Seriously, I was minding my own business, waiting at 59th for the F train to take me down to West 14th, impatient, when a guy accosted me. I ignored him, for I draw crazy like flies to shit – an unfortunate metaphor, given my skin tone, but there you go. Saying nothing and stepping away is generally the best strategy for dealing with crazy people.
He moved away, grumbling.
Then: “Bitch,” I heard him call. He repeated the term, and then, “I’ll kill you.” Whatever my flaws, that seemed an unreasonable response to any provocation I might’ve offered. Perhaps he was addressing someone else? I glanced in his direction. He was glaring at me. I looked around. No one seemed concerned, except one woman. Her look said, You’re on your own, bub.
I cast another wary eye in his direction before staring into the distance, waiting for a train that was already 10 minutes late. He was twenty feet away. White, six foot two, squarer jaw than my own. I listened carefully for any footsteps approaching me as well as any aspersions.
“Come on, bitch. Let’s do this. Right now. I’ll kill you.” Nice. Never been threatened with violence before on public transit. Suddenly I felt tired.
I swiveled to him. “Alright, motherfucker, here’s how it’s gonna go down,” I snarled. “You run to me, and when your foot hits that piece of gum,” — I pointed to a pink blob 6 feet away — “I’m going to step to my left and jam my right hand at your throat, pound your jaw with the other. Then you’re going to fall on your ass, the fucking train’s finally going to arrive, and I’m going to step over your prone body into the car and flip you off as the doors close. Capish?”
Of course this didn’t happen. The threat was real. But J wanted me back in Seattle the next day, preferably unbruised. The train came, I took a seat, watched the doors until I got to 14th.
The anger was real. His form sprung the memories of two different pasts, twenty-five, fifteen years ago, long forgotten but now refreshed. I don’t remember the whys – white or brown, someone will find a reason to dislike you. (I’ve never quite understood my own oddness.)
Still, I remembered when Adrian clocked me in the jaw, and racing R – even now, separated by a degree on Facebook – and the afternoon specials and the Diff’rent Strokes Very Special Episode and the comic books. I don’t remember my father saying anything, I do remember my mother’s fears after he’d died, and how she cloistered me after that, reacted with unease to my mentioning troubles.
– but these are stories for another day.