Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I just got to inquire

My sister and I went to sushi down the road several stops and were waiting to catch the trolley home. The stop is a small one, and at that part the road is pretty wide and dark and is flanked only by the semi-vacant stares of apartment buildings, no stores or restaurants. The street lights are dim and spaced further apart. When we arrived, there was nobody even there waiting. After a couple minutes a man and his little daughter had also arrived to wait.

We heard yelling and saw two men toss a third one out the front door of their apartment building onto the pavement and start beating him up. He tried to get up and they threw him back down.

I looked at Beth to see what we should do, but she did not know either.

The man called out to the father to help, but what could the father do? He had a daughter.

My sister and I and the father and the daughter all got on the train and left the man there to get beat up because we did not know what else we even could do except call the police. We arrived home to our apartment pretty shaken.

We had never known something like that to happen in our neighborhood.


The next evening I am running a little behind.

Even though you aren't supposed to do it, I am picking my way across the ballast, stepping over both sets of darkened trolley tracks. Avoiding headlights, I cross the main road, the narrow traffic island, then the parking/access street, finally reaching the far sidewalk, where I exchange brief grins with a somewhat older gentleman who ends up walking a couple paces behind me.

Up a few yards ahead, the shops are glowing, but here it is still a bit darker. I am a little nervous recalling the events of the previous night, nervous and - I am ashamed to admit - suddenly suspicious of this man whom I do not know.

I will definitely be fine in a couple moments, I remind myself.

Mid-whistle, I gasp. I hear the sound of something scrabbling, coming suddenly closer from behind. It is not the man, though, it is a rabid animal, a salivating raccoon ready to tear at my jugular with its tiny razor teeth and wild, wild eyes.

No, actually it is neither a man nor a beast. It is just a little punk-ass kid zipping by on a bicycle.

"Too fast" the man mutters, mostly to himself.

I resume walking and whistling, willing my heart to slow to its normal rhythm.

"Excuse me miss," I look over my shoulder. It is still that same man. "Excuse me miss, but I just got to inquire. What's got you whistlin' Dixie?"

"Ohhh... I don't know, I guess it was stuck in my head."

"I thought you must have had the most fantastic day or something."

"No my day wasn't really fantastic, just regular. It was pretty good. I was just whistling." Although it's pretty fantastic now.

A few more steps we go, past the Chinese food place with children's drawings papering the wall, not sure if we should put this conversation to rest. "Well you have a good night."

"Thanks. You too." He keeps going straight, but I have to turn the corner.

The experience the night before had me feeling a little worried, but now I remember that most of the people you will ever meet are actually really nice and good people and that most of the time I am just so glad to get the chance to talk to them or see them, even for only a couple minutes.

I just got to inquire!

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