Slice of Write

Stories & jibber-jabber by Janelle Parmer, Author of The Other Side of the Ledge & Chasing Calla Lilies

It was a bright afternoon on a Sunday.  Today was the first weekend in April and the sun was shining.  It made the 62-degree weather feel like 80.  I stopped at the bodega near my house for a pack of cigarettes.  I was determined to quit…tomorrow.  I have failed many times before, but my fiancé told me she is pregnant, so I promised I would really quit.  I am stuck in line behind 3 light-skinned guys in their 20’s making stupid jokes about some girls they supposedly partied with last night.  I pretend not to hear them and focus on the cigarettes behind Jakob, the owner of this store since I can remember.  A minute later they finally leave and we each breathe a sigh of relief. 

After a few moments of pleasantries, while I buy my pack of cigarettes, I walk out the door and towards the subway about three blocks north.  I see the guys from the bodega jay walk across the street.  I wonder where they are going.  I hope not to the subway station.  I look further down the street and notice a dark-skinned man, probably in his 20’s, walking in the same direction as me.  He is carrying a gray colored messenger or computer bag.  Even from across the street I can hear those three guys talking and laughing.  I can’t make out what they are saying, but they seem to be gaining on the guy with the messenger bag.  I keep heading in the same direction.  Every few seconds I glance across the street to check on the guy being followed by those loud-mouthed idiots. 

A minute later my cell phone rings.  It’s my brother.  We chat for about 30 seconds and then I look across the street.  The three guys are now talking to the messenger bag guy.  I tell my brother I have to go and abruptly hang up the phone.  They don’t seem to be friends or know each other.  The guy with the messenger bag seems to be walking faster now, probably trying to get away from them. 

Should I turn around and just find a cab?  I don’t want to get involved in this, but that guy could be in trouble.  Three against one isn’t fair.  What am I going to do?  I’m an out of shape, project manager at an architecture firm.  I stop in the middle of the sidewalk.  Why is it my responsibility to do something?  There are other people on the street walking, riding their bikes, going about their day.  If they noticed anything out of the ordinary, they would do something, right?  Maybe I am overreacting. 

I look over one more time and can’t believe my eyes.  This is happening in my neighborhood.  This has to stop.  My adrenaline and common sense kick in and I yell the fiercest and the loudest roar I have ever heard come out of my body.  I run between cars on the road.  I have no idea what I am going to do when I make it to the other side of the street, but I have to do something.  Enough is enough!

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