Mattapan...Mattapan... The High-Speed trolley lurches on its rails... The conductor calls out: "Next stop: Mattapan!" It is the end of the line and the beginning of a journey.
Like an actor in a woozy fever dream, I disembark. The sky is dark and the streetlights glow with a color I would call 'hope' if I were in the paint business. I'm in Mattapan, that part of Boston that once was Jewish and now is Haitian. The wind whispers a patois creole spiked with half-remembered Yiddish slang.
I stumble into the Mattapan evening, past the old train station that now is home to Domino's Pizza, across from the mattress store that has been having its grand opening for as long as anyone can remember. I stumble onward to Mattapan Square, where Blue Hill Avenue crosses River Road. Mattapan. Bronze statues loom in the halogen twilight; Native Americans, freed African American slaves, hopeful faces, masks and ingenues look with unblinking eyes into the future and see everything bright. Mattapan.
I have business. I stumble north, uphill and downwind. I tilt my head and lift my nose. I inhale. What I seek is in Mattapan. Mattapan. I smell it.
Up, across Blue Hill Avenue, past the American Legion post, past the Citizens' Bank, on an incline that leads to a certain kind of paradise, I travel. Lit up in neon that sparks the dewy night like an epiphany is a sign that good things are meant to endure. A chocolate ice cream cone looms out of rusted iron and twisted tubes filled with electrified argon and other noble gasses. My destination is near: Simco. I really am in Mattapan. I pinch myself.
Greek gods feast on nectar and ambrosia. I have made a late-night pilgrimage to Mattapan for the best hot dog in Boston. Simco...Mattapan...hot dogs. My thoughts are a jumble; my hunger is a whorl. I order just one with mustard and relish. The girl behind the counter hands it to me and I go to sit on the bridge that spans the commuter rail line. When I unwrap this dog it exhales a steam that refracts rainbows under the streetlights. Mattapan. Nowhere on earth is as fit to host Simco.