Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Need Food

The commotion erupted on the corner of Sixth and 23rd, in the two o'clock heat of a summer Friday afternoon. At first I couldn't tell what was happening. Only that something was happening. I didn't even know what I could tell. It's like when you wake up for some reason and a second later, your alarm goes off.

"Faggot! Fuckin' faggot! Hey! Hey! Hey!"

As I walked west I turned to see a short, young Latino, nicely dressed in the way you'd imagine him to be for his semiserious job -- short-sleeved white shirt, tie, chinos. He held a phone up to his ear.

In pursuit was a skulking, deranged white man, a little older. Not too much.

"Fuckin' faggot! Wavin' your fuckin' arms around like a faggot!" he howled.

"Fuck you bitch," replied the first man over his shoulder. Away from the receiver.

"Why dontcha watch where yer goin', faggot?"

"Bitch. Fuck you."

The angry man held a panhandler's cardboard sign as he strode, which he seemed to be on the verge of letting go. I tilted my head to read its scrawled, black, capitalized plea:


"That's it, keep walkin'!" he raged. "Keep walkin' like a little faggot!"

"Fuck you! Fuckin' bitch."

"Faggot! Come here, you fuckin' faggot!"

I hovered nearby, as did a few other passersby. Wondering where all this would go. If anyone might need to intervene.

Just then the first man ducked into a check-cashing joint. Not too quick. Still on the phone. Playing it cool, like that's where he was headed all along.

The madman turned and vanished back onto the avenue.