some days i don't have to work in the chamber, i work in the wine store. usually in the evening hours. most everyday i am 5-15 minutes late. usually because someone is messing with me. often its the police, beause apparently, leaving my apartment building is probable cause. but that usually doesn't detain me for very long. as stupid as cops might seem, they are actually quite intelligent, and usually can tell when they are wasting their time. so either the officers will realize very quickly that i'm not worth it, and let me on my way, or i'll see that these particular cops are retarded, and i'll play the "i'm a scared a fuck little white boy in harlem, please just let me go before i piss myself" card and they'll let me go just as quickly. i guess all i'm really sayin is, if the cops hassle me, i'm never more than 5 minutes late for work. it's when the neighborhood 'badasses' feel the need to fuck with the skinny white kid. like today...
i'm walking downtown on lenox, talking on the phone with my girl. for whatever reason i really notice a tall black dude in jeans and a very clean white t-shirt look over his shoulder, see me, and then turn very purposefully and walk in my direction. it was like i could feel his anomosity as soon as our eyes met and it just pulled him towards me. he walked at me hard and i refused to take my eyes off him. i could tell he wanted to bump into me so that he could drop the bag in his right hand and claim that our collision was the cause of the bag's contents breaking and also, entirely my fault, so i tried to slide casually out of his path...to no avail. he slams into me with far more force than the guys who usually try to pull this dumber-than-an-asshole-with-teeth scam, and drops his bag of previously broken snapple bottles to the ground. he looks up at me with venom in his eyes, about to angrily demand that i pay for his broken goods. but i'm not where he expects me to be. i'm standing directly over him, and his look turns from venom, to fear (even though, if it came down to it, this man could kill me, but crazy always wins, and no on does crazy like i do). "you fucking ran into me on purpose!", i snarl at him, "i don't care what you fucking say!" he looks at the gound and doesn't even bother to stand up as he duck walks away. so i fugure that this is over so i walk away, finish my conversation with my girl, and light up a cigarette. i turn the corner off on lenox ave and onto 126th street, about 8 minutes from the subway, and still with pleanty of time to make it to work on time. as i finish the blind turn onto 126th i'm greeted be a pretty (though rather dirty) transvestite. she's wearing a black/pink wig of long, straight hair, and neon pink rouge and eyeshadow making her dark brown skin glow more than it usually would...or so i imagine...she starts her line bout how she's been kicked out of her parents house for being gay and she just needs train fare to get back home to connecticut. while this all may be true, the real reason she wants money is for drugs. i know it, she knows it, everyone she's ever asked knows it, but some of us will give her money every time, because, the sad truth is...her life has been way too diffucult simply because the things that made her happy and feel like a whole person weren't part of the social standard, but there not so far outside that she goes to jail, so we deal with her the way the human race has always dealt with things we don't understand but can't get rid of. FEAR. we make them feel less than human simply for being who they feel most comfortable as. so of course she has turned to drugs and probably prostitution, fake love and happiness is better than none. and i don't blame her, so i'll take the lie and give her a dollar...except this time i have no dollar, so i ask if she's hungry (i still have a little time, and i was planning on stopping at nearby soul food buffet). she really just wanted the cash, but i told her i had no intention of going to an atm, but i'd buy her dinner if she joined me to the buffet. she was not dumb enough to turn down a free meal. so we go eat together and we have a nice chat, even with all the people staring...and i mean staring like that moment in the movies when the music stops and makes that needle-sliding-off-the-record sound and everyone turns and looks...yeah, today, they were looking at us. and they didn't stop. i tried to keep the conversation lite. asked her name...Shantella...where she was from...greenwich connecticut...what her poison of choice is...crack...we finish quickly because, no matter how lite i keep it, those eyes carried some serious weight. i mean, a pretty white boy in a black trench-coat eating dinner with an equally pretty, but obviously drug addicted, black transvestite, you would have stared too. especially when i complemented her make-up and wig and spoke gushingly about her perfect cheek-bones (they were spectacular). but anyway, we decided it was time to get moving and head out the door. she starts to give me a hug as we part when someone shouts her name gruffly from an uncomfortably close distance...it's the same guy who tried the asshole-with-teeth scam from before. i put the crazy face back on and look him in the eye, "are you fucking staking me or what man?" i ask him, "i know i'm pretty, but you don't have to try so hard, just ask her"...he seeths, spittle spraying with his breath, as soon as i acknowledge shantella, he just about explodes, "THAT'S MY GOD DAMN BROTHER AND HE AIN'T NO MUTHAFUKKIN GIRL!" shantella breaks down in tears, right in the middle of 125th street. between her sobs she manages to convey her disappoinment in her brother's treatment of her since she was exiled from their connecticut home (apparently, he sufferd the same fate ealirer in the year for being an unrepentant crackhead). i realize that i have stumbled onto a truly unique situation, and i don't think i can really help. so i go for the next best thing...entertain myself... i walk over to the man (darius...apparently) who, at this point, is frozen in the middle of the sidewalk with his brother/sister clinging to his legs, sobbing uncontrollably. i put my hand on his shoulder and his head snaps towards me violently. i look dead into his eyes and ask him if he wants to make this better. he nods. i tell him he has two choices. he can either get help, clean up and get back home to connecticut, try and start over or just move onto a brand new path. i pull out a couple of cards i always carry with drug couselers numbers, AA meeting places (as much as i hate AA, it works for some people), detecitves that are "understanding", and slide them into his pocket. the other option. i lean in close and whisper...you could turn that bitch out and hustle your way out of this shit-hole. i'm sure he made the right choice. i was fifteen minutes late for work.
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