No one knows where True Hate Avenue gets its name. Possibly, it started as a joke – maybe by feuding families – and the name stuck. Maybe the police saw one gang fight here, and decided the avenue is only for the sorry sods involved. Truth is, to regular visitors like Carolyn Walker (Lyn), the myth remains a myth. True Hate Avenue, despite its debilitating name, runs through the heart of West Coast Suburbia, and somehow remains immune to the broken glass effect.
Lyn thinks she knows the source of True Hate Avenue's immunity; her grandmother, whom Lyn and her family are walking to visit, is part of this immunity. The residences on both sides of True Hate Avenue are as historical as the residents themselves; for some of these artifacts, their pseudo-Victorian condos are erected on plots of land their ancestors once gloriously fought for. And by glorious, Lyn means sneaky family massacres and rifles to children's heads.
True Hate Avenue's position in the heart of Suburbia makes it a comfortable nest for people for like Lyn's Granmie. Thick sunbeams hold up the lofty sky above, wisps of clouds tip-toeing along the beams. Grassy lawns keep their heads well-groomed for birds, bees, and flowers, though the bees and their nemeses the wasps are usually exterminated. Most of the condos boast sizable porches as well, and even accommodate for arthritic knees and other rheumatic joints, by graciously requiring only one step or a simple small hill. Instead of white picket fences, however, which may have resulted in a picture-perfect scene, the old-timers called for metal link fences around their plots of property, as if they still, in their creaking age, have an obligation to keep defending their land from more glorious massacres. It is a concept Lyn can't understand. She does understand, however, those basket-weave fences create a veil of secrecy – do Granmie and her ikebana friends have a human experiment going in their basements? Why do the old-timers so want to KEEP OUT and BEWARE OF DOG (especially when there is obviously no dog on the premises)? And, Lyn questions most of all, how can they keep smiling and baking for each other over these fences?
They are questions assailing Lyn's mind as she trudges along the sidewalk behind her Dad. In her backpack, she has a few books to help sort out her conundrum; books on psychology and sociology, which Lyn borrows from her Bro Cal in the hope to unveil True Hate Avenue's secret. Dad shakes his head and tries to smile as he says something about putting the book addiction on hold, Lyn, please.
To which Lyn replies, "I won't be reading the whole time, Dad. Don't worry." She resists the urge to let her fingers beat along the basket-weave fences as she and her family walk along True Hate Avenue. Lyn is and always will be afraid of the old-timers living here, even her Granmie, and she can ask for nothing better than the chance to indulge her book addiction, if it means she can stop thinking about the secret the fences veil.
The Walker family passes a house in which teenagers of Lyn's age – rare sights in the heart of Suburbia – flood with a DJ's overamped beat, color-changing lights, and pumping fists and bodies. Lyn checks her watch – 5:23 PM – then glances up at the sky. Dusk tinges the wispy clouds with eventide, purple at their tops gradating to sunset blood orange. To be honest, Lyn thinks she's dreaming – there's no way a party's going on True Hate Avenue. But there's a telltale old-timer on her front porch, leaning back into the quicksand plush of her lawn chair. She waves a spindly arm at Dad. "Oi, Paul-i-o!" It's an accent-induced name sticking to Dad since he helped move Granmie here, but Lyn can't help but think the old-timers were calling Dad a disease. "Goin' to see Tanya eh?"
Dad waves back. "Yeah, Perry's ma promised me a lemon pound cake after dinner. Don't get me wrong, I love my ma's sweet potato pie, but I can't say no to Tanya's cake either!"