A Burst of Equivalent Profanity
Artic and East Main Street were extremely busy that morning. There were many people pushing and moving through the stores that offered early morning sales. Teenagers waiting for the school buses were surrounded by a burst of equivalent profanity. The school buses arrived and the doors parted for them as they streamed in. Loud rap music was drowning out the latest Latin Salsa, but still managed to share the buses.
After waiting for the school buses to leave, an old woman heads for the bus stop. Turning around slowly, she forced herself toward the bus-stop maintaining her eyes on the metal bench.
A fourteen year old boy watches the old woman rub her eyes, and slump against that metal bench. He knew that she labored to get to her destination, and that took a lot out of her. He watched intently as she took out some small change from her purse and put it into her front breast pocket. She was waiting patiently for the number eight bus, her breath wheezing at regular intervals. She was the perfect target, and the young boy knew it.
She had to get home and prepare a meal for her granddaughter who was visiting from college. The last thing she wanted was for someone to appear and cause problems. She looked at her wrist watch and was momentarily hypnotized by the fact that the bus was running late.
Fifteen minutes later, the boy was pulling on her hand bag, dragging her three feet away from the bus stop before she let the bag go.
East Main Street’s unleveled sidewalks tore into her face, cutting through her thin skin. Drivers in vehicles passing by nervously flashed their eyes away, but when they were far enough did offer to look back, but no one stopped. It was as if onlookers were barred from the bus stop as they avoided the scene and ignored the crime. Except for O-Joe, he shouted stop, in a booming voice.
The boy peeked around the corner wondering who was actually getting involved. O-Joe scowled at him, his face deep red, but the chase was on.
O-Joe was a sixty two year old fire-fighter from Engine Number Eight, and in a footrace against a fourteen year old, he was hopelessly outclassed. He heard the boy’s footfalls for a few seconds and then silence.
Then it struck him, he had to give it all in order to catch up with the little thief. So he bowed to the inevitable and started the chase. He saw the thief dart around the corner and then another corner, but knew that was going to be the boy’s demise. Kossuth Street ran right into a dead end. The thief ran behind the old Artic Sports Shop and had no where to run.
The thief cringed at O-Joe’s stern expression, but gave the old kook credit for engaging in a foot chase. The boy tried to speak, but O-Joe cut him off by grabbing the youngster’s arm firmly.
“You’re handing that purse back to that woman and you’re apologizing,” said O-Joe. “And then I’m going to take you to the police.”
The thief nodded his agreement as they headed back to the crime scene. When they got there the old woman’s eyelids were only half open and the pupils blank. Backing up toward the bus stop the boy collided with the metal bench and grabbed it to keep from falling over.
Though it pained him to do so, he ignored the outcome of what he did and took off running toward Barnum Avenue.
Damn, O-Joe thought. He was out of breath and out of options to chase down the boy. If he took off after him, no one would stay with the old woman. Suddenly there were flashing lights, sirens and emergency vehicles filling the streets.
“The sales got to her, huh?” said a man in the driver’s seat of the ambulance. O-Joe said nothing, and for just a second the driver wished he could have taken back that question.
“Heart attack,” said the examiner. “Too much excitement for her today.”
“The woman was robbed and dragged!” shouted O-Joe.
A young detective walked toward O-Joe, his right hand made a furtive move toward a shoulder holster burdened by the long barrel .38. “He’s right, show some respect for the dead!”
O-Joe ignored the young detective’s face and the comment and concentrated on helping the woman onto the gurney.
“Looks like you’re our only witness,” said the detective.
“I’ll do whatever it takes,” O-Joe replied.
“I’m wondering what’s going on in that kid’s head?’ said the detective. “Could this scare him straight?”
That question should have comforted O-Joe a bit, but instead it left him cold somehow. Then a car filled with school age teenagers drove by and all he heard was a burst of equivalent profanity spewing out of the windows…
© 2013 Frank Atanacio
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