We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

September, 2019

An unspeakable tragedy has happened here. Scarlet liquid pools on the ground, and a family looks on in horror. The victim leans back, her face painted with sorrow. Passersby give the scene a wide berth. 

We don’t know the full story, but a few details paint a picture. 

A nearly empty bottle of red Gatorade sits guiltily as a young girl stares down at her now-stained shoe. It’s a checkerboard slip-on—the classic one by Vans—and its twin, unharmed in the carnage, is crisp and clean. The city’s dirt and grime have not yet made it dingy. Yes, the sidewalk detective deduces: These shoes were either new or well cared for.

There’s no evident animus between the people party to this tragedy. No filthy stares. No pointed silences. Perhaps this wound was self-inflicted. A simple accident. Or perhaps forgiveness already flows freely. Or maybe the blame is yet to come.

The matriarch administers first aid, massaging the girl’s ankle and shoe, as if she might somehow expel the sports drink, like blood from a stone. It doesn’t seem to be working.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.