The twelve-year-old’s bandana has the graphic of a skull printed on it and it’s pulled up above his nose so it looks like a skull is staring back at me. The gun looks fake. I think the tip of the barrel has been cut off because on replicas, the tip is orange. But I’m not sure enough to take a chance.
There’s been a bit of a lapse since my previous blog entries. In New York, I was an actor trying to get as many women into bed as possible. But in the last few months, I’ve moved across the country and somehow started to explore Judaism. I won’t go into that story now. But I will back track this one a little.
I had just left friend’s house after have a splendid Shabbos dinner around 9 o’clock. As I walked the usually populated neighborhood street (but on this night strangely deserted) I noticed in the distance three kids. Two on bicycles and one on foot. My instinct was to cross the street. But immediately, I wrote off that impulse as prejudice and continued forward.
As I passed through the trio, one of the ones on a bike said something to me. I don’t remember what, I just know I turned to face him. He was probably 16 years old. So was the one on the other bike. They started circling around me. Then the gun was in my face.
“Empty those pockets and throw it on the ground.”
Maybe it was the gun. Or maybe it was their age. But I didn’t actually feel in danger. It felt like some big joke. Like if anyone has made fun of you and you got in their face about it, their response might be, “Hey man, I’m just kidding. Don’t get so upset.” Sometime since I started going to Shabbos dinners, I had started leaving my wallet and my cell phone in the car. So all that hit the ground were my keys and my chap stick.
“Na man. Butterfly them pockets.” The older one on the bike commanded. To which I complied.
“Check his jacket!” I proceeded to take off my jacket and hand it to them.
It was in that moment, with my inability to give them what they wanted, that I could see that trigger being pulled. A burst of fire would end me. All it would take is a millimeter from the finger of that twelve-year-old.
“All I’ve got is my watch. You’re more than welcome to–”
But they had already started to walk away. It was done. I picked up my key and my chap stick, put on my jacket, and walked away myself, like a business transaction had been completed. I wasn’t numb. But I wasn’t feeling it either. It wouldn’t be for another few days that I would bang my fist into my IKEA table putting a hole in it. It wouldn’t be till the following week that I would get nervous walking though the area at night. But, for the first time in my life, I would be around people as they talked about crime and misfortune and I would keep silent. Before I hungered for attention and to share and relate. But now, I just don’t want to bother.
–Mack (really Michael)