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Archive for November, 2015

It’s Fun, She Says

“I’m in San Jose at the Fairmont. What should I do?” I ask her.

She says, “Walk to San Pedro Square. It’s fun.”

“Is it safe?” I ask.

She says, “Yeah, I’ve never seen anything shady.”

And so I go. An hour or so later as I am walking near San Pedro Square I see a homeless man lurking in a doorway. He steps out in front of me and begins walking about a car length ahead of me. I study him from behind as he struggles to carry a large brown paper sack from its bottom. It seems heavy. He is probably worried it will tear and spill its contents. With his other hand, he holds up the waist of his too big and unbelted pants, and I feel a wave of sympathy for him that somehow his life has taken a turn that has made just walking down the street so difficult. I can tell the bag is getting heavy and he would like to switch it to the other arm, but to do that he would have to let go of his pants just for a moment, just long enough for them to fall.

I am wondering if I should offer to help him when a police car pulls in front of him. An officer gets out, says something to the man that I can’t make out. The homeless man begins walking faster, and I think he is pretending to not hear or see him. The police officer shouts for him to stop, to take his hand out of his pocket. I stop breathing when I see that the officer has pulled out his gun and has it pointed at an angle toward the ground out in front of him. If he just lifts his arm, it will be pointed directly at the man. He yells again for the man to take his hand out of his pocket, and in my mind I’m silently crying out that his hand isn’t in his pocket. It’s holding up his pants.

The man stands still, and I realize that I am still as well. We both stand there for a moment and I am confused, bewildered. I hear sirens and another police car pulls up onto the sidewalk, right in front of me, separating me from the man. The officer jumps out and the other shouts again for the man to take his hand out of his pocket.

I am so confused. Time seems to stop. What is happening? I hear more sirens and am trying to process how this all could happen so quickly, how all these police have seemingly materialized out of nowhere, what this man might have done that led the police to him in the first place. It feels like it has only been seconds, I’m sure it only has, but somehow I count six police cars and officers, guns drawn, surrounding the man.

And all of a sudden time catches up to me, my heart starts beating again, but so quickly it feels like it might burst from my chest. I have to get out of here. Now. I turn around, retrace my steps and quickly turn a corner onto a side street, putting as much distance between myself and what I’ve seen as I can.

And now I’m left to wonder….

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