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Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Independence Day, 2019

The apocalyptic boom of fireworks echoes through side streets and alleys. Farther south, the main event is coming to a close, the president long done with his speech celebrating the U.S. military and our shared history. “To every citizen throughout our land: Have a glorious Independence Day,” he said.

Away from the mall, Washingtonians—regardless of citizenship status—are doing just that. A young man struggles for minutes to set off fireworks in an alley, having trouble getting the pyrotechnics to light. When they finally begin to spark he sprints away.

Later, a couple in their mid-20s makes their way back from the bars, obviously drunk. They stop to pet, and eventually pose for selfies with, a dog who is sitting in the middle of the alley. One doesn’t speak much English, and the other translates for him. They circle each other in conversation, asking the same questions and telling the same stories. They both want to know what product the dog uses for her hair, and they seem proud that they’ve come from far away—“two hours and 45 minutes”—to celebrate in D.C. They laugh and smile and aren’t in a hurry. It seems unlikely that they’ll be heading home tonight.

A man happens on the scene as he bikes through the alley. “Do you have a cigarette?” he asks the men sitting on the ground. They do not. “Do you smoke weed?” he asks. They do, and the three begin to work out a deal, trying to settle on a price. Distant pops of fireworks reverberate through the city. Have a glorious Independence Day.

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