Published January 20, 2011
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.”
Published September 28, 2008
danger , kids , men
It’s dusk, and the rain is coming. There’s a man, unsteady on his feet, with a long, curled-handle umbrella. He’s holding it up to his shoulder like a machine gun, staring down the barrel and swiveling like a jungle commando, catching his image in the scratched plexiglass window of the bodega. I wonder if the yellowed, dust-refracted reflection suits his idea of himself better than a harsh mirror. A small boy wanders out of the store and stands a few feet away, watching. The man pivots slowly, beginning to grunt and growl before he comes around to face the boy. The boy pulls his arms around himself and waits to see where this is going. So do I. The man hunkers down and grunts his way toward the boy, the umbrella-gun carefully aimed. I’m weighing my slightness against the man’s new equilibrium. In case. Then, something invisible passes between them and the tension breaks. The boy giggles and runs behind a tree, peeking out. The man pulls a 40oz out of a pocket and sits down on the bodega steps. The evening begins.