The Dark Side, Atu’u

The Dark Side, Atu’u

The dark side was what everybody called the east shore of Pago Pago Bay, where the cannery and most of the services that supported the cannery were located.... This was not a pretty part of the island. After Pago Pago was the village of Satala, with the oldest and loudest of the island's two electrical generating plants on the mountainside of the road and a run-down ship repair yard on the bayside, then the totally swallowed-up village of Atu'u. Atu'u was the center of the dark side and a civic disaster by anyone's standards. The bayside of the potholed road was solid with cannery buildings, truck loading docks, industrial chaos. Forklifts, driving backward because their loads of pallets and cans blocked all forward view, shared the main road with the buses and traffic.... On the mountainside of the road there was very little room before the sheer jungled walls of the collapsed caldera rose up a thousand feet into semi-perpetual mist. What flat space there was--and above that, chopped into the talus slope and face of the cliff--

was filled with a warren of chockablock buildings and alleyways that looked and teemed and smelled like any dockside slum in any impoverished Asian port. It wasn't big, but it was intense. This short, half-mile stretch of road accounted for an inordinate amount of police business, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, even though they tried to ignore the place. Along the road there was a series of karaoke bars and Korean restaurants and stores with signs in Samoan and Korean. Back up the alleyways and above the bars were other, less advertised services. This was the place where the boys and girls on the island came when they wanted to play bad and live dangerously. This was the dark side. Apelu pulled his patrol car up onto the curb in a no-parking zone.

(Pago Pago Tango, p. 102f)

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Monday, September 15, 2014 - 9:21am

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