick wall served as a step up into an otherwise inconvenient window entrance. The large tire provided just enough of a boost for me to be able to grab on to the window ledge and pull myself up and through the opening, belly down, skin scraping across the cement sill so as to keep a low enough profile to avoid scaring my spine against a rusty jagged window grate peeled back just a few inches above my head. Feeling for a foothold grip, I kicked my feet, inadvertently knocking the tire below loose. I heard it flop to the ground, now laying flat, rim side down, useless.

Hanging by my arms, I mustered up one last spout of energy and pulled myself up and through the broken window, landing awkwardly, followed by a loud smash as a weighty metal drawer had managed to tip over in the chaos. I was now inside what appeared to be a storage closet of sorts and in landing my shirt some how became ruffled up above my nipples and I noticed my chest was slightly scrapped up. I looked like a damn fool and felt even more stupid upon having to roll my t-shirt turned bra back down over my stomach. Regaining my balance I looked out the window I had just blasted through and saw that a stew of questionable liquid had seeped out from within the tipped rubber tire. A fetid blend of feral cat piss and stagnant mosquito laden rainwater topped off with what may have potentially been a bum's turd dribbled out, forming a putrid puddle I'd be sure to step in on the way out.

The goal was to simply reach the roof and hang out for a quick minute before moving to greater and stupider shenanigans planned for silly hours later over the course of the night. The rooftop basketball court atop Spring Garden Elementary provides a worthwhile view of Center City Philadelphia, even through the mesh of fencing which encapsulates the entire space. Despite the less than desirable but also guaranteed entrance, we had made it to the rooftop. The symmetrical school roof court has been photographed countless times over, by mothers, grandmothers, father rapers, partners in grime, drug addicts, wannabe-rappers, ninjas, and yes, I'm even told, pesky urban explorers. And because of such photographic exposure, the rooftop architectural grandeur or perhaps lack there of initially provided little photographic interest to me.

Instead, I laid down stretched out about the graffiti plastered roof with my back to the floor, moving my head back and forth ever so slightly attempting to align the stars in the night sky between gaps in the fence meshing above; a little game to occupy my bored mind. After a few minutes of relaxing, a stratus cloud of cannabis smoke slowly drifted past my sight of vision, originating from my friend as he lit up a marijuana cigarette somewhere off in a corner. Such recreational activities never appealed to me, as I'd rather fart around with stupidity and fiddle with death to feel alive. After a quick eye glance around my surroundings the sight of metal rungs running up a tall chimney convinced me to get a little high myself.

The first rung was spaced above average standing height so as to thwart the docile school children from killing themselves. But with a bit of a running jump I was able to reach the starting rung and hoist myself up to where I could get my arms and legs involved in some fun climbing action. The rungs proved to be solidly anchored into the brick chimney, except for one bitch, which wiggled like a decayed tooth. Fortunately it held under my weight or I would have wound up having to catch myself from a fall by my pinky toe or something silly. Reaching the top of the chimney provided quite a picturesque view of the fence enclosed roof from topside, which was certainly a unique sight from a generally unseen perspective. At the apex of the chimney a brittle six inch cement ledge adorned the top, a perfect chair or so I thought. Upon parking my ass along the ledge, a few concrete pieces shimmied free, hitting the ground, the chunks upon impact breaking into smaller fragments. The material likely loosened by the effects of natural elements such as years worth of rain spread acidic pigeon poop and piss, and well, my buttock weight too.

A foul draft billowed up from within the chimney and quickly shrouded me within a miserable cloud of stench. Shining my flashlight down the brick shaft illuminated the foul source; a bunch of living fowl, pigeons to be exact, all of which had made a nest below and took it upon themselves to shit and piss all over their home. The thick wretched stench funneled directly up the chimney and into my nostrils causing my nose to drip in horror and eyes to tear in fear. The light wound up only startling the birds below. I could hear the egg-laying vertebrae bastards flapping around inside the stack running around in panic like headless chickens. In turn the birds kicked up all shorts of loose plumage and dusty goodness from below which rose up the chimney stack emerging as a white puff of powder hanging about the humid evening air. Like a blast of rank confectionary sugar farted out by some retarded pastry chef, the white sooty powder clung to my clothing, dusted my hair white, and probably gave me pigeon lung as I inhaled. This encapsulating cloud of dried out bird shit and gnarly feathers made the supposed deadly airborne fibers of asbestos dust instead look like a sweet dessert topping one would sprinkle atop funnel cake or some fried garbage you'd otherwise get at the county hick fair.

In time the frightened pigeons settled or maybe they just died, I'd like to imagine the latter scenario, but regardless, the feces dust also settled, all about my hair and clothes. But I didn't give a shit, rather I saw it fit to snap a few pictures to commemorate the occurrence, but mostly to capture the unique view before having to climb back down. I made mental note to skip the loose cavity rung and in just a minute or two was upon on the relative safety of the roof. I easily found my friend, completely high, lethargic, and oblivious to my mini-misadventure. In positive light we now had a bit more in common as I could say I had gotten high too, but I suppose from a bit of a different perspective and motive. The night was young so after snapping a few more cliche pictures the group embarked upon one last jaunt down an interior stairwell, gracefully flopping back out through the window entrance and of-course splashing in the buoyant turd n' piss puddle before making it back to the car. Philadelphia indeed would hold more adventures for the night and so we drove off into the city in search of more shenanigans.

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