04 February 2008


I was downtown, on a street corner, under the spitting sky. The buildings were six or eight or twelve stories high, and the streets were narrow and overshadowed by height. I was thinking about meetings and resumes and does this bag I just bought look too much like a purse to be a briefcase but the other ones look all bulky and manlike, and I don't want a manlike briefcase, I want a feminine briefcase, and this one was on clearance. There was a pick-up truck coming down the little street. I looked at it, watched it come closer, and then I turned to stare after it once it passed. It looked like Africa, and I couldn't figure out why. It was light blue, which is not a common Africa-car color. It was US-made - a Chevy or a Ford - and there are few of those in Africa. And I wasn't even thinking about Africa. I played the truck's passing over and over in my head, and then I realized what it was. The truck drove through a pothole as it approached me. It jostled one wheel down into a hole and back out again, like a truck on a rough dirt road. My brain knew, if I didn't, that trucks shouldn't do that downtown, between buildings, in the US.


The bus was coming as I reached the corner, but I had two blocks to go to the stop. Even with the light on my side, even with the line of people getting off the bus, even running, I couldn't make it. I gave up and slowed down, and the bus started to pull away. And then, on the sidewalk by the front of the bus, a scruffy 30-something sandy-haired guy smoking a cigarette in the district of men's shelters and cheap-apartments-not-yet-gentrified motioned over his head to me. "This bus?" It was clear, even without words. I nodded and ran again, and he held the bus for me. "Thanks!" I puffed, as I ran up, as the driver opened the door. "Thanks!"

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