at the corner

I’m waiting to cross. I’ve been in motion, brisk and zeroed-in, and now I’m resentful of the involuntary halt. Like a good city person, I take the extra step into the street to wait, one pace closer to my goal, eyes intent on the traffic light.

Next to me is an old man, a real classic, in a rough tweed coat, a fake fur collar, gray scruff on his worn cheeks. “Don’t stand on that,” he says, and points to the metal sewer grate my feet are planted on. “You might disappear.”

This seems like an absurd proposition to me, but I’m conserving effort here, so I thank him, and step off to the side a bit.

“That’s better,” he’s smiling now, satisfied with his good deed. “You never know with this city, you never know. I might turn around and zoop! You’re gone.”

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3 Responses to “at the corner”


  1. 2 David Gray January 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    I think I understand Mr. Zoop a bit.

    Fourtyfive years ago we all had these little plastic critters out of gumball machines, called Rat Finks. Just funky little plastic rats the size of a quarter. The one I wore on a piece of string around my neck was really special. It was black and white. Nobody else had ever seen a black one.

    One day I lost my rat fink down a grate. I could see my precious rat, but knew I could never retrieve it.

    Fourtyfive years later I hold my keys tighter when I walk near a grate.

    So who knows. Maybe that was his best way of telling you that you were precious to him, and he did not want to lose you.

  2. 3 Nini March 4, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Everyone have his own Zoop. This was not anybody, this was someone how helps you often, but you don’t know this.


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